14 YA Series Installments Featuring Fae, Monsters, and More | Series Update

In this latest Series Update, some YA series wrap up, others find their stride, and a few expand their worlds with novellas and a spin-off duology.

Fae, gods, and monsters are flying off the shelves this year as some series wrap up while others find their stride. A number of YA series are using their middle installments to cement fulfilling character arcs, while others are prolonging the end by publishing novellas—a trend many librarians will remember from the early 2010s. Holly Black’s The Stolen Heir begins a new spin-off duology and is the only item on this list that could be read without prior knowledge—though readers of the original trilogy will be rewarded for returning to Elfhame.


Middle School

Hannibal, James R. Bear Knight. 400p. (Lightraider Academy: Bk. 2). Enclave Escape. Feb. 2023. ISBN 9798886050301.
Gr 7 Up–Inspired by the Christian TTRPG DragonRaid, the second book in the “Lightraider Academy” series picks up where the first installment left off. Connor and Kara are students at the academy, at the cusp of being promoted to cadet scouts. The two face new pressures as the revived academy fights to stop the invasion of dark creatures into the land. The morality lessons are heavy-handed, but the pacing and action sequences pick up at the halfway mark. Main characters present as white, with some coded diversity in the secondary cast. VERDICT Not recommended for purchase unless patrons are in search of Christian fantasy.

Marney, Ellie. Some Shall Break. 400p. (The None Shall Sleep Sequence: Bk. 2). Little, Brown. Jun. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316487719.
Gr 8 Up–Teen FBI recruits Emma and Travis escaped teen sociopath and murderer Simon Gutmunsson in None Shall Sleep, but now, they might need him to help solve their next case: a copycat of the same serial killer Emma barely got away from years ago. Set in the 1980s, when serial killers were a relatively new idea, Emma and Travis navigate an interesting period in police history. Marney’s writing focuses more on developing characters in this installment but doesn’t sacrifice suspense to do it. Emma is white, Travis biracial, and there is additional diversity in the supporting characters. VERDICT Read-alike to Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Naturals as historical fiction. Recommended for general purchase.

Older, Daniel José. Last Canto of the Dead. 400p. (Outlaw Saints: Bk. 2). Rick Riordan Presents. May 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368070904.
Gr 7 Up–In this novel that picks up where Ballad & Dagger left off, Mateo and Chela must figure out how their past as spirits connects to their godlike powers and the reemergence of San Madrigal Island from the sea. Being contained in human form makes it difficult to control their magic, and their struggles mirror a traditional coming-of-age story as they try to heal the divisions in their community from Ballad & Dagger . Mateo and Chela’s romance is a strong subplot that manages to add layers to the worldbuilding and provide authentic teen voice to the narration. Anti-colonialism remains a primary theme in this book, which features the same diversity seen in its predecessor. VERDICT A satisfying and suspenseful end to the duology. Recommended for purchase.



High School

Bartlett, Jordan H. Queen’s Catacombs. 416p. (The Frean Chronicles: Bk. 2). CamCat. Mar. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780744307764.
Gr 9 Up–The second book in the “Frean Chronicles” finds Jacs trying to change what it means to be queen in an essentially unequal society. Jacs now rules over the Upper and Lower Realms, and while the Contest of Queens was grueling, her new position is just as hard. If readers can get past the uneven worldbuilding, they’ll find a delightful cast of characters trying to put the queendom on the right path. While the novel tries to challenge the patriarchy in its matriarchal society, it relies on gender essentialism to do so. Cast is presumed white, with queer women in Jacs’s circle of friends. VERDICT Consider for collections where the first book has found readers.

Black, Holly. The Stolen Heir: A Novel of Elfhame. 368p. (The Stolen Heir: Bk. 1). Little, Brown. Jan. 2023. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780316592703.
Gr 9 Up–This spin-off of “The Folk of the Air” series has a ready-made fanbase eager to return to Elfhame. Readers met Suren, the abused child queen of the Court of Teeth, in The Queen of Nothing, and now she gets a novel of her own. Capricious and duplicitous, Oak has grown into a true Prince of Elfhame in the eight years since Jude and Cardan took the throne, but now he needs Suren’s help. Suren fled the Court of Teeth years ago and has been on the run ever since. Helping Oak’s quest is not in her best interest; she knows she can’t trust Oak despite his promises, but there are things Suren wants too—having a prince of Elfhame on her side might be the only way to get them. Black crafts two broken characters readers will long to unite even if they remember fae romances are never that simple. Even Black’s most experienced readers are in for a surprise. VERDICT Flawlessly executed. This book belongs in all YA collections.

Clayton, Dhonielle. The Beauty Trials: A Belles Novel. 352p. (The Belles). Disney-Hyperion. Feb. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368046923.
Gr 8 Up–This spin-off of “The Belles” duology plunges Edel Beauregard into a series of contests to become the next Queen of Orléans. Queen Sophia has been imprisoned, and the tradition of the Beauty Trials—a potentially fatal series of tests that allow the Goddess of Beauty to choose the next queen—has begun to pick her replacement. Edel is not a Belle (though she has always wanted to be), but the revelations she’ll confront in the games may shake her resolve. This spin-off relies on readers’ familiarity with the original duology to understand and appreciate the worldbuilding, but Clayton crafts excellent romance and political machinations to entice her readers back to the fold. VERDICT Worth purchasing if your collection owns “The Belles,” but it does not stand alone.

Doyle, Catherine & Katherine Webber. Cursed Crowns. 512p. (Twin Crowns: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063116160.
Gr 9 Up–The twin queens have been crowned, only to be pulled apart again. Rose planned a royal tour to establish them in the kingdom, but Wren sneaks away to the north in hopes of freeing their grandmother—and enters into a bargain with magical complications. Rose finds herself pulled south by a mysterious stranger—and the strands of destiny. Short chapters alternate points of view, but the pacing struggles to manage two discrete plots. Wren and Rose’s narrations are light but distinct, with a balance between humor and ambition. Main characters are white with diversity in the secondary characters. VERDICT A fantasy romp that avoids delving into serious themes by focusing on romantic elements. A secondary purchase.


Gong, Chloe. Last Violent Call: A Foul Thing; This Foul Murder. 240p. (Secret Shanghai). S. & S./McElderry. Feb. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665934510.
Gr 9 Up–Two novellas follow familiar faces from These Violent Delights. In A Foul Thing, Roma and Juliette are trying to live a quiet and anonymous life as underground weapons dealers, but when Russian girls begin turning up dead, they can’t look the other way. In This Foul Murder, Benedikt and Marshall are hunting a scientist when their ride on the Trans-Siberian Express is interrupted by a murder. To keep their mission on track, they convince the conductor they are investigators who can take charge of the mystery, which has more to do with their own mission than expected. Gong’s novellas can’t stand alone, but have the familiar banter and violence of her original duology. Readers may find this mini-duology has lower stakes than the original, maintaining the couples’ happily ever after. VERDICT An additional purchase where Gong’s original series is popular.

Jackson, Holly. Kill Joy: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Novella. 208p. (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder). Delacorte. Feb. 2023. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593426210.
Gr 9 Up–This novella set in the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder world follows Pip to a murder mystery party! Reluctantly costumed in dapper 1920s attire, Pip might hate the concept of a costume party, but she can’t help but get pulled into the fictional murder of Reginald Remy alongside her friends. The novella is short and fun, with much lower stakes than Jackson’s readers are used to, but still feature her familiar quick pacing and twisting expectations to keep readers glued to the page. VERDICT The “Good Girls” trilogy has some voracious readers who might appreciate a low-key mystery. Recommended for additional purchase.

Kagawa, Julie. The Iron Vow. 400p. (The Iron Fey: Evenfall: Bk. 3). Inkyard. May 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781335453662.
Gr 8 Up–The fate of Nevernever and the world is decided in the finale of Kagawa’s “The Iron Fey” series. The Nightmare King is waking. Meghan and her friends leapt through a portal and now face an impossible choice in Evenfall where the fate of Faery hangs in the balance. Kagawa is a deft hand at balancing adventure with character development; this finale is no exception. Suspenseful pacing and witty banter will keep readers turning pages as they follow Meghan to the end. VERDICT This spin-off series provides a satisfying conclusion and is worth having in its entirety; hand to fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black.


Mafi, Tahereh. These Infinite Threads. 416p. (This Woven Kingdom: Bk. 2). HarperCollins. Feb. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062972477.
Gr 9 Up–After ending This Woven Kingdom on a cliff-hanger, readers will be thrilled to pick up the angst-filled sequel. A single kiss has changed the course of Alizeh and Kamran’s lives, as well as the fate of their kingdoms. The devil Iblees has played a long game to deliver the world to the cusp of ruin, and Alizeh a dangerous throne. Duty and love pull the couple in many directions as they are manipulated, betrayed, and tested on all fronts. Mafi’s story weaves a rich tapestry of Persian worldbuilding, nuanced characters, and a slow, searing romance to carry readers through this middle installment. The luxurious writing style sacrifices plot for depth but sets up high stakes for the final book. VERDICT Beautifully written, but firmly a middle book. Recommended for general purchase.

Raughley, Sarah. The Song of Wrath. 432p. (Bones of Ruin Trilogy: Bk. 2). S. & S./McElderry. Apr. 2023. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781534453593.
Gr 8 Up–Iris was brought to England by a slave trader and spent most of The Bones of Ruin trying to reclaim her lost memories—now she has them, and wishes they had stayed buried. Armed with apocalyptic powers that are stretching beyond her control, Iris must decide how she wishes to use them before other entities find ways to use her. Iris journeys to Africa to discover the truth about her destiny. Raughley’s candid writing discusses slavery, colonialism, gender, and their intersections while delivering strong character arcs and a gripping adventure plot. It runs long for such a straightforward plot. VERDICT A unique historical fantasy rich in adventure, recommended for general purchase.

Schneider, Robyn. The Future King. 416p. (Emry Merlin: Bk. 2). Viking. Mar. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593351055.
Gr 9 Up–An ahistorical King Arthur series in the vibe of CW’s Reign, this second installment revolves almost entirely around the complex romantic relationships developed in The Other Merlin. Emry is finally at court under her own name, and not pretending to be her twin brother, but her magic is growing odd and out of control. Arthur and Guinevere are engaged to be married, but both want to escape the betrothal as Guin is pregnant with Emry’s twin’s baby. Schneider’s second entry is less humorous than the first, focusing on character development, more queer romance, and setting up plot points for future novels. Main characters are assumed white, with racial diversity in the secondary cast. VERDICT A fun and effervescent historical fantasy, this one is recommended for purchase where the first installment circulates.

Vedder, Leslie. The Severed Thread416p. (The Bone Spindle: Bk. 2). Penguin/Razorbill. Feb. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593325858.
Gr 9 Up–This follow-up to The Bone Spindle—a queer, gender-bending “Sleeping Beauty” retelling—holds tight to the ride-or-die relationships as characters embark on a new quest to save the kingdom of Andar. Fi and her found family must decode a book and locate the secret city of the last Witches, lending this fairy-tale retelling a Lara Croft: Tomb Raider vibe as Fi fights her Butterfly Curse, Briar Rose struggles with his bond to the Spindle Witch, and Shane tries to save Red. Vedder’s second book sustains the thrilling romance and adventure readers loved in the first, with deeper characterization and higher stakes. VERDICT This flipped fairy-tale series is too fun to miss. Highly recommended.

Emmy Neal is a teen librarian at Lake Forest Library, IL

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