10 Fantasy Reads of 2023


Get out of the heat and into a comfy, air conditioned space with a cool glass of iced tea while embarking on a fantastical journey exploring ten exciting new worlds!


  • Blood Debts Volume 1
  • By Terry J. Benton-Walker
  • Publisher:  Tor Teen
  • Release Date:  April 4, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN:  9781250825926

Thirty years after a New Orleans murder and tragic magical events, sixteen year old twins Clement and Cristina Trudeau have found destructive ways to cope with their father’s death and mother’s illness. They have also lost their close connection.

After discovering their mother’s illness is a curse placed on her by a member of the magic counselor of which the Trudeau family had once reigned over, they must find the wielder of the curse and solve a thirty year old murder. It is up to the twins who must learn to trust each other again to alleviate the divide between magical and non magical residents of New Orleans or history may repeat itself.

Racism, family dynamics, politics, and justice are some of themes visited in this contemporary fantasy novel. Blood Debts would appeal to fans of Spellbound and Delicious Monsters. (Benton-Walker, T. J.)

  • Bonesmith
  • By Nicki Pau Preto
  • Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderberry Books
  • Release Date:  July 25, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN:  9781665910590

Wren is a disgraced Valkyr, a ghost fighting warrior, who has failed the trial to enter the House of Bone due to sabotage. She is sent to the far ends of the Dominions to the Border Wall which is the last stronghold against the Breach where the undead traipse freely with abandon. 

When a prince of the House of Gold is kidnapped and taken beyond the Border Wall, Wren seizes the opportunity to prove herself to her nearly absent father to rescue the prince. She cannot do it alone. She must ally herself with those who have a mutual dislike and distrust in order to delve deeper into the fight against the enemy they all face:  the undead. 
Much like in Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons, an unlikely cast of characters are thrown together for one common cause forging friendships in this Dark Fantasy. It is a novel of friendship, family dynamics, and adventure. (Pau, Preto)


  • Bring Me Your Midnight
  • By Rachel Griffin
  • Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
  • Release Date:  August 29, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN:  9781728256153

Forbidden love or arranged stability. A romantic fantasy novel of choice between duty and desire from the author of bestselling novels:  The Nature of Witches and Wild is the Witch.

Tana Fairchild is an islander witch who has been promised to marry a mainlander in  an alliance of peace. She must decide to do what is right for her coven or follow her heart.

By releasing most of their magic into the ocean to prove to the mainlanders they intend no harm, they are able to keep the peace. Tana misses the full moon, midnight ritual which has the dire consequences of destroying the peace between the two groups. She is left to deal with the repercussions alone.

She meets Wolfe, a witch from a coven that practices Dark Magic. He teaches her his form of magic, empowering her in a way she has never felt before and a bond forms between them. As time goes on, the ocean becomes more violent and in need of appeasement yet Wolfe encourages Tana not to release her magic.

She must make a choice. Marry Landon, a Mainlander she was promised to since she was young or follow her heart. A choice that could lead to deadly consequences for her coven and island to face. (Griffin, R.)


  • Her Radiant Curse
  • By Elizabeth Lim
  • Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Release Date:  August 29, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN:  9780593300992

Channi and Vanna are sisters, one is beautiful and the other is hideous to gaze upon to all except her sister. One was sacrificed to the Demon Witch who changes her face to a serpent. Channi has had to learn to live with her wits and cunning, skills that will be needed to protect her sister from the most dangerous of her suitors in the trial of betrothal for Vanna’s hand in marriage. 

An epic fantasy novel of a deep bond of sisters, journeys across oceans and seas and choices that will break one of their hearts. It delves into the idea of beauty and its effects on the one who is seen as beautiful and the one who is seen as monstrous. 

A mix of stories such as Beauty and the Beast and Homeric Epic tales, it is a book of love triumphing over what is perceived as ugly. (Lim, E.)


  • Nightbirds
  • By Kate J. Armstrong
  • Publisher:  Nancy Paulson Books
  • Release Date:  February 28, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN:  9780593463227

The newest young women of four Nightbirds time has come to kiss their magic to a clientele who can pay. These women are the only ones allowed to possess magic in a world where it is against the law for women to practice magic. They are protected by the Great Houses when in reality they are glorified prisoners led to believe they are treasures to be kept safe not used for monetary gain and breeding tools for the next generation of Nightbirds in Simta, a link in the cycle of social elite and political control. 

The Nightbirds are the lottery winners in Utopia. The dark secret kept from the rest of the population as to how everything is so perfect. 

It is a lesson that knowledge is power. It is with the newfound knowledge they are not the only girls with power and they have been imprisoned to give off their gift, marry lords of the Great Houses and keep the cycle going by sacrificing themselves unknowingly. (Armstrong, K.J.)

According to The Bulletin of the The Center for Children’s Books, readers of Leigh Barudgo or Maggie Takudo-Hall’s The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea would love Nightbirds. (Tucker, A.)


  • Spice Road Volume 1
  • By Maiya Ibrahim
  • Publisher:  Delacorte Press
  • Release Date:  January 24, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN:  9780593126967

Sixteen year old Imani of Qalia is a Shield, a fighter of monsters and defender of her nation. She must go on an epic journey in search of her brother who has disappeared after stealing the precious, magical spice of Qalia. He had been thought dead, until it is rumored he is not only alive but sharing the secrets of the spice with others in far off lands. 

Imani is joined by other shields on a mission to return her brother to the Council for punishment in order to restore the family’s blemished name. 

Imani may not find her brother, but she does find more dwells in her heart and beyond her home nation in this fantastical, historical, action adventure set in the sandy deserts of the Middle East. 

Readers of City of Nightmares and Seven Faceless Saints will enjoy reading Spice Road. (Ibrahim, M.)


  • Starlings
  • By Amanda Linsmeier
  • Publisher:  Delacorte Press
  • Release Date:  June 27, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN:  9780593572337

Starlings – Amanda Linsmeier

A dark, paranormal fantasy and the story of Kit, a young teenage girl who learns of an entire side of her family she never knew existed. Her father had always claimed he had no family, but after his death she found a grandmother and the small retro town of Rosemont. 

The town, the people, and her newly discovered family are perfect, but nothing is as it seems. The women in Kit’s family history have always been esteemed. As time moves on, things are not as they appear on the surface.

Readers of House of Hollow and Small Fires will love Starlings. (Linsmeir, A.)


  • A Tall Dark Trouble
  • By Vanessa Montalban
  • Publisher:  Zando Young Readers
  • Release Date:  August 29, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN:  9781638930129

Present day twins Ofelia and Delfi live in modern day Miami. They are part of a family of Cuban Brujas (witches) who emigrated to the United States. The twins team up with best friend Ethan and Andres to solve a series of Miami murders using magic the girls Mami had forbidden them to use. 

Anita is in 1980s Cuba. Shedoes not want to join  the secret coven her mother belongs to. 

A fantasy novel of dual time periods, magic, and women finding their inner strength. It is a magical mystery and the lives of three women intersecting over different eras of time.

Readers of The Isles of Gods and House of Roots and Ruin will enjoy delving into the magical world of Ofelia, Delfi, and Anita. (Montalban,V.)


  • Title:  The Third Daughter, Volume 1
  • By Adrienne Tooley
  • Publisher:  Christy Ottaviano Books – Little Brown and Hachette
  • Release Date:  July 18, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN:  9780316465694

When Brienne, the prophesied third daughter of Velle is born, her oldest sister Elodie’s life changes dramatically. She is no longer the heir to the throne. 

In her need to protect Velle from the prophecy, Elodie seeks a sleeping potion from apothecary Sabine. Instead of a sleeping potion, she leaves with a vial of tears. Brienne is so saddened she falls into a deep sleep which Elodie is unable to wake her sister. 

In this LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy, Elodie and Sabine grow closer as they work to awaken Brienne, New Maiden of Velle. A novel of love, friendship, sisterhood, and political intrigue, The Third Daughter is a must read for readers of Red Queen and Dance of Thieves. (Tooley, A)


  • Threads that Bind #1
  • By Kika Hatzopoulou
  • Publisher:  Razorbill
  • Release Date:  May 30, 2023
  • Reading Level:  Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN:  9780593528716

Threads that Bind #1 – Kika Hatzopoulou

Lo, the youngest of three descendants of the Greek Fates, is a private investigator, using her Fate-born abilities to solve crimes in the city of Alante. 

Someone has been kidnapping women, twisting the threads of their fate, and turning them into murderers. Lo allies with the right hand of the Mob Queen, Edei Rhuna to embark on a journey to catch the perpetrator all the while finding a bond forming a bond stronger than she expected. 

Lo and Edei find themselves in the darkest, shadiest corners of the city in their pursuit. A must read for fans of Song of Achilles and lovers of Greek and Roman mythology. (Hatzopoulou, K.)

-Jennifir Huston


Armstrong, K. J. (2023). Nightbirds. United States: Penguin Young Readers Group.

Benton-Walker, T. J. (2023). Blood Debts. United States: Tor Publishing Group.

Griffin, R. (2023). Bring Me Your Midnight. (n.p.): Sourcebooks.

Hatzopoulou, K. (2023). Threads That Bind. United States: Penguin Young Readers Group.

Ibrahim, M. (2023). Spice Road. United States: Random House Children’s Books.

Lim, E. (2023). Her Radiant Curse: An Enchanting Fantasy, Set in the Same World As New York Times Bestselling Six Crimson Cranes. United Kingdom: Hodder & Stoughton.

Linsmeier, A. (2023). Starlings. United States: Random House Children’s Books.

Montalban, V. (2023). A Tall Dark Trouble. (n.p.): Zando.

Pau Preto, N. (2023). Bonesmith. United States: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Tooley, A. (2023). The Third Daughter. United States: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Tucker, A. (2023). [Review of the book Nightbirds, by Kate J. Armstrong]. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books76(6), 184. doi:10.1353/bcc.2023.0059.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee
Clarion Books/HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
ISBN: 9780358469988

A broken teacup causes Miuko’s life to turn upside down when her journey to buy a new set of cups leads to a mysterious demon encounter that curses Miuko to slowly become a demon herself. Miuko’s condition is quickly discovered by her fellow villagers and she is forced to flee. In her quest to seek out the entity – god, spirit or demon – that might be capable of ridding her of the demon slowly taking over her body, she is joined by a host of new friends, many of whom are creatures inspired by Japanese mythology. Miuko revels in leaving behind the restrictions of life in her father’s inn and begins to question just how badly she really wants to remedy her current situation.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These are titles that have been read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

*Prices shown are for Library Digital Download.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. Read by Quincy Surasmith & Christina Soontornvat. 2020. Brilliance Audio,  $35.99 (9781713547792).

An honest and frank account of the 2018 Thai cave rescue told in a thrilling and fast-paced manner, perfect for younger and older teen readers alike. Quincy Surasmith is a capable narrator and will keep readers engaged with this tense and true story.

As Good as Dead: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. By Holly Jackson. Read by Bailey Carr, Kristen DiMercurio, Robert Fass, Lauren Fortgang, Johnny Heller, Barrett Leddy, Shezi Sardar, Vassilea Terzaki and Megan Tusing. Listening Library,  $75.00 (9780593416761).

A shocking turnaround in the finale to the trilogy as the true crime podcast turns on the investigator herself.  Once again brought to a spectacular audio experience using a full cast in audiobook form, this wrap up to the story will keep readers breathless to the end.

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Amazon.com: Six Crimson Cranes: Six Crimson Cranes, Book 1 (Audible Audio  Edition): Elizabeth Lim, Emily Woo Zeller, Listening Library: Audible Books  & Originals

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim; narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Listening Library
Release date: July 6, 2021
ISBN: 9780593398883

Princess Shiori, the impulsive and headstrong daughter of the Emperor, is almost seventeen, and she has a secret. She has magical abilities–in a kingdom where magic is forbidden. Then Shiori discovers that her stepmother is a powerful sorceress. Before she can warn her family, her stepmother casts a spell that transforms each of Shiori’s six brothers into cranes and sends Shiori to the farthest corner of the kingdom, unable to speak and disguised unrecognizably. Shiori must break the curse to save her brothers and the kingdom, but doing so will make her rethink everything she knew to be true. 

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Fall

BFYA Fall Roundup Art
Due to the large number of nominees, not all titles are shown here. See full list below.

Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

The City Beautiful. By­­ Aden Polydoros. Harlequin/Inkyard Press, $19.99 (9781335402509).

Amidst the glitz and glamour of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Alter Rosen, a gay, Jewish, Romanian immigrant teen, becomes possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered friend and must avenge the deaths of his friend and a growing number of other local Jewish boys.

Curses. By Lish McBride. Penguin Random House/G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9781984815590).

When Merit refuses to marry a prince, she is cursed to live as a beast. Tevin’s family runs cons on rich girls, but when his mom runs afoul of the beast she trades him for her freedom. This fresh, gender-bent Beauty and the Beast retelling examines what “beastly” really is. 

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Fall

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G.D. Falksen

The Secret Life of Kitty Granger Cover Art

The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G.D. Falksen
Lerner / Carolrhoda Lab
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
ISBN: 978-1541597966

Kitty is an unordinary, autistic, 16-year-old British teenager living in the 1960’s London East End. Kitty is offered the chance to work as a spy for Her Majesty’s government against fascist agents in England, and she soon finds out that the things that made her different (like hyper-awareness of the world around her) could make her a spy. Stumbling into the Cold War spy game, Kitty has gone from being an outsider to being a part of a team trying to protect their nation.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G.D. Falksen