The YA genre is booming, with more than double the number of books in that genre being published each year, than ten years before. One specific area that seems to be of particular popularity is fantasy YA books. I have been fortunate enough to interview a plethora of wonderful YA authors.  It made me wonder, in their opinion, what are some of the best fantasy YA books to be published. So to discover the best fantasy YA books, I put together an expert panel of authors who know the genre inside out.  So, before we discover the best fantasy YA books, we must first meet that panel…

John l. monkJohn L. Monk

John L. Monk is a published author who lives with his wife, Dorothy, in Virginia, USA. John L. Monk has published five books, with his one of his most recent releases, Hell’s Children, drawing some great praise.  The book has been described as “an emotional and action filled post-apocalyptic story with unforgettable characters”, as well as “a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies that is both terrifying and uplifting”.

Charlie Goldberg reading listCharlie Holmberg

Charlie Holmberg is a fantasy author who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. Graduating in 2010, Charlie Holmberg would go on to publish numerous books, perhaps most notably The Master Magician, which was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and had its rights bought up by Disney in 2016. Charlie Holmberg’s sixth novel, The Fifth Doll, came out in August 2017; and experienced an extremely positive reception.

Jeff wheeler interviewJeff Wheeler

Jeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career to become a full-time author. He is now a respected and recognised author of fantasy and science fiction books.  His Muirwood series is gathering attention and a devoted fanbase.  With his most recent release The Thief’s Daughter becoming a best seller on one of Amazon’s fantasy fiction lists. Jeff knows the fantasy genre and was the perfect author for this panel.

Now, let’s discover the best fantasy YA books…

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

John L. Monk:

I was standing in my yard when I first became aware of a thing called a “book” that I could actually read and enjoy. Books, as my 6th-grade self saw them at the time, were something only girls bothered with, or work my teacher assigned for book reports. That day in my yard, my best friend told me about Wizard of Earthsea — a story of a kid (like me) who travels to a wizard school to acquire power and wisdom. After reading this wonderful book, the reading bug bit and I was hooked forever.

The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg

Jeff Wheeler:

I’m a fan of this entire series, but it was this first book that introduced me to Charlie’s writing style. She creates intricate and subtle magical systems and then pulls them together in amazing worlds that work. In this series, a young woman Ceony Twill who graduates from an alternate-England school of magic must study the most boring magic (in her mind) – paper. But she comes to adore the trade and her world-weary mentor. And the villains in this world are uber creepy. Give it a try.

an ember in the ashesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Charlie Holmberg:

This is the debut novel by Sabaa Tahir, and it is stunning. Laia is a slave by choice. Elias is trapped by a future most of his people would envy. These characters are incredibly deep and fulfil an equally deep plot. Even the side characters are three-dimensional. Tahir knows how to rope emotion and keep you flipping pages. You feel sympathetic for just about everybody, even the bad guys. What’s even better is that the sequels are just as powerful as the first book—none of that general series downfall we’re all so used to.

Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye

Jeff Wheeler:

This one really surprised me with its blend of humor and realistic teenagers. Young Ozzy’s parents were abducted from their backwoods home in the Pacific Northwest and he’s raised alone…well, except for a robotic raven. It’s the story about how Ozzy hires a cranky wizard from the nearby town to help use magic to find his missing parents. But is the man really a wizard or a homeless crackpot? It’s a great tale, full of suspense and mystery and yes, a little magic.

A Spell For Chameleon by Piers Anthony

John L. Monk:

I loved Piers Anthony’s “Xanth” series from start to finish. And what a great start “A Spell For Chameleon” is. As a teenager, I sort of had this idea in my head that I wasn’t all that special. Bink, the main character, feels the same way. Unlike me, his ordinariness is a crime that’ll get him thrown out of his community. Wow! Now that sounds like an adventure!

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Charlie Holmberg:

I love this book. I recommend it to everyone. It’s my husband’s favorite novel, now. Maggie Stiefvater creates a world so real I actually looked it up to see if it existed. It’s great for fans of fantasy but fits very nicely with those who might not love the genre. The fantasy element is light but oh so believable. This book has both traces of romance and horror. The characters are so fantastic, I actually considered naming my daughter “Puck,” after the female lead. This is a definite must-read.

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

the magic of recluceJohn L. Monk:

This one’s a very special book for me from a coming-of-age perspective. The main character — a teenager named Lerris — is sort of bored with the safety of his boring (and safe) island home. As a way of getting him to appreciate the things he has, and maybe to expand his horizons a bit, the elders of the magical island temporarily exile him. As you can see, I love any book where the main character is thrown out of his comfy home, and this one’s no exception. There’s magic and battle and even love. All the stuff of good fantasy. One of the things I loved most, though, is that the main character picks up a non-magical trade while wandering the world and getting in adventurers. He learns woodworking, and he learns it very well. Better still, the author actually made it seem interesting. What a great book for young adults, because it exposes the reader to a number of important virtues, and it does so in an exciting way.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Charlie Holmberg:

This is Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel and an absolutely fantastic read. A young girl marries a demon lord with the intent to kill him, but she’d caught in a web so knotted, she (and the reader) can’t see an end in sight. It’s heavily flavored with fairytale, but with twists you cannot predict. So many twists! The plot pulls you in and keeps you guessing throughout the entire book. It’s near impossible to put down. It’s sort of a Beauty and the Beast mashup with Rumpelstiltskin, but with so much of Hodge’s own imaginings, it becomes its own beautiful monster.

the namingThe Naming by Alison Croggon

Jeff Wheeler:

This is the first book of the Pellinor series which is a really great epic fantasy written for YA readers. It’s a big saga, not unlike Wheel of Time, and its characters are multidimensional and interesting. The main character, Maerad, is a slave and in horrible circumstances when she’s discovered by a wandering bard named Cadvan who teaches her music and magic. What the author does best though is creating original and interesting cultures as the characters travel from land to land preparing for an evil that is about to overwhelm everything they know and care about and which Maerad must prevent.

What do you think are the best fantasy YA books? Let us know which books you’d nominate as the best fantasy YA books, in the comments below!