Of Gods and Magic

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Of Gods and Magic

High Fantasy in YA

Good and evil. Dragons and magic. Whether the fantasy world involves wizards or werewolves, high fantasy always involves high stakes. The following are all YA high fantasy novels set in a variety of worlds and about all kinds of characters, some taken more seriously than others. 

All of them are available as ebooks and many as audiobooks through OverDrive

Sabriel by Garth Nix
In the first book of the Abhorsen series, Sabriel’s father is the aforementioned Abhorsen of the Old Kingdom, who keeps the living safe from the undead, elementals, and sorcerers. But next to the Old Kingdom is another country, Ancelstierre, which is akin to Australia in the early 1900s and has no magic at all except for what little escapes over the wall that divides the two countries. It’s there where Sabriel has been going to school, at least until her father disappears and she must return to a dangerous land of magic and undead in order to find him and protect both kingdoms from evil. 

Mirage by Somaiya Daud 
Somaiya Daud blends science fiction and high fantasy in this YA novel. Eighteen-year-old Amani has survived under a cruel regime by imagining adventures beyond her moon home, where she can write poetry of her experiences. In her real life, she is kidnapped by the regime to pose as a body double for the regime’s princess, who is under constant threat of assassination. Somehow Amani must pretend to be the princess amidst dangerous politics of court and survive. 

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner 
In the first book of the Queen’s Thief series, Gen may be both the best thief and the most foolish. After he steals something from a king and boasts throughout the city, he is caught and thrown into prison for months until the king’s chief advisor offers him a chance for freedom. All he has to do is steal a priceless artifact, one said to have been created by the gods and which will force the neighboring country’s queen to marry their king. But the story of the artifact’s origin may be more truthful than Gen believes, and the gods may be taking an interest…  

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Magic may have been outlawed in her kingdom for centuries, but when Princess Hesina of Yan is thrust onto the throne after the murder of her father, she seeks out a soothsayer to find the killer. Now, armed with the information gained through illegal means, she must find and rely on someone who will track down the murderer without revealing to the court and the country’s enemies what she’s done. Akira is just the man, but he has secrets as well, and together they must uncover the mystery of the king’s death.  

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst  
Princess Dennaleia has always known who she would marry. The two kingdoms made that arrangement at her birth. But now she’s old enough to travel to Mynaria and learn more about her future husband as she prepares for the wedding. However, with a new court and a new home comes danger, especially since Dennaleia has a secret: she uses forbidden magic. And on top of that, she thinks more of her betrothed’s sister than her actual betrothed. When disaster strikes, Dennaleia learns that her destiny might not be what she expected after all.  

The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Both a loving homage to high fantasy as well as a parody, The Dark Lord of Derkholm takes place in a fantasy world controlled by a tourism agency from another universe. Every year, a man known as Mr. Chesney brings his tours through the world, forcing the inhabitants to play-act all the cliches of high fantasy: the Dark Lord, evil enchantresses, monsters. But the tours leave constant destruction, and the fantasy world’s inhabitants are determined to stop Mr. Chesney and end the tours once and for all. Their only hope lies with the family of the hapless wizard Derk, his wife, and their assortment of children who are humans and griffins.