16 Books Like RED QUEEN

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Isabelle Popp

Senior Contributor

Isabelle Popp has written all sorts of things, ranging from astrophysics research articles and math tests to crossword puzzles and poetry. These days she's writing romance. When she's not reading or writing, she's probably knitting or scouring used book stores for vintage gothic romance paperbacks. Originally from New York, she's as surprised as anyone that she lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series captured readers’ attention from its debut to its conclusion with War Storm. Mare’s journey, from coming into her power to discovering a greater cause, is thrilling and inspirational. I know people who were not really readers at all before finding this series at just the right time. For those folks, there’s nothing more important than keeping momentum going and finding books like Red Queen. For everyone, there’s the task of zeroing in on just what made the series special. 

People toss out lots of properties to describe Red Queen: The Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones meets The X-Men. Graceling meets The Selection. In short, the book is about a world divided by blood color: the typical red and the supernaturally-gifted silver. When Mare, a red-blooded girl, discovers her own deadly power, she is hidden in plain sight as a long-lost Silver princess and betrothed to a Silver prince. Secrets, twists, and betrayals follow. What other books could possibly compare? 

Luckily, If you’re after fast-paced, action-packed books about teenage girls with supernatural abilities fomenting revolution, I’ve got you covered. Plenty of books like Red Queen share at least a few elements that made the series so appealing. I’ve broken out a few categories below.

Books Like Red Queen With Royal Intrigue

The Selection by Kiera Cass 

Truly no YA fantasy series had me more sold on its premise alone than The Selection. The Bachelor, but make it royal and dystopian. (One might argue The Bachelor is already pretty dystopian. You’d get no disagreement from me.) The Selection stars American Singer, vying for the heart of Illea’s prince while she’s secretly pining for another young man in a caste lower than hers. For those who find this book especially compelling, we have even more recommendations.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Sometimes I want to read about beautiful people and opulent settings, even if I know that in real life all of it is rotten to the core in our actual dystopian capitalist hellscape. The Belles takes that idea and spins it into a lush book series. Camellia is a Belle, meaning she can create beauty in the otherwise grey world. Her quest to be the Queen’s favorite immerses her in a world where her powers can do more than she ever realized. She has to make the choice about how willing she is to keep this gilded world spinning.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

There’s something delightful to me about how grim nursery rhymes often are. In Three Dark Crowns, the bleak nursery rhyme foretells the plot. “Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen / Two to devour, / And one to be queen.” This now-concluded series follows triplets approaching their 16th birthday. That day will kick off the competition for queen. One sister’s magical powers are more clearly powerful than the other two, making her the frontrunner. But the plot proceeds in a much twistier way.

girls of paper and fire

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire starts a trilogy about a world of three castes, and a king who seeks consorts. Note: there’s an element of sexual violence to the narrative, though it is handled with utmost care. Lei, a country girl from the lowest caste, is among the new recruits in the opulent, sinister palace. She meets Wren, another consort, and a sapphic love story emerges. That love will give Lei strength to find her power and purpose.

Books Like Red Queen With Rich World Building

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

South Asian mythology underpins the world of The Tiger at Midnight, the first in a complete trilogy. Esha is a rebel assassin seeking revenge against those who took everything from her in the royal coup. When she meets Kunal, a soldier for the ruling regime, she begins to realize what role she’s truly playing in the resistance. If you like forbidden romance with lots of banter plus an exploration of the morality of war, here’s your book.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black 

The Cruel Prince is the first book in the suspenseful Folk of the Air series, which features a compelling imagining of the faerie realm. And because it’s Holly Black who wrote it, the characters are as well-drawn as the world. Jude and her sisters, all mortals, were stolen away to the High Court of Faerie. You might think Jude would wish to escape, but in fact, she wishes to belong; that’s where the power is. The Cruel Prince himself, named Cardan, hates mortals, but we all know that the line between love and hate can be rather fine.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo new cover

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

If you’re waiting for the Peacock adaptation of Red Queen that has been promised, you’d do well to get into the Grishaverse, where there’s one season of television awaiting you on Netflix. As our Leigh Bardugo pathway suggests, start with Shadow and Bone. This series, set in a Russian-inflected fantasy world, tracks Alina, an orphan with enormous powers. She threatens the status quo in a world stricken with a terrible, monster-infested rift. The world of this book continues to get more and more interesting the more Bardugo explores the characters who inhabit it.

Books Like Red Queen With Dystopian Resistance Plots

Shatter Me book cover

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

For those of us who became touch-starved during the pandemic, the idea of a person struggling in solitary confinement because her touch is fatal is perhaps a little too on-the-nose. Fortunately for Juliette, she meets Adam, immune to her power. He leads her to a resistance against the dystopian regime keeping her captive, and she learns she’s not a monster after all. The now-complete series is known for its unique prose stylings employing poetic similes and copious strike-throughs.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia 

The Medio School for Girls prepares young women to either run husband’s households or raise their children. If that sounds a little The Handmaid’s Tale, it is. Daniela Varga, the school’s top student, has to decide between the comfortable life afforded to her by these narrowly-defined options, or whether she wants to engage in the resistance effort striving to bring equality to Medio. To up the tension, she has fallen for the other woman in the household she joins after graduation. Who can she trust?

Ruinsong by Julia Ember 

The elevator pitch for this book is that it’s a sapphic fantasy Phantom of the Opera retelling. If that sounds like your jam, hello, you and I are friends now. Cadence uses her sung magic as a weapon. When she reunites with Remi, her childhood friend, she begins to question everything. Yes, you know where this goes: battle for justice, a romance that strengthens the fight. But with inventive writing about music magic and a blessedly standalone narrative, this book earns a standing ovation.

Books Like Red Queen With Romantic Fantasy Elements

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas 

Sarah J. Maas has completed the Throne of Glass series, and her wildly popular Court of Thorns and Roses series is still in progress. (We have recommendations while you’re waiting for the books in the latter series.) Throne of Glass features an imprisoned assassin named Celaena, offered freedom if she joins the competition for a new royal assassin. Cue the triangle setup between her, Prince Dorian, and her gruff trainer Chaol Westfall. The worldbuilding can falter in Maas’s books, but the drama keeps the pages turning.

book cover an ember in the ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Readers interestested in action and romance in books like Red Queen are sure to enjoy An Ember in the Ashes, the debut from Sabaa Tahir and the first in the complete Ember quartet. With inspiration from ancient Rome, the story traces Laia’s adventurous attempts to free her captive brother. She gets embroiled in the resistance movement in which subjugated Scholars are rising up against the ruling Martials. She also gets entangled in a romance with a Martial soldier, both of whom are faced with impossible choices. Along with the fantasy and romance come thought-provoking explorations of the nature of power.

cover image of Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Incendiary is the first half of a completed duology full of fast-paced court intrigue. In it, Renata Convida’s ability to steal memories made her a valuable weapon at the luxurious palace of Andalucia. However, she is serving as a rebel spy. She attempts to liberate the other magical people, called Moria, from the kingdom, but the rescue of her love Dez goes awry. In turn, she has to take up Dez’s mission and then uncovers even more secrets. Those secrets affect not only her but the entire kingdom.

Books Like Red Queen With The Hidden Heritage Trope

Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury 

Remember how I said if you like the above pitch for Ruinsong, you’re my friend now? How about this one: Anastasia retelling…IN SPAAAACE! If that also gets you, let’s get a group chat going. While plenty of books like Red Queen use a hidden heritage trope, you have to respect the Anastasia myth as the blueprint. In Last of Her Name, a ship arrives in Stacia’s sleepy village claiming the townspeople are loyalists hiding the Princess Anya, lost in the revolution sixteen years ago. Two points if you can guess who Stacia is. What ensues is action-packed space operatic adventure.

Serpentine by Cindy Pon

So many books like Red Queen feature teenage girls coming into their power. It certainly makes sense as a metaphor for growing up and forging one’s identity. But what happens when that change you feel is one in a decidedly evil direction? Such is the case for Serpentine’s Skybright, who transforms into a serpent demon. Her process of discovering her role in the world flips that Chosen One narrative around. With inspiration from Chinese mythology, Serpentine is a very fresh entry in the YA fantasy canon. 

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

If you think the red blood/silver blood division in Red Queen is an inventive premise, get ready for a time traveling gene that skips generations! Until it doesn’t, of course. Gwen was not supposed to be the recipient of that particular gift, so her unexpected and uncontrollable jumps in time throw her for a loop. So does her dashing time traveling companion, Gideon. If you’re looking for a lighter, fast-paced fantasy that still has a chosen one narrative, the Precious Stone trilogy is a great pick.

I hope you’ve found at least a few books like Red Queen that sound like they might scratch that particular itch. If, however, you want to go really deep on finding book recommendations, BookRiot’s TBR is here for you. With personalized picks based on your favorite books, you’re sure to find even more books to devour.