Game of Thrones read-alikes



Welp, I dunno about you, but I was Not Happy with the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. And given that it was the penultimate episode — ever — I'm getting pretty nervous about the finale on Sunday.

Whether you're sticking out the season and looking for something to help fill the void afterwards, bailing now and looking for a new obsession, or seeking recommended books for middle and high schoolers who are interested in GoT but not ready for it, we've got plenty of book recommendations for you. (And so does SLJ!) All titles were recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews are reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online. Though a few titles are stand-alone novels, most are either new series–openers or the first entries in long-running series, so be sure to search the HBGO for sequels! (Many thanks to Lady Cindy of House Ritter for her contributions to this list.)

Adeyemi, Tomi Children of Blood and Bone
533 pp.     Holt     2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-250-17097-2
 

Amari, daughter of maji-persecuting King Saran, has stolen a magical scroll, which awakens divîner Zélie's latent maji power to command the dead. Joined by Zélie's brother Tzain and pursued by Amari's brother Inan, the young women set out to restore magic to the kingdom of Orïsha. References to Nigerian culture and geography give this fantasy a distinct flavor; impassioned prose evokes intense emotion.

Armstrong, Kelley  Sea of Shadows
406 pp.     HarperCollins/Harper     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-207124-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-207126-2

Every year, the Seeker, currently teen Ashyn, enters the Forest of the Dead to quiet damned spirits. The Keeper, Ashyn's twin Moria, remains in the village as a protector. But things go terribly awry, and the sisters are forced to travel across the Wastes to save their kingdom from the undead. Armstrong's elaborate world is populated with complex characters in this series-opener.

Arnett, Mindee  Onyx & Ivory
500 pp.     HarperCollins/B+B     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-265266-9
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-265268-3

Kate Brighton bears her late father's "traitor" legacy and shares a magical bond with the horses she now rides to relay mail while avoiding the terrifying nightdrakes. When an unexpected daylight drake attack causes her to cross paths with her former love, Prince Corwin, it portends romantic and political difficulties ahead. Arnett builds an engaging world for this high fantasy full of action and realistic character development.

Arnold, Elana K.  Damsel
312 pp.     HarperCollins/B+B     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-274232-2
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-274234-6 

Prince Emory saves a damsel from a dragon and whisks her away to his kingdom to await their wedding day. Initially obliging, amnesiac protagonist Ama soon begins to despair of her captivity and exploitation. Hints along the way suggest Ama's true origin and the nature of her "rescue," but the conclusion is nevertheless both surprising and satisfying. Arnold's original fairy tale is lyrical, brutal, and unapologetically feminist.

Aveyard, Victoria  Red Queen
388 pp.     HarperTeen     2015
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-231063-7


In a society in which people are divided by their blood color, supernatural-powered Silvers rule over those with red blood. When Mare, a Red, discovers a power of her own, she is drawn into the deadly world of the elite Silvers. Mare's realistic confusion and grief at her situation ground the action and political machinations. A promising debut for fans of dystopian fiction.

Banghart, Tracy  Grace and Fury
314 pp.     Little     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-47141-1
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-47139-8

Women have no rights in Viridia. Nonetheless, Serina dreams of serving as a "Grace" (concubine) in the Superior's court. Her sister Nomi is unexpectedly chosen instead, and Serina is banished to an island, surrounded by violence, danger, and death. Chapters alternate between the sisters' perspectives as they dream of reuniting. Some underdeveloped characters and predictable plot twists blunt the novel's power.

Bardugo, Leigh  Shadow and Bone
358 pp.     Holt     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-8050-9459-6


Grisha Trilogy series. When Alina and fellow orphan (and best friend) Mal are attacked by monsters, Alina discovers a hidden gift: she is able to manipulate light and thus save Mal. The king's mage sweeps her off to develop her abilities — but what about her bond with Mal? A rich fantasy landscape, an inspired magical structure, and a gratifying emotional hook keep the pages whirring by.

Barton, Bree  Heart of Thorns
444 pp.     HarperCollins/Tegen     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-244768-5

Mia resents her political marriage to Prince Quinn, but when an assassination attempt occurs at the altar, she helps him escape. Their journey unsettles everything she has ever learned about herself, her family, and the laws that govern her countryespecially the tradition of killing women who work magic. Barton explores oppression, power, and corruption through a fast-paced fantasy with plenty of plot twists.

Beaty, Erin  The Traitor's Kiss
347 pp.     Imprint     2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-250-11794-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-250-11793-9

Sixteen-year-old Sage isn't very ladylikenot marriage material but her powers of observation are outstanding. Working as a matchmaker's apprentice, Sage finds herself in romantic entanglements as well as political ones when she's recruited as a military spy. In Beaty's political fantasy, a complex snarl of alliances set the tale's stage, and well-wrought espionage tradecraft powers the clever plot twists.

Berry, Julie  The Passion of Dolssa
482 pp.     Viking     2016
Trade ISBN 978-0-451-46992-2 
 

A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos.  

Black, Holly  The Cruel Prince
373 pp.     Little     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-31027-7
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-31028-4 

Madoc, Jude's parents' murderer, raises Jude and her siblings in the realm of Faerie, where he is general of the High King. Mortal Jude is drawn into the web of lies, deceit, and political intrigue that swirls around the Faerie Court. With complicated characters, a suspenseful plot, and the Faerie setting of The Darkest Part of the Forest, this novel is sure to enchant fans.


Blackburne, Livia  Midnight Thief
378 pp.     Hyperion     2014
Trade
ISBN 978-1-4231-7638-1

Cat-burglar Kyra joins the Assassins Guild to protect her street "family"; Sir Tristram seeks to avenge his friend's death at the hands of the Demon Riders — humans working with monstrous cats. When Kyra discovers she is one of the shape-shifting Demon Riders, her partnership with Tristram becomes tangled. Double-crosses and shifting alliances keep the action moving, while Kyra's preternatural abilities keep readers intrigued.

Blackburne, Livia  Rosemarked
393 pp.     Hyperion     2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4847-8855-4
Ebook ISBN 978-1-368-01202-7

Her incomplete recovery from the rose plague leaves healer Zivah contagious and outcast. But Zivah's memory-erasing potions help rebel soldier Dineas recover from the Amparan Empire's torture enough for him to go undercover as a spy. Zivah's growing romance with memory-erased Dineas complicates an already fraught mission. Gripping action and heart-wrenching emotional conflicts make this exploration of identity and loyalty a real page-turner.

Blake, Kendare  Three Dark Crowns
403 pp.     HarperTeen     2016
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-238543-7

Three Dark Crowns series. Every generation, royal female triplets are born, each to a different magical tradition. At sixteen, they fight to the death to rule Fennbirn Island. Blake builds a nuanced portrait of each girl, her powers, and her friends as the focus shifts among the heroines. The labyrinthine plot and its surprising twist set up a sequel; readers shouldn't expect resolution here.

Burtenshaw, Jenna  Shadowcry
312 pp.     Greenwillow     2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-202642-2


Secrets of Wintercraft series. Kate, fifteen, discovers she's a Skilled, able to see and manipulate the "veil" between life and death. Moreover, she learns her ancestors wrote the coveted tome Wintercraft, which explains the veil's secrets. Elegant, complex prose sweeps readers along to a dark world teeming with creepy underground passageways, abandoned buildings, and graveyards. Kate is a bright spot, facing each obstacle with defiance and determination.

Capetta, Amy Rose  The Brilliant Death
334 pp.     Viking     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-451-47844-3

In a magical, Italy-inspired setting, the Capo takes over Vinalia and poisons Teodora di Sangro's powerful father. Teo hatches a plan: with the help of a genderfluid strega named Cielo, Teo will shape-shift into a boy, impersonate her brother, travel to the Capo's Palazza, and find the antidote. Told in rich metaphorical language, this high fantasy offers a compelling interrogation of gender, power, and familial duty.



Carey, Janet Lee  In the Time of Dragon Moon
473 pp.     Penguin/Dawson     2015
Trade ISBN 978-0-8037-3810-2


Because she's female, half-English, half-Euit Uma isn't accepted as a healer among her people. When she and her father are kidnapped, Uma must use her skills to save herself and her clan. Fans of high fantasy will enjoy this tale of swooping dragons, magical Fey people, and love that grows in the most dangerous circumstances.

Carson, Rae  The Girl of Fire and Thorns
424 pp.     Greenwillow     2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-202648-4


Soon after Princess Lucero-Elisa marries King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena, she is kidnapped by desert nomads. She then discovers that the blue Godstone in her navel does not just indicate a great destiny, but it may also help her two kingdoms win an impending war. Fantasy fans will enjoy the Spanish-influenced world and Elisa's journey from self-conscious teen to powerful queen.

Cashore, Kristin  Graceling
472 pp.     Harcourt     2008
Trade ISBN 978-0-15-206396-2


Lady Katsa was born with a hyper-developed talent for killing. She rebels against her thuggish uncle, the king, by forming the Council, a sort of social justice league, and is drawn into a mystery involving secrets, greed, and kidnapping. With creepy villains, romance, and a butt-kicking but emotionally vulnerable heroine, the story will appeal to fans of girl-power fantasy.

Castner, K. D.  Daughters of Ruin
314 pp.     McElderry    2016
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-3665-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-3667-0

King Declan raises his rival's daughters, Cadis, Iren, and Suki, as "sister queens" to his daughter Rhea following a horrific war between their kingdoms. The three war orphans see Rhea as their enemy, and their relationships become more fractured when war breaks out again. More Pretty Little Liars than Game of Thrones, readers with a taste for mean-girl drama (and schadenfreude) will enjoy this intense fantasy.

Chee, Traci  The Reader
439 pp.     Putnam     2016
Trade ISBN 978-0-399-17677-7

The Reader series. Sefia, in possession of a strange object called a "book," learns that writing and reading are the keys to powerful magic. Interspersed and eventually converging with Sefia's story are episodic tales of Captain Reed and his pirate crew. This complex series-opener introduces a richly built fantasy world and a courageous female protagonist. A coded message to readers and visual effects amplify the metafictional elements.

Chima, Cinda Williams  The Demon King
508 pp.     Hyperion     2009
Trade ISBN 978-1-4231-1823-7

Seven Realms series. Former street lord Han Alister finds a magical amulet. When gang members are murdered, Han realizes the killers are after the amulet. Meanwhile, heir-to-the-throne Princess Raisa's sixteenth name-day approaches, when she becomes eligible to be courted. Readers follow the highly likable characters in plot strands that touch and separate and re-form, creating an ambitious web of politics and intrigue.

Clayton, Dhonielle The Belles
440 pp.     Disney/Freeform      2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-4847-2849-9
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4847-3249-6 

In the fantastical courtly society of Orléans, everyone is born ugly — except for the innately lovely Belles, who also have the supernatural ability to manipulate others' appearance. Camille, the queen's Favorite Belle, moves into the palace to provide beauty services to royals and aristocrats. Clayton vividly describes her world's dazzling fashion and lavish galas in the midst of profound racism/colorism, indentured servitude, and distorted body image. 

Dao, Julie C.  Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
371 pp.     Philomel     2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-5247-3829-7


Rise of the Empress series. Xifeng's humble beginnings included years of abuse--which only strengthened her belief that she is destined for greatness. Manipulating people through political skill and sorcery, Xifeng outwits eunuchs, rival concubines, and even the empress herself. Debut author Dao's tale of an anti-hero's rise to power in a fantastical medieval-Asian court revels — a bit too much — in descriptions of both cruelty and physical beauty.

Dennard, Susan  Truthwitch
415 pp.     Tor Teen     2016
Trade ISBN 978-0-7653-7928-3
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4668-6732-1

Iseult, a Threadwitch, sees and can manipulate people's emotional ties. Safiya, Iseult's Threadsister, is a Truthwitch, able to immediately tell truth from lies. When Safi's powerful magic is discovered, the two young women flee, chased by several navies and a Bloodwitch determined to sniff them out. The plot drags at times, but the world-building is vibrant and fully realized.

Elliott, Kate  Court of Fives
435 pp.     Little     2015
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-36419-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-36424-9

After secretly training for years to compete in the Fives, a physically demanding athletic competition, Jes finally gets her chance to do so publicly after her family is torn apart by a powerful lord. Set in a fantasy realm modeled on the ancient Mediterranean, Elliott's YA debut — with Game of Thrones–style political intrigue and Hunger Games adrenaline — should spread like wildfire. 

Fine, Sarah  The Impostor Queen
418 pp.     McElderry     2016
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-4190-2
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-4192-6 

Prophesied to become the most powerful queen in Kupari history, Elli is cast out after she fails to inherit the magic of the Valtia. When a handsome outlaw rescues her from an animal trap, she discovers that she has a different — yet still crucial — destiny to fulfill. This thrilling new high-fantasy series both embraces and subverts genre tropes in very satisfying ways.

Flanagan, John  The Ruins of Gorlan
249 pp.     Philomel     2005
Trade ISBN 0-399-24454-9


Ranger's Apprentice series. Will, an orphan, is apprenticed to the taciturn Ranger Halt. His childhood rival Horace is training at the elite Battleschool. Unbeknownst to either, an ancient foe prepares to strike their kingdom, launching an epic struggle — and a series that begins promisingly with this crisply written adventure.

Goodlett, Ellen  Rule
376 pp.     Little    2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-51528-3
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-51527-6

Three illegitimate daughters are summoned to the capital to compete to be dying King Andros's heir. Each girl hides a secret and soon finds herself being blackmailed. The three join forces to try to unravel the political and magical conspiracies at court. A fantastic premise leads to a somewhat predictable narrative. The cliffhanger ending hints at another installment.

Hahn, Rebecca  A Creature of Moonlight
314 pp.     Houghton      2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-544-10935-3 
 

When Marni was a baby, her grandfather surrendered his throne to save her life. After tragedy strikes, Marni leaves home to make a life for herself at court — and to seek vengeance on her uncle for her mother's murder. Hahn's poetic, eloquent novel is full of court intrigue, family secrets, fantastical creatures (Marni is half-dragon), and magic.  

Green, Sally  The Smoke Thieves
536 pp.     Viking     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-425-29021-7

Smoke Thieves series. A princess facing an arranged marriage, a bastard son discovering his identity, a servant dispossessed by war, a loyal guardsman torn by love, and a child demon hunter take turns narrating this novel. As their story lines converge, a detailed picture emerges of rival kingdoms on the verge of war. Green provides complex characters and persuasive political conflicts but not much resolution in the opener to a projected trilogy.

Hartman, Rachel  Seraphina
467 pp.     Random     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-375-86656-2
Library binding ISBN 978-0-375-96656-9


The royal court of Goredd celebrates a forty-year (uneasy) peace with dragonkind, but events take a dark turn when Prince Rufus is found murdered. Music mistress Seraphina tries to unmask the killer, while concealing her own relationship with dragons — who, in this outstanding debut, are capable of assuming human form. An innovative concept, accompanied by high action and rich language lively with humor.

Herman, Eleanor  Legacy of Kings
461 pp.     Harlequin Teen     2015
Trade ISBN 978-0-373-21172-2


Blood of Gods and Royals series. In an alternate ancient Greece, several teens — Alexander the Great, a young sorceress named Kat, Alexander's Persian fiancée, and others — find themselves drawn into a political and magical conflict destined to change the world. The richly imagined setting, intense political intrigue, and large cast of characters make this series-starting historical fantasy a solid choice for Game of Thrones fans.

Jean, Emiko  Empress of All Seasons
375 pp.     Houghton     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-544-53094-2
Ebook ISBN 978-1-328-53061-5

When Mari enters the competition to survive the four magical season-themed rooms and marry the emperor-to-be, Prince Taro, she must hide that she is yōkai, one of the supernatural creatures whom the emperor treats as second class. Meanwhile, a yōkai rebellion is brewing. The Japanese-inspired setting of this political fantasy gives depth and texture to the fast-paced action, and the romance will melt hearts.

Khan, Joshua  Shadow Magic
322 pp.     Disney/Hyperion     2016
Trade ISBN 978-1-4847-3272-4

Illustrated by Ben Hibon. Thorn, a peasant, an archer, and an outlaw far from home, becomes an executioner's apprentice and a friend to thirteen-year-old Lady Lilith Shadow, a would-be sorceress trying to save her homeland after her family is assassinated. Character development takes a back seat to action, but this dark fantasy cauldron brims with spooky castles, ancient relics, fantastic beasts, necromancy, and an extra helping of murder.

LaFevers, Robin  Grave Mercy
549 pp.     Houghton     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-547-62834-9


His Fair Assassin series. Running from an arranged marriage, seventeen-year-old Ismae lands up at St. Mortain's convent, discovers she has special gifts (and that her true father is Mortain, the god of Death), and trains to become an assassin — the true vocation of a daughter of Death. This light romantic fantasy, set in an alternate, fictional, quasi-late medieval Brittany, might well appeal to fans of Libba Bray's Rebel Angels books.

Larson, Sara B.  Dark Breaks the Dawn
309 pp.     Scholastic     2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-338-06869-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-338-06876-4

In a land divided by war, young Queen Evelayn struggles to master her own magic, military strategy, and an unexpected romance. Just as peace and love seem to be within her grasp, disaster strikes — setting up the sequel in this projected duology, a fantasy loosely based on Swan Lake. Evelayn's strength and passion help her stand out amid a cast of otherwise two-dimensional characters.

Leake, Jessica  Beyond a Darkened Shore
435 pp.     HarperTeen     2018
Trade 978-0-06-266626-0

Ciara, princess of Mide in the ancient land of Éirinn, has mind-control powers that help her kingdom defeat Northmen invaders but also terrify her father's army. After being banished for believing a dire vision, Ciara works with a captured Northman leader to defeat an even bigger threat to her land. Leake creatively mixes Celtic and Norse mythologies, which elevates an otherwise predictable romance.

London, Alex  Black Wings Beating
426 pp.    Farrar    2018
Trade 978-0-374-30682-3

Skybound Saga series. In a quasi-medieval fantasy world of battle falconry, boy-girl twins Brysen and Kylee go on a quest to capture a ghost eagle, which forces them to confront their traumatic childhoods and diverging futures. London's series-starting fantasy is written in lush prose and boasts unflinching characterizations. The matter-of-fact incorporation of Brysen's gay romance contributes to the emotional heft of the novel.

Maas, Sarah J.  Throne of Glass
406 pp.     Bloomsbury     2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-59990-695-9


In order to gain her freedom, skilled assassin Celaena Sardothien enters a competition to become the King's Champion. Filled with secrets, murder, magic, court intrigue, and forbidden romance, this engrossing (if purple-prosed) fantasy introduces an audacious yet feminine heroine looking for a second chance at life. Detailed world-building and unanswered questions create opportunities for future exciting tales from the land of Erilea.

Ngan, Natasha  Girls of Paper and Fire
373 pp.     Little/Patterson     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-56136-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-56138-9

In a society ruled by animal-human demons, fully human Lei is of the lowly Paper caste. She is stolen from her village to be one of the Paper Girls, concubines of the cruel Bull King (depictions of rape included). Lei reluctantly settles into court life but finds herself entranced by another young woman who shares her fate. A captivating tale with swoony forbidden romance and a rich, Southeast Asian–inspired fantastical world.

Nielsen, Jennifer A. The False Prince
344 pp.     Scholastic     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-545-28413-4


Ascendance series. The royal family of Carthya has been poisoned, and among the various regents jockeying for the throne, Conner has the most ingeniously devious plan: to train four orphans, briefly and intensely, in all things royal, then choose one to impersonate the long-lost, presumed dead younger prince. The book's brisk pacing underscores the sure-fire mix of adventure, mystery, and suspense.  

Pearson, Mary E.  The Kiss of Deception
490 pp.     Holt     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-8050-9923-2


Remnant Chronicles series. Rather than submit to an arranged marriage, seventeen-year-old princess Lia escapes to a distant outpost. She's tracked by her would-be husband — and also by an assassin. Pearson brilliantly headlines their alternating first-person narratives as "the prince" and "the assassin," whereas we know them from Lia's narrative only as Kaden and Rafe, keeping readers guessing which character is which.

Pérez, Kristina  Sweet Black Waves
441 pp.    Imprint     2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-250-13285-7
Ebook ISBN 978-1-250-13286-4

Lady-in-waiting Branwen's devotion to Princess Eseult and to their country, Iveriu, is tested when an enemy from Kernyv washes ashore. Blessed with magical healing, Branwen nurses Tristan back to health. When Branwen later finds herself betrayed, she makes a tragic choice. Pérez's lush reinterpretation of the Tristan and Iseult legend will devastate and delight romance fans. Includes notes on the source mythology and a glossary.

Raasch, Sara  Snow like Ashes
422 pp.     HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-228692-5


Teenage outlaw Meira would do anything to restore Winter, her war-ravaged homeland. Her loyalty is tested, however, when she is asked to sacrifice her dream of being a warrior and marry Prince Theron, heir to the wealthy kingdom of Cordell. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Sherwood Smith will adore this action-packed high-fantasy debut's innovative world-building, romance, and political intrigue.

Revis, Beth  Give the Dark My Love
451 pp.     Penguin/Razorbill     2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-595-14717-2 
 

Medical alchemy student Nedra seeks a cure for the Wasting Death. When she finds her family dying of the disease, the strictures against the Fourth Alchemy — necromancy — seem suddenly irrelevant. Revis's original take on the undead steers clear of tired tropes, but it's Nedra's connection with her twin sister, and the frightening transformations she works on her, that bring home the true queasiness of this horror tale.  

Rhodes, Morgan  Falling Kingdoms
412 pp.     Penguin/Razorbill     2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-59514-584-0


The youngest princess of the kingdom of Auranos, a Paelsian rebel, and two royal siblings from Limeros are caught in the crosshairs as their respective rulers struggle for power in a Game of Thronesesque fantasy. Rhodes creates an intricately built world with a large cast of multifaceted characters, adding magic, a prophecy, revenge, and romance to interwoven story lines in this engrossing series opener.

Rutkoski, Marie  The Winner's Curse
359 pp.     Farrar     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-374-38467-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-374-38468-5

Winner's Trilogy series. Kestrel is inexplicably moved to pay an exorbitant price for Arin, a handsome, musically gifted Herrani slave. The tables are turned when the Herrani take over the city. Kestrel uses her skills as a gambler and military strategist to negotiate a peaceful resolution. The tale reads as a confection, with forbidden love, fancy gowns, and warrior stoicism to delight teenage readers.

Ryan, Carrie  The Forest of Hands and Teeth
311 pp.    Delacorte     2009
Trade ISBN 978-0-385-73681-7
Library binding ISBN 978-0-385-90631-9

Only a fence separates Mary's village from the Unconsecratedzombielike creatures that must be kept at bay in order for her primitive post-apocalyptic community, governed by a religious sisterhood, to survive. This inventive horror story combines mystery, romance, and suspense as it records Mary's quest to search beyond the barrier for alternatives to the life she has always known.

Selene, Lyra  Amber & Dusk 
362 pp.    Scholastic     2018
Trade 978-1-338-21003-3
Ebook 978-1-338-21004-0

Feared for her ability to create fantastical illusions, Sylvie travels to Amber City in hopes of finding acceptance in the empress's court among others with similar gifts. Instead, Sylvie discovers illusions of a more human kind in perilous court intrigue, a dangerous patron, and a new name befitting her role as a "fantast": Mirage. Selene's opulent text is lush with figurative and sensory language.

Tahir, Sabaa  An Ember in the Ashes
446 pp.     Penguin/Razorbill      2015
Trade ISBN 978-1-59514-803-2


This epic debut, set in a fantasy empire with nods to ancient Rome and Egypt, relates the intersecting struggles of Elias, an elite enforcer, and Laia, a Resistance spy. Nuanced, multileveled world-building provides a dynamic backdrop for an often brutal exploration of moral ambiguity and the power of empathy. A compelling emergent romance is only one reason among many to anticipate the sequel.


Taranta, Mary  Shimmer and Burn
330 pp.     McElderry     2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-7199-2
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-7201-2

Desperate to save her younger sister from slavery, Faris makes an uncomfortable alliance with Princess Bryn, and together they flee their homeland in search of foreign allies. Aided by a powerful, attractive magician with his own secrets, Faris struggles with the moral cost of her choices. Taranta's novel includes a complicated political world and a plethora of plot twists before setting up a sequel.

Thomson, Sarah L.  Deadly Flowers: A Ninja's Tale
270 pp.     Boyds     2016
Trade ISBN 978-1-62979-214-9
Ebook ISBN 978-1-62979-563-8

Kata, a female ninja in feudal Japan, finds herself on the run with new acquaintance Saiko and her younger brother Ichiro. Someone is hunting the siblings to steal Ichiro's wish-granting pearl, which also happens to attract paranormal creatures. This action-packed adventure blends historical fiction with intriguing supernatural elements drawn from Japanese folklore. An author's note adds historical and mythological context.

Tucholke, April Genevieve  The Boneless Mercies
339 pp.     Farrar     2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-374-30706-6

In a fantasy world inspired by Norse sagas and Beowulf, Frey and her pack of mercy-killers bring a death-of-choice to the old or ill. Upon learning that a bloodthirsty beast is decimating a distant jarldom, they leave the "death trade" to destroy the monster. Tucholke writes in unadorned prose, with plenty of physical description and visual language. Frey's earnest voice creates a strong sense of female solidarity.

Turner, Megan Whalen  The Thief
220 pp.     Greenwillow     1996
Trade ISBN 0-688-14627-9


An exceptionally clever novel features a thief named Gen who accompanies the king's magus on a journey to steal a legendary stone. Turner's characterization of Gen is simply superb — it is Gen who tells the story, and he is clearly not what he seems. Unlike many other novels of suspense, The Thief is even more fun to reread — you can see all the clues to Gen's identity and mission, and delight in the author's ingenuity.

White, Kiersten  And I Darken
486 pp.     Delacorte     2016
Trade ISBN 978-0-553-52231-0
Library binding ISBN 978-0-553-52232-7
Ebook ISBN 978-0-553-52233-4

Lada and brother Radu, Wallachian hostages in the Ottoman court, befriend the sultan's son, Mehmed. As the three become embroiled in political intrigue, their characters and dynamics are complicated and deepened by a love triangle and the solace Radu finds in Islam. Brutally determined, fiercely protective warrior-girl LadaWhite's imagining of a young, female Vlad the Impaleris perhaps historically implausible, but utterly compelling. Glos.

Wiggins, Bethany  The Dragon's Price: A Transference Novel
297 pp.     Crown     2017
Trade ISBN 978-0-399-54981-6
Library binding ISBN 978-0-399-55116-1
Ebook ISBN 978-0-399-54982-3

Princess Sorrowlynn must offer herself in marriage to an enemy prince to renew the spell confining the terrible fire dragonor else sacrifice herself to the beast. Standing up for herself for once, sheltered Sorrow chooses sacrifice to the dragon, whom she faces with aid from the spurned prince, Golmarr. While the standard-issue fantasy continues long after it might have ended, Sorrow's growing self-awareness is captivating.

Wolf, Sara  Bring Me Their Hearts
366 pp.     Entangled     2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-64063-146-5
Ebook ISBN 978-1-64063-147-2

Zera is an immortal, unwilling, and irreverent servant to the witch Nightsinger, who keeps Zera's heart in a jar. Offered the opportunity to win her freedom in exchange for stealing (literally) the heart of Prince Lucien, Zera discovers there's more to Lucienand the political factions of the kingdomthan she realized. This wittily narrated fantasy, first in a series, ends with a cliffhanger.

Wyk, C. V.  Blood and Sand
310 pp.     Doherty/Tor Teen    2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-7653-8009-8
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4668-7191-5

After Thrace falls, Attia is enslaved in Rome and must hide her identitiesas the heir to Thrace and as the mysterious gladiator, Spartacus. Her plans for escape and revenge against Rome are disrupted, however, by her growing affection for champion gladiator Xanthus and other members of their owner's household. This epic, action-packed historical reimagining ends with hints that Thrace will rise again in future volumes.

Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, formerly editor of The Horn Book Guide, is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons University. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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Steffaney C. Smith

What a great bibliography for those wanting Game of Throne read-alikes. I am especially pleased to see Megan Whaley Turner's "The Thief" on your list...one of my favorite books to place in the hands of fourth- to sixth-graders...and all the way up to adults! Love that plot twist...and the story is ageless! This should help keep it in print!!

Posted : May 23, 2019 12:00


Katie Bircher

By popular request, Tamora Pierce titles: Pierce, Tamora Alanna: The First Adventure 218 pp. Atheneum 2002 ISBN 0-689-85323-8 Song of the Lioness series. 1983. Pierce's popular novel introducing Alanna, the fiery red-haired girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to train as a knight, has been repackaged as a handy paperback-sized hardcover. This new edition will attract new readers to the fantasy, which is as enjoyable today as when it was first published twenty years ago. Sequels: In the Hand of the Goddess, Lioness Rampant, and The Woman Who Rides like a Man. Pierce, Tamora Wild Magic: The Immortals 260 pp. Atheneum/Karl 1992 ISBN 0-689-31761-1 Homeless, outcast Daine has a knack with animals--they hear her, obey her, even talk to her--and her talents, recognized as 'wild magic,' grow even stronger under the tutelage of the mage Numair. Only Daine can sense the presence of the immortals--evil creatures under the control of the country's enemies--and in a burst of glory, she saves the kingdom from invasion. Lively, well-written, suspenseful fantasy. Sequels: Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage, and The Realms of the Gods. Pierce, Tamora First Test 217 pp. Random 1999 ISBN 0-679-88914-0 LE ISBN 0-679-98914-5 Protector of the Small series. In this spinoff of the two previous series set in Tortall, ten-year-old Keladry must prove herself capable of succeeding as the first official female page in the rigorous training program at the castle. Determined to defend those weaker than herself, Kel befriends animals and battles bullies, as well as the monstrous spidren. Pierce has created a bold heroine ready to face new adventures. Sequels: Page, Squire, and Lady Knight. Pierce, Tamora Trickster's Choice 423 pp. Random 2003 ISBN 0-375-81466-3 LE ISBN 0-375-91466-8 Daughter of the Lioness series. Alianne, daughter of the woman-knight Alanna from Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet, finds herself to be the brains behind a large operation conspiring to return the Copper Isles' subjugated native class to power. Pierce convincingly portrays a girl raised to espionage and combat, but secondary characters are less convincing. Readers hooked on Pierce's spunky heroines will have more adventures to anticipate in this new quartet. Sequel: Trickster's Queen. Pierce, Tamora Terrier 584 pp. Random 2006 ISBN 0-375-81468-X LE ISBN 0-375-91468-4 Beka Cooper series. Sword-and-sorcery meets police procedural. Set some two hundred or so years before the Song of the Lioness Quartet, this new series introduces readers to sixteen-year-old Beka Cooper, a Puppy (trainee) in Corus's Guard who narrates her story via a diary. Perhaps the book's greatest strength is its raw portrayal of the fine line between law and lawlessness. Sequels: Bloodhound and Mastiff. Pierce, Tamora Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales 369 pp. Random 2011. ISBN 978-0-375-86676-0 LE ISBN 978-0-375-96676-7 Eight of these stories were previously published in fantasy anthologies; the remaining three are new. Almost every tale spins on a girl surmounting barriers to come into her power. The tales are easy in the reading and clear in their message, with Pierce's relaxed, accessible language; quickly delineated characters; plots that gallop along; and warmth toward her readers patent throughout. Pierce, Tamora Tempests and Slaughter 465 pp. Random 2018 ISBN 978-0-375-84711-0 LE ISBN 978-0-375-94711-7 Ebook ISBN 978-0-375-89333-9 Numair Chronicles series. Arram, a young and powerful mage student at the Imperial University of Carthak, befriends Varice and Ozorne, two similarly powerful students. But Ozorne's status as the "leftover prince" (third in line to the throne) means dark undercurrents swirl around them. This entertaining magic-school story, first in a series, mixes school high jinks with more sinister forces, making for a quick, engrossing read. Pierce, Tamora Sandry's Book 252 pp. Scholastic 1997 ISBN 0-590-55356-9 Circle of Magic series. Rescued by a powerful mage and brought to a school of magic, four children, each orphaned or unwanted, discover their previously unrealized magical powers in different areas of mage craft. Although the children, who come from very different stations in life, begin at odds with one another, they learn how to work together for a common purpose. Despite the title, the novel focuses equally on all of the characters. Tris's Book, Daja's Book, and Briar's Book. Pierce, Tamora Magic Steps 264 pp. Scholastic 2000 ISBN 0-590-39588-2 Circle Opens series. Sandry, one of the four young mages in Pierce's Circle of Magic Quartet, is a "stitch witch" who can weave magic as well as cloth. She reluctantly takes on twelve-year-old Pasco as a student, and the plot revolves around her struggles as a first-time teacher and her involvement in investigating a series of vicious murders. The fantasy emphasizes Sandry's strength of character in the face of danger and focuses on her attempts to find a solution. Sequels: Street Magic, Cold Fire, and Shatterglass. Pierce, Tamora The Will of the Empress 539 pp. Scholastic 2005 ISBN 0-439-44171-4 Beginning to think of their futures, the four Circle Quartet mages, now sixteen years old, are reunited. The familiar characters demonstrate why they're popular with tween readers: gruff exteriors hide tender hearts; strays are always collected and cared for; friendship and loyalty triumph over riches. Pierce has some fresh surprises regarding each mage's powers, and through danger and repose she keeps the story rolling along. Sequels: Melting Stones and Battle Magic.

Posted : May 20, 2019 06:55


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