As much as I enjoy YA, when it comes to SFF I’m much more of an adult fantasy fan than a YA fantasy fan, but I can understand why some readers find it intimidating. A lot of adult fantasy books are absolute beasts; the 2019 release The Priory of the Orange Tree is over 800 pages long, and the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series could be used as a murder weapon.
Some adult fantasy has a lot of info-dumping going on, too, which is no fun to read if you just want to get to the plot.
So today I thought I’d share my love for adult fantasy by recommending three books that I’ve paired with a YA novel!
If you enjoyed The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, try Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
In many ways these books are very different. The Cruel Prince is a contemporary fantasy whereas Rosemary and Rue is an urban fantasy, and while one follows a human girl trying to survive in the land of Faerie the other features a changeling trying to straddle the human world and the fae world. But they’re similar in a lot of ways, too. Both of these books have amazing world-building, particularly when it comes to the lands the fae inhabit, and both feature heroines trying to make it as knights in a world that doesn’t quite accept them and fae royalty with particularly cat-like tendencies…
If you enjoyed Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, try Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
This might seem like an unusual recommendation considering I didn’t enjoy Red Sister as much as I wanted to – in fact I only gave it 2 stars – but I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Grey Sister and enjoying it so much more. Both of these books feature assassin nuns – and who doesn’t want to read a book with assassin nuns? – and while LaFevers’ books are more romance-heavy than Lawrence’s, they both star a variety of well-written women whose courage and intelligence shows itself in various ways. Lawrence is a grimdark writer, so be prepared for that if you’re not usually a fan of grimdark, but even though I wasn’t a fan of his pacing in Red Sister, his character work is excellent. I highly recommend the audiobooks narrated by Helen Duff!
If you enjoyed The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, try Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett
Miranda in Milan is a novella, so it’s a brilliant introduction to adult fantasy if you are someone who prefers YA. It’s also historical fantasy set in Milan, a novella that presents itself as a much-needed sequel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, featuring an f/f romance. The Brilliant Death, on the other hand, is Italian-inspired fantasy that also features a queer romance. I loved both of these books, but Miranda in Milan in particular was a 5 star read for me. If you enjoy Italian or Italian-inspired settings, magic, court intrigue and queer women, you need to read these books, and if you enjoyed The Brilliant Death I think you’d love Miranda in Milan!