3 Fantasy Books To Read When Transitioning From YA to Adult

Every once in a while on social media, be that TikTok or Twitter etc., someone makes a demeaning comment about YA readers. Targeting older readers of YA for still reading YA, not calling them real readers since they don’t read classics or adult books. One of the things that I have found frustrating with these videos is that big grand statements are made but there is no follow up of recomendations to give to people. They shame readers and then move on. I thought it would be a good idea to promote some fantasy books that bridge that gap between YA fantasy and adult fantasy.

I personally beleive anyone can read YA as long as they understand they are not the target audience and there will be certain things that will or won’t be included due to the age group (13-17). For more adult content we need to start looking outside of YA and into the adult genre.

Caraval Trilogy – Stephanie Garber

Plot for Book 1: Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Contrary to popular belief, the Caraval trilogy is actually an adult series. (Well it is in my bookshop) I always recommend this book to people as it has a strong YA feel while still feeling adult. Sometimes I will pick up a book and know instantly by the writing that it’s YA and if you like that kind of style Caraval leans into that. I think this book more fits in the new adult genre that sadly never took off 😦

This is a great series for those who love enemies to lovers, magical lands, strong sister relationships and the feel of being whisked away from your real-life troubles. I lost myself in this series and I feel that this fits perfectly between YA and adult.

The Winternight Trilogy – Katherine Arden

Plot for Book 1: At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

For those who love historical fiction and russian folklore this one is for you! Another trilogy that I felt had really acessible writing. The main female character is one of my all-time faves, I love her so much. This series is packed tight with folklore and mythology but without feeling over complicated or dense like some other adult fantasy books do. I found that while I went in for the fantasy elements I actually stayed for the historical elements.

Note: the first book isn’t super fantasy heavy but the other 2 are.

Also, I think readers will really enjoy the complicated slow-burn romance in this series it was one that had me cheering.

Circe – Madeline Miller

Plot: In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child – not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power – the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Now this book is more on the adult side of this bridge. While I felt the other two books were closer to the YA side this book is different. It covers a lot of mature themes from SA to abandoment etc. But also the writing is a lot older and feels a lot more like literary fiction. I think the word choices and the way it is written would be a good step into getting a feel for some kinds of adult books not just fantasy books.

The story is so powerful and packed with some of your favourite greek myths but it’s also a story of survival, acceptance and coming into ones own power with an amazing female character.

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