Ten Books For People Who Like YA High Fantasy

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

If you’ve been reading my blog fairly often, you’ll know I’m a pretty hardcore high fantasy fan. Among ranting, reading, and eating, one of my favourite things to do is complain about the lack of variety in YA HF, which is really quite tragic. I like my HF to be political rather than overly action-y, non-cliched, and romance-light. Bonus points for things that surprise me. I figure there must be people out there that haven’t found the gems of YA HF yet and hopefully they will see this and my treasures will get some more love. Or beginners to fantasy who don’t want to be overwhelmed and… while I’d recommend A Song of Ice and Fire to anyone, I get that. It is seriously overwhelming to dive into a book and get complicated names with ae and other wut letter combinations, along with a billion things you could never hope to understand and a world that reminds you of Tolkien. (I don’t mean ASOIAF there, haha.) Not all of these are YA strictly, but they feel lighter than adult fantasy to me. So without further ado:

  1. Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. You knew this would be on the list, didn’t you? A friend of mine convinced me I’d love this but it took me a while to get down to reading it. And then I seriously regretted not reading it earlier. Literal best.
  2. Shattered Sea series by Joe Abercrombie. I just finished book two, and this series is amazing. Plot twists! Quotability! Characters you gotta love!
  3. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. So cleverly written, adorable, and poignant. A definite must-read.
  4. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. The most fabulously-plotted fantasy ever. Really, Rutkoski is a pro at turning a phrase. And this is definitely a good way to start out with HF. It’s got a good dash of romance and rebellion, our YA staples. Though I thought book 1 was a bit lukewarm, book 2 is positively explosive.
  5. The Young Elites series by Marie Lu. Another of those for-HF-newbies books. Marie Lu’s crazy pace and dark imagination make this book slay.
  6. The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jenson. Finally, a HF that isn’t about elves/dragons/tree people. SO many points for originality on this one. And the main character! Love her.
  7. His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman. I’m really not quite sure what genre this is, but I’ll transgress the rules I set for it. Seriously, I will recommend this series forever. It’s so well-written, well-imagined, and THE TEARS.
  8. Stravaganza by Mary Hoffman. This series birthed my long love for Italy, and remains one of my favourites though I first read it years ago.
  9. Abhorsen series by Garth Nix. Points for Aussie, points for female leads you will adore, and points for a magic system that still amazes me.
  10. Howl’s Moving Castle series by Diana Wynne Jones. Saving the best for last, the first book is undoubtedly one of my favourite books of all time. This series keeps me coming back again and again.

Bonus: check out The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen and The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.

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