Time for one of our favorite genres: Young adult fantasy. This spring has seen several publications by promising new writers, so we wanted to showcase some of our favorite titles that feature strong young women. There’s more to come this spring and summer, so now’s the time to start your list of great books to enjoy in the coming months. And be sure to let us know your own discoveries!
Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Ileni is a young and very talented sorceress–at least that has been her identity until at the age of 17, she begins to lose her magic. As her ability to weave her spells fades, she loses everything: her position in her community, her goals, and the man she loves. But when she is sent to teach magic to a group of assassins, her life is thrown into even greater turmoil. A murder mystery with lots of “star-crossed lover” romance and intrigue, crafted in a believable fantasy world with characters that have depth–and are full of surprises. I couldn’t put it down (Ruth here) and was delighted to learn it is the start of a new series.
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
A combination of historical fiction and magic? Sounds contradictory, but in Patrick’s capable hands, it works. Russia at the dawn of the 20th century revolution is an intriguing time, and ripe for the introduction of a fantastic element. Much of the tale is true, with realistic details of the period, mostly true characters from history including Rasputin and the Royal Family, as well as the swirling intrigues at court and the growing Red forces. The introduction of an underground group of magicians and sorcerers, a magic Faberge egg, and other mystical elements add to the adventure and romance of the story. Our heroine, Natalaya, is born to privilege, a member of the White Russian court, in love with (and betrothed to) the tsar’s son Alexei. As her story unfolds, she learns more of what has led to the revolution and the growing Red forces. The writing is vivid and detailed, the adventures suspenseful, and the romance(s) that simmer under the surface are engaging.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamond Hodge
The basic framework of this story is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with many intriguing twists. The Beast in this case is called the “Gentle Lord,” and as the tyrannical and often cruel ruler of the kingdom, he is anything but gentle. As part of an ill-fated bargain her father has made with the Gentle Lord when she was a child, Nyx has known for many years that she is betrothed to marry him. Her village has also trained her in arts that they hope will allow her to kill him once they are wed. And yet, she finds herself strangely attracted to her new husband, noticing other sides of his personality as well as strange intrigues that occur in the court and her new home. Besides fairy tales, there are elements of Greek mythology woven into this romance/fantasy/adventure. The intricate plot keeps readers engaged. We want more from this new author!