5 YA Fantasy Books With Monsters & Magic | Must Reads

Posted March 9, 2019 by Ari in Must-Reads / 0 Comments

I don’t know who you are, but I’m glad you’re here with me, obsessing and agonizing over which books to read next. With so many heart-stopping plots and breath-stealing covers, we have our pick from butt-kicking princesses, thrills that kill, and powers galore! But this week, I’m hungry for monsters and magic, and with that in mind, I have been on the hunt for 5 books to silence the craving (let’s be frank, it’ll never be silent). If you’re into all manner of magic and monsters, these books might be what you’re looking for.

Empress of All Seasons (HMH BFYR)

Author: Emiko Jean

Release date: November 6. 2018

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yokai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yokai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit.  As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yokai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

This one has been on my TBR since I heard about it last year. I’m happy to announce I started reading it for #YOAS (Year of Asian Stories) and so far, it’s been wicked good. Lots of monsters. Lots of magic. Lots of everything I want in a book these days.


Wicked Fox (Penguin Teen)

Author: Kat Cho

Release date: June 25, 2019

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

Just so we’re clear: I AM TOTALLY SHOUTING AT YOU IN GIGANTIC CAPS TO READ THIS BOOK WHEN IT COMES OUT. After all my ravings last year of dying for Asian folklore stories, all my dreams have finally come true. And k-drama loving heart nearly exploded when I found out about Wicked Fox.


Wicked Saints (Wednesday Books)

Author: Emily A. Duncan

Release date: April 2, 2019

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

I was fortunate enough to receive Wicked Saints from the publisher to review later this month. Although the story  prominently features monsters and magic, the best element of this story was its gothic, nitty-gritty atmosphere that was prevalent in every corner of the story. What do I love more than monsters and magic? Gothic ones, of course!


Serpent & Dove (Harper Teen)

Author: Shelby Mahurin

Release date: September 3, 2019

For her sixteenth birthday, Louise le Blanc’s mother gave her three things: a sacrificial altar, a ritual knife, and a wicked scar. Lou’s death would have ended the ancient war between the Church and witches, but Lou refuses to become a martyr.

Forsaking her coven, she escapes to the gloomy city of Cesarine and hides her magic as a thief in the criminal underworld. But life in Cesarine has its own dangers. Huntsmen roam the city revered as holy men. Witches burn without trial. And the Archbishop, the Church’s austere patriarch, revels in violence.

As a huntsman, Reid Diggory lives by one verse: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. He’s devoted his entire life to eradicating the occult and making his surrogate father, the Archbishop, proud. Finally given the chance to capture a witch of his own, Reid is devastated when a foul-mouthed thief thwarts him—and doubly devastated when she too disappears. Hell-bent on bringing her to justice, Reid vows she won’t escape again. But when Lou tricks him into public scandal trying to avoid capture, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage.

Marriage to a huntsman could provide real protection from the witches—if Lou can convince Reid she isn’t one herself. The secret proves difficult to keep as Lou begins practicing magic in secret within the heart of the Church, determined to prepare for her mother’s inevitable return. As time passes, however, Lou discovers yet another danger lurking: her own growing feelings for her husband. But Reid is still dangerous. He’s just as likely to tie her to the stake as defend her if he learns her true identity. With enemies closing in—and more than her own life at stake—Lou must decide who she can trust before it’s too late…and she’s not the only one with a secret.

This book slithered into my line of sight recently and everything about the summary has me begging for more. Witches! A criminal underworld! Scars! Huntsmen! And the best part? There’s no clear monster here….it could be anyone. IS IT OUT YET?


Nocturna (HarperCollins)

Author: Maya Montayne

Release date: May 7, 2019

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

Okay. Let’s be honest here. I only found out about this one TODAY. Don’t ask me how. Maybe it’s because I ADORE covers and this one really isn’t that appealing to look at BUT after reading the summary, there’s no way I CAN’T read this upcoming release. I love that the main character IS the monster here and the stakes are TO DIE FOR.

Are there stories featuring monsters and magic you think I should read? let me know in the comments <3