Queer girls, strange magic, and dragons—what’s not to love about Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree? Shannon is known for her crossover appeal, and while her newest book is technically an adult title, the fantasy epic (which Shannon describes as a series of novellas in one big book) is a great fit for voracious teen readers.
But what other feminist fantasy epics are there for teens to read once they finish The Priory of the Orange Tree? These large-scale stories, spanning years and infused with detailed worldbuilding, are perfect for teens who gobbled up The Priory of the Orange Tree and are looking for what to read next.
Stray, by Elissa Sussman
Looking for the same gorgeous fairy tale vibe of The Priory of the Orange Tree, with the darker undertones of an original Grimm story? Then grab Sussman’s Stray, about a princess who gives up her royal life to enter servitude as a fairy godmother. It wasn’t her plan—Aislynn wanted to go to the ball, dance the night away, and do what was expected of her—but when her own magic rears its head, following the strict godmother Path at Elderwood Academy isn’t an option she can refuse.
Paperback $13.60 | $16.00
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Speaking of fantasy epics, have you heard the good word about The Bear and the Nightingale? This beloved take on Russian fairy tales including “Vasilisa the Beautiful” is a crossover favorite, making it the perfect companion read for fans of The Priory of the Orange Tree. Living at the edge of the Russian wilderness, Vasilisa and her siblings know all the stories of what waits in the cold, especially Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. But when her new stepmother bans her from honoring the demon—or any of the household spirits—Vasya knows something is wrong. As her stepmother tries to remake the village, weakening its defenses and ignoring the warning signs of encroaching darkness, Vasya must step up to protect her family from the darkness of winter.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Explorations of beauty aren’t limited to sci-fi stories like The Hunger Games or Uglies. Dhonielle Clayton’s fantasy series starter The Belles imagines a world where beauty is the most prized currency and everybody is born hideous. Talented Belles can change your appearance to match the world’s ever-changing trends—for a price. When talented Belle Camellia is invited to court, she thinks it will be everything she’s dreamed—but the Queen has other plans in mind for her powers, and Camellia’s actions could change the future of Orléans and the fate of the Belles. The Everlasting Rose, the second book in this feminist exploration of what beauty is, just released.
Furyborn by Claire LeGrand
What if two women had the power to save their world, despite being born centuries apart? That’s the concept behind Claire LeGrand’s Furyborn, which landed with a splash on shelves last year. Prophesized queen Rielle must prove she’s the Sun Queen, enduring seven trials to test her magic and confirm she’s not instead the Sun Queen’s dark opposite. One thousand years later, bounty hunter Eliana searches for her missing mother, only to discover an evil deep at the heart of the empire. Both women are fighting the same cosmic war—and the universe will need them to stop the evil at hand. Kingsbane, the second book in the series, releases this May, making now the perfect time to read Furyborn.
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
One of the most hotly anticipated YA debuts this year, The Candle and the Flame takes place in a world a step away from our own, where traders make their way down the Silk Road—but here, djinn cause disaster, and humans are trapped in the war between them. Fatima lives in Noor, a city trapped between two rival djinn tribes, protected by the orderly Ifrit, in fear of the chaotic Shayateen. But when one of the Ifrit dies, it changes Fatima, and puts her directly in the path of the most powerful people in the city. Azad’s exploration of independence and culture alongside intricate magic and worldbuilding mean this is one I cannot wait to devour—and one that Priory of the Orange Tree fans should preorder stat.
Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
If I can base this entire list off of a YA/adult crossover title, then I can certainly include one on this list, because Gideon the Ninth is the best book you’ll read this year. How does the pitch “lesbian necromancers in space” sound? Releasing in September, Gideon the Ninth follows Gideon Nav, who will do anything to get off her planet—even if it means acting as archenemy Harrowhawk’s cavalier in a galaxy-wide competition for best necromancer. But there’s more to the competition on this strange new planet than Gideon expected, and the decisions she makes could change the fate of the universe. While the tone of Priory of the Orange Tree and Gideon the Ninth are wildly different, their dedication to incredible worldbuilding centered around the dynamics of queer girls remains the same.