Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and as heart-shaped cookies, chocolates, and balloons fill shop windows, I must acknowledge that the romance is in air–and on the bookshelves. And it seems only appropriate to celebrate the holiday by exploring some of my favorite love stories: the romances featured in young adult fantasy fiction, of course.
While particular subgenres of speculative fiction such as supernatural romance and even dystopian or futuristic romance have enjoyed a particular upsurge in popularity over the past few years, I must make a case for the delightful variety, rich character-driven stories, and, yes, swoon-inducing moments available in high fantasy fiction. Whether you like your romance to be a classic case of initial dislike and misunderstanding turned to love or platonic partnership grown into something more, there’s a something for you! So here are a few of my favorite high fantasy novels and series featuring that unique magic: romance.
Graceling – Kristin Cashore (2009 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009 William C. Morris Award finalist) Since discovering her Grace (or superhuman ability) for fighting and killing as a child, Katsa has lived as her royal uncle’s unenthusiastic thug. But with the help of her tentative new ally Prince Po, Katsa sets out on an epic journey to face frightening secrets–about her abilities, her undecided future, and the dark violence spreading through the kingdoms.
Kristin Cashore is a fairly recent but incredibly popular addition to many lists of favorite fantasy writers. Her debut Graceling features not only an action-packed plot and fantastically complex heroine–it also possesses a wonderful romance. The developing relationship between Katsa and Po highlights their complementary personalities and explores the complexities of romance for a woman who has worked hard to earn her independence.