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Top 8 Spellbound YA Fantasy Books

Natalie is a bookworm with a penchant for romance, adventure, and intrigue who loves to share her thoughts on popular novels with the world.

"Aurora Rising" by Amie Kaufman

"Aurora Rising" by Amie Kaufman

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch:

  • A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
  • A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
  • A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
  • An alien warrior with anger management issues
  • A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Thoughts: I never thought I needed to read about a gang of unlikely friends saving the universe, and I am not disappointed. Having Auri learn about this new world with the readers was genius. Not only are the main characters likable, they are relatable too—such as Auri admitting that the only social skills she learned are from books and the sims. Very strong world-building . . . well . . . space-building? Definitely something I wouldn't read in public, just for the fear of laughing out loud.

"The Lunar Chronicles" by Marissa Meyer

"The Lunar Chronicles" by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.

She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Thoughts: This is a circular story of retellings of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. This series made me fall in love with retellings, with its astute easter eggs from the original fairy tales and its easy reading style. A lot of romance that audiences can root for that balances out the contrast between the fighting and revolution. I've read this multiple times, and each time I had a book hangover afterward.

"Hex Hall" by Rachel Hawkins

"Hex Hall" by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Thoughts: This book got me into the fantasy genre, which is why it makes me sad when not a lot of people have heard of this book. I find the protagonist, Sophie Mercer, to be relatable and likable. She is the reason this became my comfort book due to the great humour and story. The romance also gave me unrealistic expectations of high school boys, (Possibly because magic is involved.)

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"Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo

"Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone, so he'll need the help of:

  • A convict with a thirst for revenge
  • A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
  • A runaway with a privileged past
  • A spy known as the Wraith
  • A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
  • A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Thoughts: I was pretty excited reading a book with main characters that are seemingly flawed and can appear antagonistic. The backstories of each main and side character are played out so well and make each individual character stand out so well. It was also intriguing to see love interests not touching each other affectionately due to their dark pasts, which I personally think makes their love more passionate.

"Trylle" Series by Amanda Hocking

"Trylle" Series by Amanda Hocking

Trylle Series by Amanda Hocking

Switched, the first book in the Trylle trilogy, centers on Wendy Everly. When she was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until 11 years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed—a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.

Thoughts: I'm going to have to personally check if I'm not a troll just because of the whole hair thing, I'll be looking into that. This engaging take on trolls totally challenged the fairy tails we were told as a child. These trolls are magical, hot and have a never-ending system.

"Everless" by Sara Holland

"Everless" by Sara Holland

Everless by Sara Holland

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

Thoughts: I couldn't believe this was Holland's first time publishing a book—the ideas, world-building and characters were so fresh and new. The idea of the world all being controlled and connected to time through blood and money made the suspenseful moments so fascinating. The sense of escapism in this book was immaculate, really making you feel like you were there with the protagonist, trying to help her along the journey.

"When Wishes Bleed" by Casey L. Bond

"When Wishes Bleed" by Casey L. Bond

When Wishes Bleed by Casey L. Bond

One Prince. One Witch. One Fate.

The upheaval in my life began the moment a prince stumbled into my house and asked me to read his fortune. Any other night, I might have made an excuse to get him to leave, but this was no normal visit. My fingers prickled to touch him. So, I granted his request by handing him a single wishbone. When he snapped it, the wish … bled.

Hearing me suck in a shocked breath, he asked what it meant. Such an ominous omen could only mean one thing: his death was imminent. Fate revealed that he wouldn’t die of natural causes. Someone wanted him dead. Stunned by the revelation, the man I now knew as Prince Tauren disappeared into a night I feared he wouldn’t survive. The following day, I received an invitation to the castle. While it seemed the prince believed I could intervene and uncover who was plotting his death, his motives didn’t stop there. I was being summoned to join twelve other women in vying for the opportunity to be his wife and future queen.

Going could mean jeopardizing my plans to reclaim my heritage and resurrect the House of Fate. But staying would guarantee Tauren’s death, and the blood of his wish would be on my hands.

Thoughts: This felt like The Selection meets dystopian witches. The element of fate being within the major character gave the book that extra element of interest. The romance was sweet and clean, still managing to achieve the almost-instant love. The writing was almost poetic and was an easy read.

"The Guinevere Deception" by Kiersten White

"The Guinevere Deception" by Kiersten White

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom's borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution—send in Guinevere to be Arthur's wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king's idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere's real name--and her true identity—is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old—including Arthur's own family—demand things continue as they have been, and the new—those drawn by the dream of Camelot—fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur's knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Thoughts: After I finished binge-watching Merlin, I was itching to read some sort of retelling of Arthur's tale and this was exactly what I wanted. A story full of deceptions that even "Guinevere" doesn't even know what's true or not anymore. Girls fighting in armour battling with a sword, rebel royals with magic, unlikely romance and modern representation of now relationships. It was addicting.

© 2021 Natalie Zappa

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