There’s something really magnetic about a good heist story. Maybe it’s because heists are, almost by definition, audacious robberies with the odds stacked against the thief (or in many cases, thieves). The careful planning that goes into them, the high stakes, the potential for the slightest mishap to unravel everything all make heist stories super entertaining and engrossing, whether they’re real-life heist stories or set in magical fantasy lands. Bonus points for heist stories that require a team of many talents to pull off a job, because I love a good ensemble cast, especially one that has to work together despite personal differences to achieve a common goal!
Leigh Bardugo took the heist genre to new levels in YA with the publication of Six of Crows, but hers isn’t the only great YA heist novel you’ll want to sink your teeth into. Here are eight incredible heist novels set everywhere from real-life California to magical Paris to incredible fantasy lands that you won’t be able to put down!
Outstanding YA Heist Novels
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six very different people are brought together in the first book of this fantasy duology. Kaz Brekkar has the chance to pull off the job of a lifetime, which will set him up for good and allow him to get revenge on the man who wronged him years ago. But first, he needs to assemble his crew: a thief, a spy, a Heartrender, a sharpshooter, a runaway, and a convict all come together for the sake of the money, but soon find that in order to survive, much less finish the job, they’ll have to learn how to trust one another.
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
Margo Manning is a California socialite with a secret double life. While she appears to have an opulent life worth envying with paparazzi shadowing her by day, by night she steals from the rich (for noble reasons) pulling off audacious heists with some of her best friends: a team of fabulous drag queens. But when things gets personal, Margo finds herself with her back against the wall, forced to pull off the most daring job of her career or risk losing everything.
Amelia Westlake Was Never Here by Erin Gough
Will and Harriet are both students at the same girls’ prep school, but that’s where the similarities end. When they find themselves in detention after a run-in with the school’s misogynistic swim coach, they team up to create a fake persona — Amelia Westlake — to submit funny, not-so-subtle cartoons critiquing said swim coach to the school newspaper. Soon, their cartoons are the most talked-about thing at school, and it isn’t long before Will and Harriet are pulling off bigger pranks and heists in the name of feminism, all the while trying not to get caught — or fall for each other!
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is a hotelier in magical Belle Epoque Paris who has a secret double life as a thief. He leads a team in heists that target some of the wealthiest families in Paris, stealing away their magical artifacts. His team all has their own motivations for what they do, but so does Séverin: He doesn’t steal just to get rich, but to finally lay his hands on an artifact that will restore him to his rightful place. Of course, they aren’t the only ones looking to get their hands on the mysterious Babel Fragment, which puts them on a race against time. This is a diverse and magical heist story brimming with intrigue and surprises.
Master of One by Jaida Jones and Dani Bennet
Rags is a thief in a fantasy world, and he’s a pretty, in fact. But when he’s kidnapped by a sorcerer and ordered to steal a bunch of magical relics for some serious world-ending plans, even he has to admit he might be out of his depth. Especially when he realizes that these relics aren’t just objects, but people. But if Rags can do what the evil sorcerer orders, and turn it around so they’re united against a common enemy, maybe they can all save themselves.
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
Zoe can’t stand Digby when she first meets him. All she wants to do is lay low in her new town and have a nice, normal social life. But then Digby starts ringing her doorbell and coming around, demanding that she help him find out what happened to his missing sister. Over the course of this hilarious and outrageous trilogy of books, Zoe and Digby definitely get into some trouble and do a little light breaking and entering, with a high-stakes heist.
Spellhacker by M.K. England
Set in a world where magic, known as maz, is a highly valuable resource that’s tightly controlled by greedy corporations, Diz and her three best friends run a highly illegal scheme siphoning off maz and selling it on the black market. Did has gotten a lead on one job that might just be big enough to ensure they never have to work again, but when it backfires on them spectacularly, their heist has the potential to destroy the world, unless they can step in and save the day.
A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar
This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2022, although not much is known about it yet! It’s pitched as “A high-stakes and romantic heist YA novel set on the Titanic, in which four girls team up to steal a priceless jewel-encrusted book on board the infamous ship.” Um, YES PLEASE! I am here for more female-centric heist novels, and I love that this is set aboard the Titanic! It’s set to drop April 12, 2022, roughly 110 years after the legendary ship set off on its maiden voyage, and it’s by a Book Riot contributor.
Want to discover more great heist books? Check out 6 of the best SFF heist novels!