I love fantasy books. And if you’re reading this, you probably love fantasy books, too. Between the amazing characters, the excellent worldbuilding, and the chance for a little bit of escape from our current lives, fantasy books are some of the best YA has to offer. These 2019 fantasy YAs are just some of the ones on my oh-my-gosh-can’t-wait-to-read-them list.
Looking for more? Check out the 2019 debut list, which includes titles like The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen, Fireborne by Rosaria Munda, A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause and more! Or check out the 2019 LGBTQIA+ list, which includes titles like Crier’s War by Nina Varela, Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller and more!
Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim (July 9)
What if we took all the talent and time constraints of cosplay and wove it into a lush, magical adventure? That’s what you’ll get in Spin the Dawn. Maia Tamarin poses as a boy to compete to become the royal tailor, risking her life to save her family from ruin—but the competition is rampant with corruption and the court magician seems to know too much. When Maia is issued the challenge of creating three magical gowns for the emperor’s bride-to-be, a seemingly impossible task, she decides to journey to the ends of the kingdom to make the gowns and earn her place. Pick up this romantic fantasy if you’re a fan of Renée Ahdieh. (And don’t forget that Ahdieh raises the undead with The Beautiful in October!)
Shatter The Sky , by Rebecca Kim Wells (July 30)
It’s the “angry queer girl kidnaps a dragon” book you didn’t know you were waiting for. From debut author and independent bookseller Rebecca Kim Wells comes Shatter the Sky, where all Maren wants is to live among her people with her girlfriend Kaia. But when Kaia is abducted by the emperor’s prophetic mages, Maren’s entire life is upheaved. Her plan: trick the king, steal a dragon, and store the prophetic stronghold. To steal a dragon, though, she must apprentice to the king’s mysterious dragon trainer, ignore her strange dreams, and stop herself from getting sucked into both a rebellion and a prophecy—if it’s not too late for Kaia already.
House of Salt and Sorrows, by Erin A. Craig (August 6)
Are you looking for a sister story wrapped in some gloriously creepy oceanic worldbuilding? Then Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows is your next read. Annaleigh and her twelve sisters are cursed. With four dead—in increasingly dramatic and tragic ways—there’s no denying that they’re all doomed to the same fate. But when Annaleigh begins to experience ghostly visions, she realizes that they might not have been accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out to dance until dawn at secret glittering balls in strange shimmering slippers—and if Annaleigh doesn’t figure out why, she could be the next to die.
Kingdom of Souls, by Rena Barron (September 3)
I have a soft spot for ambitious girls and god stories, so it’s no surprise that Kingdom of Souls is high on my wishlist. Arrah wants the same magic as her family of witchdoctors, but her ancestral powers aren’t manifesting. The older she gets, the less likely they are to appear—but trading years of her life for scraps of magic could be worth it. But when the Kingdom’s children start to disappear and the long-imprisoned Demon King begins to stir, Arrah may need to trade more than years of her life to stop him.
Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi (September 10)
Of all the books on this list that I’ve had the honor of reading, Akweke Emezi’s Pet is my favorite. Lucille is a town with no monsters. They were run out long ago, banished in favor of a fair society—at least, that’s what Jam has been taught. But when the creature Pet crawls out of her mother’s painting and warns that monsters have returned to Lucille, Jam has to reconsider what she thinks she knows—especially as Pet thinks the monster is in her best friend’s house. But can she save her friend and her town from a monster that nobody will admit exists? Emezi comes to the YA world after the success of their debut adult novel Freshwater and absolutely hits it out of the park. A must-read for this season.
The Bone Houses, by Emily Lloyd-Jones (September 24)
I’m so excited for Emily Lloyd-Jones new book The Bone Houses, and it’s not only because I love death magic—but that is a huge part of it. Lloyd-Jones returns to YA with a family of gravediggers trying desperately to stay alive in their strange mountainous town. Ryn and her siblings know the dead don’t always stay dead in this cursed place. When an apprentice mapmaker named Ellis arrives, the “bone houses” start attacking harder—and if Ellis and Ryn don’t figure out why the corpses are rising, and why they’re attacking, Ryn and her family could be destroyed forever.
The Good Luck Girls, by Charlotte Nicole Davis (October 1)
If you’re brand of fantasy story involves girls murdering terrible men in the opening pages, The Good Luck Girls has you covered. Aster, Violet, Tansy, Mallow, Clementine: the country calls them the Good Luck Girls, marked by their brands and tapped in a life they didn’t choose. At least, until Clementine murders a man. The five flee to find freedom and revenge in a country that wants them dead, pursued by mortal and magical forces. Their only hope? A story passed down from the Good Luck Girls that came before them, a story that can’t possibly be true. If they’re going to survive, they’ll need more than luck. This should be the perfect hybrid of feminist fantasy and fast-paced magical adventure.
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, by Laura Ruby (October 1)
Does it even matter what a book is about when the title is this good? Laura Ruby returns to the world of YA with Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All. Frankie and her sister are orphaned, with their mother having died and their father abandoning them. They’re just doing their best to survive during the Great Depression and the start of World War II, and Frankie isn’t sure what she’s doing can be enough. The narrator is curious to see if she’ll survive. Oh, and that narrator? Is a ghost. Yes, please. Laura Ruby is exactly the author to take this strange narrator and make it work, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.
The Never Tilting World, by Rin Chupeco (October 15)
If you loved the twin worldbuilding of Kaitlyn Sage Patterson’s The Diminished, you’ll eat up Rin Chupeco’s new novel The Never Tilting World. Generations of twin goddesses ruled Aeon until betrayal split the world in two. Now, with one world trapped in night and one trapped in sunlight, two twin goddesses must set out to heal their broken world, no matter the sacrifice. Think of this as The Diminished meets Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night—the first of a new sweeping duology that’s sure to keep readers on their toes.
Mooncakes, by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (October 15)
If you haven’t heard of Mooncakes, just save yourself some time and pre-order it now. This is the most anticipated YA graphic novel coming out this year, and it’s with good reason: it looks amazing. Nova Huang works in her grandmother’s bookshop, loans out spell books, investigates the supernatural—y’know, the usual teen witch life. When she finds her childhood crush Tam Lang (who is, of course, a werewolf) battling a horse demon in the woods, Nova has no choice but to help Tam fight the forces of evil. But will her magic be enough?
Beyond the Black Door, by AdriAnne Strickland (October 29)
Author Adrianne Strickland once described Beyond the Black Door as a book for asexual people who tend to fall in love with villains—and so, of course, it makes me the ideal reader. The first standalone from the co-author of Shadow Run, Beyond the Black Door follows Kamai, who can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep. There, the black door haunts her, the one constant in every soul she visits. It’s the one place she can never go—the one door she can never open. At least, until tragedy strikes. And once Kamai opens the door, there’s no going back.
A River of Royal Blood, by Amanda Joy (October 29)
I’ve been following Amanda Joy on Instagram for ages, and I’m so excited that her North African-inspired fantasy A River of Royal Blood is now within reach. The last person with blood magick in Myre was Queen Raina, who massacred thousands—at least, until Eva. Trapped in Raina’s shadow, Eva must battle her older sister to the death in a battle for the throne, but her sister isn’t the only one who wants her dead. Can she survive the assassins and find a way to save her sister, or will her magick prove too much? Fans of Three Dark Crowns will be sure to eat this one up.
I’m a Gay Wizard, by V.S. Santoni (October 29)
Sometimes, a title tells you all you need to know. In a world where magic clings like glitter, Johnny and Alison find that their magical summer dabblings have larger consequences, unleashing earthquakes and drawing the attention of the age-old Marduk Institute. The new world at the Institute is full of magic and monsters and cute boys, but it also puts them in the middle of a supernatural fight that could cost them their lives. Will magic be enough to save them?
The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White (November 5)
You love Kiersten White. I love Kiersten White. Everybody loves Kiersten White. Like the rest of her work, her most recent novel, which reimagined Frankenstein, blew me out of the water—so it’s no surprise that her next reimagining is on this list. In The Guinevere Deception, the first book in a new trilogy, Guinevere arrives in Camelot ready to marry a stranger: King Arthur. It’s the wizard Merlin’s solution to the magic at the kingdom’s borders, for Guinevere is no mortal girl, but a changeling who has given up everything to protect Camelot. But the court is as unsafe as the borders, and as magic tries to reclaim the land, Guinevere will have to figure out how to survive and what side she stands on.
Winterwood, by Shea Ernshaw (November 5)
Some YA books are loved by adults. Some YA books are loved by teens. And every teen I know absolutely adored Shea Ernshaw’s debut novel, making her sophomore title Winterwood an absolute must-read. Nora Walker and her family have a special connection with their spooky woods—woods that claim victims as easily as they grow trees, including Oliver Huntsman. Oliver is supposed to be missing, but days after his disappearance in the worst snowstorm in years, he returns, missing his memory, perfectly healthy—and Nora knows there’s something different about the woods now. Can she figure out what happened to him? And how far will Oliver go to protect the secrets he does remember? This dark fantasy will be great for fans of Peternelle van Arsdale and readers who spend too far spelunking down the nosleep subreddit.
Eight Will Fall, by Sarah Harian (November 26)
We all have a soft spot for crews of criminal teens. (Hello, Six of Crows). So it’s no surprise that Eight Will Fall is on this list. In a world where magic is illegal, Larkin and her crew of teenage criminals are banished underground to fight the horrific beasts that reside there. It isn’t until she befriends fellow outlaw Amias that she realizes her crew wasn’t chosen at random. Their destinies are intertwined, and their destiny? Is death. The vibe of this dark fantasy hits some of my Stranger Things feelings right in the chest, which means I need it sooner rather than later.