8 YA Fantasies with Eastern Flair

City of a Thousand DollsKiller kings, demon slayers, and dragons? You bet we’re not in Kansas anymore. These eight awesome fantasies bend and shape the flavors of Asia and the Middle East into something entirely new—and reading them will have you plotting a trip of your own.

Prophecy, by Ellen Oh
Feisty and fierce, demon-slayer Kira has been known to get herself in trouble. She’s always the outsider, but now, as the bodyguard to her cousin, the prince, the weight of their entire ancient Korean kingdom rests on her shoulders. As her family arranges a politically fraught wedding, Kira has visions of all-out war—and the old prophecy dictates only one hero will save them. Fleeing with the prince to find their savior, Kira will realize she’s stronger than she knows. Fast-paced, action-packed and steeped in Korean lore, you’ll rip through this one. Luckily, sequels Warrior and King are already on the shelves.

The Fire Wish

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The Fire Wish, by Amber Lough
Freaky Friday meets The Prince And the Pauper in this twist on the jinn legend by debut author Lough. Jinni Najwa is really a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a princess on the run from an arranged marriage. When the two collide and Zayele makes an ill-conceived wish, they trade lives and learn that ever-difficult lesson: be careful what you wish for. Lush and lively, this tale of old Baghdad offers up action, intrigue, romance, and a vivid, interesting world on the brink of war.

The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh
Okay, so I realize this book is on pretty much every list I’ve written for BN Teen thus far. So if you still haven’t read it, what are you waiting for? A dark, twisty, cofounding take on The Thousand and One Nights, Wrath centers on the story of Shazi, fiercely brave and smart and maybe just a bit too compulsive and headstrong for her own good. In a vengeful plot, she decides to court death by marrying the murderous Khalid, Caliph of Khorosan, who takes a new bride each day, only to kill them the next. Through her vivid, sumptuous storytelling, she manages to survive—but will falling in love be the end of her?

Serpentine, by Cindy Pon
The follow-up to Pon’s stellar Phoenix duology, Serpentine centers on handmaiden Skybright, who worries about the changes she experiences as she nears her 16th birthday—and trust me, we’re not talking your average teen angst here. Will she be able to hold her own against the dark forces rising up inside of her? Lush, lyrical writing, strong characterizations (and female friendship!), and a rich exploration of Chinese folklore will keep fantasy fans rooted in this engaging new world.

Legend, by Marie Lu
Political intrigue, family drama, and grand scale government machinations and treachery are at the heart of the cat-and-mouse game of Legend, in which opposites—and purported enemies—June and Dey discover the ties that bind them are stronger than either realized. According to Lu, the first book in this New York Times bestselling series draws from the fatal flaws of North Korea’s regime and the Japanese internment camps on American soil.

City of A Thousand Dolls, by Miriam Forster
Abandoned as a child at the gates of the City of A Thousand Dolls, Nisha’s grown up sheltered and secure on the old estate where young girls are trained in the arts of both soul-healing and soul-stealing. As the Matron’s assistant, she keeps a low profile—that is, until she starts a forbidden flirtation with a courier just as girls on the estate are turning up dead. Will Nisha’s investigation into the murders make her the next victim? An amalgam of Asian flavors here, with India, Japan, and China all represented in the world-building. Plus: talking cats.

Exquisite Captive, by Heather Demetrios
Another update on the Jinn legend, the first book in the Dark Caravan series is a politically charged action-fantasy that’s dark and delicious. Just 18, warrior princess Nalia, a powerful jinni, should be heir to the Arjinna throne. Instead, she’s enslaved on Earth—in the Hollywood Hills, no less—by the lascivious half-breed immortal Malek. But there’s a way out, if she’s willing to trust her sworn enemy, the revolutionary Raif. She just didn’t count on falling for him in the process. Stellar world building, high tension, and a startling timeliness make this a must-read.

The Savage Fortress, by Sarwat Chadda
Okay, so technically, this is middle grade. But come on! Fast-paced Indian-inspired fantasy? What’s not to love? Poor Ash Mistry. After three weeks in the exhausting chaos of India, he fully expects to head back to London and be done with it. But then the evil Lord Savage hatches a big plot to unleash the demon king Ravana, and all hell breaks loose. Quite literally.

 

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