Top 10 Young Adult Fantasy Books of 2023 - Bookshelf Memories

Top 10 Young Adult Fantasy Books of 2023

Authors in the Young Adult fantasy world have a knack for giving their readers just enough world-building material for them to conjure the images needed in their minds. Some of the best young adult fantasy books have a faster pace to hold attention, teenage characters to relate to, and fantasy scenes to stimulate creativity and get readers comfortable with mixed emotions.

While the genre as a whole is geared towards young adults in the age ranges of 12 to 18 years, our list has been compiled for young readers ages 14+ because we build miniature book nook kits for ages 14 years and up so that’s the age range most likely to read our material. There may be some YA fantasy books written for a younger or more mature audience and some can straddle between age ranges. Harry Potter is a prime example. J.K Rowling intended it to be a kids series, but it was picked up by a YA audience, raising the popularity of the series. For parents looking to pick up some YA fantasy books as a gift, it's worth checking book reviews to ensure they are age-appropriate. 

Top Picks of Young Adult Fantasy Books in 2023

1. The Jasad Heir by Sara Heshem

The Jasad Heir by Sara Heshem

The Jasad Heir is an Egyptian Fantasy novel and a debut for Sara Hashem. In it, she captures the turmoil of political dramas, rebel warriors, and the collapse of an entire Kingdom. The main character is Sylvia, and she’s the heir of Jasad, a befallen kingdom. Technically, Sylvia’s the Lost Heir because Jasad’s been besieged by Nizhali armies for a decade. Her real identity can never be discovered. Neither can her magical powers. In a moment of weakness, Arin, the heir of Nizahl gets a glimpse of Sylvia’s powers. While they should be enemies, Arin takes advantage of the situation, getting Sylvia to use her powers to his advantage in agreement for him to keep her secret. In the pages to follow, readers are forced to analyze the complex realities of morally gray characters, plots with different points of view, and, the real dilemma - what should Sylvia do? Pursue her own goal of living a quiet life in tranquility, or fight the cause for her family and her people? A thought-provoking read!

2. House of Marionne by J. Elle

House of Marionne by J. Elle
The House of Marionne takes you on a captivating adventure into the world of dark academia, black magic, secret societies, and elitists who will do anything to maintain control of the status quo. Quell, a character with supernatural abilities running through her veins runs right into the arms of the bandits who’ve been hunting people like her for her entire life. Fleeing from city to city, she decides that to escape the chase, enrolling in a society for magicians would help her meet societal norms, practice acceptable magic, stop running and live in peace. Little did she know, The Order (the elitist society she joined) was the very group training the assassins she’d been forever running from.

3. The Stolen Heir by Holly Black

The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
Fans of the four islands of Elfhame - the creation of Holly Black - will not be disappointed in the newest edition. The Stolen Heir is once again, set in the dramatic region of Elfhame, this time, with the lead role being Suren - the child queen of the Court of Teeth. Instead or remaining to rule, Suren is exiled to life as a feral among humankind, taking up residence in woodlands. It’s the story reminscent of fairytales and comes complete with a Prince Charming. That’s Prince Oak, whom Suren was supposed to marry, before fleeing. Far from being charming though, he’s the manipulative type and he’s on a mission that Suren can help with. True to form of Holly Black, this book is for fans of faerie fiction.

4. Silver In The Bone by Alexandra Bracken

Silver In The Bone by Alexandra Bracken
In the book, hollowers are like treasure hunters, only the treasure they hunt are legendary. Tamsin and Cabell are the brother-sister duo leading the hunt for a lost ring believed to have belonged to an Arthurian legend. These are mortal characters thrown into a world where they need to compete with sorceresses, breaking open ancient crypts with the wrath of curses bearing down on them, one of which threatens them both. Word spreads of the ‘lost ring’… more hollowers want in on the action. Willing to do whatever is required to be first to find the ring. There's no shortage of twists and turns in this epic journey. From the fear of curses, poisons capable of turning soil to ash, and many more dark magic scenes, this is a book that won't make your DNF (Did Not Finish) list.

5. Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong

Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong

Nightbirds is a magical fiction story with just three main characters - Matilde, Sayer, and Aesa - each unique, all combining to bring together a mystical story that dives deep into subjects surrounding women and empowerment. The Nightbirds are three high-society girls, each practicing magic in a world where magic is real, feared, and ruled illegal. But, for those who know how to find it, they will. That’s how the Nightbirds work. They’re sought out by clients, and the only fee for the experience are secrets shared. Secrets are the currency of the Nightbirds, and they can gift magic with just a kiss. Some romance peeks in at points along the storyline. The real dilemma they face is trust. The Nightbirds struggle to trust anyone. The church wants them eliminated, and the powers-that-be want to wield their powers for personal gain. Ultimately, the three girls don’t even know if the people who taught them what they know, have taught them about all they can do. Can they have more magical powers than they were led to believe? BTW, this is the first in a series so expect a cliffhanger!

6. Sunstruck by Melissa Bellis

Sunstruck by Melissa Bellis

Sunstruck brings to life an imaginative world-building experience of a post-apocalyptic world where the scorching heat of the sun can kill in minutes. Unlike other post-apocalyptic stories with a hero battling to save humankind, Dustin’s only quest is to find his brother, using a map handed down to him by his grandfather. The trouble is, in the desert, there’s a group of bandits - the Brotherhood of Waterfinders. Along his journey, Dustin rescues Olivia from the clutches of the elusive bandits. In the process, his map goes amiss. Is Olivia really the ocean-dwelling city girl she claims to be, or a mole of the brotherhood? This is a tale of survival with plenty of thought-provoking events cropping up throughout the story.

7. Chaos and Flame by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton

Chaos and Flame by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton

Chaos and Flame brings two completely different characters together from two warring factions. The House Dragon and the House Kraken. From the outset, the scene is set with Darling Seabreak being the lone survivor of House Dragon, having spent her childhood surviving in the sewers before being taken in by House Kraken. When the father of House Kraken is kidnapped by House Dragon, Darling’s instinct is to save him, despite knowing, that’s where she’s from. Twisting the story further is a slow-burning romance between Darling and Talon Goldhoard - a War Prince responsible for leading the charge against enemies. Twisting the tales further is Talons brother who uses stories of prophetic dreams to influence outcomes. The dreamy visions, prophecy tales, mythology, and unlikely partners in battle makes for a fast-paced story line with multiple twist plots along the journey.

8. A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith

A Ruinous Fate by Kaylie Smith
Is fate tied to the roll of a dice? In A Ruinous Fate, it is. In a change to the typical stories of magic, the roll of a dice here means far more. It could spell the end of a long line of witches. Calli is a powerful witch, feared by fae and other witches, yet beyond the surface, she hides an even more sinister secret that must remain hidden. She’s a prophesized blood warrior, and the last in line of her people. One more unlucky roll of the dice would decimate her supernatural powers and her people. In a quest to reset her fate, Calli goes on a journey with none other than her ex, and his brother - a witch - who claims to be able to reset her magical rolls, enabling Calli to decide her own fate. The journey takes you on an adventure through the enchanted woods of the Neverending Forest where everyone learns that choosing your own fate is met with dire consequences.

9. The Severed Thread by Leslie Vedder

The Severed Thread by Leslie Vedder
Forewarning: The Severed Thread is the sequel to The Bone Spindle. To avoid spoilers, we’ll keep this brief. Just know that you need to read The Bone Spindle first, and when you do, pay close attention to what’s happening with Red and Shane. Fi and Briar remain center stage in this sequel, but there is more to surface about Red and Shane, and also, the Prince of Andar. Like the first in the series too, this has a good mix of magical relics, cryptic codes, the illusive secret chambers, and the enthralling Forest of Thrones. All the things that make for a graphical read of fantasy fiction make this a series that you won’t regret getting stuck into.

10. If I Have to Be Haunted by Miranda Sun

If I Have to be Haunted by Miranda Sun
This is one for young teens with a keen interest in ghostly goings-on. Cara Tang is an American Chinese schoolgirl with the usual stresses in life - juggling classes with extracurricular activities and prepping for college. But, with the added stress of seeing - and talking to - dead people. When Zach, a foe from school winds up dead in the woods, Cara finds him and is the only one he can hope has the ability to join his soul back to his body. Zach wants Cara to resurrect him. Her mother wants her to ignore her abilities, while her grandmother advises her to embrace them. Agreeing to help Zach puts Cara on a dangerous path. In the liminal world, monsters and magic arise amid the friend-foe relationship of two school teens. Oh, and this is the first in a series! There’s a lot more to learn about Cara and her ghostly experiences.