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Science Fiction/Fantasy

Sit for a Spell: 8 Magical Fantasy Books to Curl Up With

Abigail Clarkin

Staff Writer

Abigail can often be found holding a book in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. When she is not devouring stories (or dessert), Abigail trains for marathons and writes poetry about growing up with eight brothers and sisters. She enjoys working in marketing for a real estate developer and creating Instagram content for fun (@marathonandmunch) about all the tasty eats found in Providence, RI.

This list of magical fantasy books is sponsored by Flatiron Books.

EnchanteeEnchantée by Gita Trelease transports readers to the glittering and magical world of 1870s Paris. After her parents die, Camille must find a way to provide for her sister by transforming scraps of metal into money. But soon she begins to pursue a more dangerous mark: the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at Versailles. She meets a handsome young inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible. But magic has costs, and when revolution erupts, Camille must choose—before Paris burns.

Magic is its own force, not always predictable or reliable. No one knows this better than the heroes and heroines of magical fantasy books. Whether born with power rushing through their veins or suddenly bestowed with it later in life, the greatest tales follow those who must discover that controlling their magical abilities is not as simple as the recitation of a short incantation. Instead, emotions, motives, belief, and the amount of energy expended come into play. Magic is often both a savior and an executioner.

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The young adult and adult fantasy genres are host to a variety of vibrant adventures of magic wielders. Follow the stories of huntresses, princesses, and puppeteers as they choose between life and death in these eight magical fantasy books.

Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik

Each season, a wizard known as the Dragon plucks a girl from her humble town. Instead of being sacrificed or devoured, she returns to society more educated and prepared to move on to higher places in the world. When Agnieszka, a young woman with no lofty aspirations for her life, comes of age, she expects her beautiful friend to be the Dragon’s choice. Instead, Agnieszka is the one chosen. Suddenly her simple life is filled with frustrating spells and she finds that there are much worse, much nastier things in the world than the scowling Dragon.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborky

Nahri plays with fire. Or, at least, with incantations and spiritual rituals that she does not truly understand or believe in. Her customers do not know that; they aren’t even aware the only power Nahri has is the ability to sense and heal sickness. When Nahri unexpectedly calls an actual djinn during a ceremony to cast out a demon, she finds she just might be more than human after all.

For a Muse of Fire CoverFor a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

Jetta’s puppets are untethered. Unseen to the rest of the world, Jetta has the power to harness ghosts to do her bidding with a simple drop of blood. Without strings or sticks, her puppetry is compelling and so beautiful that she is considered one of the best. She hopes her skill will catch the eye of the Emperor enough to earn her a ticket to Aquitan. But against the wishes of her mother and against the threat of death from the government, Jetta uses her magical abilities to save her family in an altercation between royal guards and rebels. Instead of escaping harm, she finds herself in the middle of the rebellion.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre is the only reason her sisters are fed and have even a shred of happiness in the ice of winter. When she unknowingly slays a fae while hunting, she must atone for her mistake by going to live with a brooding high lord in the magical Spring Court. The land of Prythian proves a dangerous place for a human. Is the high lord, with his deadly secrets, worth Feyre’s affections and very life? (Note: I recommend this bloody, loose retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” for readers who are prepared to deal with highly mature content.)

six of crows book coverSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The mysterious Kaz Brekker wears gloves on his hands and distrust plainly written across his face. A criminal living in Ketterdam, he claims no responsibility for anything other than enacting revenge and building his empire- until he is faced with the challenge of a heist that will provide him with all the gold he could want. Allied with a sharpshooter, an acrobat-turned-spy, a shy rich boy, an angry convict, and a Grisha with the magical power to crush the inner organs of her enemies, it is up to Kaz’s team to unexpectedly save the world.

Three Dark CrownsThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three sisters are torn from each other at birth and sent to grow up under the influence of different prominent families of Fennbirn. As they approach their sixteenth birthday, Mirabella, Katherine, and Arsinoe all must compete to become the one Queen. But what happens when Mirabella, the strongest elemental and the most beautiful of the three, softens towards her sisters? What happens when Katherine, raised as a poisoner, proves vulnerable to the very poisons she was trained to ingest? What happens when Arsinoe disappears into the ocean without awakening her powers to control both plants and beasts?

the bear and the nightingaleThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Vasya, a young girl with the magical ability to recognize the supernatural, knows the little folk and magic are fading. In the dark, icy woods of Russia, an ancient threat looms over Vasya, her family, and her country. As a fanatical monk discourages the belief in any higher power beyond God, it is up to Vasya—with the help of Morozko, the frost king—to restore order and protect those left vulnerable to a creature made of nightmares. 

The Gilded Wolves book coverThe Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

In 19th century Paris, Séverin lives in a world of magic. The one problem with living in this world—complete with glittering chandeliers filled with champagne glasses that can be summoned with a single gesture—is that Séverin has been denied his birth right. Claimed as dead, the heir to the House Vanth has scrambled to reclaim every magical artifact belonging to his family that the Order of Babel has seen fit to sell off. When Séverin is sought out by the Order of Babel in a twist of fate, he and his crew of rejected but brilliant young adults plan a complicated heist to regain the artifact that ensures Séverin’s inheritance is finally placed in his hands.

What’s your favorite magical coming-of-age tale (besides Harry Potter)? Let us know in the comments below. Looking for more fantasy reads? Check out 3 Warm YA Reads for Cold Days.