top of page
  • Writer's pictureEmily

A short YA fantasy list

Levine, Gail Carson- Fairest

Levine, Gail Carson- Ella Enchanted

Novik, Naomi- A Deadly Education

Novik, Naomi- The Last Graduate

and coming out in Sept. 2022:

Novik, Naomi- The Golden Enclaves

I don't usually read much YA, but every now and then, it is exactly what I want. I like YA fantasy; I hardly ever feel drawn to a realistic YA without some kind of adventure. (I also don't like realistic coming-of-age stories for adult fiction either, and I really don't know why.)

Anyway, my Big Reading Goal of the year is to read my own shelves. So far, I've read 3 books from my own shelves, and I discarded one of them. The discard was Fairest, which was an old, discarded library copy that was so tattered and worn that it was nearly falling apart. It is one of the fairy tale books by Gail Carson Levine.

If you read Levine's Ella Enchanted and loved all the gnomes, giants, and fairies, you might like Fairest. As Ella was a take on Cinderella, this was a version of Snow White, but Snow, (Aza in this version), is ugly. It's worse for her, because in this country, they are unusually sensitive to beauty. Aza is veryy tall and pale, with really red lips and a wide mouth. She stands out everywhere she goes, and she tries to keep herself hidden away in her parents' inn.

In Ella, the main character has a friend from the Kingdom of Ayortha, where people sing as much as they talk. I have to say, it was so weird to be reading a conversation, and then notice that they're singing the words instead of speaking them. It was fine, I thought, in a side character who just mentioned it was a part of her culture, but it was all through Fairest. But that was a minor thing.

There's not much need for more synopsis. Obviously, she gets to the palace, there's a magic mirror, adventures, setbacks, lots and lots of singing, etc.

It's pretty good. It's a quick read, too. It wasn't nearly as good as Ella Enchanted- but to be fair, I ADORED Ella Enchanted, which I read in a children's literature class in college.

I've already written about how much I liked A Deadly Education, and now I've had a chance to listen to The Last Graduate. El is back in fine form, grousing and grumbling and being pretty awesome. I really liked her relationship with Orion; most YA romances seem completely unrealistic to me, but these two clam up around each other, misunderstand each other, turn red, etc. Even with all the craziness around them (lots and lots of monsters), it is more realistic than two teenagers locking eyes across the gymnasium and falling in love at first sight.

But ANOTHER CLIFFHANGER. WHAT? I think it's as bad as the first one, although I don't think I yelled as loud this time. Maybe I'm developing a tolerance?

I won't say what the cliffhanger is, but when El begins her senior year in the Scholomance, it seems like the school has it in for her. She and her friends try to work out what is going on, and her alliance grows. There's not a good way to summarize this without a ton of spoilers, but if you liked the first one, you'll like this one.

I can hardly wait for the third and last book. (Thank goodness this is a trilogy, I couldn't take many more of these cliffhangers. The third one had better have a tidy, happy ending!) The last book is called The Golden Enclaves, and it's available for pre-order. I thought about getting first in line for a library copy, but I think I ought to let the kids have first crack at it, and I'll make myself wait. If no one has a hold on it a week out from publication, maybe I'll snatch it and read it really fast.

I may try to get an e-galley of it, but I need to wait, because I'm afraid the spoilers will burn my mouth if I have to hold them in for too long.

The synopsis on has NOTHING about The Thing that happened at the end of book 2, FYI.

Wondering if I'm overly invested in this YA series....

Please leave a comment if you read any of these books and loved them. I know that Naomi Novik has also written some popular books that look fairy-tale-ish, so I'd like any opinions about those please!


Some links are affiliate links to If you haven't shopped there, you should check them out. They support independent bookstores.

1 view0 comments


bottom of page