THE GOLDEN COMPASS By Phillip Pullman
Description: Lyra is on a mission to the frigid, distant North, where armored bears and witch clans reign supreme. Where children, including her dear friend Roger, are snatched by the Gobblers. Meanwhile, her uncle, the fearsome Asriel, seeks to construct a bridge to a parallel world. Can Lyra make a difference in such perilous undertakings? She’s a schemer, and a liar, yet she’s also valiant. What Lyra doesn’t realize is by assisting one of them, she will betray the other.
Why Read It? The fantasy fiction author of books like The Golden Compass (The Northern Lights) is an essential read for kids. His books are classics of modern literature, known for their masterful, descriptive prose.
GUARDS! GUARDS! By Terry Pratchett
Description: In the greatest city of Discworld, a remarkable specimen of draco nobilis, or “noble dragon,” has resurfaced after being believed to be extinct. However, this unwelcome visitor has a nasty habit of burning everything in its path and, before long, is declared the king of the city. But how did it arrive there? Can the Ankh-Morpork City Watch restore order and reinstate the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork to power?
Why Read It? He was a prolific English author of the popular Discworld series and a friend of Neil Gaiman. A master of short stories. Pratchett’s books are frantic, intelligent comedies.
AN UNKINDNESS OF MAGICIANS By Kat Howard
Description: In New York City, magic reigns supreme, yet its power is dwindling. No one can explain what is occurring, except for Sydney, a new and powerful magician unlike any seen in decades. She may be the only one capable of halting the encroaching darkness. However, Sydney isn’t interested in upholding the system; she wants to dismantle it altogether. Will Sydney’s formidable abilities be enough to challenge the status quo and bring about much-needed change? Follow Sydney’s journey as she decides the fate of magic in New York City.
Why Read It? This author focuses on speculative fiction, and her first book was a Locus Award finalist. She has gothic themes in her world-building.
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE By Diana Wynne Jones
Description: Sophie accidentally incurs the wrath of the Witch of the Waste, and finds herself transformed into an old woman. The only hope of breaking the spell is to reach the ever-moving castle in the hills, belonging to the infamous Wizard Howl. To unravel the enchantment, Sophie must navigate Howl’s icy heart, strike a deal with a fire demon, and confront the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s more to Howl and herself than meets the eye.
Why Read It? The author of Dogsbody, Howl’s Moving Castle, and The Chronicles Of Chrestomanci. She was a master of magical books for children.
ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY By Charlie Jane Anders
Description: This genre-blending novel combines elements of science fiction and fantasy to tell the story of Patricia, a witch, and Laurence, a brilliant scientist, who become friends as outcasts in their childhood. As they grow up and the world edges closer to a catastrophic event, their paths diverge, and they must confront their own roles in the impending crisis.
Why Read It? The author of books like All The Birds In The Sky has exciting sci-fi and fantasy elements. Her books have excellent characterization.
THE FIFTH SEASON By N.K Jemisin
Description: The first book in the “Broken Earth” trilogy, set in a world called the Stillness, which experiences catastrophic climate events known as Seasons. The story follows three women with the power to control the earth, called orogenes, as they navigate a society that fears and exploits their abilities. The novel tackles themes such as oppression, survival, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Why Read It? A brilliant fantasy and science fiction writer. She’s the first African American author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three or more times.
THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER By Theodora Goss
Description: Set in Victorian London, the novel follows Mary Jekyll, the daughter of Dr. Jekyll, as she unearths her father’s secret past and forms an alliance with other women who are the results of various mad scientific experiments. These women include Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. Together, they work to solve a series of gruesome murders and unravel the mystery of their origins.
Why Read It? Goss’s books are fantastic explorations of fairy tales and mythology, with an array of beautifully crafted characters.
GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Description: A historical fantasy novel set in a whirlwind tour of 1920s Mexico, following the journey of a young woman, Casiopea Tun, and the Mayan death god Hun-Kamé as they embark on a quest to reclaim the god’s stolen throne. The novel combines elements of Mayan mythology with the Jazz Age, creating a unique and captivating story rich with lyrical prose.
Why Read It? The author of books like Certain Dark Things and Gods Of Jade And Shadow, she’s an excellent writer. She uses fantasy to examine social structures.
tHE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON By Kelly Barnhill
Description: This captivating novel follows the intertwined stories of Xan, a kind-hearted witch; Luna, a magical girl raised by Xan; Glerk, a swamp monster; and Fyrian, a tiny dragon. The story is set in a world where a town sacrifices a baby to the witch in the forest every year. However, the witch Xan is baffled by the tradition and rescues the babies, finding them new homes. One year, she accidentally feeds a baby moonlight, filling her with powerful magic.
Why Read It? An author of books like The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Witch’s Boy, her books are excellent explorations of human life.
tHE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY By Alix E. Harrow
Description: Set in the early 1900s, this enchanting novel tells the story of January Scaller, a young girl who discovers a magical book that leads her on a journey through mystical doorways to other worlds. As January uncovers the truth about her past and the magical doors, she must decide whether to embrace her destiny or remain in the world she knows.
Why Read It? A talented author whose debut novel and short fiction are masterpieces! Her books have complex characters.
tHE JUMBIES By Tracey Baptiste
Description: This is the first book in the Jumbies series, which introduces readers to Caribbean folklore and the mythical creatures known as jumbies. The story follows a brave young girl named Corinne La Mer, who must protect her island home from the jumbie Severine, a powerful and malevolent creature determined to claim the island for her own. This middle-grade novel is known for its rich world-building, engaging characters, and fast-paced, adventurous plot.
Why Read It? This writer is known for books like The Jumbies, about Caribbean folklore through a child’s eyes to bring out its beauty.
THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE By Joan Aiken
Description: This is the first book in the “Wolves Chronicles” series, set in an alternate version of 19th-century England where packs of wolves roam the countryside. The story follows cousins Bonnie and Sylvia as they navigate through hardships and adventures after being left in the care of a sinister governess.
Why Read It? This author is known for books like The Whispering Mountain, for which she won the prestigious Guardian Prize for Fiction.
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY By Douglas Adams
Description: Arthur Dent is in for the shock of his life when he learns that the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a galactic freeway. Just in the nick of time, his friend Ford Prefect, who has been posing as an unemployed actor for fifteen years while secretly researching for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, whisks him away from the planet. As they embark on an epic journey through space, the duo is joined by a colorful cast of characters. Through their adventures, the group grapples with life’s biggest questions.
Why Read It? One of the most influential authors in comic scifi, with books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy under his belt. He inspired the writers of The Expanse, among many other people.
MOONHEART By Charles de Lint
Description: This standalone novel is set in the mythical city of Newford and follows the adventures of Sara Kendall and Kieran Foy as they become entwined in a centuries-old battle between supernatural forces. The story blends elements of Celtic mythology, Native American folklore, and urban fantasy, creating a rich and immersive world. Moonheart has been praised for its engaging characters, lush prose, and intricate world-building.
Why Read It? An author of books like Memory and Dream, he’s an excellent writer influenced by folklore and modern fantasy books. His books are quirky and wonderful.
SLAUGHTERHOUSE-5 By Kurt Vonnegut
Description: In this modern classic by a master storyteller, we follow the journey of Billy Pilgrim, son of an American barber, who served as a chaplain’s assistant during World War II. Despite being captured by the Germans and surviving the largest massacre in European history, the fire bombing of Dresden, Billy manages to build a successful career as an optometrist after the war. However, on the night of his wedding, he is abducted by a flying saucer from the planet Tralfamadore, which sets the stage for a mind-bending adventure.
Why Read It? A master of satire and biting prose. His bestsellers have deep themes and literary mastery, hidden within the simple language.