5-Star Book Reviews: Fantasy

We continue our series of posts highlighting some of the best books in the CA Library collection, featuring outstanding books in a specific 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 available in our Sora collection, there are links for those, too!


Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury — A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him. “Sambury’s prose is fluid and eloquent and will enthrall readers. A breath of fresh air for the genre; readers will be spellbound” (Kirkus Reviews).

Burn by Patrick Ness — Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to. But the dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye. “Exciting, nonstop action and gloriously varied twists in the narrative will keep readers guessing all the way through to the breathless ending” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust — Soraya, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch, has lived eighteen years in the shadows but as her twin brother’s wedding approaches, she faces choices with unimaginable consequences. “With crystalline, sometimes sensuous prose, Bashardoust digs into her characters’ motivations and manipulations, deftly keeping readers on the hook until the final, stunning turn” (Booklist). Get the eBook

The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae — In the magical kingdom of Orkena, a teenaged girl is chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown. “With characters to love, to hate, and to love to hate, plus a plot full of adventure skillfully woven with suspense, this is a must-purchase for all YA collections” (School Library Journal).

The Mermaid, The Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall — In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady find a connection on the high seas. “Tokuda-Hall aptly explores themes of gender identity and misogyny while illustrating colonialism’s horrors, in which even children must steal from and harm each other to survive” (Publishers Weekly). Get the eBook

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance and Hope, edited by Patrice Caldwell — Black girls, including gender non-conforming individuals, star in this collection of sixteen stories of fantasy, science fiction, and magic. “That the stories center Black girlhood creates layers of depth in these racialized and gendered experiences alongside the joys and trivialities of stories often missing from the mainstream. Luminous reading” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

A Queen of Gilded Horns (River of Royal Blood, Book 2) by Amanda Joy — After learning the truth of her heritage Eva is on the run with her sister Isa as her captive, but with the Queendom of Myre on the brink of revolution, Eva and Isa must make peace with each other to save their kingdom. “Joy’s writing is exemplary; a strong plot, even pacing, and character growth (not only Eva’s) all lead up to an ending that should satisfy even the pickiest readers” (Kirkus Reviews).

Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholka — In this gorgeous standalone companion to the critically acclaimed fantasy The Boneless Mercies, Tucholke spins a bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend that is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, and Laini Taylor. “Conjures a mythic, richly described landscape that serves well as the backdrop for familiar names and concepts. The strong focus on found family and feminine strength further enhances this tale’s emotional impact” (Publishers Weekly).

The Seventh Raven by David Elliott — Best-selling author David Elliott examines the timeless themes of balance, transformation, and restoration in this evocative tale about a girl who will stop at nothing to reverse a curse that turned her seven brothers into ravens. “Although the setting and events may belong in a fairy tale, the core emotions of this work draw straight from reality” (School Library Journal).

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — The exiled Princess Shiori must unravel the curse that turned her six brothers into cranes, and she is assisted by her spurned betrothed, a capricious dragon, and a paper bird brought to life by her own magic. “Seamlessly intertwining western and East Asian folklore, Lim embroiders a richly imagined landscape in this vibrant, fast-paced duology starter” (Publishers Weekly).

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown — For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts his younger sister, Nadia, as payment to enter the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal. Kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom. “Brown’s world building is diverse and brimming with political intrigue, magic, and a burgeoning romance in the best of ways” (Booklist). Get the eBook

The Way Back by Gavriel Savit — A sweeping historical fantasy that follows two teens on a journey through the Far Country, a Jewish land of spirits and demons. “Lyrical and fantastic, this richly layered yarn is liberally sprinkled with bits of Yiddish and a wry, sparkling humor that balances its darker tendencies with sympathy and warmth” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

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