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Updated by Jen Blair on Dec 05, 2023
Headline for Winter Break 2022 - End of Year - Best Fantasy
Jen Blair Jen Blair
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Winter Break 2022 - End of Year - Best Fantasy

Still my favorite genre. The world is crazy right now, why wouldn’t I want to escape to a world with magic and super powers?

Bloodmarked (Legendborn, #2) by Tracy Deonn

Bloodmarked - Tracy Deonn

Watch how Deonn remixes Authurian legend to weave in themes of grief, loyalty, power, and magic while grappling with this country’s history of racism and hate. AND there is a believable love triangle. AND one of the greatest female protagonists in YA lit. AND Alice. I love Alice. I am here for Alice.

From the publisher:
Grades 8 and up.
When the leaders of the Order reveal that they will do everything in their power to keep the approaching demon war a secret, Bree and her friends go on the run so she can learn how to control her devastating new powers.

Cursed (Gilded, #2) by Marissa Meyer | Goodreads

Cursed - Marissa Meyer

The sequel to Gilded and a retelling of Rapunzel.. Serilda and Gild are fighting tooth and nail to keep each other safe, as well as their unborn child. I was holding my breath until the last page. So. Much. Evil.

From the publisher:
Grades 8 and up.
When the true intentions of the Erlking are revealed, which could forever alter the mortal realm, Serilda and Gild must foil the Erlking's evil agenda by solving the mystery of Gild's forgotten name in order to protect their unborn child.

Defend the Dawn (Defy the Night, #2) by Brigid Kemmerer | Goodreads

Defend the Dawn - Brigid Kemmerer

Sequel to Defy the Night. Royal intrigue (my fave), sea voyages, battles (large and small), moral quandaries, vivid secondary characters (I love you, Violet), the all important KISSING (and almost kissing) scenes, PLUS one of the best ending lines of all time.

From the publisher:
Grades 8 and up.
The kingdom of Kandala narrowly avoided catastrophe, yet the embers of revolution still simmer, and as Tessa and Prince Corrick attempt to foster unity between rebels and royals while mending their own fractured relationship, danger strikes, and no one is who they claimed to be.

The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford

The Poison Season - Mara Rutherford

Family secrets that have the power to destroy an entire community. And a romance that will bring it all to a head. Yes, please.

From the publisher:
Grades 8 and up.
Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they're never heard from again.

When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she's supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.

Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake--and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself.

Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine | Goodreads

Rise of the Vicious Princess - C.J. Redwine

Sea monsters, sword fights, war, glittering ballrooms, court intrigue, slow-burn romance…honestly, this book truly has everything. And yes, I have a HUGE crush on Tal. Huge.

From the publisher:
Grades 7 and up.
Princess Charis Willowthorn is the dutiful sword of Calera. Raised to be ruthless and cunning, her only goal is to hold her war-torn kingdom together long enough to find a path toward peace with their ancient foe Montevallo. By day, she is Calera's formidable princess intent on forging an alliance with Montevallo. By night, she disguises herself as a smuggler and roams the sea with a trusted group of loyalists, hunting for their new enemies. And through it all, she accidentally falls in love with the wrong boy.

Saint (Fable, #0) by Adrienne Young | Goodreads

Saint - Adrienne Young

NOW we get the extra treat of reading Fable’s dad’s origin story? Be still my heart. I couldn’t read Saint fast enough. And now I just want to read all of The Narrows books over again to see what nuances I missed the first time.

From the publisher:
Grades 7 and up.
After years of escaping deadly storms and gaining the reputation of being the luckiest to sail the Narrows, Elias's luck may have run out when he crosses paths with a young dredger from the Unnamed Sea, who tests his faith like never before.

Seasparrow (Graceling Realm, #5) by Kristin Cashore

Seasparrow - Kristin Cashore

Because each book in the Graceling series somehow gets better than the last? I don't know how Cashore does it. This story centers on Hava, who is fierce, loyal, conflicted, strong, moral and uncertain. I love her. And all the foxes. And the entire crew of the Monsea. I never wanted this book to end.

From the publisher:
Grades 9 and up.
Hava sails across the sea toward Monsea with her sister, the royal entourage, and the world's only copies of the formulas for the zilfium weapon she saved at the end of Winterkeep. During the crossing, Hava makes an unexpected discovery about one of the ship's crew, but before she can unravel the mystery, storms drive their ship off course, wrecking them in the ice far north of the Royal Continent. The survivors must endure a harrowing trek across the ice to make it back to Monsea. And while Queen Bitterblue grapples with how to carry the responsibility of a weapon that will change the world, Hava has a few more mysteries to solve--and a decision to make about who she wants to be in the new world Bitterblue will build.

A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass | Goodreads

A Thousand Heartbeats - Kiera Cass

All the things you expect from a Kiera Cass book: delicious romance, royal intrigue, action-driven narrative. But, let’s face it, we are all her for Annika, a fierce, kind, intelligent and WORTHY leader. No wonder her entire county unites behind her. And of course, Lennox is just as honorable and capable, but we all love him more when he defers to Annika and her decisions.

From the publisher:
Grades 7 and up.
Soon to be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain, Princess Annika of Kadier finds unexpected love against all odds in the arms of the enemy--a Dahrainian soldier determined to reclaim the throne for his people.