14 Fantasy YA Novels to Read During Pride Month

Readers can find magic in these pages, from an alternate Shakespearean London to a modern high school. Share these stories featuring LGBTQIA+ characters with teens during Pride Month and throughout the year.

Flowerheart by Catherine Bakewell. HarperTeen. ISBN 9780063214590. 
Gr 8 Up–All her life, Clara’s magic has been out of control. When her magic accidentally harms her father, she turns to her ex-friend Xavier for help. Clara is not sure why Xavier stopped talking to her all those years ago, but it seems that he is the only one willing to help her control her magic, for a price. VERDICT Perfect for collections serving readers who love benevolent magic.

Blood Debts by Terry J Benton-Walker. Tor Teen. (Blood Debts: Bk. 1). ISBN 9781250825926.
Gr 9 Up–Benton-Walker’s fantasy debut offers up political intrigue and drama set against the backdrop of a New Orleans steeped in magic. Clem and Cris Trudeau are 16-year-old twin scions to a Black generational magic family, conjurers who channel power through their ancestors and the moon. When they discover that their mother isn’t sick but cursed, they begin unravelling a plot that could tear their family, and the magical and nonmagical populations of New Orleans, apart. VERDICT A complex and intriguing fantasy that is sure to be popular with teens.

Twelfth Grade Night by Molly Horton Booth & Stephanie Kate Strohm. illus. by Jamie Green. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368064651. 
Gr 7 Up–Dishing out a lot of high school drama, this graphic novel (which appears to be the first in what could be a popular series) about joyful, mostly happy teens navigating high school with peers who are all being their true selves, be they fairies or minotaurs, bisexual or straight, trans, or cis. VERDICT Fans of Strohm’s previous novels (Love a La ModePrince in Disguise) and graphic novels such as Alice Oseman’s “Heartstopper” series will enjoy this title. 

Transmogrify!: 14 Fantastical Tales of Trans Magic by g. haron davis, ed. HarperTeen. ISBN 9780063218796. 
Gr 9 Up–This anthology was created with the intention of giving trans identities more visibility in fantasy for teens. Over a dozen stories by authors on the continuum wrote their hearts out in fun, meaningful, and fantastical ways guided by the hands of davis, as editor, someone who is no stranger to publications including anthologies for teens. VERDICT The cover includes the quote that “magic is for everyone” and this short story collection lives up to it with trans characters at the forefront. A strong purchase for YA shelves.

The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores. Wednesday Bks. ISBN 9781250220516. 
Gr 7 Up–Readers who are fans of fairy-tale adaptations will enjoy this dark, queer retelling of "Rapunzel." Ava is a young woman who was turned into a vampire during an attack two years ago. Her mother and stepfather keep her locked in a tower so they can feed off her power. Kaye is a Flame Witch who was best friends with Ava before the attack and vows to kill any vampires she comes across. VERDICT Readers of paranormal romance or fairy-tale retellings will likely enjoy this quick read.

[Read: 12 Books for Trans Day of Visibility]

 Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780063038226. 
Gr 8 Up–Laura Ann Langstan is a queer Black girl growing up in an alternate 1930s America. In this world, the mystical arts can be practiced, but only with a license, and Laura seeks hers by joining the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps in New York. VERDICT This novel tackles important social issues while providing an exciting and fast-paced adventure that’s hard to put down. Highly recommended for any YA collection.

Spell Bound by F.T Lukens. S. & S./McElderry. ISBN 9781665916226. 
Gr 7 Up–Rook is a very relatable 17-year-old who readers can’t help but root for as he explores the magic that was lost to him after his grandmother’s death. When his mentor goes missing, the apprentice sorcerer must work together with his enemy-turned-friend, Sun. VERDICT A simple but sweet story that would be a great introduction to fantasy books. Very worthwhile to have in any tween or YA collection.

Lucha of the Night Forest by Tehlor Kay Mejia. Random/Make Me a World. ISBN 9780593378366.
Gr 9 Up–When protecting her sister in Robado triggers a deadly power in 16-year-old Lucha, a drug king imprisons her, and enslaves 13-year-old Lis. Desperate, Lucha bargains with a dark specter called El Sediento; if he helps save Lis and destroy Olvida, Lucha will free him. Violence, implied sexual exploitation of a minor, and drug use make this a better fit for high schools. VERDICT In this dystopian fantasy, a teen with unsuspected power is drawn into an ancient struggle between dark and light. Recommended for high school collections.

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz. illus. by author. Little, Brown Ink. ISBN 9780316538701. 
Gr 7 Up–Countess Camembert of Gougere’s father is deathly ill. She wants to claim her inheritance, but the law states she can only do so if she’s married. She has no interest in marrying a man. Her father suggests she move to Fondue, the capital city, and begin life as “Count Camembert,” his son and rightful heir. All goes well until the Count gets the attention of the progressive Princess Brie of Fromage. VERDICT This delightful story will appeal to many readers, especially those who enjoy complicated romances.


The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa. Random. ISBN 9780593378014. 
Gr 9 Up–For 16 years, Mar’s life on the ocean has been pretty much perfect, as long as they keep their fire and ice magia under control. Mar’s beloved Papá, Captain de la Rosa, leads the extremely successful crew of La Catalina until the night of Mar’s 16th birthday, when el Diablo shows up to collect on an old bargain, resulting in the destruction of La Catalina and the disappearance of Mar’s father. VERDICT This novel sets the standard for inclusive, swashbuckling romance; it’s adventurous, fun, and highly recommended.

Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley. S. & S./McElderry. ISBN 9781534484368. 
Gr 7 Up–Sofi has worked all her life to succeed her father’s position as a lute-playing Musik—one of only five musicians permitted to perform in her perpetually wintery kingdom. At the last minute, her audition is upstaged by Lara, a completely untrained outsider. Convinced that Lara cheated at her audition, Sofi sets off with her on the tour required of all new Musiks with the intention of exposing Lara’s treachery. VERDICT Perfect for teens making the transition from middle grade to young adult books, although older readers are likely to desire more emotional complexity from both the romance and central plot.

 The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas. Feiwel & Friends. (Sunbearer Duology: Bk. 1). ISBN 9781250822130.
Gr 7 Up–In this Mexican-inspired fantasy, Teo must unexpectedly compete against eight of Reino del Sol’s brightest young Heroes and one unlucky 13-year-old in a competition to become the next Sunbearer, carrying light to all the temples of Reino del Sol and keeping away the evil Obsidian gods for another few years. VERDICT Readers who have aged out of Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan Presents will delight in the mythology that Thomas has created.

Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood. HarperTeen. ISBN 9780063234475. 
Gr 9 Up–This novel expands on the story from the Odyssey in which Odysseus and Telemachus kill Queen Penelope’s 12 maids. While not a full retelling of the Odyssey itself, Underwood’s novel gives a new voice to the 12 maids and their legacy in her debut. VERDICT As expected with a tragedy, love does not always ensure a happy ending, but readers will be invested in the story and characters regardless. 

 That Self-Same Metal by Brittany N Williams. Abrams/Amulet. (The Forge & Fracture Saga: Bk. 1). ISBN 9781419758645. 
Gr 8 Up–In her debut, Williams weaves an intricate, historically rich tapestry set in an alternate Shakespearean London, where magic exists alongside the Fae and aspects of the belief in Orisha spirits, a tradition that began in West Africa. After a theater performance, Joan is on her way home when she observes an attack in progress. The teen decides to intervene and ends up preventing a Fae prince from killing the child of a powerful human politician. She is then drawn into the wider struggle to prevent the Fae from overtaking the world. VERDICT Fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas will love this start of a new series.

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