Spotlight On: YA Fantasy (Plus Giveaway!)

Growing up, fantasy novels had a big part of my heart, and they always will. Contemporary novels took a long time to grow on me, science fiction sometimes contains too much science for me to handle, and mysteries are still a struggle for me to this day, whereas, ironically, fantasy novels always felt like coming home. Reading fantasy felt right, and, even when I go through periods of time where I do not read as much, there is nothing like a really fantastic fantasy novel or series. Today, I am going to tell you about some of my favorites, and, if you stick around to the end, there’s a giveaway for one of them, thanks to my partner Tor Teen!

To me, YA fantasy may typically lack the massively epic scale of adult fantasy, but it makes up for that in so many ways. (Also, it is sometimes debatable whether a series needs to have ten+ 1000+ page books, but it is not debatable that YA, at least at this point, does not do that.)

The main perk of YA fantasy is the preponderance of books by women featuring full casts of strong women, rather than, maybe, the sole exception. This exists in adult fantasy, but they’re littered between the dominating male authors of the genre. When reading a YA fantasy instead of an adult, I know there is an increased chance of a world that is not heteronormative, not patriarchal, and not consistently filled with abused of all the female characters. And, if it is those things, you can basically bet you will get to watch the patriarchy get smashes into tiny pieces. Um, hello, who would not want that instead of this attitude?

Another benefit to choosing a YA fantasy is that YA, unlike adult fiction as a general rule, focuses on characterization first and foremost. For me, if I’m not invested in the cast, I will not care about the plot and world building, no matter how intricate. Where much adult fantasy seems to place the plot and world building at the center of the narrative, YA begins with the characters and layers the rest in, which I love.

YA fantasy often tends to be faster-paced than adult. Not always, mind you, but often. Fantasy can be a very inaccessible genre for a newbie reader, and YA really opens that up for teens and adults alike. Perhaps that is why YA fiction does so well now, because it’s accessible, welcoming, and diverse. Fantasy tends to run a bit behind on the latter compared to contemporary, but you know YA is leading the way.

Obviously, the OG was Harry Potter, which I discovered when the first two books were out, a random buy at the bookstore because I was actually unpopular enough to have heard absolutely nothing about them. I fell in love instantly, and we lived happily ever after together.

Since then, I’ve probably read hundreds of YA fantasy novels, and now some favorites! (Note: I am including historical fantasy, but urban fantasy/paranormal will be in a separate post at some point, as will fairy tale stories.)

Standalones

Sometimes you want a story to wrap up in a single volume, especially if you are a new reader of fantasy, and I have your back. These are a bit less common but can still be massively excellent. Also, if you want a fluffy one, Poison is the poison you need to pick. Click on the book cover to be taken to my review or Goodreads, depending on whether I have a review.

Completed Series

The series is where the fantasy genre LIVES. By its very nature, fantasy does not necessarily lend itself especially well to the standalone, though, as I showed, they exist. But, there’s nothing like a slow burn fantasy ship, and the books generally get more intense as you go.

Series in Progress

These series haven’t finished yet (or I haven’t finished them), but I’m super on board so far, eagerly anticipating the next book! I find it a bit hard to recommend fantasy series unless I’ve finished, because you just never know. Do you guys have that problem with fantasy?

Only the first books are pictured, even if I’ve read further.

Mask of Shadows, Kingdom on Fire, Lady Helen, Dance of Thieves

Giveaway!

Saving one of the best for last, let’s talk about Witchlands, which I have to give away, because of generous partner Tor Teen!  I’ve been a huge fan of Susan Dennard’s since her first trilogy, Something Strange & Deadly, which is a steampunk fantasy with horror elements. Like, obvs I was a huge fan because I included it up there, but her books are only getting better. And, seriously, the fact that I’m taking the time to do a post with promotion should tell you how much I fucking love her books, because I do not do this; I guarantee this series still would have been in this post without the giveaway offer.

Witchlands is, for my money, the best YA epic fantasy. Admittedly, I’m not actually sure how much competition there is for that, because YA so far does not do a lot of epic fantasy, due to the length. However, Dennard really excels at the intricate world building required for that fantasy subgenre. Truthwitch is fast-paced and exciting and sets a great foundation, but it was in Windwitch where my brain exploded at the scale and complexities of the world Susan created. The characters are fascinating and dark and magical.

Confession: I have not yet read Sightwitch, a prequel,  but I will absolutely be catching up and rereading the first two books when Bloodwitch makes its way to me. These are books I do not even begrudge having to reread when a new book comes out because I know that I will find new details I missed on the first read (or three).

Susan Dennard’s an amazing fantasy author, and you want to read these books. So, if you haven’t started (or even if you have, I won’t tell), here are the deets on the giveaway, which I so wish I could win because ZOMG that sweatshirt I WANT. (I would be that excited about the books, but I already have them DUH).

The giveaway is open to US addresses only, and the prizing and samples will be provided by Tor Teen. The prize pack for 1 winner includes: 1 copy of Truthwitch, the first book in the series, 1 copy of Windwitch, the second book in the series, a Windwitch tote bag with the map on it (heyoooo book map fans, I know you’re out there), and a Void Witch zip hoodie, which I covet intensely.

Let’s keep this simple, because the world isn’t: leave a comment telling me about some of your favorite YA fantasy novels! Comments count until Friday, November 16 EST. I will contact you by the email you used to comment, so make sure it’s one that you check!

10 responses to “Spotlight On: YA Fantasy (Plus Giveaway!)”

  1. So many great choices here! I also love Tamora Pierce and Shannon Hale.

    And the Windwich series! I also have not read Sightwitch yet, but I hope to get to it eventually!
    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted…Thunder Girls #1: Freya and the Magic Jewel by Joan Holub and Suzanne WilliamsMy Profile

  2. Jackie says:

    Harry Potter was a random purchase for me too! I actually picked up a he second book first not realizing it was part of a series. So happy about that accident though since they are my favorite books.

  3. Well, Witchlands obvs, but also pretty much EVERYTHING by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since my friend got me hooked in high school, and I was so excited for the 20th anniversary!
    Carla Rennick recently posted…City of Ghosts by Victoria SchwabMy Profile

  4. I absolutely love Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes series, and Melissa Caruso’s Tethered Mage series. These have filled the gaps between Witchlands books, but I am soooooooo ready for Bloodwitch to be here. Sightwitch was a great palate teaser of things to come.

  5. Nori says:

    I love this post!

    Some of my favorite YA fantasies: The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson (still haven’t read Dance of Thieves), The Great Library series by Rachel Caine, The Cruel Prince (I’m hoping the rest is as good as book 1) by Holly Black, Everything (but especially Song of the Lioness series) by Tamora Pierce, The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas, In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (great minds think a like), The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, and I could probably keep going…

    I also agree with you on Graceling, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Poison, and Nimona.

    YA Fantasy is the best.
    Nori recently posted…When We Caught Fire by Anna GodbersenMy Profile

  6. Carly J. says:

    The Witchlands series is so wonderful! Other favorites include all of Laini Taylor’s novels, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Golden Compass, and of course Harry Potter. Just added more to my TBR list thanks to this post!

  7. Paula Perkins says:

    I love the series- but hate waiting for the next book to come out. My newest favorites: Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares and Sarah J Mass’ Throne of Glass series.

  8. lissa says:

    I’ve never considered the differences between ya fantasy and adult fantasy, sometimes I’m not even sure what category a book is in. if I like the story, the idea, I’ll read it.

    I’ve only read ‘poison’ – I love that book & I had read a few chapters of ‘six of crows’, though I find it a bit boring, but I’m thinking I’ll like it if I read farther.

    I love the ‘enchanted forest’ chronicles by patricia c. wrede though I’m not sure that’s YA or not. ‘of beast and beauty by stacey jay is pretty good; the tiffany aching adventure by terry pratchett is a fun series, it’s that YA?

    have a lovely day.
    lissa recently posted…Books Read in OctoberMy Profile

  9. One underrated book I was obsessed with was The Sight by David Clement-Davies. The main character is a wolf who unknowingly brings a curse to her family and she tries to find a way to stop it. The animal perspective was brilliant and it’s one of my faves.

    I recently reread Ash by Malinda Lol and it is still one of my favorite retelling of all time.

    The Graceland series is another love of mine. I love everything about that world, those characters, and how the author was able to bring darker themes into the series.
    Kimberly Henderson recently posted…Give the Dark My Love by Beth RevisMy Profile

  10. Ellie M says:

    I’m a huge fan of the witchlands series! And The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle Jenson!

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