With school back in session and homework on the brain, fantasy fiction provides a much-needed thrill. In between test prep this fall, travel to worlds where gods and legends come alive, triplet queens battle for the throne, and a lost city yearns to be rediscovered.
Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian
Kicking off a debut fantasy series, this tale of punishment and vengeance sees former princess Theodosia imprisoned for ten years after her mother, the Fire Queen, Is murdered—a murder Theodosia witnessed as a young girl. Demoralized and humiliated on a daily basis, Theo is finally pushed too far and summons the strength of will to fight back, intending to jumpstart the (magically enhanced) resistance, reclaim her rightful place on the throne, and destroy the cruel Kaiser once and for all. In the land of Astrea, magic abounds, but it’s certainly no cure-all—some may even go insane from its use. Political machinations and feminist rebellion drive the plot of this gripping tale.
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Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor
In this critically adored Printz Honor book, Lazlo the librarian is drawn to tales of Weep—“a city that had vanished in the mists of time,” filled with “ancient wars and winged beings, a mountain of melted demon bones.” Can you blame him for wanting to visit the supposed final resting place of the gods? His dream becomes a reality when he joins an expedition headed to the legendary citadel. There, he discovers ghosts, falls in love with a blue-skinned godspawn named Sarai, and gets caught up in a reckoning that may cause more harm than justice. The satisfying conclusion to the duology, Muse of Nightmares, arrives in October.
Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
“Three black witches, the mainland would say. Born to a descending queen. One would rise to become queen in her place. Perhaps the strongest of the three. Perhaps the cleverest. Or perhaps it would be the girl born under the best shield of luck.” Meet sixteen-year-old triplets Katharine the poisoner, Mirabella the elemental, and Arsinoe the naturalist, three sisters who’ve trained all their lives for the battle to become queen. Regardless of which deadly sibling you’re rooting for, bestseller Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood) proves once again why her mesmerizing, inventive stories leave readers breathless.
Heartless, by Marissa Meyer
From the sublime (“Dainty coronets done up in gold and pearls. Wide-brimmed garden hats covered in soft moss and charming bluebells. Silk headdresses ornamented with intricately spun spiderwebs”) to the terrifying (a Jabberwock with “charcoal-tinged blood” and massive limbs), you’ll be captivated by Catherine’s adventures in Wonderland, pre-Alice. Catherine’s most fervent wish is to open a bakery (her lemon tarts are to die for) and to continue her secret relationship with her beloved court joker, Jest. The fact that Catherine is fated to become the fearsome Queen of Hearts is just a bonus.
The Emerald Sea, by Richelle Mead
The glittering court of Richelle Mead’s opulent series is a place of luxury, glamour, and prestige, where even the most downtrodden of young women can learn how to become a high-society wife. Come for the original mythology: “All good, Uros-fearing people knew that six glorious angels had served the god since the beginning of creation and that six wayward angels had fallen and become demons. The Alanzans worshipped all twelve angels, dark and light alike, putting them on nearly the same level as the great god in bloodthirsty, sordid rituals.” Stay for the plight of refugee Tamsin, determined to secure a perfect future for her family. To achieve this goal, she believes she must ditch her friends Mira and Adelaide and forge new alliances in her quest to become the most sought-after bride in the court.
Sky in the Deep, by Adrienne Young
Gobsmacked to see her supposedly deceased brother in battle, fighting for the opposite side no less, teenage warrior Eelyn cannot cope with the perceived betrayal. Her own clan, the Aska, have been fighting the Riki clan for centuries, owing to the separate gods they worship. The Riki god, Thora, erupted from the mountain in fire and flames, while the Aska god, Sigr, rose up from the sea to protect his people. Every five years, the clans clash to defend their respective deities’ honor. But now, both groups must face an enemy known only from legend: the Herja. Can they put their differences aside to fight a common foe? This historical fantasy debut drawn from Norse mythology is poetic, brutal, and full of derring-do.