Best Fantasy Chapter Books (for Kids)
Fantasy Beginning Chapter Books (Ages 6 – 9)
The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham ages 6 – 8
Amazingly enough, this princess is able to fight monsters and have a fun birthday party — even though it keeps getting interrupted.
Dragon Slayer’s Academy by Kate McMullan beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
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. I love this humorous fairy-tale mash-up and can’t wait for more adventures in this series.
Tank & Fizz The Case of the Slime Stampede by Liam O’Donnel, illustrated by Mike Deas beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
I loved this book – and could’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 beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
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.
The Perilous Princess Plot (Buckle and Squash) by Sarah Courtlauld beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
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 from a kidnapping plot. Also, the great illustrations will help beginning readers enjoy this beginning chapter book.
Rainbow Magic Fairies (series) beginning chapter book ages 6 – 9
These are very predictable 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.
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso (series) beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
What a hilarious character! We love this 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) beginning chapter book ages 6 – 8
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.
Easier Fantasy Chapter Books For Ages 7 – 10
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater beginning chapter book ages 7 – 10
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) beginning chapter book ages 7 – 10
Once upon a time, a regular girl and her brother accidentally went into a fairy tale. And messed 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.
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. When Darling suspects a plot against the princess she uses dresses magic to help her investigate. Who is trying to free the dragons? Who wants to take over the kingdom? This lovable heroine and charming magical plot will enchant readers. Also, the reading level is on the easier side, so this book is best for around 8 – 9 year olds.
The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors (series) easy chapter book ages 7 – 10
Ben doesn’t think his summer could be any more boring. Until the baby dragon. When Ben and Pearl Petal discover a veterinarian for imaginary creatures, instead of helping the dragon, they accidentally let a sasquatch escape. Big whoops. Now the pair must lure him back to the vets. (Easier said than done.) This series is a fantasy adventure your kids will devour.
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (series) ages 7 – 10
Every Tuesday, the castle where Princess Celie and her family live, adds on a new room, or turret, or wing. Celie loves her castle, and it’s living ways. So, when robbers attack her parents carriage, and they are never seen again, Celie takes comfort that their room is exactly the same, hoping the castle knows they are still alive. But, can the castle and Celie stop the Royal Council and the foreign prince from taking over the kingdom?
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach ages 6- 10
When Rory finds out that her new after school club, Ever After School, is a fairy tale training school for characters. In fact, 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 ages 7 – 10
Aleca Zamm is a Wonder by Ginger Rue, illustrated by Zoe Persico ages 7 – 10
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this well-written, fast-paced adventure book, 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 ages 7 – 10
This is a chapter book series 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!?
Faeries’ Promise by Kathleen Duey ages 7 – 10
Alida, a young faerie princess locked away in a castle belonging to Lord Dunraven, who has forbidden humans to see or speak to faeries. For 60 years, Alida has longed for her faerie family, so when a human boy named Gavin dares to ask for her help, Alida tells a lie to gain her release. Together they journey through the forest hoping to evade Lord Dunraven’s guards, but when capture becomes imminent, Gavin allows himself to be caught, leaving Alida to travel on alone.
Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan ages 6 – 9
Fantasy Middle Grade Chapter Books For Ages 8 – 12
The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson (series) ages 8 – 12
I’m a big fan of this series. Do you know about familiars? They are the magical animal companions to wizards. And in this first story, they’ll have to save the world when the wizard’s powers are taken away. Great for kids who love animals and magical adventures.
The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, illustrated by Katie Harnett
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny ages 8 – 12
Not only is this story compelling and interesting, the symbolism and life lessons were stunning. So, the plot . . . 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 ages 8 – 12
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 in to a freaky, monster-growing garden which attack; 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, . . . I almost forgive the cliff-hanger.
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (series) ages 8 – 12
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.
Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull (series) ages 8 – 12
I’m officially in love with this book – and am dying for the next book in the 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. Cole manages to hide but 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. Amazing!
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (series) ages 8 – 12
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 princess rescued and 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 series by Rick Riordan ages 8 – 12
Don’t judge this excellent series by the it’s dreadful movies, please. These books are really amazing! Basically there are really still Greek gods and sometimes they have kids with humans and those kids are half-bloods with unique powers. Unfortunately for these kids, monsters are out to kill them and they are the only ones who can save the world from war between the gods and in a later book, between the Titans and the gods.
Ever After High Boxed Set by Shannon Hale (ages 8 – 12)
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 series is easy-to-read, magical, and fun-filled fairy tale mash-ups!
Dragon Slippers trilogy by Jessica Day George ages 8 – 12
Young and brave Creel wants nothing more than to own her own seamstress shop but in her pursuit of this dream, she encounters and befriends a few dragons which will change the course of her life. Especially because she’s given a pair of magical dragon slippers that can help her speak to and even control her most esteemed dragon friend. This entire series is absolutely enthralling with the best elements of fantasy, adventure, and a bit of romance.
Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley, illustrated by Jaime Zollars
The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger’s Apprentice book 1 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 Iron Trial (Magisterium) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare ages 8 – 12
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!!
A Tale of Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (series) ages 8 – 12
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 out by the gruesome parts. Once in the wild forest, Hansel transforms into a ravenous, hunter-beast and 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.)
The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas ages 8 – 12
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.
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh, illustrations by Kelly Murphy ages 8 – 12
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!
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis ages 8 – 12
Elementals: Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman
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 Wonderling by Mira Bartók ages 8 – 12
Podkin One-Ear The Legend Begins by Kieran Larwood ages 8 – 12
The Adventurers Guild by Zach Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos ages 8 – 12
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson, illustrated by Chloe Bristol ages 9 – 12
Elizabeth, an orphan, is unexpectedly sent to a large, stately hotel with a kind, grandfatherly proprietor for Christmas vacation. There, she discovers a magical book, a sinister couple, a family mystery, and a new friend who loves puzzles as much as she does. The writing is mesmerizing, the mystery fascinating, and the characters, enchanting. This to be a delightful, atmospheric read.
The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides ages 9 – 12
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. It’s a goofy, entertaining story that ends with another Wishmaker being kidnapped by an ancient, evil genie setting it up for the next book in the series.
The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol ages 8 – 12
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 ages 8 – 12
The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig ages 8 – 12
Snow Rose by Emily Winfield Martin ages 8 – 12
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. Snow and Rose are two sisters who with their mother live in the woods after their father disappeared in those same woods and they lost their fancy house and way of life. The girls explore, befriending a young boy from a mushrooming family named Ivo and a large bear who they nurse back to health during the winter. But they fear the woodsman will find and kill their bear. Then they stumble upon a sinister Little Man who seeks to enchant them or kill them. Surprisingly, this is one Grimm story with a happy ending . . . which I won’t spoil. You’ll find out when you read it. 🙂
Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty ages 8 – 12
Nevermoor The Trial of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ages 8 – 12
Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren ages 8 – 12
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 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 FANTASY ages 8 – 12
Magic and color are closely linked in her world. Only 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.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill ages 8 – 12
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 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 White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan ages 8 – 12
I adore this reimagined grahpic 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 ages 8 – 12
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!)
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.
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi ages 8 – 12
This popular fantasy graphic novel book series tells about two siblings trying to save their 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. Oh, and there’s an amulet, too!
Artemis Fowl The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin (series) ages 8 – 12
Also available as a full text novel, this series is about an anti-hero villain, 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 Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst ages 8 – 12
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 which shows Sophie coming into her own.
The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West (series) ages 8 – 12
My daughter introduced me to this awesome book series about a house that seems to be haunted; with paintings that lead to other worlds, and mysteriously cryptic, talking cats. Olive soon learns that the previous owners trapped many people in the paintings, including a boy Olive befriends who is now a 2D painting. The plot’s twistings kept me wondering what was happening. We loved the main character’s gumption and her supportive side-kick cats.
Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland (series) ages 8 – 12
My 11- year old daughter LOVES this series. I only liked it but I’ll admit to not being a huge fan of animal-only stories. So the gist is that a group of dragonets leave their protectors safety and are captured by a dragon faction. The dragonets might just be the long-awaited dragonets of the prophesy 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.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell ages 8 – 12
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 . . . Loved this book!
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (series) ages 8 – 12
I think you already know about these books but if you don’t, they’re absolutely engaging fantasy adventures that will hook your kids. We recently listened to the series on audio book which was even more fun to hear it read in a British accent. (Since we’re American.)
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly ages 8 – 12
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith ages 8 – 12
Sea of Trolls series by Nancy Farmer ages 8 – 12
A bard, a boy, a band of Viking beserkers, 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) ages 8 – 12
I adore this series and know your kids will, too. The authors imagined what happened BEFORE Peter Pan and this is the result. A stunning, totally creative fantastical adventure of magical star stuff, evil shadows who want to rule the universe, and so much more.
Impyrium by Henry H. Neff ages 8 – 12
Don’t miss this excellent first story in a new series. 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 an enthralling new fantasy adventure.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chaining (series) ages 8 – 12
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 ages 8 – 12
Stuck in a museum with her sister and father who is working on a sword exhibit, Orphelia’s curiosity leads her to a locked room where a boy has been trapped for thousands of years. But Orphelia 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!
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (series) ages 8 – 12
I stayed up all night to finish this book –it was fantastic! In this riveting debut, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world—before the wrong person finds the answer first. Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. And Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and almost instantly she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known. But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous.
The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby ages 8 – 12
The wild west plus fantastical elements combine in this marvelous adventure of an expedition to find the lost people of the Welsh Prince Madoc. This is the wild west like you’ve never imagined. And you’ll love it.
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman ages 8 – 12
If your child hasn’t learned about Nordic 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 ages 8 – 12
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.
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands ages 10 – 14
Christopher’s apprenticed to an apothecary whose 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.
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania Del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle ages 8 – 12
Half Upon a Time by James Riley (series) ages 8 – 12
When Princess May’s grandma, Snow White, is kidnapped, she’s tossed into Jack (of the beanstalk fame) farm. With an and the two venture to rescue dear old grandma back. Fairy tales collide in this humorous and action-packed adventure.
Story Thieves by James Riley (series) ages 8 – 12
Imagine that you could enter a fictional world. What would you do? When Owen catches his classmate Bethany sneaking out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a chocolate face, he has the brilliant idea of going into his favorite book and saving the hero. Of course, he doesn’t tell Bethany, who will have to take him since she’s half-fictional on her dad’s side. And, of course, it will be a disaster. Follow Owen and Bethany as their adventure becomes dangerous and scary and is it fiction or real? Readers must suspend disbelief and go with it. You won’t be disappointed.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley ages 8 – 12
You’ll fall in love with this magical story about a lonely boy whose beloved grandfather faces a life-ending illness. Micah’s grandfather and Micah hope the Lightbender in the Circus Mirandus who owes the grandfather a miracle, will be able to help. With a missive to the Lightbender, Micah soon discovers the magical circus his grandfather once loved so much. It’s an adventure filled with emotion.
The Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey ages 8 – 12
Strangely, the only two people who aren’t always happy and can experience sadness are Princess Jeniah and a village girl named Aon. Aon sneaks into the Dreadwillow Carse, a sinister place forbidden to royalty where villagers dare not enter, to see if she can help the Princess learn why it’s growing and why no one feels more than happiness. When Aon doesn’t return from one of her trips, Princess Jeniah feels responsible and sets out to find her. What she finds is a terrible secret that will change everything. Loved it.
Legacy of the Claw (Animas #1) by C.R. Grey, illustrated by Jim Madsen ages 8 – 12
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 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) ages 8 – 12
Stuck in a small town in Wyoming just after his mother disappeared, Logan’s life gets even more strange 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. Who tells him about their family’s menagerie for the protection of magical creatures. Soon the duo realize 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!
Nightbird by Alice Hoffman ages 10+
Wow. Nightbird’s magic isn’t only in the story but in the woven images of enchanting characters and plot. This book will stay with you long after the last page. 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!
Unwanteds by Lissa McMann ages 10+
Thrones of Bones Frostborn by Lou Andres (8 – 12 years old)
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 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 culture.
The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (ages 8 – 12)
If you’re a Riordan fan, you’ll want to know about the chapter titles. In this book, they’re haiku. Because this book is about Apollo who is the god of poetry, among other things, and is now human. The tone of this book is slightly different than Riordan’s other 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 for 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.
Fantasy YA Books
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ages 13+
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 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, whose been in a lifeless coma for years. I enjoyed this imaginative fantasy world where beauty is tightly controlled. Be ready for a surprise plot twist at the end.
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly ages 13+
A seriously good girl power 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 ages 13+
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 ages 13+
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holberg (ages 13+)
In a world where magicians specialize in a 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 animate 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 ages 13+
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 (ages 13+)
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 (ages 13+)
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 with lots of mystery, action, and a hint of romance — a must read and one of my favorites from 2015.
Wereworld by Curtis Jobling (ages 13+)
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) (ages 13+)
Yes, there are zombies in this first novel. However, the Chronicles of Nick series is actually a magical, mythical-creatures fantasy landscape. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed adventure about a teenager who possess powerful magic that could destroy humanity. Of course, he doesn’t know it quiet yet. But he will. 🙂
The Novice The Summoner by Taran Matharu (ages 13+)
Fletcher’s an orphan, raised by the town’s blacksmith, that 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) (ages 13+)
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about 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 ages 13+
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 sorceror 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.
Air Awakens by Elise Kova (series) (ages 13+)
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 series.
The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin (ages 13+)
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 (ages 13+)
You’ll LOVE this unique fantastical tale. 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 (ages 13+)
I loved this creative expanded Alice in Wonderland fantasy story. Alyss Heart, 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) (ages 13+)
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 (ages 13+)
If you love fairy tales, you must read this novel 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) (ages 13+)
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 book down — totally mesmerizing!
Red Glove by Holly Black (ages 13+)
A delicious reading treat of romance, magic, and the mob and book #2 in the Curse Workers series. Cassel’s family members are workers, meaning they have magic abilities in different areas but Cassel doesn’t know what his specialty is, or so he thinks. And, when his brother is murdered, both the mob and the Feds want Cassel’s help.
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