Fantasy chapter books transport kids into other worlds, worlds of magic and magical creatures. Discover the best fantasy chapter books for kids ages six to teen from beginning chapter books to middle grade and YA.
The fantasy books below are listed in difficulty from the easiest to hardest. Age recommendations are listed for each title.
Fantasy is my favorite genre. I like that it’s a totally imaginative escape. How about you, your kids, and your students? Anyone else love this genre, too?
Best Fantasy Chapter Books For Kids
The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Amazingly enough, this princess is able to fight monsters and have a fun birthday party — even though it keeps getting interrupted. A FAVORITE series for many growing readers. (*FIND PRINCESS IN BLACK READ ALIKE BOOKS HERE.)
Kitty and Dragon by Meika Hashimoto, illustrated by Gillian Reid
In three sweet friendship stories, meet Kitty and her new friend, Dragon who live together in a cave with the first story about Kitty finding the cave and her new friend. Buy the book and or read the darling stories on the popular Epic website.
Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters) by Tracey West, illustrated by Graham Howells
In the times of castles and kingdoms, Drake learns he is a dragon master (and that dragons are real!) He must train with the other kids to master his dragon, an earth dragon. This is a fun fantasy chapter book series that will interest almost any child as it has just the right amount of conflict, adventure, and excitement.
The Fabled Stables Willa the Wisp by Jonathan Auxier, illustrated by Olga Demidova
Auggie, the only human, lives on an island of mythical creatures but he’s lonely. When a new stall magically appears, Auggie enters and meets a Wisp who is hunted by ruthless magical poachers. It’s a darling start to a new series perfect for fantasy-loving readers.
Princess Evie by Sarah Kilbridge
Before Princess Evie starts a new class at school, she and her magical pony, Willow, and cat, Sparkles, help the fairies on their first day of school. She partners with a new friend to rescue a baby hedgehog. Kids will love the combination of horses, magic, and friendship in a wonderful adventure story.
Dragon Slayer’s Academy by Kate McMullan
This is a delightfully funny 20-book fantasy series about a boy named Wiglaf who attends a (terrible) school for dragon slayers, has a pet pig who speaks pig latin (HA) and is friends with Eric, who is Erica, a princess longing for adventure. The hapless and greedy director sends off his students in order for them to kill the dragons and steal their gold for the director. In order to kill the dragons the students must find figure out the dragon’s weakness – in the first book, it’s bad knock-knock jokes that make the dragon explode!
Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale
The Big Bad Wolf aka. Wolfgang is the only suspect in the destruction of the Little Pigs house. And he doesn’t have an alibi. But he didn’t do it either so he partners with the cheerful 4th Little Pig, Ferkel, (who knew!?) to find the real culprit. A humorous fairy-tale mash-up book series for early elementary kids.
Tank & Fizz The Case of the Slime Stampede by Liam O’Donnel, illustrated by Mike Deas
I loved this book – and couldn’t put it down. Tank is a girl techie troll and Fizz is her best friend detective goblin. They know that their beloved school janitor would never have released those slimes that ate the playground but now he’s in jail and it’s up to them to figure out who did it — and why. Excellent!
The Magical Animal Adoption Agency Clover’s Luck by Kallie George, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Clover discovers and volunteers to work at the magical animal adoption agency in a deep part of the woods. But after just one day, Mr. Jams leaves Clover in charge by herself. It’s a lovely story showing Clover learning more about herself (that maybe she isn’t unlucky) and gaining confidence.
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Geneva B
When Jax’s mom drops him off with an irascible old lady named Ma, he learns that she helps magical animals travel between worlds. In this case, three dragons. But, he and Ma accidentally travel back in time instead of to the world of magic, and Ma gets stuck there. It’s up to Jax to rescue Ma and deliver the dragons to where they belong. CLIFF-HANGER ALERT! Get this book with its sequel, The Dragon Thief.
The Perilous Princess Plot (Buckle and Squash) by Sarah Courtauld
Very sarcastic and funny humor will keep you entertained throughout this fantasy book about a silly (stupid) sister obsessed with princes and her more steady sister who rescues her silly sister from a kidnapping plot.
Rainbow Magic Fairies (series)
These are very predictable stories but kids ADORE these books — they are some of the most checked-out books at our library. They’re about two human girls who are trusted to help the magical fairies search for something Jack Frost’s goblins stole.
Dragon Girls: Azmina the Gold Glitter Dragon by Maddy Mara
Three girls learn that they’re Glitter Dragon Girls and with magic, teamwork, and turning into dragons, they must protect the forest from the Shadow Sprites. Together, they embark on a quest like no other — in their dragon forms. They must problem solve and figure out how to work together. A solid start in a new series.
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso (series)
What a hilarious character! We love this magical graphic novel about Salem Hyde, an impulsive but very cute little witch who gets confused between spelling words and casting spells. It’s like Calvin turned witch and female. Fantastic!
Beasts of Olympus: Beast Keeper #1 by Lucy Coats (series)
It took me a few chapters to start enjoying this book but it was worth it. Pan’s son, Demon, is assigned to care for the creatures in the stables on Olympus — which is a dangerous job considering who is there! Demon learns to love all the creatures and his job and pleases even the toughest critic, Hera, when he heals her favorite creature, the Hydra.
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre illustrated by Rafael Rosado
Claudette is a dragon-slaying, mischievous girl who tricks her little brother and her best friend (a princess) into questing to kill the dragon. It’s a delightful graphic novel, I loved every second of it. And, don’t worry, there is no killing of ay dragons. Your boys and girls will love this one — I just gave it to a third grader reluctant reader and his mom said he’s already on his third time through.
Easier Fantasy Chapter Books For Ages 7 – 10
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
If you like mythical creatures, independent thinkers, and mysteries, you’ll love this first book in the Pip Bartlett series as much as me. Pip’s world is just like ours except for one significant difference — magical creatures exist and often are pets!
Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski (series)
Once upon a time, a regular girl and her brother accidentally enter a fairy tale. And mess it all up. Whoops. You’ll fall in love with these characters and won’t want to put down the series until you’ve read them all.
If the Magic Fits (100 Dresses) by Susan Maupin Schmid
Darling Dimple is thrilled to be moved from a kitchen scrubber to an upstairs dress presser for the princess. One day, she discovers a special closet of enchanted dresses. So when Darling discovers a plot against the princess, she uses the dress magic to help her investigate. This lovable heroine and a charming magical plot will enchant readers.
The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors (series)
Ben doesn’t think his summer could be any more boring. Until he finds a baby dragon. When he and Pearl Petal discover a veterinarian for imaginary creatures, instead of helping the dragon, they accidentally let a sasquatch escape. Whoops. Now the pair must lure the creature back to the vet. (Easier said than done.) A page-turning fantasy series kids will love.
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (series)
Every Tuesday, the castle where Princess Celie and her family live, adds on a new room or area. Celie loves her castle and it’s living ways. When robbers attack her parents’ carriage and they are never seen again, Celie takes comfort that her parent’s room stays exactly the same. Then the Royal Council and the foreign prince try to take over the kingdom and it’s up to Celie and the castle to stop them.
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach
When Rory finds out that her new after-school club, Ever After School, is a fairy tale training school for characters. In fact, on her first day she fights a real dragon! We learn that all the kids will be assigned their own character in a familiar tale – and the chance to prove themselves. It’s also the beginning of acceptance for Rory – finding friends for the first time and learning about herself. Love it. (First in a series.)
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing
Brilliant illustrations and an action-packed plot make this a must-read graphic novel. Charles isn’t thrilled with his family’s move to a run-down art-deco building in a big city. Making matters worse, the place is haunted. Fortunately, he meets Margo Maloo, a monster mediator. Which might just make things worse before they get better…
Aleca Zamm Is a Wonder by Ginger Rue, illustrated by Zoe Persico
I enjoyed this well-written, fast-paced fantasy book for kids, the first in a new easy chapter book series. On her 10th birthday, Aleca accidentally discovers if she says her full name, she can STOP TIME. Which helps her on her math test. Then her Aunt Zephyr arrives and explains a few things about being a Wonder. One, other Wonders who aren’t very nice could use those time stops to find Aleca. And two, she needs to learn how to control her power so it won’t control her. And three, a 10-year old shouldn’t be in charge of the world clock.
Ferno the Fire Dragon (Beast Quest #1) by Adam Blade
This is a fantasy chapter book series for kids about a young boy, Tom, who gets to go on a quest just like his father before him. In this first book, Tom’s quest is to free the dragon from the enchanted collar which is making him destroy the kingdom. It’s a decent story –short, adventurous, and features a kid-hero. What could be better than that!?
Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan
A quirky and hilarious adventurous. Merlin decides to teach the falsely boasting Knights of the Round Table a little humility. He sends them back to the age of dinosaurs to test their mettle –for real. And wouldn’t you know it, the bravest of them all, The Black Knight, turns out to be a girl. Check your assumptions right there, yes? The knights learn a thing or two about each other and working together. Plus, dinosaurs are almost like dragons, right? When they return to their own time, they’ll still be able to say they fought dragons.
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi (series)
This popular fantasy graphic novel book series is the amazing adventure of two siblings trying to save their kidnapped mom in an underground world of elves, demons, robots, and talking animals. It’s a kid-favorite with lots of books in the series to read.
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (series)
Fairy tales come alive when Alex and Conner (brother and sister) find themselves in the fairy tale book given to them by their grandmother (who happens to be THE fairy godmother). Their only way home is for them to find the fairy tale ingredients for a Wishing Spell that will hopefully help them return to their regular home. Finding these artifacts will be dangerous, mysterious, and life-changing. Each book in this series mesmerizes readers with adventure, plot twists, and mystery.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
After a food mage turns Aventurine, a dragon, into a human using a magical chocolate drink, she develops a passion for chocolate. Unrecognized by her dragon clan, Aventurine travels to the nearest city to apprentice herself to a chocolate shop. She’s a brave, adventurous girl who makes her chocolate dreams come true with help from a new friend and kind employers. Will she be as brave when her dragon family attacks the town? Enjoyable from the first page, the story is a delight to read. (Best read with chocolate!)
The Adventurers Guild by Zach Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
Get ready for your new favorite fantasy adventure series. Zed and Brock don’t want to be chosen for the Adventurers Guild. Nobody does. Unlike the mages or merchants guild, the adventurers must leave the safety of their walled city to fight the monsters who live on the outside. Unfortunately, Zed and Brock are picked as Adventurers. And before they can finish training, Zed, Brock, and others are sent outside the city on a fact-finding mission that uncovers treachery, fiendish beasts, and Zed’s untapped magic. Imaginative world-building, intriguing plot twists, and complex characters kept me enthralled from page one!
The Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong (series)
Rowan wants to be a Monster Hunter instead of the future queen. When tragedy strikes her brother, she gets her chance to switch roles and become the Royal Monster Slayer with her aunt with her brother as king. Unfortunately, she must face and kill a gryphon soon or her scheming uncle will get the throne instead. The story is an exciting adventure filled with surprises, mythical creatures, and new friendships. It’s not a cliff-hanger but it does leave the door open for another book which is SO GOOD — The Gryphon’s Lair.
Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis
Fast-paced with an interesting premise, this exciting middle-grade book with Celtic mythology is about a foster child attending a magical school and searching for answers about her mysterious heritage. Kelcie is a foster kid who has been living in the human world. When she arrives at the Academy, she discovers that she’s a Saiga, a mistrusted elemental whose legacy includes a dangerous traitor. She makes friends who help her learn about her unique powers and together they fight the monsters who continue to attack the school, seemingly looking for Kelcie. This first book packs a punch and sets us up for book two — which I can’t wait to read. Highly recommended!
Once Upon a Tim by Stuart Gibbs
Hilarious, illustrated, and perfect for fantasy and adventure fans! Tim and his sister Belinda are peasants who hope to improve their lot in life so they sign up as knights for a not-very-brave prince and his so-called magician sidekick to find and rescue Princess Grace from a monster. Helpful foreshadowing, a strong narrative voice, and humor throughout aren’t all that this book brings to readers, it also includes helpful life lessons from Belinda about the patriarchy and great vocabulary words (which are helpfully indicated so your parents will know the IQ benefits).
Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (series)
Nizhoni, from the Diné (Navajo) people, sees a monster (disguised as a human) at her basketball game. Making matters worse, it’s her dad’s new boss and he kidnaps her dad and tries to get her little brother, too. She escapes with her brother and best friend to ask the Spider Woman for help, learning that she and her brothers are the descendants of the Hero Twins. Her journey challenges her with heroic trials in order to meet the Sun who will give her weapons to fight the monsters and culminating in a fierce battle between the good guys and the monsters. I LOVED this story — it’s a fast-paced hero’s journey with a rich, diverse mythology.
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (series)
We read this dragon book twice for a bedtime story in addition to the subsequent books in the series including the newly published FOURTH book, Talking To Dragons! This is about a strong female princess named Cimorene who doesn’t want to be a typical damsel in distressed only to then be married off. She leaves her home to apprentice herself to a dragon. For fun. No rescuing involved, thank you very much. Plus, she must help save her dragon from the wizards. LOVE and highly recommend this dragon series.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (series)
Guess what!? The Greek gods still exist! Their kids are half-bloods with unique powers who monsters want to kill them. When Percy learns he’s the son of a Greek God, it explains a lot. Now he must go to safety and training at Camp Half-Blood where before he can learn much, he’s assigned a perilous quest.
The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) by Sayantani Dasgupta
This story pulls you in from the start when Kiranmala discovers on her 12th birthday that she’s a princess from another realm and her real parents are trapped in a black hole-type place. But there’s a lot more she’ll learn — like who her real parents are (it’s not good!) and that demons can be your friends. Kiranmala’s adoptive parents are super awesome, too. You’ll love every second of this entertaining, Indian mythology adventure.
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny
Not only is this story compelling and interesting but the symbolism and life lessons are stunning. Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There Charlie begins to have the most horrible nightmares — nightmares that blur between reality and dream. And when the witches steal Charlie’s brother into the nightmare world, he goes to rescue his brother. Charlie and his friends must learn to face their fears in order for the nightmare world not to have access to the real world.
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
My 11-year old and I devoured this book– now a series. While Jack’s single mom works, Jack takes care of his little sister, Maddy. And like the other Jack, this Jack, at the prompting of his sister who doesn’t talk, also trades the family’s one valuable thing, his mom’s car, for seeds. It all goes downhill from there: The seeds turn into a freaky, monster-growing garden which attacks; their neighbor friend secretly steals some 0f the seeds; a dragon appears with a dire warning; and, Maddy is kidnapped by one of the monsters! Action, adventure, intrigue…
Dragon Slippers trilogy by Jessica Day George
Young, brave Creel wants to own her own seamstress shop. In her pursuit of this dream, she encounters and befriends a few dragons who will change the course of her life. From one of the dragons, she gets a pair of magical slippers that help her speak to and control her most esteemed dragon friend. Of course, she’d never use the slippers for evil purposes but she’s not the only one who knows their power…This entire series is absolutely enthralling with the best elements of fantasy, adventure, and a hint of romance.
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips, illustrated by Isabelle Follath
If you like snarky illustrated books that make you laugh, don’t miss this entertaining fantasy. Ebenezer, a man over 500 years old, is kept alive by a monstrous Beast who gives him youth cream in return for exotic foods…and now the Beast wants to eat a child. Still wanting to be youthful, Ebenezer adopts the rudest girl at a local orphanage, Bethany, and begins to fatten her up. She is horrid for a while until she’s not…and Ebenezer feels so bad that he confesses his evil plan. Together, find a solution to get rid of the Beast and get a happy ending! (Or do they?)
The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger’s Apprentice by John A. Flanagan
SO AMAZING! We follow a boy named Will as he’s apprenticed to become a Ranger, a job he’s unsure about. But as he develops a relationship with his master and learns what being a Ranger is all about (spying for the kingdom), Will comes to embrace his new life. When an old enemy of the kingdom sends out dangerous beasts to attack Will’s master, Will is instrumental in getting help and killing the creatures. Action, fantasy, adventure, friendship, excellent writing — this book has everything!
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Wonderfully crafted and imagined, this is a fairy tale of sorts about a good witch who rescues a town’s abandoned (the town thinks sacrificed) babies and gives them to another town to love. Except for one baby who she adopts for her own; a special baby named Luna who is accidentally infused with moon magic. It’s also the story of the baby’s magical, bereaved mother, a wicked witch who feeds off sorrow, a woodcarver who wants justice, and most of all, Luna.
Snow Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
This isn’t the same Snow White and Red Rose story from Disney, it’s something closer to the original Grimm story and it’s marvelous. Sisters Snow and Rose live in the woods with their mother because when their father disappeared, they lost their bigger, fancy home. When the girls explore, they befriend a young boy from a mushrooming family named Ivo as well as a large bear whom they nurse back to health during the winter. They fear that the woodsman will find and kill their beloved bear. Then they stumble upon a sinister Little Man who wants to enchant them or kill them. Surprisingly, this is one Grimm story with a happy ending!
Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty
Set in the time of early American settlers, this is a beautiful story about a night spirit connected to the powerful wood magic of her ancestors. Willa accidentally discovers that her clan is keeping human captives as well as forbidden technology. Because of her discovery, her clan leader wants her dead. Alone and hunted, Willa finds shelter with a kind human man whom she learns to trust. When she realizes that one of his children was one of the human captives, Willa knows she must go back and rescue the humans. The author deftly explores the meaning of family, as well as the themes of prejudice and caring for the natural world.
The Iron Trial(Magisterium) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Even though Callum tries to fail the entrance trials, he is admitted to the school his dad says is evil. But the Magisterium school is not as bad as he expects. Call learns about his elemental powers, he forges bonds of friendship with his teammates and rescues a wolf puppy who is infused with the evil magic of Chaos. I couldn’t put this book down — especially after the surprise twist of who Callum really is!!
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Fantastic fantasy world-building, excellent writing, a strong female heroine of color, and a surprise plot twist ending are just a few of the reasons you’ll love this book. On top of that, you’ll find an exciting action-packed, suspenseful story about Amari whose brother vanishes mysteriously. He sends her a message that she’s a magician and should attend a special school. There, she discovers she’s a magician with outlawed dark magic but she’s determined to stay in the school and find her brother.
Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
In a Thai-inspired world where caste determines your future, Sai’s new job as a mapmaker’s assistant is far beyond her station, which is why she can’t wait to join the Mapmaker on a sailing quest to find a new continent and maybe, find herself a new home. During the trip, the Mapmaker reveals his past hubris of mapping and claiming already-inhabited lands which their war-hungry country would then use and destroy. Betrayal, new friendship, and a shipwreck, this is an exciting, must-read adventure!
A Tale of Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (series)
This book is bloody and macabre and an excellent, imaginative story that weaves Hansel and Gretel with eight more Grimm fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel abandon their terrible parents in order to find better ones –ones that won’t try to kill them. The narrator, a strong, quirky voice, warns us of the bloody things to come. While he’s sometimes distracting, for the most part, I liked how his snarky voice kept me from getting too freaked out by the gruesome parts. Once in the wild forest, Hansel transforms into a ravenous, hunter-beast while Gretel continues on her own. This book will make you want to reread your Complete Brother’s Grimm. (Just don’t read it right before bed.)
Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl by Julie Kagawa
The Memory Thief (Thirteen Witches Book 1) by Jodi Lynn Anderson
An uplifting fantasy adventure with memorable characters showing the magical power of stories!
Rosie takes care of both herself and her mom who is a shell of a person, her only solace was the stories she wrote. But in a moment of despair, Rosie burns her stories –and suddenly, starts to see ghosts. She learns that she’s the last of the ghost hunters and she’s in terrible danger from the thirteenth witch, the memory thief, who stole her mom’s memories. With her friend Germ’s help, Rosie uses her gift of storytelling to defeat the witch. The wonderful ending sets the stage for more adventures…after all, there are still 12 more witches!
Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori Lee
Pahua has always seen spirits, including her best friend who is a cat spirit she names Miv. When she accidentally releases an angry bridge spirit who steals her little brother Matt’s soul, she knows she must fix what she did or Matt will die. She travels to spirit realms to find Matt’s and the angry spirit along with Miv and an irritable shaman-in-training girl who helps guide them and saves her more than once. Journeying to save her brother involves a lot of almost-dying, cool Hmong mythology world-building, and the chance to grow into herself. I loved Pahua’s character–her devotion to her brother, her kindness and compassion, and her bravery. Excellent.
The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
A fantastic, magical journey of self-acceptance, a bewitching plotline, and irresistible characters.
When gathering mushrooms in his latest apprenticeship, Barclay accidentally becomes his worst fear — a Lore Keeper bonded with a mythical beast. Even though he doesn’t want to be a Lore Keeper because his parents were killed by a mythical beast, Barclay is forced out of his hometown by scared villagers. He meets and travels with another Lore Keeper named Violet to a town where he tries to get rid of his mark by first entering a competition. All the while, he struggles with the unexpected joy of the wild Beast bond and the guilt for enjoying it. He’ll soon have to make a choice — cut out the Beast or embrace his new life.
The Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate
The conquering human ruler, Murdano, hunts and kills all the large, dog-like Dairne. All except Byx. In hopes to find a safe place and maybe the Dairne’s mythical homeland, Byx sets off on what becomes a dangerous, exciting adventure filled with new friends like Tobble who is a wobbyk. I love this uniquely imagined fantasy world about friendship, differences, betrayal, and family.
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas
Trinket’s storyteller father disappeared years ago. Now that her mother has died, Trinket decides to take the map her father left behind and try to find him. Her friend, Thomas the Pig Boy, travels with her. Each place on the map gives Trinket a new story to tell and she imagines she could learn to be a storyteller like her father. Amazing adventures ensue but when Trinket learns the fate of her father in the seventh story, she must make a very hard decision.
Healer and the Witch by Nancy Werlin
When Sylvie comes into her unusual witch powers, her grand-mere cautions her to not use them and to continue her practice of healing only. Then, when her beloved grand-mere dies, Sylvie ignores that advice and uses her witch magic to remove the cloud of grief from her maman’s head but accidentally removes all knowledge and memory of Sylvie, too. Desperate to fix her mistake and to learn to use her powers for good, Sylvie and a neighbor boy travel through medieval France in search of someone who could train her. They must determine who to trust, not just because witches are hated and burned, but because some people are duplicitous and manipulative–which Sylvie learns the hard way. Their journey shows Sylvie that she’s able to survive difficulties and trust in herself most of all. Very enjoyable.
Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone
Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster
Tor wishes for a different gift and ends up with a curse instead of prompting him and two friends to leave their homes to search for the evil Night Witch to break it. Along the way, the friends encounter new lands, people, and dangerous monsters. Interspersed through the story are myths from their culture that may actually give them a map to find the Night Witch. I love the myths, the adventure, and the very surprising ending.
The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
I couldn’t love this magical story more — it’s absolutely lovely. When trolls attack Elfhelm on Christmas Eve, they destroy Father Christmas’ sleigh, the toys, and the town which ruins Christmas. And it was only the second Christmas ever! Amelia, the girl whose hope made Christmas happen in the first place, spends Christmas locked in a workhouse, devastated when Father Christmas doesn’t come. The following year, Father Christmas tries again but the hope magic is so low his sleigh crashes him into the castle of Queen Victoria. She, Blitzen, Charles Dickens, and a brave elf newspaper reporter play important roles in helping Father Christmas rescue Amelia from the workhouse, reigniting her hope and saving Christmas.
The Wonderling by Mira Bartók
This beautiful, heart-warming story begins at an orphanage of maltreated groundlings (part human, part animal) orphans. One of the orphans, Number 13, is a fearful, shy foxlike 11-year old. He’s befriended by a fearless bird groundling named Trinket who convinces him to escape with her and renames him Arthur after the famous king. The two escape then, Arthur sets off on his own to find more about his unknown origins. Unfortunately, he falls in with a group of crooks yet through a series of twists and turns finds out that he has a big destiny — he must stop the wicked orphanage leader from magically removing all the music in the world.
Podkin One-Ear The Legend Begins by Kieran Larwood
Well-written and enthralling, you’ll love every moment of this story about a young rabbit who reluctantly grows into his destiny. Alternating between the bard’s present and the story of Podkin, we learn that young Podkin was a lazy, spoiled prince. When the cruel Gorm, metal dark magic rabbits, arrives at his family’s burrow to kill everyone inside, Podkin escapes with his much braver sister and little brother. No longer able to be spoiled and lazy, Podkin tries his best to be brave and pull his weight, often failing miserably but occasionally succeeding, too.
Nevermoor The Trial of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan escapes her birthday’s death curse when she’s whisked away to another realm by a mysterious man named Jupiter North to compete in four trials to join the Wundrous Society. Morrigan is worried because she doesn’t have a magical “nack” like the hundreds of other kids. She befriends a mischievous boy named Hawthorne with the nack for flying dragons. In between the trials, they try to figure out if the elusive Mr. Jones is connected to the dangerous Wundersmith named Ezra Squall. Although the pacing is a bit sluggish, I liked watching Morrigan’s growth in confidence and happiness throughout the story.
Solimar by Pam Munoz Ryan
Solimar is a princess blessed with monarch butterfly magic that settles in her rebozo. Just prior to her Quinceañera when her father and brother are out of town, another king arrives and takes everyone hostage but Solimar escapes with the help of her Abuela and a curandera. She travels by river toward where her brother and father will be and is rescued from a waterfall by an inventor boy named Berto who joins her journey. This is a magical adventure about a strong girl coming into her own…and saving the kingdom as she does.
Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend by Katie Zhao
Winnie is trying to navigate middle school and her parent’s high expectations when an old family cookbook unlocks her 6th sense, shaman powers, and the spirit of her LaoLao (grandmother) who enters their pet bunny. LaoLao tells Winnie that she’s a shaman meant to fight evil spirits and send them back to the spirit world but Winnie is not interested — she has too many demands from her parents plus she wants to beat her nemesis in piano and Chinese school. Unfortunately, he’s the other shaman and they’ll need to work together when demons attack so she reluctantly embraces her powers and her new partner.
Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren
You know you love a story when you can’t wait for the sequel! You’ll fall in love with Valor, a dedicated sister who attempts to kill the prince in order to get sent to jail to help her sister who is falsely imprisoned. Of course, the breakout doesn’t go as planned. Other prisoners (all kids) want to know what she’s up to and she doesn’t know who to trust. Be ready for an exciting plot twist, terrific characters, and lots of action.
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Magic and color are closely linked in her world. Unfortunately, Alice has no color in her skin or hair. And her father has been missing for years making her even sadder. She travels with a boy named Oliver to a different magical land in order to find and rescue her father. But the rules are wildly different and the inhabitants eat people for their magic. Even though Oliver and Alice start their quest at odds, the many challenges join them in a solid friendship. Furthermore is a uniquely creative plot that is so well written, you won’t want it to end.
Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen
Book lovers — don’t miss this wildly imaginative story about a girl named Indira who always wanted to be chosen to go to the Protagonist Preparatory, a school for side characters and protagonists where they hope one of the Brainstormers will introduce them to an author. As we become acquainted with this creative world where (book)Marks and DogEars roam the streets, the story grows into an exciting adventure and puzzling mystery — because someone is using dangerous magic that will damage the world of stories forever. Enchanting and unique, I can only hope that there will be more books set in this world. Loved it!
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson
When Yanka’s legs turn into hair bear legs and paws, she leaves her foster mother’s home in the village to find answers in the forest. Her quest for answers leads her to a wolf she met as a baby bear, a Yaga girl and mom and their house on chicken legs, her grandmother, the Bear Tsarina, and eventually, a dangerous task to kill a dragon and save the wish tree so that Yanka can ask for her friend Sasha’s life to be spared.. It’s a Russian-folktale-infused story with themes of family, belonging, identity, selflessness, and the power of stories that transports readers on an epic hero’s journey.
The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
Faryn is a likable, orphaned main character who values kindness and family. After helping defeat a demon in Chinatown she discovers that she’s the prophetic demon-slaying Heaven Breaker and embarks on a quest. But she’s not alone — she journeys with her resentful, angry brother Alex, her ex-friend Moli, and a cursed boy. Together they’ll fight demons, escape capture, and save imprisoned dragons in order to attend the god’s Lunar New Year’s banquet. But instead of finding her missing father at the banquet, she learns of the gods’ plan to wipe out faithless humans. Faryn refuses to lead their army and is horrified when her brother, eager for vengeance, takes on the power of the Heaven Breaker so he can lead the army of killers. The story ends on a cliff-hanger making me eager for the next book in the series.
Legacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant
Not only is this book beautifully executed with a fuzzy cover, full-color illustrations, and lovely border details, but the uniquely imagined story is also beautifully written and 100% enchanting. Legacy lives at an orphanage with her father and the other orphans but she longs to compete in tennis. When she gets the chance, she leaves to try out for the country’s elite tennis academy. Once she’s there, Legacy’s country background makes her an outcast but that also helps her discover two true friends, her inner magical power, and the dangerous truth of what’s actually going on at the Academy. I loved this unexpected but delightful combination of tennis and fantasy and can’t wait until the next book!
Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull (series)
Brandon Mull has outdone himself with an inventive, totally unique world and characters! Cole, a regular kid, is trick-or-treating with his friends when they all get kidnapped. He manages to hide and follows the kidnappers — to another world, a world of five kingdoms, slavery, and magic. Cole is found and sold to slavers on the Outskirts. There he’ll battle mysterious beings living on cloud castles, discover an exiled princess, escape from slavery, and have unimaginable adventures.
Firebird Song by Arnee Flores
If you like magical stories of hope overcoming fear with an epic quest, admirable protagonists, and interesting twists and turns, you’ll love this book. The Kingdom of Lyrica is controlled by the evil Spectress and her ash golems. When Prewitt learns there is a possibility that the long-lost princess is alive, he leaves his home to search for her. Princess Calliope doesn’t know she is a princess, only that she’s had to live underground on a magical barge, hidden from the world. Together, the two children follow the clues to find the missing Firebird’s feather and hopefully, save the kingdom from evil. You’ll love this magical adventure story of bravery, adventure, and overcoming terrible odds.
Elementals: Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman
If you like adventure and fantasy stories with unique plots, this middle-grade chapter book is for you. Homeless, orphaned 12-year old twins, Anders and Rayna, unexpectedly discover that they are both elementals. But that’s not the worst of it. Anders is an Ice Wolf and can attend the academy but Rayna is a scorch dragon, a feared, child-stealing creature. When Rayna’s kidnapped by other dragons, Anders decides to attend the academy to learn more about dragons so he can find and rescue his sister. Once there, he experiences a different kind of family then he had with his sister — a pack. Anders finds he has more questions than answers.
Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland (series)
These dragonets might just be the long-awaited dragonets of the prophecy that will end the dragon wars for good. Or they might not. One thing’s for sure: when the dragonets are captured, things don’t look good.
The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst
Sophie’s parents use Dream Catchers to catch, refine, and sell dreams. (Which seems weird but just go with it.) When Sophie’s parents are kidnapped, it’s up to Sophie, her best friend (a sarcastic monster that she dreamed up the one time she dreamed), and a few new friends from school to figure out what is going on. It’s a lively adventure that shows Sophie growing up.
The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova
Danny’s latest foster home is not good, even worse without his beloved sister who’s been missing for two years. Danny mostly still believes in magic and his sister’s promise to be waiting for him in the land of Rio Luna. On a field trip to the New York Public Library, he sees magical arrows pointing him to the original Rio Luna book of fairy tales. With the help of a new friend, Glory and Glory’s aunt, they all set off on an epic adventure to follow the magical signs that only Danny can see– to find Rio Luna and hopefully, Danny’s sister. Mysteries, magic, magical creatures, monsters, stories, and betrayal, this heart-stopping fantasy adventure will keep you up all night reading.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell
Emmy was a good girl. At least she tried very hard to be good. She did her homework without being told. She ate all her vegetables, even the slimy ones. And she never talked back to her nanny, Miss Barmy, although it was almost impossible to keep quiet, some days. She really was a little too good. Which is why she liked to sit by the Rat. The Rat was not good at all . . . You will love this book!
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (series)
I think you already know about these books but if you don’t, they’re absolutely engaging fantasy adventures of good versus evil that take place in a magical world called Narnia. We recently listened to the series on audiobook which was even more fun to hear it read in a British accent. (Since we’re American.)
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh, illustrations by Kelly Murphy
I LOVED this fairy tale fantasy book — it’s a fantastic Baba Yaga story about a brave and smart orphan girl, Mary, who wants a home, even if it’s with Baba Yaga. She just has to figure out how to be sure Baba Yaga won’t eat her and she does so with help from her friend Jacob and MAGIC!
Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler
You won’t want to leave this magical, dangerous, snowy world! Voyage of the Frosthart is a fantastic, illustrated adventure story about an orphan boy with forbidden musical powers. You’ll meet sentient creatures like the vulpi, a walrus and a yeti, not just human-kin, who live in Strongholds to stay safe from the monstrous Lurkers and Leviathans. After Ash’s Pathfinder parents disappear, Ash moves in with a strict guardian Yeti named Tobu. Unfortunately, they’re banished from their home when Ash uses his forbidden Song Weaver magic. They leave the village with a Pathfinder crew, a ship that sails over the snow. On their journey, Ash realizes that he can find his parents using the words in his childhood lullaby. But he’ll be tried, tested, and tricked. Who will he trust? And which side will he choose — light or dark?
Legends of the Sky by Liz Flanagan
If you like dragons and inspiring orphans who fight against evil — you’ll love this story about a girl who, after witnessing a murder, saves a sack of dragon eggs from a strange visitor to the island of Arcosi where dragons have been extinct for centuries. Unfortunately, she becomes embroiled in the political ambitions of a maniacal ruler who wants the hatchling dragons for himself. But it’s Milla and her friends who each bond a dragon, not the Duke. It becomes clear that the teenagers and their dragons are not safe — and if they want to see justice for all the people in Arcosi, they must fight back. A wonderful, dramatic story perfect for fantasy-loving readers.
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
This story begs the question: Does an evil creator make evil progeny? Or do we have a choice about our destiny? Kymera lives with her father/creator who made her out of parts of other creatures and the soul of her former self who was killed by the evil wizard. Her purpose is to rescue the girls held by the wizard. Except, against her father’s wishes, Kymera befriends a townsperson and learns conflicting information. Could her own father be the wizard? And could Kymera be helping him kill all the girls? It’s a brilliant story, thought-provoking and well-written.
Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu
Onyeka grows up in the UK but when her hair saves her best friend Cheyenne from drowning, Onyeka learns that her hair has magical powers. Her mom takes them back to their home country of Nigeria to search for Onyeka’s missing dad. Onyeka’s dropped off at the Academy of the Sun, a school for Solari where Onyeka is meant to train to use her powers safely. She struggles with fitting in because everyone has been training since they were much younger and don’t have the dizzy spells that Onyeka does. It’s an exciting adventure with culture, intrigue, and betrayal!
Prince of Nowhere by Rochelle Hassan
I love the unique world-building in this adventure about friendship, family, and the choices we make. Roda’s city is surrounded by enchanted mist to keep the beasts away. She starts receiving mysterious letters that predict the future and give her directions which is how she finds an injured crow named Ignis who is actually a shapeshifting crow boy. When a magical comet arrives in the sky, events force she and Ignis to climb the misty ice dragon’s back to a magical place in the sky apart from time where they find a maniac prince and…in a surprising twist, her aunt Dora, who is not who Roda thought! Magic and secrets, betrayal and friendship, will the two friends be able to work together to escape…and fix what is broken?
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
Powerful! I don’t normally like books with animal characters but this was epic and I didn’t really notice or care that the characters were rabbits. It felt epic and mythological — I highly recommend it!
The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, illustrated by Katie Harnett
Grisha is a dragon who spends a few hundred years enchanted as a teapot. Later, he meets a lonely girl whose first and only friend is him. The girl’s friendship comes many years after a wicked magician has imprisoned or for the most part, enslaved, the world’s remaining dragons. Grisha, one of the dragons who has been working, begins to remember about the other dragons. So he and the girl, Maggie, quest to avoid the magician, find the missing dragons, and free them— no matter the cost. And there will be a cost. The ending is HEARTBREAKING but so, so good. ADDED TO : Best Dragon Books for Kids
Impyrium by Henry H. Neff
Hazel is the third granddaughter, a princess who resembles no one else in the family except the most dangerous magician ruler the kingdom ever knew. She, like her ancestor, is gifted at magic and her grandmother wants to use Hazel’s magic to protect the kingdom. But it’s an unjust kingdom and Hob, a young spy and commoner boy in her service, wants things to change. Hazel will face a choice to follow in the dark magic footsteps of her ancestor. Hob will face doing what he’s ordered or following his heart. Plots within plots, twists and turns, make this a wonderful, enthralling fantasy adventure.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chaining (series)
At this school for villains and heroes, all your stereotypes will be blown out of the water. This series will make you think deeply about what makes someone good, what is true friendship, and the meaning of love. Excellent.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Stuck in a museum with her sister and father who is working on a sword exhibit, Ophelia’s curiosity leads her to a locked room where a boy has been trapped for thousands of years. But Ophelia doesn’t believe in that kind of thing. Except she kind of does. She remembers her mother used to tell her those stories . . . This is a breathtaking journey of loss, acceptance, hope, and friendship. I just loved it!
Story Thieves by James Riley (series)
Owen catches his classmate Bethany sneaking out of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory world with a chocolate face, he has the brilliant idea of going into his favorite book, too and saving the hero. Follow along as Owen and Bethany share adventures into storybooks that become dangerous and scary. Readers must suspend disbelief and enter the worlds of storybooks…
The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby
Imagine the wild west with fantastical elements that combine to make a marvelous adventure. The group is traveling on an airship to find the lost Welsh Prince Madoc and their adventure is interesting and amazing.
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
If your child hasn’t learned about Norse mythology, this will be a great intro! To end the long winter, Odd must journey to find Asgard, a city under siege from the Frost Giants. A wonderful, nail-biting adventure!
Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep her away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery – about her own identity, the mysterious father she’s never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water’s surface.
Sea of Trolls series by Nancy Farmer
A bard, a boy, a band of Viking berserkers, trolls, dragons, and a quest — what more could you want in a series? This is one of those can’t put it down books that will keep you up all night reading and I loved this it. (Actually, I love all Farmer’s books.) Your kids will enjoy reading a new adventure in Norse and Old English mythology.
Starcatchers series by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson (series)
I adore this series but my kids didn’t like it as much as me. The authors imagined what happened BEFORE Peter Pan and this is the result. I think it’s a stunning, totally creative fantastical adventure of magical star stuff and evil shadows who want to rule the universe.
Enchanter’s Child by Angie Sage
Enchanters are outlawed in this country where Alex lives with a foster mom and sisters. Her malicious foster sister reports to authorities that Alex is illegally using Enchanted cards, cards that she’s had since she was abandoned as a baby. Alex, her foster mom, and her other sister barely escape but they’re not safe. Meanwhile, Alex’s real father is no longer in prison and decides to finally look for his daughter. The complex plot is filled with exciting and dangerous events bringing the compelling main characters to the oracles and…the king who wants to kill them.
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan
I adore this reimagined graphic Snow White set in New York City in the 20s. Snow White’s dad is a Wall Street king, her stepmother is a Zigfield Follies star, and her seven small protectors are street kids. It’s SO interesting how Phelan uses this historical setting to animate a familiar fairy tale. The black and white illustrations set the tone for this dark story with a happy ending.
The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Deliz Sherman
Runaway, Nick, leaves his horrible uncle’s only to get stuck with an evil wizard who calls him foxkin and won’t let him leave. If he tries anything against the rules, Nick gets turned into something– a spider and a rock, for example. Once he’s resigned to his new life, Nick finds a lot to like, especially learning magic from the wizard’s books and then helping the wizard protect the Smallbone town from the Evil Wizard Fidelou. This is a magical story about kindness, friendship, and growing up. (With a little Dread Pirate Roberts twist thrown in at the end!)
Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley, illustrated by Jaime Zollars
Fairy Nix guards the woods for his beloved fairy queen. He’s particularly annoyed by a human man who lives in a cottage in his woods. Eventually, the man reveals to Nix that Nix is not a fairy but a human child who was stolen long ago from his own family. It’s a bittersweet, tender story about a lost boy who finds that everything he’s believed he’s known is a lie. And I LOVED it so much.
Legend of Brightblade by Ethan M. Alddridge
Elf prince Alto runs away to become a bard while his mom negotiates a peace treaty with the trolls. He befriends a troll and they form a musical group. Before he can go on a big adventure, he witnesses another bard group using magic that controls listeners, pushing them to violence, and overhears their sinister plot for the leaders of the elves and troll. Alto, Ebbe, and another new friend named Clarabel know they must warn Alto’s family and stop the bad magic before it’s too late. If you like magical fantasy worlds, you’ll love this story about pursuing your passion, making friends who become family, and the magic of music.
Storybound by Marissa Burt (series)
Una falls into the land of stories of heroes and villains but something is very wrong. No new stories are being written. So how did she get written in and who is she? We read this for bedtime and my kids and I looked forward to it every night.
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Christopher’s apprenticed to an apothecary who’s just been murdered in the same way as many other apothecaries. He and his best friend decide to solve the puzzles and find new clues to find the culprits for these horrible crimes. They hope it’s not the dangerous cult they’ve been hearing about — and are as surprised as us when they find out what’s really going on. Part historical, part fantasy, and all adventure.
The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides
If you like goofy stories with magic and adventure, you’re going to love this story. It’s about a foster kid named Ace who opens a peanut butter jar only to release a genie named Ridge. Ridge tells Ace that Ace is a Wishmaker and now he must complete a mission in seven days OR ELSE all dogs and cats will turn into zombies … and destroy mankind. So begins a wild quest across America. And even though Ace has unlimited wishes, every wish has a (usually weird) consequence. So if he gets his wish to fly, his consequence is that any bird near him will poop on him. One big wish made his arm fall off for a day.
The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson (series)
I’m a big fan of this series. Do you know about familiars? They are magical animal companions to wizards. And in this first story, the familiars must save the world when their wizards’ powers are taken away. Great for kids who love animals and magical adventures.
The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
Arianwyn can’t believe she’s failed her witch exam nor that she’s sent to a small town to be their witch anyway. There she faces unexpected dark spirits, meets new friends, and conquers the worrisome glyph she keeps seeing. This is an entertaining fantasy book for anyone who loves magic and underdog heroines.
Beast and Crown by Joel Ross
J’s a servant in a cast-like society. But he wants to be free. He especially wants his friend’s little brother to be free of the deadly loom factory. Ji and his friends get a chance to go to the big city with their family’s important nobleman boy where the noble will compete in the Diadem Rite, a ritual that chooses the heir to the Summer Crown. It does not go according to plan. What happens will change everything, transforming Ji and his friends physically into something monstrous. Brilliant writing, magical creatures, good vs. evil, and incredible kids make this one of my new favorites.
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania Del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
I loved this quirky magical mystery book so very much — Warren has inherited his family’s hotel but since he’s still a child, his no-good uncle is in charge. Warren is the bellhop, valet, groundskeeper, and errand boy for very few hotel guests in the once-popular hotel. His uncle’s new wife is up to something and she and her witch sisters reveal that they’re searching for the powerful “All-Seeing Eye” which attracts many mysterious guests who destroy the hotel in pursuit of this treasure. Warren needs allies and ideas about where to search so he can discover the treasure first and save his family’s hotel.
Half Upon a Time by James Riley (series)
When Princess May’s grandma, Snow White, is kidnapped, she’s tossed into Jack’s (of the beanstalk fame) farm. The two venture to rescue dear old grandma back. Fairy tales collide in this humorous and action-packed adventure.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
You’ll fall in love with this magical story about a lonely boy named Micah whose beloved grandfather faces a life-ending illness. Micah hopes the Lightbender in the Circus Mirandus who owes the grandfather a miracle will be able to help. With a missive to the Lightbender, Micah finds the magical circus his grandfather once loved so much and hopes the Lightbender will hear him out.
Legacy of the Claw (Animas #1) by C.R. Grey, illustrated by Jim Madsen
I couldn’t put this middle-grade book down, it was fantastic! In this world, everyone except Bailey (a boy) has an Animas, an animal kinship. He’s hoping that by attending Fairmount Academy, he’ll discover his Animas. But before he can, he tries to figure out a mysterious prophesy told to him by a crazy teacher, discovers there’s a plot to overthrow the government, and learns about a group of people who might be his ancestors thought to be long dead. I loved the story and plot twist! Can’t wait for the next book.
The Menagerie by Tui Sutherland (series)
Stuck in a small town in Wyoming just after his mother disappeared, Logan’s life gets even stranger when he finds a griffin under his bed. Which he learns is connected to Zoe Kahn, a very strange girl in his class at school. She tells him about her family’s menagerie to protect magical creatures. Soon the duo realizes that the griffins didn’t escape, they were let out. Now they must find the culprit fast before the menagerie is shut down. A quick, fun read and great fantasy book series for kids!
Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
Nightbird’s magic isn’t only in the story but in the woven images of enchanting characters and plot. Twelve-year-old Twig lives on the edges, trying to stay unnoticed in order to protect her secret brother — a handsome, smart boy who lives in the attic of her home. He bears the family curse — he has wings. But when he won’t stay hidden anymore and reveals himself to their beautiful neighbor girl. Twig hurries to stop both the curse and the town from hunting her brother as a monster. A wonderfully bewitching story I couldn’t put down!
Ever After High Boxed Set by Shannon Hale
The kids of famous fairytales are at boarding high school together separated by heroes and villains. Except some kids like Raven want to pick their own story and ending, not live a preset story. This chapter book fantasy series for kids is easy-to-read, magical, and fun-filled fairy tale mash-ups!
Unwanteds by Lissa McMann
In this society, you are sorted as Wanted, Necessary, and Unwanted. Alex is an Unwanted and is sent to die. But instead of death, Alex is rescued by a magician who has created a secret, magical haven for the Unwanteds where they live and train to use their magic skills. I love the creative magical characters in this world like Alex’s art teacher — an octagator! Here’s the problem — Alex is a twin whose brother is a Wanted. Alex risks the safety of his new home to see his twin in the old world. His actions reveal the secret world and war breaks out.
Thrones of Bones Frostborn by Lou Andres
Two misfits — a boy named Karn who is only good at playing a board game, and a girl named Thianna who is a half-human, half-giantess — unexpectedly partner to survive deadly soldiers, undead warriors, trolls, and a dragon. I absolutely loved this adventure and can’t wait for the next in the chapter book series. Plus, I’m so happy to see that Norse mythology is growing in popularity with writers. The only thing I suggest is that you to make sure to use the glossary as you read — there are many words which aren’t commonly known and specific to Norse mythology and culture.
The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller
A Russian-flavored fantasy world where the humans and birds are at war…and the human tsarina has banned Yagas and their magic. When Olga’s family is sent in disgrace to the edge of their kingdom, Olga discovers (to her horror) that she’s becoming a Yaga with magical map talent. When her younger sister is kidnapped by the birds, Olga leaves to find her sister, embracing her forbidden magic. Her dangerous journey won’t be easy — and if she uses too much of her magic, she’ll burn it out forever. Enthralling.
Artemis Fowl The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin (series)
Also available as a full-text novel, this series is about an anti-hero villain, an evil genius kid named Artemis. He plots to steal the fairies gold which leads him to kidnap a fairy-cop and hold her for ransom. Very entertaining.
The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
The tone of this fantasy chapter book for kids is slightly different than Riordan’s other fantasy chapter book series since we’re seeing things from Apollo’s arrogant but bewildered perspective — which somehow Riordan makes appealing to readers. (A hard task to be sure!) As the misadventures ensue (because life is hard when you have no godly powers anymore), Apollo begins to see himself as less than perfect. In this mythical fantasy book, kids will meet new demigods such as Demeter’s daughter, Meg, and encounter familiar favorites like Percy Jackson.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Camilla and her sisters have the magic in their blood to make the citizens of New Orleans beautiful…for a price. Because, without the Belles, the people are gray and ugly. When Camilla is the second choice for the Queen’s favorite, she learns there’s a terrifying darkness to the princess. As she seeks a way to fulfill her role, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life in order to save the oldest princess, the true heir, who’s been in a lifeless coma for years. I enjoyed this imaginative fantasy / dystopian world where beauty is tightly controlled. Be ready for a surprise plot twist at the end.
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
I loved this story so much! Nina’s a survivor thanks to her older sister. But when her dad sells her older sister into prostitution, Nina knows she has to save her sister. This sends her into a new, dangerous guild where she makes alliances and plans…Intrigue, adventure, and a unique, unpredictable plot make this an imaginative new YA favorite set in the world of Les Miserables…
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
What a great girl power chapter book for teens! This is the story of five mermaids who journey to find each other and then to the sea witches. An ancient evil is being unleashed and not only is trying to kill the girls but enslave or kill their communities. Very entertaining.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Wolf by Wolf is a high-stakes journey of wits and bravery, an author’s skillful writing and imagination, and a compelling story that won’t soon be forgotten. It imagines a world in which WWII ended very differently — with the Axis powers winning. Yael, our heroine, is a death-camp medical experiment escapee who can shapeshift into other humans. She braves a motorcycle race across half the world in order to first win and second get close enough to Hitler to kill him. This is a must-read novel!
The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Maybe a bit predictable but I still enjoyed this dystopian YA novel about a world separated into classes labeled by blood color. The elite class, those with silver blood, possess magical abilities and the rest of the world is the hard-working red class. Mare is not supposed to have magic because she’s red. To hide this truth, the royal family disguises her as silver and she’s forced to play along. But what if she could help her red class be free of the ruling elite?
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holberg
In a world where magicians specialize in specific magic (metal, paper, and so forth), magician-in-training Ceony is assigned to learn from Magician Emery Thane. When his ex-wife tries to kill him, Ceony animates a magical heart to save Emery’s life then leaves to fight the evil magician Excisioners. As the story develops, so does the attraction between Emery and Ceony. Great character development with fast-paced action.
Undertow by Michael Buckley
Michael Buckley’s Alpha are from the ocean — clans of creatures with wild amphibian and human appearances and a specific hierarchy. Not only is this world development imaginative, the plot is crazy good –filled with tension, action, and adventure. Our 16 year old heroine, Lyric, is trying to hide that her mom is one of the Alpha (First People) or they’d disappear to a camp if discovered. Lyric’s school is ordered to integrate with the First People. Worse, Lyric is ordered to help the prince, Fathom. Not good for someone trying to fly under the radar. Tensions are high as protestors and students get violent with their hatred of the Alpha but there’s something much worse than the Alpha. And it’s coming. LOVED it! (My husband also loved this book and was mad that he stayed up all night to read it. He told me next time to suggest something more boring.) There is an allusion to sex in the second book.
The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
This is an adventurous series opener that will keep you on the edge of your seat. In a kingdom that outlaws the use of magic, Elizabeth hunts and imprisons witches (who have magic) until she herself is imprisoned. At the moment she’s to be burned, she’s rescued by a powerful wizard who shows her truths she’d never imagined and who she should really be fighting.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Part historical (think Rome) and part fantasy, Elias and Laia live in a world that enslaves them both in different ways — Elias to fight and Laia to serve and spy. This is an epic page-turner fantasy for kids with lots of mystery, action, and a hint of romance — a teen favorite!
Wereworld by Curtis Jobling
Drew is raised on a farm and knows little of his surroundings. He’s ill-prepared to live on the run, which he does when his were powers arise. Fortunately, he meets a other WereLords including a WereBear Lord who fought with Drew’s father and is willing to help him. Kidnappings, revenge, murder, and a prophecy — this book has all the elements you’ll want in a fantasy adventure series. I loved the story, the writing, and the characters. Don’t miss this fantasy book series.
Infinity: Chronicles of Nick (Chronicles of Nick Book 1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (SERIES)
The Chronicles of Nick series is a magical, mythical-creatures fantasy adventure for teen readers. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed story about a teenager who possesses powerful magic that could destroy humanity. Of course, he doesn’t know it quite yet. But he will. 🙂
The Novice The Summoner by Taran Matharu
Fletcher’s an orphan, raised by the town’s blacksmith, finds a book about magic and summons a demon. Through a series of events, he lands at a school for mages where he will learn to use his demon to fight the Empire’s enemies. Captivating writing and action make this a series I can’t wait to keep reading.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (series)
I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy novel about an orphan, Alina, in a country where much of the land and people have been a darkness called the Shadow Fold. When Alina’s powers reveal themselves, surprising even her, she’s taken to the magical leader, the Darkling, to train and serve him in his fight against the Shadow Fold. Alina feels out of place without her best friend and doesn’t fit in with the other Grisha. Plus, strange things begin to happen and she must discover the secret behind the source of the Shadow Fold’s power.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
When I first looked at the description of this book, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it – a book about the devil? But, I read too many raving reviews not to give it a chance . . . I’m so glad I did, for many reasons – the writing, the concept, the plot, the characters totally blew my mind. Taylor created a totally original, completely compelling mythical world; it’s a world split into two sides, the Chimera and the Angels. Our heroine, art student raised by a sorcerer named Brimstone, Karou, knows about the monsters, at least she thinks she does. Adding to the mystery and adventure is a forbidden romance between Karou and a beautiful angel named Akiva. I’ll admit, I couldn’t put this down but after I finished, I had some seriously freaky dreams! (Giving you fair warning.) This is one of the BEST books I’ve ever read in my life, let alone one of the best YA books for teens. AMAZING. Includes mature content.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (series)
I loved the first two books in the Graceling Realm series, and #3, while quite different, didn’t disappoint. What I loved is that the story stayed with me for days. We met Bitterblue’s psychotic father book #2, Fire. Now he’s dead and she is the queen at a young age. Bitterblue feels that her advisers aren’t always telling her the truth about the situation in her country. She begins sneaking out of the castle and discovers the truth, friendship, and love. (This series of books includes sex.)
Air Awakens by Elise Kova (series)
Vhalla thinks she’s just a library assistant but when the prince needs her, she learns she’s the only air elemental in the kingdom. Now she must decide if she’ll train her magic or let the wizards remove it. The second book is already out, too! Adventure and magic make this a great fantasy book series for kids.
The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin
It looks like the Nethergrim is back and so are it’s monstrous minions. After Edmund’s brother is taken, he and his two friends and an adult decide to find the Nethergrim and save all the children who were taken. They’ve counted and know that for the Nethergrim’s spell to work, it only needs one more child. I found this a compelling story with interesting plot twists and adventure.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
You’ll LOVE this unique fantasy YA book for teens. Water horses eat human flesh so it’s a sign of great skill and bravery to race one in the annual Scorpio Races. Orphan, Puck needs to win the race or she and her brother won’t have food to eat or a home. Totally mesmerizing.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
I loved this creative expanded Alice in Wonderland fantasy story. Alyss Heart, the heir to Wonderland, flees from her evil aunt Redd who has attacked her kingdom and killed her parents. Alyss ends up in London, lost and unsure of how to return home. She tells her story to Louis Carroll who writes it down — but not exactly right – and eventually, her royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan finds her and takes her back to fight.
Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles) by Gena Showalter (series)
A YA chapter book about Alice and zombies — that I recommend? Crazy but true! Alice’s father has embarrassed her all her life with is paranoia, refusal to go out after dark even to a school performance, and drinking but it turns out he is right. And now he, her mother, and her sister are dead. Adventure and a little romance make this quite a page-turner.
Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham
If you love fairy tales, you must read this YA chapter book based on a comic book series. It’s based on the story of the Pied Piper and is about two brothers, one good and one evil, Peter and Max. Through the story, Max becomes more entrenched in black magic and only his brother, Peter, will be able to stop him.
Penryn & the End of Days by Susan Ee (series) Angels (not the friendly kind, the warrior kind) rule the world using humans for experiments, and disposable arm candy. Penryn’s sister is kidnapped, and she is determined to rescue her. On her journey, she meets Raffe, an angel whose wings were brutally cut off. The two work together and what they discover at the angel compound will make the world even worse off than it already is. I couldn’t put this paranormal YA book down — totally mesmerizing!