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Put the fantastic in fantastical: 5 must-read fantasy series

Santana Faria
Santana Faria’s personal collection of YA fantasy books

Although everyday life can be boring for those who dream of epic adventures, there’s an easy way to live out your daydreams: fantasy books. Fantasy series are the prime solution to monotony, brimming with magic, journeys and otherworldly creatures. 

One of the most popular genres among teens, fantasy books are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the reading world. Below are 5 YA fantasy series, both popular and not, whose stories remain unmatched to any other. These stories are perfect for the reader who wants to get into fantasy, but doesn’t know where to start.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas 

The story follows 18-year-old Celaena Sardothien, an assassin who becomes enslaved in the salt mines of Endovier. Celaena is given the opportunity to leave the mines and compete in a deadly competition to become the King’s Champion, a job dedicated to doing his dirty work. However, it isn’t long before deadly discoveries force Celaena to face her past and the secrets she’s been harboring for years.  

Although this lengthy, 8 book series can be daunting, one of the interesting aspects of Throne of Glass is that the reading order can be altered. The prequel, Assassin’s Blade, is often read after the first couple of books if you’re following publishing order, however, it can also be read first. Later into the series, ambitious readers attempt a tandem read of Tower of Dawn and Empire of Storms, as they happen during the same time in different places. 

Many find this series alluring due to the strength and independence of Celaena, as well as the book’s plentiful plot twists. Between magic, witches, shapeshifters and fantastical creatures, this series is perfect for readers in search of an epic adventure. 

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong 

Set in 1920s Shanghai, this duology follows 18-year-old Juliette Cai, the heir of the Scarlet gang, rival to the White Flowers. However, gang rivalry isn’t the only problem, as tensions between the Nationalists and Communists are on the rise. When people begin tearing out their own throats, Juliette teams up with her former lover and White Flower heir, Roma Montagov, to figure out the root of the madness plaguing the city. Their alliance must be kept hidden from both gangs, especially as old feelings begin to grow, threatening to destroy them. 

Gong combines fantastical and historical elements in this Romeo and Juliet retelling. Juliette is a character many can relate to, praised for her tenacity and stubbornness. The series holds an important message: family isn’t defined by blood. 

These Violent Delights is the perfect read for those who prefer shorter series. For those who finish the books and still want more, readers can follow the adventures of side characters from the original group in Gong’s spinoff series. Foul Lady Fortune. 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black 

After the murder of her parents, 7-year-old Jude Duarte is taken from her home and brought to Faerie by said murderer. Now 17, Jude is hated by the Fae, especially her classmate, Prince Cardan, who loathes her very existence. Despite this, Jude has tougher things to face, specifically the looming civil war that could upend the entire Court of Faeries. Working with her enemy is one of the last things Jude wants, but with the fate of Faerie hanging in the balance, she’ll do anything to protect the ones she loves. 

Black creates an image of perfection in Faerie, full of breathtaking scenery and ethereal folk, yet it merely masks the corrupt ways of the Fae. While Jude becomes immersed in this new reality, readers see her ruthless nature take hold as she’s unafraid to fight and kill for what she believes in.  

This trilogy is the ideal read for people who don’t like romance to be the main plot, and instead prefer fantasy books that revolve around politics. For those who enjoy Jude’s cunning personality, Black has created a spinoff series, The Stolen Heir, about her brother Oak. 

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson 

This story follows 17-year-old Lia, heir to her parents throne, who flees the scene of her own wedding – one to a man she has yet to meet. In the process of leaving, Lia steals ancient papers from the Chancellor, making her departure all the more treacherous. Soon after her arrival in a small village, 2 young men make their appearance, however, she’s unaware that one is the king she was supposed to marry while the other is an assassin meant to kill her. Throughout her time in the village, Lia begins to fall in love, but there are secrets within the papers she stole that could jeopardize her entire future. 

One of the intriguing things about this series is that both the king and the assassin have their own POVS, but they aren’t labeled, leaving readers to guess who’s who as Lia does the same. Pearson integrates fascinating religions and cultures into the series to create a sense of family among each character. 

Taking place in the same world as The Remnant Chronicles is Pearson’s Dance of Thieves, however it’s recommended that the latter is read after as it contains spoilers to The Remnant Chronicles. 

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf 

The Heartless are immortal beings whose hearts have been taken by witches as a means of controlling them. Zera is one such creature under the command of the witch Nightsinger. When Nightsinger strikes a deal with Zera, she’s unable to refuse: Zera can have her own heart back if she brings Nightsinger the heart of Prince Lucien d’Malvane. Posing as a Spring Bride, Zera must try to seduce the prince, however, secrets among the castle are unraveling and Zera finds that she wants Lucien’s heart, but in a different way. 

Making Zera a Heartless adds depth to her character because she’s been forced to become a monster in some sense. Her motives in the beginning are self-serving: she wants her heart back and she’ll do anything to get it. But by the end of the series, she’s arguably the most selfless character, creating a redemption arc that draws you in and doesn’t let go. 

Not only does Zera have to face external threats, but she also has many internal battles due to her continuous struggle with her own monstrous mind. This series is perfect for anybody looking to explore the impact that friendship can have on our perspective of the world. 

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About the Contributor
Santana Faria
Santana Faria, Staff Writer
Santana Faria is a sophomore at GHS and a first year writer for the Gillnetter. She’s an honors student as well as an active member of the Student Council where she enjoys fundraising for her class. In her free time, Santana loves to read fantasy books, listen to music and nap. When she isn’t busy sleeping, you can contact her at [email protected]

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