Listen, there is nothing more I love than diving into a good fantasy series. I love plunging all the way in and barely coming up for air until I’m done.
But what happens when you are really craving a fantasy read but DON’T want to commit to or start a new series (because, if you are anything like me, you have a million unfinished series hanging in the balance)?
I’ll be honest, in a world chock full of series after series, it is SO hard to find good YA fantasy books that aren’t a series and so often that’s exactly what I’m looking for — a good YA standalone fantasy book that will still give me the absorbing fantasy world I want to dive into!
I bet I’m not the only one looking for YA fantasy reads not part of a series so I decided to go through all the ones I’ve loved and recommend (along with some on my own TBR list that I’ve heard good things about from trusted reading buddies) to share with you all.
So let’s get to these standalone fantasies both new and older!
I can’t guarantee that you aren’t going to wish for a sequel for some of these despite them being satisfying standalones. I absolutely wanted more from some of these characters and worlds because I ended up loving them so much despite being ultimately satisfied for a complete story — a testament to how good these were.
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Best Standalone YA Fantasy Books To Read
The caveat to this list is, at the time of this writing, these series were confirmed standalones or wrapped up as a standalone and no news of a sequel is on the horizon. I say this because sometimes surprise sequels pop up on books that were seemingly standing alone as well as companion books (that still technically make the book standalone but do further the world or a side character’s story).
A Little Tip…
Illustions of Fate by Kiersten White
At A Glance: young adult, historical fantasy, alternate Victorian England, humor, under 300 pages
One of my favorite YA standalone fantasy books with a great romance full of banter! It takes place in a alternate Victorian England feeling place called Albion and have Downton Abbey vibes but with magic — a magic that only the nobility have and know about.
It’s definitely on the lighter side in both vibe and lighter on the magic/magical world aspect and it’s humorous!
The main character, Jessamin, has moved to Albion and is an outcast but she ends up befriending a wealthy lord and gets sucked into his world and secrets only to be stuck in the middle of a dangerous situation involving another member of nobility who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
At A Glance: young adult, mythology-inspired fantasy, urban fantasy, New York City
I could not put down this one AT ALL — super page-turning and fun spin on Greek mythology. Let’s say Greek mythology meets The Hunger Games/The Purge.
Seriously couldn’t stop turning the pages as these ancient bloodlines converge in modern-day NYC, every 7 years, to fight for immortality by trying to kill the gods who are forced to walk the earth as mortals that day as punishment.
Lore is a great, strong heroine who been living in hiding, after a traumatic event happens 7 years ago at the last hunt at the hands of a rival bloodline, until someone from her past finds her and she’s sucked back in for what she hopes will be one final hunt.
While you have to be a little patient to get through the initial dump of world-building (which I get because it’s only 1 book and not a series), it really paid off and there was such a depth to this book that I didn’t expect.
Currently included on Kindle Unlimited as of 10/2.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
At A Glance: books, magical library, sorcerers, demons, dark magic, slow burn romance, ya enemies to lovers, monsters
An absolutely magical read! It’s about an apprentice at a magical library, filled with magical grimoires that can be turned into dangerous monsters, save her kingdom after she is wrongfully implicated in someone setting loose one of the most dangerous grimoires in the library’s collection and gets entangled in a centuries old conspiracy. Full of sorcerers, magical libraries and grimoires, demons and dark magic!
A great slow-burn, semi enemies to lovers romance with plenty of banter and tension while we watch Elizabeth work with Nathanial (a sorcerer who she sees as an enemy because of all she’s been taught about sorcerers).
If you love settings that feel almost like their own character (a la Hogwarts), this is one that I felt completely dropped into.
To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
At A Glance: The Little Mermaid retelling, sirens, fairytale, pirate YA fantasy
An enchantingly dark & brutal re-imagining of The Little Mermaid filled with vicious prince-killing sirens, a prince who hunt sirens, pirates & more — like a wicked Sea Queen.
It’s about a vicious Princess who is punished by her Sea Queen mother and sent to live as one of the humans she loathes so much, without her Siren song, and told she’ll remain a human unless she can deliver Prince Elian’s heart by winter solstice.
Strong world-building, fantastic morally grey character, and Six of Crows vibes — highly recommend!
Currently included on Kindle Unlimited as of 10/2.
Summers At Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
At A Glance: cozy YA fantasy, coming of age, court/royal life, political intrigue, super slow burn (light) romance
One of my favorite YA fantasy standalones and books in general. It’s a bit older, and I know the cover isn’t flashy, but OH MY HEART.
It’s a wonderful coming of age story about a girl, an apprentice healer and illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, who every summer leaves her small village and spend the summer at Castle Auburn with her uncle and half-sister — a place that has always been so magical to her until slowly she starts to see things for how they really are as she comes of age.
It’s more of a coming of age story than anything and feels very old school YA family but it is FANTASTIC to get lost in if you are looking for something on the cozier fantasy side rather than anything dark and brutal.
The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros
At A Glance: YA historical fantasy, murder mystery, 1893 Chicago World Fair, Jewish folklore, LGBTQ
If historical fantasy is your thing, this Jewish folklore-inspired historical fantasy standalone is one that is under the radar and worthy of checking out!
It’s about a 17 year old Jewish immigrant who has been working hard to scrounge up enough money to get his mother and sister’s to America from Romania.
He finds himself pulled into a murder mystery though when several Jewish teenage boys are found dead during the Chicago World Fair — including his roommate and best friend.
As if a dangerous hunt for a serial killer wasn’t dangerous enough, he is possessed with his friend’s dybbuk (a disembodied spirit looking for a body in Jewish folklore) and must work together with a dangerous boy from his past to find the serial killer and his own life.
Aden Polydoros also has a new YA fantasy standalone out this month (10/23) called Wrath Becomes Her that I am eager to read!
The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh
At A Glance: Korean mythology, fairytale vibes, underwater world, romance
Like your fantasy to be whimsically fairytale-like and a dash of Studio Ghibli? Check out this newer YA fantasy standalone book!
It’s about a girl named Mina who has lived in a place where deadly storms have just ravaged the area for generations and the people, believing that the Sea God has cursed them, have offered up a maiden to the sea every year in hopes the Sea God will end the suffering if they eventually appease him with his “true bride.”
This year the bride chosen is the beloved of Mina’s brother and Mina ends up sacrificing herself to prevent her brother’s interference to save his beloved from becoming a death sentence for him.
Whisked off to the Spirit Realm underwater, a place humans can only live in for a short time, and finds the Sea God in an enchanted sleep.
She sets out, with the help of a mysterious man, to wake up the Sea God in hopes of finally ending the suffering her people have endured.
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
At A Glance: dark fantasy fairytale, zombies/undead, Welsh mythology, grief
A perfect Fall read, honestly! If you like your fantasy with some horror elements, this one is for you. Super atmospheric!
Ever since the death of her parents, Ryn has cared about protecting her family and her family’s graveyard but things have been pretty dire since then.
But the dead don’t always stay dead and now they have been leaving the forest and hurting villagers so Ryn has really tried to keep these “bone houses” at bay.
But the bone houses start attacking even more with the arrival of a mysterious mapmaker (with lots of questions) and Ryn, with the prospect of making money to keep her family afloat, she embarks on a journey with him as a guide into the mountains find out answers and maybe even find out how to break the curse of the bone houses.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
At A Glance: killer sea horses, set in the Fall, vivid seaside/island setting, dangerous horse-racing/competition, character driven at its heart
If you love a book that has a palpable and atmospheric setting, open up this book and settle yourself on the island of Thisby in Fall where you can feel the crisp air, smell the salty water, hear the hooves pounding and feel the danger (and sorrow because of their presence) of the blood-thirsty water horses coming to land.
On the island of Thisby the main attraction is The Scorpio Races — a deadly race where, when the water horses emerge from the sea every year, riders try to survive and win the race for a huge prize on these deadly horses.
Everybody on Thisby has either lost someone to the horses or to the urge to leave Thisby for the mainland and our two main characters have definitely experienced both.
Puck is racing, as the first woman to race, with her trusty island horse to win the money (rather than a water horse) and keep her brother with her on Thisby and save their house. Sean in an experienced ride with many wins under his belt.
The stakes are high as both riders prepare for the race and eventually try to survive and win.
Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross
At A Glance: dark magic, curse that brights nightmares to life, magician, revenge
Another really underrated one from an author who is quickly becoming a favorite fantasy author for me!
The world is really interesting — a dark magic/curse, every full moon, brings nightmares to life in Azenor.
It is the job of wardens (magicians) — like the main character Clementine — to use their magic to protect people from the threat of these nightmares coming to life. One of those jobs is, before the full moon, recording the nightmares of the people to prepare.
When Clementine is just ready to come into her role as the warden of her small town, two magicians challenge her making her lose her position and Clementine is hell-bent on revenge.
But when her revenge plan draws her into a century-old conflict she must team up with her rival magician to break the curse plaguing the realm.
The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska
At A Glance: wintry snow-covered setting, Polish inspired, witches, sapphic ya enemies to lovers, morally grey characters, cat and mouse shenanigans
This one is so awesome if you are more interested in more villainous or morally grey characters! I had fun watching these two rivals in a cat and mouse game and the world was a VIBE.
It’s about two two girls-who-transform-into-monsters, who have been rivals their whole life, who now secretly are competing for the heart of the same prince in order to kill him and steal his heart for their masters (witches).
But while competing and trying to one up the other for the same prince, the two discover they might be falling for one another.
Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft
At A Glance: fantasy with gothic mystery vibes, enemies to lovers romance, political intrigue, war torn countries
Wren Southerland, a powerful healer, has been suspended from the Queen’s Guard after another reckless use of magic.
Hoping to redeem herself, she jumps at the chance respond to a letter from a reclusive lord to come to his estate and cure his servant from a mysterious illness.
When she arrives to the chilly crumbling mansion, she finds out that her patient is not in fact a servant but Hal Cavendish — the sworn enemy to her kingdom — and absolutely nothing is as it seems. Oh and she’s trapped there now.
Secrets abound and the two must work together, not only to find the truth and cure behind the mysterious illness, but also to survive the monsters within the mansion and deal with a sinister plot that could destroy both of their kingdoms.
A good wintry read too!
New & Upcoming YA Fantasy Standalone Books
As of now all of these are planned standalones! We shall see but definitely if you are looking for some newer YA fantasy standalones for 2023 and 2024 — check these out!
A Study In Drowning by Ava Reid
Out September 2023
At A Glance: dark academia fantasy, gothic mystery, academic rivals to lovers, fairys and fairy folklore
Set in a fantasy world inspired by 20th-century Wales, it’s about a girl who has been plagued by visions /hallucinations of the Fairy King since childhood.
She now is the only woman architecture student at her college and finds solace in the pages of her favorite author’s epic about a cruel fairy king and the mortal woman who is his downfall.
When she’s selected for a contest to redesign the late author’s estate, she gets to work on the crumbling mansion — a challenge because of its state and the irritating presence of another academic there who has his own hidden motives.
Strange things begin to happen and her nightmares intensify which leads her on a winding mystery with her academic rival to unravel the truth of the author, this manor and the horrible visions that have plagued her.
A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft
Out January 23, 2024
At A Glance: romantic fantasy, Regency England-inspired fantasy world, royal ball, magical dressmaker, Bridgerton but make it magical and whimsical
A magical dressmaker is commissioned for a royal wedding (one of a political maneuvering nature) and finds herself right in the middle of a scandal when a gossip columnist puts the chemistry between her and the groom as front page news and won’t stop until she promises to help uncover the royal family’s secret.
Kindling by Traci Chee
Out March 5, 2024
At A Glance: war-ravaged fantasy world, magic-wielding teen soldiers/warriors, outlawed magic, found family
Kindlings — elite magic-wielding warriors with power that comes at a great cost to their own lives — were once how war was fought.
Now the war is over and the magic of the kindlings has been outlawed and are now left adrift with a lost sense of purpose and identity.
Seven kindlings come together when a small countryside village, a place that violence still plagues, is under attack and they decide to fight together one last time while also facing their pasts and shared trauma to make it out alive and have hope for a future.
The Hedgewitch of Fox Hall by Anna Bright
Out March 12, 2024
At A Glance: historical fantasy romance, mythical medieval Wales, witches, political intrigue, magic
A witch gets pulled into a competition between two brothers/princes who are vying for the throne succeeding in a quest to restore magic.
Ffion is a rebellious witch, the last hedgewitch in Foxhall, and a witch who refuses to take too much from nature for her spells unlike the rest of the powerful witches in her coven.
But magic is fading and two princes have been tasked with destroying an earth wall that is believed to be what is causing magic to disappear — the prince who succeeds gets the throne.
He begrudgingly, because he would love nothing more than to watch magic die, tries to seek help from a witch and the only one who will help is a spitfire witch who hates him.
As the two brothers vie for the throne via this quest, they also both find themselves vying for her heart.
What standalone fantasy novels are your favorites that you’d recommend for people looking for fantasy that’s not part of a series! Love any from my list?