Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Theodora has treasure hunting in her blood. She used to spend her days exploring dig sites with her parents, but since her mother died, her father has left her behind. When her father goes missing and his protégé (and her former best friend) reveals he was searching for the lost ring of Vlad Dracul, finding him becomes top priority. Members of a dangerous secret society are also searching for the ring of power and she must get to the ring before they do.
The Lady Rogue is an atmospheric historical fantasy, one that plunges you into 1937 Europe and the dark rumors surrounding Vlad the Impaler and his family. Bennett creates a strong female character with Theodora, and her relationship with one-time best friend (and beau) Huck is authentic and enjoyable. The Gothic castles and villages in Romania are so richly described they almost feel like a character themselves. Fast-paced with an intense final battle, The Lady Rogue is one that will keep readers on the edge of their seat until the last page.
Give this to fans of historical adventures like The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, Blood Countess by Lana Popović, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Makenzie Lee and to those who enjoy movies like the Indiana Jones franchise.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Once every fifty years, the desert city Ziran holds the Solstasia festival in which champions of the gods compete to usher in a new era. But when the Sultana is assassinated before the festival can begin, Princess Karina hatches a plan to resurrect her mother. All she needs to complete her dark magic is the still-beating heart of a king.
For Malik, the festival is a chance for him and his sisters to find a new life in a prosperous city. When his sister Nadia is taken by a malicious spirit, Malik promises he will kill the princess in exchange for his sister’s life. As their paths of destruction intersect and their attraction grows, they must decide if they have what it takes to save the ones they love.
This beautifully crafted debut novel features West African mythology and combines an original plot with intricate world-building. The twists and turns keep the pace moving and creates a heart-pounding narrative that leaves readers desperate for the sequel. While the story takes place in a fantasy setting, it explores timely and important themes like prejudice and how marginalized groups are treated in society. The characters in this book are complex and dynamic. Princess Karina is dealing with heartbreak, but she’s tough and confused as she takes on her new role as Sultana. Malik is forced into an impossible situation involving assassination, but he’s compassionate and sensitive.
This book is perfect for fans of complex characters and immersive fantasy series like An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.