10 YA Fantasy Novels Everyone Should Read (Yes, Even You)

I love all of these books for different reasons, but one similar reason is that they’re awesome. I’d heartily recommend them to anyone, including those who hate YA and/or fantasy books.

10 Young Adult Fantasy Novels Everyone Should Read (Yes, Even You)*
In no particular order:
1. Coraline – Neil Gaiman

In Coraline’s family’s new flat there’s a locked door. On the other side is a brick wall—until Coraline unlocks the door . . . and finds a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only different.

The food is better there. Books have pictures that writhe and crawl and shimmer. And there’s another mother and father there who want Coraline to be their little girl. They want to change her and keep her with them. . . . Forever.

2. Charmed Life – Diana Wynne Jones

Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.

3. The House With A Clock In Its Walls – John Bellairs

Lewis always dreamed of living in an old house full of secret passageways, hidden rooms, and big marble fireplaces. And suddenly, after the death of his parents, he finds himself in just such a mansion–his Uncle Jonathan’s. When he discovers that his big friendly uncle is also a wizard, Lewis has a hard time keeping himself from jumping up and down in his seat. Unfortunately, what Lewis doesn’t bank on is the fact that the previous owner of the mansion was also a wizard–but an evil one who has placed a tick-tocking clock somewhere in the bowels of the house, marking off the minutes until the end of the world. And when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead on Halloween night, the clock only ticks louder and faster. Doomsday draws near–unless Lewis can stop the clock!

Continue reading #4-10 below the jump!

4. The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

When Will Stanton wakes up on the morning of his birthday, he discovers an unbelievable gift — he is immortal. Bemused and terrified, he finds he is the last of the Old Ones, magical men and women sworn to protect the world from the source of evil, the Dark.

At once Will is plunged into a quest to find six magical Signs to aid the powers of the Light. Six medallions — iron, bronze, wood, water, fire, and stone — created and hidden by the Old Ones centuries ago. But the Dark has sent out the Rider: evil cloaked in black, mounted upon a midnight stallion, and on the hunt for this youngest Old One, Will. He must find the six great Signs before the Dark can rise, for an epic battle between good and evil approaches.

5. So You Want to Be A Wizard – Diane Duane

Something stopped Nita’s hand as it ran along the bookshelf. She looked and found that one of the books had a loose thread at the top of its spine. It was one of those So You Want to Be a . . . books, a series on careers. So You Want to Be a Pilot, and a Scientist . . . a Writer. But his one said, So You Want to Be a Wizard.
I don’t belive this, Nina thought. She shut the book and stood there holding it in her hand, confused, amazed, suspicious–and delighted. If it was a joke, it was a great one. If it wasn’t . . . ?

6. Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

Over his dead body.

7. Summerland – Michael Chabon

For over a century, the people of Clam Island, Washington, have enjoyed barbecues and baseball games at Summerland, on the Western tip of the island, where it never rains. The small beings-known as ferishers-who ensure this perfect weather, however, are threatened by an ancient enemy, and need a hero-a baseball star, in fact-to vanquish their foe. Summerland is the story of Ethan Feld, the worst ball player in the history of the game, recruited by a hundred-year-old scout called Ringfinger Brown, himself a Negro League Legend. Accompanied by his determined friend, Jennifer T. Rideout, and guided by a friendly werefox, Ethan struggles to defeat giants, bat-winged goblins, and one of the toughest ballclubs in the realms of magic, to save all the Summerlands, and ultimately the world.

8. The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud (and the rest of the trilogy, of course)

Nathaniel is a magician’s apprentice, taking his first lessons in the arts of magic. But when a devious hot-shot wizard named Simon Lovelace ruthlessly humiliates Nathaniel in front of his elders, Nathaniel decides to kick up his education a few notches and show Lovelace who’s boss. With revenge on his mind, he summons the powerful djinni, Bartimaeus. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace’s greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion.

9. The Princess and the Goblin – George Macdonald

The Princess and the Goblin is the story of the young Princess Irene, her good friend Curdie–a minor’s son–and Irene’s mysterious and beautiful great great grandmother, who lives in a secret room at the top of the castle stairs. Filled with images of dungeons and goblins, mysterious fires, burning roses, and a thread so fine as to be invisible and yet–like prayer–strong enough to lead the Princess back home to her grandmother’s arms, this is a story of Curdie’s slow realization that sometimes, as the princess tells him, “you must believe without seeing.”

10. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?

* This list is horribly biased, of course. Deal with it.

I like lists. I’ll probably do more of these again. What YA fantasy books would you recommend?

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13 thoughts on “10 YA Fantasy Novels Everyone Should Read (Yes, Even You)”

  1. I’d throw CS Lewis’ Narnia in there, of course, but I’d also suggest a novel many may not be aware of, Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn. It’s a bit of historical fantasy really, set in feudal Japan.

  2. Thanks for an interesting set of links. I haven’t read much YA let alone YA fantasy. It may be a genre to look into later this year – and I do realize that I have A LOT on my to-do list for “later this year” 😉

  3. It’s a great list! But I’d put Ursula Le Guin on my own…probably A Wizard of Earthsea.

    I guess at this point The Lord of the Rings can be taken for granted, and dosen’t need to be listed!

    1. Well, a) I’ve never read the book, b) I hated the movie, and so probably won’t ever read the book (er, sorry), and c) I did say the list was biased. ;D

      1. While I would say that the book Tuck Everlasting is a bit better for late elementary-early middle school reading (and so you might find it a bit too simple now), the movie was horrible and in NO way representative of the quality of the book. It was definitely one of my favorites as a kid. It’s also not very long, so it might be worth it to give it a shot.

  4. hey i read a book (or a series of books…) when i was younger.. i really can’t remember too much about it, but every now and then parts of the story flit into my mind and i’d really like to be able to read it again… as far as i can tell, it’s about a girl, in an old desert-like, fantasy, probably ancient world.. water is very highly valued, only certain people can find it.. she has an ability to sense water and show up the great and powerful water guys… i know its sketchy, there’s something about people never making eye contact.. they look over the shoulder of the person they’re talking to…

    if you’ve even heard of something remotely like it.. please let me know 🙂



  5. I’ve read some of these, not all, but my [current] all time favorite fantasy YA (that is a lot of qualifiers!) is Peter Beagle’s TAMSIN. Oh, and for younger readers, Susan Cooper’s KING OF SHADOWS.

  6. Great list, I’ve read half of them and loved them, so I’ll have to try the other half now 🙂

    If I was going to add some of my fav YA books it’d be these:
    Whatever Became of the Squishies by Claire Chilton
    Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson
    The Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke

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