5-Star Book Reviews: Fantasy Fiction

This is the first in a series of posts featuring some of the best books in the CA Library collection. Each post will feature outstanding books in a single genre — today’s featured titles are all Fantasy Fiction. Follow the links for each book to learn more from the CA Library catalog…and if an eBook and/or audiobook version is in Sora, there are links for those, too!


Angel Mage by Garth Nix (2019) — More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara. “A unique magical system based on angel summoning and icons, deft characterization — including male and female protagonists and LGBTQ representation — and an affectionate rendering of Alexandre Dumas’s style will delight teen and adult fans of swashbuckling romance” (Publishers Weekly). Get the eBook (Sora login required) 

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore (2018) — The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals. They know that one day, because of a generations-old spell, a bevy of swans deep in the woods will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan. When two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. “In this mashup of “Snow-White and Rose-Red” and “Swan Lake”, McLemore weaves in powerful themes of identity, family, and first love, but there are also much-needed messages about overcoming hurtful stereotypes and expectations” (Kirkus Reviews). 

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (2018) — Four female mercenaries known as Boneless Mercies, weary of roaming Vorseland, ignored and forgotten until they are needed for mercy killings, decide to seek glory by going after a legendary monster in this reimagining of Beowulf. “A beautiful, haunting modern-day epic that stars a bold and resourceful sisterhood of heroines unafraid to claim agency” (Publishers Weekly). 

Call Down The Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater (2019) — Book 1 in The Dreamer trilogy. Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality. Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it. Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer…and a killer. “Atmospheric, weird, disjointed, and difficult to follow but intriguing as hell and almost impossible to put down” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook (Sora login required)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (2018) — Book 1 in the Legacy of Orisha series. Seventeen-year-old Zelie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy. “Complex characters, colossal stakes, and a kaleidoscopic narrative captivate, and the book’s punishing pace catapults readers to a jaw-dropping conclusion that poses as many questions as it answers” (Publishers Weekly). Get the Audiobook (Sora login required)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (2018) — Book 1 in the Folf of the Air series. Jude, seventeen and mortal, gets tangled in palace intrigues while trying to win a place in the treacherous High Court of Faerie, where she and her sisters have lived for a decade. “Black got her start writing about faeries and both her talent and her fan base have only grown; this return to the faerie world will surely be met with thunderous enthusiasm” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook (Sora login required)

Fireborn by Rosaria Munda (2019) — Book 1 in The Aurelian Cycle. Two dragonriders must go head-to-head for the top position in the Callipolan fleet, and protect the new regime from those who lost power. “Thrills with dragon action, from aerial tournaments to wartime battles. This is a near-perfect work of high fantasy and will have wide appeal” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook (Sora login required)

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (2019) — Paris, 1889. The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and in this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Severin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society the Order of Babel seeks him out for help, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. “Kaleidoscopic narration complements the intricate, high-stakes plot and allows Chokshi to showcase numerous aspects of her richly imagined universe all the way to the closing cliff-hanger” (Publishers Weekly). Get the eBook (Sora login required)

Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee (2019) — The first of three novels from bestselling author Mackenzi Lee featuring characters in the Marvel Universe. After the banishment of his only friend, the sorceress Amora, to Earth, a young Loki travels to nineteenth-century London to investigate a string of murders but finds much more than he expects. “This gender-fluid antihero in nineteenth-century London will draw in diverse readership… and this mischievous origin story is sure to satisfy fans of this popular character” (Booklist). Get the eBook (Sora login required)

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (2019) — Bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in this standalone fantasy. “Satisfying on all levels of the reading experience: thrilling, emotionally resonant, and cerebral. Escape to Witch Mountain for grown-ups” (Kirkus Reviews). Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (2019) — In a near-future society that claims to have gotten rid of all monstrous people, a creature emerges from a painting seventeen-year-old Jam’s mother created, a hunter from another world seeking a real-life monster. “A riveting and important read that couldn’t be more well timed to our society’s struggles with its own monsters” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook (Sora login required)

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (2020) — Raised in isolation, Tarisai yearns for the closeness she could have as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11, but her mother, The Lady, has magically compelled Tarisai to kill the Crown Prince. “Ifueko’s prose is effortless and poetic from the very first sentence. She whisks readers into a lush story that instantly gives one chills with its sweeping fantasy setting, arresting landscapes, extraordinary magic, and wondrous beings” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook (Sora login required)

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal (2019) — Book 1 in the Sands of Awawiya series. In a world inspired by ancient Arabia, seventeen-year-old huntress Zafira must disguise herself as a man to seek a lost artifact that could return magic to her cursed world. “Lyrical and filled with adventure, a slow-burn romance, and an unforgettable cast of characters in a world based on ancient Arabia, this is a debut series not to be missed” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook (Sora login required)

We Rule The Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett (2019) — Seventeen-year-olds Revna, the daughter of a traitor, and Linne, the daughter of a general, must use forbidden magic to fly planes in wartime despite their deep dislike of each other. “For fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series, Gennifer Albin’s Crewel, or Kathryn Lasky’s Night Witches, who like complex, multivolume feminist fantasies, full of sharply realized characterizations, intriguing magical elements, and twisty plots” (School Library Journal).

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