Being a teenager is tough. Pair everyday struggles with superhuman powers, and it can be an incredibly confusing time. One day, you’re just a normal kid; and the next thing you know, you can lift a car or magically transport yourself to another world. But magic often has a price, and these awesome powers usually come with some sort of dark catch.
Fantasy books never fail to transport us into exciting, new worlds, or provide us with characters we aspire to be — or at least, befriend. So, if you’re an orphan wizard, a young superhero in training, or just looking for a little magic in your life, these books will make you feel right at home.
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
You can’t control where you came from, but you can control where you go. The story of Aerin, the outcast daughter of the king, is one of intense magic and destiny. She is constantly shadowed by the rumors that her birth mother is a witch. She befriends and trains her father’s retired warhorse, Talat, and learns of a forgotten recipe for dragon fire repellent… just in case the need ever arises.
When a dragon attacks a nearby village, Aerin sees her opportunity to be a hero. Running head first into battle, she realizes that she might have bitten off more than she can chew, as the dragon she attempts to protect her people against is one of the great dragons of ancient times—a dragon that might frighten even the boldest of kings.
The Hex Witch of Seldom by Nancy Springer
It’s one thing to be raised in the rural mountain ranges of Pennsylvania by a grandparent, it’s another thing to do so knowing that you might go “all the way crazy” like the rest of your family. This is what keeps Bobbi Lee Yandro up at night.
After receiving the journals of her deceased father, Bobbi begins to see a change. When she’s given a horse, and names it Shane, the two of them set out as fugitives and meet Hazel—the Hex Witch of Seldom. Hazel introduces Bobbi to the Twelve of the Hidden Circle, a group of otherworldly characters (one of whom is out to steal Shane’s soul). Soon, Bobbi realizes she has a very special bond with her new horse, and that she’ll have to use special gifts of her own if she hopes to save him.
Catseye by Andre Norton
Troy Horan has learned to make the best with what he has. After being forcibly relocated to the planet of Korwar when his home planet was made into a military base, he learns a very important and mysterious truth: He has the power to communicate with the animals from Terran. Soon, a murder causes Troy and his newfound animal friends to retreat to the Wild and confront the dark and ancient history of his new home planet.
Black Trillium by Marion Bradley
Being a teenager is hard enough, but going through it at the same time as your sisters adds a whole new layer of trouble. And that’s just for normal sisters, in a normal world, with normal responsibilities.
But life in Ruwenda is anything but normal. Protected by the Archimage Binah, the land is safe for all. But when Binah’s power begins to fade, she transfers it to the three princesses of the royal house: Haramis, Kadiya, and Aingel. The sisters must quickly learn and master their new powers for the sake of their people. Soon, they are separated and must travel on different roads to do their part in saving their kingdom, their friends, and their future. The first book in a magically thrilling series, this is a story of sisterhood, family, and a quest not to be missed.
Gift by Andrea Buchanan
Daisy Jones tries her best to not make any waves, but it doesn’t help that she’s the new girl and doesn’t exactly have the economic stability of her peers. That might be a sour spot for some, but for Daisy, it’s not all bad. She’s more concerned about keeping her unpredictable superpower under control. Soon, she realizes that she’s not the only one: her classmate Vivi has a secret, too. In addition to figuring out what her gift is really meant for, Daisy still has to deal with normal high school antics—including figuring out her feelings for the very attractive Kevin.
Assassin by Joe Craig
For young people, ‘normal’ is a somewhat relative term. When Jimmy Coates wakes up one morning to find that he can jump higher, run faster, and fight more skillfully than ever before, he knows that his ‘normal’ has changed forever. What he comes to realize, however, is that these new perks come at a terrible cost— most normal teenagers don’t have helicopters and men in strange suits chasing them every moment of the day. If Jimmy wants to survive, he’ll have to learn to master his newfound powers.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
‘Blood type’ takes on a whole new and magical meaning in Victoria Aveyard’s story of royalty and rebellion. In Mare Barrow’s world, you are either a Red or Silver, which corresponds to the type of blood you have. As a Red, you live to serve Silvers. These ruling Silvers don’t serve anyone because they have incredible powers—each family possessing different abilities.
When Mare, a Red, somehow manages to find herself in front of the Silver court, she realizes that she, too, has a magical ability—something both baffling and alarming to the Silvers. Attempting to cover up a terrible exception to the rules by which they’ve lived their life, the king forces Mare to pretend to be a lost princess—even betrothing her to his youngest son. But with a Red resistance rising, Mare will have to decide where her loyalties lie.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
There are times when young adults feel powerless, without agency, without a future. Alina Starkov knows, like most kids, that she’s never been the heroine of any story. But all that changes when she reveals a dormant power and is to be trained to join the Grisha—a magical special forces unit tasked with defending the kingdom from what lies past the Shadow Fold.
The first in a stunningly creative series, Anita will be forced to grow up fast and learn how to harness her new powers. Not only is she the heroine of her own story, but that of an entire realm of people. No pressure though, right?
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
How many people do you know, including yourself, who quote the story of The Boy Who Lived? Or anxiously awaited their acceptance letter to Hogwarts? The true magic of this series is in the universality of Harry’s struggles. We’ve all felt alone and alienated, we’ve all dealt with the awkwardness of young love, and most of us have also unfortunately learned to adapt to grief.
If you’re not familiar with the series, it follows Harry Potter and his friends, wizards and witches born with magical powers who attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Over the seven fantastical books, J.K. Rowling brings many issues that face Muggles (that’s us: people lacking magical abilities) to the forefront, as Harry learns how to cope with both real-life and magical issues facing young adults.
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
Young people aren’t usually familiar with the incredible weight of actual responsibility. But Daleina, a rather bookish and observant student, knows how important real responsibility is to the adults around her. She understands that the battle between the spirits and humans is coming to a head and that something must be done to end the conflict.
In the world of Renthia, the queen alone possesses the power to prevent the spirits from destroying her people. But with great power comes danger, which is why young women are chosen to train as heirs…in case the worst happens. Daleina is one such heir and, with the help of a veteran champion Ven, she’ll set out on a mission to find out why the spirits are bent on destroying them.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
From the award-winning author of the Temeraire novels comes a standalone book about a young woman determined to save her village and friends at whatever the cost. Every ten years the Dragon, a local wizard, requires a very unique and special fee for the village’s protection: A 17-year-old girl must serve him for the next decade.
Born during the right (or rather, wrong) year, Agnieszka has known her whole life that she will be eligible to be chosen when she’s 17. But she also knows that her beautiful best friend, Kasia, is likely to be picked for this terrible duty, as the Dragon always chooses the prettiest girl. But when Agnieszka is chosen instead, and she learns she has magical powers of her own, she’ll have to learn how to use them in order to protect her loved ones from the evil that lies in the Wood.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
The island of Fennibirn has a special tradition: Every generation, triplet queens are born. But these sisters are no ordinary rulers. Only one will be queen, and they’ll spend their youth learning to harness their different special powers in order to face off to the death the night they turn 16. It’s one thing to possess magic you may have to use to defeat your enemies someday, but it’s another thing entirely to grow up knowing you’ll have to kill your sisters in order to be queen.
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Teenagers have enough things on their mind without the ability to see different possible outcomes of the future, like Addison Coleman does. Addie lives in a constant state of “What if?” as a Searcher—a particular type of clairvoyant. Imagine knowing what the future could hold? When Addie’s parents get divorced, she looks into the future to decide if she should live with her mom or dad. But while she assesses her two different paths, she’s drawn into a murder investigation that changes everything.