13 YA Fantasy Series Entries You Might Have Missed

With the pandemic supply issues and pushed release dates, it’s been hard to keep up with what YA fantasy books have published in the past year. Here are a few titles that may have slipped under your radar.

It’s been a roller-coaster year for YA fantasy. With the pandemic supply issues and pushed release dates, it’s been hard to keep up with what really published. Some blockbuster series wrapped up in 2021—the final installments of “The Aurora Cycle” and “Simon Snow” are on this list—but even more may have slipped under your radar. Regardless, we have opinions on which series are worth completing in your collection. While Terciel & Elinor and What Once Was Mine could conceivably be enjoyed by new readers, generally teens should read the previous installments before tackling these entries.

Ahdieh, Renée. The Righteous. 432p. (The Beautiful Quartet: Bk. 3). Putnam. Dec. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781984812612.
Gr 9 Up –The third book in this series brings Pippa Montrose from supporting character to center stage. Arjun is sent to find a fey healer, and when Pippa’s investigation leads her to his apartment, she ends up following him to the court of the fey. When Pippa is discovered and put in peril, Arjun claims her as his fiancé to keep the fey at bay. This book feels less 1872 than the previous installments, perhaps because so much takes place in a fantasy court with its own rules and political intrigue. Ahdieh’s writing is lush as she balances various points of view throughout the novel. The romance is delightful, as is the sex positivity, intersectional feminism, and discussions of colonialism. Pippa is white, Arjun is part Indian, part fey. VERDICT Originally a duology, this series was expanded because of its popularity. The vicious fey court makes this an easy recommendation to fans of Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince.

Braswell, Liz. What Once Was Mine. 512p. (A Twisted Tale: Bk. 12). ­Disney-Hyperion. Sept. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368063821.
Gr 6 Up –The 12th book in the “A Twisted Tale” series asks: If Rapunzel’s mother accidentally drank a potion from the Moondrop flower instead of the Sundrop, how would Tangled have gone? Rapunzel grows long silver hair and develops powers that hurt rather than heal. To protect the kingdom, she’s locked away in a tower under the care of Mother Gothel. When Rapunzel finally escapes the tower, she runs into Flynn Rider and a woman named Gina, and together they investigate Rapunzel’s mysterious hair while running from Mother Gothel. The book takes on Tangled’s tight pacing and action sequences, which isn’t as twisty as the series name implies, but ultimately provides a fun time for fans. Characters cued white. VERDICT A fun, if not particularly standout, reimagining of a beloved story.

Brown, Roseanne A. A Psalm of Storms and ­Silence. 560p. (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Nov. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062891525.
Gr 9 Up –Karina lost everything—her kingdom, her throne—and her only path to getting it back is the divine power in the long lost city of her ancestors. Consequences from the first novel have thrown Sonande into chaos as disasters rain down upon the fragile peace. With Karina the key to fixing it, Malik will have to find a way to lure the woman he tried to kill back to his side. Despite a heavy dose of miscommunication, Brown’s characters continue to shine and her representation of mental health is both dark and respectful. The first entry in this West African folklore–inspired fantasy duology was on a number of anti-racist reading lists in 2020 and is worth having on the shelf. VERDICT An ending that is hopeful rather than strictly happy, this duology is perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir’s “An Ember in the Ashes.”

Dabos, Christelle. The Storm of Echoes. tr. from French by Hildegarde Serle. 528p. (The Mirror Visitor Quartet: Bk. 4). Europa Editions. Oct. 2021. Tr $20. ISBN 9781609456979.
Gr 9 Up –Arks are falling as the world collapses, entire villages disappearing into the void. To try and stop the destruction, ­Ophelia and Thorn must discover the secrets of Babel’s Deviations Observatory. But what should have been a straightforward mission tangles Ophelia up in the power of God, the nature of the Other, and a plan centuries in the making. A series founded on political intrigue and romance has made a hard pivot into the nature of identity, agency, and sacrifice as these characters fight for their happy ending. VERDICT This award-winning French fantasy series went viral on TikTok during the pandemic and its American readers finally have the epic conclusion. Readers might have to sit with this finale to appreciate its metaphysical possibilities.

Elliott, Joseph. The Burning Swift. 336p. (Shadow Skye: Bk. 3). Candlewick/Walker. Jan. 2022. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536207491.
Gr 6 Up –In a mythic Scotland full of magic systems integrated into different cultures and countries, this final installment of the “Shadow Skye” trilogy brings politics front and center as our heroes form connections with allies and enemies alike to stave off the villainous king of Ingland. Agatha, Jaime, and Sigrid all have one final chance to grow into themselves: Agatha is kidnapped and forced onto an individual quest of self discovery, Jaime must grapple with internalized homophobia and his reliance on blood magic, while Sigrid is given a chance to shine with the daring heroics expected of a fantasy climax. VERDICT Despite the breadth and depth of the politics and worldbuilding, at its heart this series is a coming-of-age story designed to richly reward its readers.

Kaufman, Amie & Jay Kristoff. Aurora’s End. 512p. (The Aurora Cycle: Bk. 3). Knopf. Nov. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781524720889.
Gr 7 Up –Squad 312 is racing to save the galaxy after the disastrous battle at Terra, but they’re not all in the same place, much less the same time. Thrown forward into a dismal future and centuries into the past, our favorite misfits must figure out how to stop the Ra’haam and how to get back to their own time. The stakes have never been higher, but this time they don’t even have one another. Kaufman and Kristoff are masters at planting humor into high-stakes action sequences, and this book is no exception. Romance, space plant horror, and the end of life as we know it may be a little melodramatic as the story unfolds, but with such a satisfying ending it’s hard to care. While the story wants to be ethnically diverse the truth is: they’re mostly aliens. VERDICT A worthwhile conclusion to a highly hyped series.

McKenzie, Paige & Nancy Ohlin. Witch Rising. 288p. (B*WITCH: Bk. 2). Little, Brown. Sept. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780759557697.
Gr 7 Up –Rival sophomore covens are investigating the oppressive New Order in their small town of Sorrow Point, Washington. Our teen witches need to balance homecoming committee with spying on anti-magic meetings, as well as their own coven differences while they try to blend in. The end of the duology brings in tropes, a witchy aesthetic, and queer representation, but the plot wraps itself in a bow with plot conveniences that undercut the story in the end. Latinx, Black, biracial, and trans representation are included in the main cast, with additional diverse elements supporting. VERDICT Unless you have readers waiting for this sequel, feel free to pass. There are stronger queer witch stories out there.

Nix, Garth. Terciel & Elinor. 352p. (Old Kingdom: Bk. 6). HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Nov. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063049321.
Gr 9 Up –Nix returns to the Old Kingdom with the sixth book in the series, following Sabriel’s parents—Terciel plucked from poverty and obscurity to become the Abhorsen-in-Waiting and Elinor, an aspiring thespian in non-magical Ancelstierre who has been told her Charter mark is nothing but a scar. Elinor and Terciel are brought together time and again, eventually leading Elinor over the wall to the Abhorsen’s House and her mily history of magic. Well written and well paced, Nix’s original “Old Kingdom” trilogy is considered a YA classic for a reason. Most characters are white, with Terciel’s original brown skin being bleached by exposure to Death. VERDICT This prequel has broad appeal, but will ultimately be picked up by fans of the original series.

Pool, Katy Rose. Into the Dying Light. 512p. (The Age of Darkness: Bk. 3). Holt. Sept. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250211798.
Gr 9 Up –All the prophets are onstage and a god resurrected—only for that god to be trapped in Beru’s body with the Prophet Pallas holding her sister Ephyra to ensure Beru’s cooperation. Jude and Hassan are working to save them, while Anton tries to discover a way to save the world other than the sacrifice he and his friends refuse to make. After two excellent installments, expectations were high for this finale—and the cataclysmic conclusion to Pool’s “Age of Darkness” trilogy pays off in spades. With a cast this large, it’s hard to imagine everyone getting their share of important choices, but Pool finishes each character arc flawlessly. VERDICT This series has staying power; hand it to readers looking for something similar to Kendare Blake’s “Three Dark Crowns.”

Preto, Nicki Pau. Wings of Shadow. 640p. (Crown of Feathers: Bk. 3). S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry. Jul. 2021. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781534466029.
Gr 9 Up –Veronyka is no longer hiding her identity and knows her birthright as daughter of the last queen of the Golden Empire. The war brewing between the Empire and the Phoenix Riders may not be her biggest problem. The resurrected rebel queen has bonded with a legendary creature of darkness and Veronyka’s sister Val is bent on destroying the world. To stop her, Veronyka must grapple with their toxic history and fight for the throne she may not want. Preto has woven a sprawling yarn in her trilogy and while this conclusion is long, the cliff-hanger chapters manage to propel readers along. The series revolves around themes of survival and found family, but ultimately fumbles with imperialism and gender. Cast is brown skinned. VERDICT Preto ties up her plotlines while leaving readers with plenty to ponder. A possibility for fans of Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame and Elizabeth Lim’s Six Crimson Cranes.

Rowell, Rainbow. Any Way the Wind Blows. 592p. (Simon Snow Trilogy: Bk. 3). Wednesday Bks. Jul. 2021. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250254337.
Gr 9 Up –In this conclusion to Rowell’s “­Simon Snow” trilogy, Simon and his friends have returned from their American road trip to discover that a new Chosen One has appeared in England. Smith Smith-Richards is promising to strengthen the magic of those who follow him, which is never a good sign. Simon and Baz’s romance is naturally center stage with all the angst it entails as everyone returns to Watford, but Agatha, Penny, and Shep all get their chance at love at varying levels of plausibility. Ultimately, this book has the weakest plot of the trilogy and barely touches on what occurred in Wayward Son. VERDICT Despite a hard-won happily ever after, readers will be left wondering what happened to all the subplots Rowell dropped.

Rutkoski, Marie. The Hollow Heart. 304p. (Forgotten Gods: Bk. 2). Farrar. Sept. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374313845.
Gr 8 Up –At the end of The Midnight Lie after her breakup with Sid, Nirrim traded her heart to the God of Thieves and is now settling in as queen of Ethin. While Nirrim begins a revenge campaign against the High Kith who oppressed so many, Sid has sailed back to her ailing—possibly poisoned—mother in Herran and her narrative is a counterpoint Nirrim’s descent. Rutkoski compassionately navigates the queer reality of living in a world that wishes you were different, while also discussing the legacy of colonialism. There is a diversity of skin tone and orientation in the main and supporting cast. VERDICT This duology has an f/f Orpheus and Eurydice vibe that will keep readers turning pages. Fans of the original “Winner’s Trilogy” will see some familiar faces.

Williams, Kate M. Spells Like Teen ­Spirit. 400p. (Babysitters Coven: Bk. 3). ­Delacorte. Sept. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593304822.
Gr 7 Up –These babysitters make sure the kids are in bed on time and manage to hunt demons. When weird flyers link a mysterious rock band to the scene of a crime, their Sitter senses begin tingling. Fueled by one-liners and 1990s nostalgia, this series is not to be taken seriously, but it is a lot of fun. The final book in “The Babysitters Coven” is still heavy on the exposition, getting into the back story of Red Magic and the two main families. One of the major plotlines in this series remains unfinished, and despite its other charms readers may end up less than satisfied. Sitters have a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. VERDICT It was fun while it lasted, but ultimately not the most gratifying ride.

Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing