Of fairies, mermaids, witches and ghosts
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Combining history and spellcraft, author Alix E. Harrow transports her readers to New Salem where womanhood stands as strong, as powerful and as resilient as ever. The females band together in this book to give motive and momentum to the suffragette movement. They wish to win voting rights for themselves and secure an iota of gender equality in society. But in the midst of all this chaos emerge the three Eastwood sisters — James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth and Beatrice Belladonna, who join the suffragette movement and infuse it with a hint of forbidden witchcraft. Fighting stereotypes and oppression, the witches of Salem are given a new opportunity to tell their story in this riveting book vowing that this time it won’t be a witch who’s going to burn.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library follows the story of a girl called Nora Seed, who stumbles upon a fantastical library that carries two books based on her life. While one tells the story of her life as she has experienced it herself, the other charts a different path and tells instead the story of a life that she could have lived had she made different choices. A book that forces introspection on the road to self-discovery, it will make you sit up and think. As you immerse yourself in Nora’s stories, she questions everything she knows to be true, wondering which life will give her true fulfilment. A contemplative read, it asks many a philosophical question about life, love, relationships, work, and death that Nora must now ask herself as she stands at the threshold of two very different existences.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
A mythology-meets-fantasy book, Lore is a great pick for Percy Jackson fans who miss the old mischievous Olympian gods — but this time they’re not here just for laughs. This book has gore and grime with dark pasts and hidden secrets, enemies, love and betrayal all packed into one. In this story, Zeus organises a competition called the Agon every seven years to punish other gods for rebelling against him. During the Agon the gods turn mortal and are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all hungry to seize their divine power for themselves. Lore Perseous, the protagonist of the story, finds herself unwillingly entangled in this conflict when she makes a pact with an injured Athena and wonders if she’s going to live to tell her tale.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
We all love a good enemies-to-lovers YA fantasy, and this one promises not to disappoint. Combining mythology and romance, Alexandra Christo presents a fantastical world with sirens, royal palaces, wicked queens, noble princes and an age-old grudge. The story follows the Siren Princess Lira, who is punished by the Queen for killing one of her own brethren. She is cursed to remain a human unless she can bring the heart of Prince Elian back to her by the winter solstice and no later. If you can imagine a crossover between Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Little Mermaid, where the princess is the hunter instead of the hunted, then you'll come up with the inspired plot of To Kill A Kingdom, which is a book worth picking up, even if only once.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
A contemporary YA take on the classic Rumplestiltskin fairy tale, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik is refreshingly female-centric with not one but three female protagonists at the helm of it all. Miryem, a young girl from a poverty-stricken family, takes it upon herself to provide for them all. She soon earns a mysterious and dangerous reputation for herself as someone skilled enough to turn silver into gold. This naturally catches the attention of the nameless king of the land who, true to legend, sets her a task almost impossible to complete. But Miryem finds something more sinister hidden within the palace walls when she encounters Irina, a helpless girl betrothed to a wicked Tsar, and Wanda, a peasant girl stuck within the castle. Together they must fight powerful, cruel and ruthless forces to save their lives and everything they know to be true in what is an unputdownable read.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
In book one of The Daevabad Trilogy, author S.A. Chakraborty weaves a mystical tale set in eighteenth-century Cairo, where magic and mysteries abound and danger lurks at every turn. Our protagonist Nahri starts out as a sceptic turned believer who would dapple in the innocent art of tarot cards and fortune-telling till the ill-fated day when she accidentally summons a djinn warrior and her whole life turns upside down. Our heroine is swept into a world full of magic, sorcery, enchantments and spells as the djinn warrior instructs her to travel to the City of Brass called Daevabad where her fate has silently waited for her since the very beginning of her life.
Feathertide by Beth Cartwright
A perfect pick for Erin Morgenstern fans and those of you who love a little bit of magic realism mixed with your fantasy elements, author Beth Cartwright spins a tale of a girl called Marea, who was always different from all the other little girls around. She was thus kept hidden away in the ruins of a house full of secrets and shadows. Covered with the feathers of a bird, the story truly begins when Marea decides that she needs answers and sets off in search of her long-lost father to quench her thirst to know who she really is and why she is the way she is. Marea then stumbles upon the City of Murmurs, which teems with mermaids and magic, mists and mysteries, in what is an absorbing coming-of-age story that is definitely a page-turner.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Fantasy with a hint of West African folklore is what is Roseanne A. Brown’s stellar debut novel. The author writes about a love story that is ill-fated from the very beginning. Fast-paced and compelling from the very first chapter, it tells the story of Malik, a poor refugee, who, in an attempt to save his sister’s life, dupes his way into the palace to kill the Crown Princess of Ziran in exchange. The princess in question, Karina, headstrong and stubborn, has plans of her own as she attempts to take her mother’s place and undo the wrongs that have been committed in her kingdom, which, unfortunately involves murdering Malik at the first chance that she gets. As the two forces clash, each vying for the other’s throat, we get a high-intensity novel with romance, heartbreak, betrayal and magic in what is an unputdownable read.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
This is only the second book by Erin Morgenstern after the phenomenon which was The Night Circus, and it promises to be a good one. Following Erin’s quintessential form of writing where she blends magic, reality and fantasy, the story is about a boy called Zachary Rawlins, who discovers a book hidden in the back shelves of a library. On opening the book, he finds mention of himself and one significant event from his childhood that he had told no one about. This leads him on a hunt for the remaining parts of his story as he follows the three clues imprinted at the back of the book in a search for he knows not what nor where with only a stinging urge to find it all the same.
Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
A modern retelling of a classic fairytale, but with a “grimm” (pun intended) twist. Our story starts when 16-year-old Sophia makes a desperate run from the Annual Ball and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There she runs into Cinderella’s last known descendant, Constance, and the girls pledge then and there to overthrow the tyrannical king. Albeit a strange and quirky take on the famous classic, it is nevertheless interesting to see how Kalynn Bayron turns the typical princess stereotype around and gives the female characters a meatier role to play as they smash through patriarchy-glass slippers, ball gowns and all.