By Kelly Stone, Lucy Lillystone and Ellie Brady
On 23 April, Shadow and Bone, the latest Young Adult book-to-television adaptation, took Netflix by storm. Viewers became captivated by Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, a world that combines the story of her original Shadow and Bone trilogy and the beloved characters of her spin-off duology, Six of Crows. Viewers quickly brought the show to a #1 ranking on Netflix worldwide. After eight action-packed episodes, many were left wondering… what now? While we wait for the next series, we’ve put together a list of some book recommendations that will help sate Grishaverse fans’ appetite for adventure, magic, romance and, of course, a little debauchery.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
The land of Arawiya is struggling as a magical darkness called the Arz consumes the area with dangerous shadows. Renowned hunter Zafira sets out on a journey to restore magic and balance to the land, but her quest is filled with treacherous obstacles. When she crosses paths with Nasir, the Prince of Death who is notorious for his role as his father’s ruthless assassin, the unlikely pair head on a collision course towards secrets about the fate of their world. Faizal masters writing exquisite details and swoon-worthy pining by seamlessly blending epic fantasy with authentic relationships and characters. Filled to the brim with morally grey characters, sassy banter and lush worldbuilding, We Hunt the Flame is the first in a YA fantasy duology that will leave readers mesmerised.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
If, like me, you’re looking for a juicy YA fantasy series to sink your teeth into after binging Shadow and Bone, look no further than Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series. The Cruel Prince, the first of the three books, has the perfect amount of drama, action and surprises alongside evil characters that will fill the gaping Grishaverse hole in your heart. Opening with the brutal murder of her parents, the central protagonist, Jude, is whisked away by the murderer to live in Faerie. Now, ten years later, Jude is trying to live among the fae with the ever-present reminder of her mortal, human status. It’s definitely not an easy life to adjust to, as she finds herself amongst bloodthirsty fae royals fighting for the crown.
The Cruel Prince is a must-read primarily because of Holly Black’s incredible writing. Through her descriptions, she successfully immerses and captivates the reader in Jude’s world, making you believe in magic in the process. The characters also define this book. Not a single character is likeable, each with their own complexities and flaws; nobody can be trusted, successfully keeping you guessing at what is going to happen next. Drawing on familiar tropes of the genre, Black adds her own spin on fantasy, offering a world of dark and delightfully wicked magic. The Cruel Prince is the perfect book for all fantasy lovers.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone is a West African-inspired fantasy set in Orïsha, a treacherous world imbued with serious magic. It centres on Zélie, a young woman who has lost everything in King Saran’s genocide that banished magic and stripped away families. All the classic tropes of YA fantasy are hidden in this fantastic text – from lightning-fast action and adventure to battles of good vs. evil and magic vs. suppression – with profound commentary on racism and prejudice layered within its rapturous story. Through her novel, Adeyemi asks us to recognise the systemic racism of our own dangerous world inside the microcosm of Orïsha, using alternative points of view and textual hierarchies to spin her narrative in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy. This acclaimed fantasy – which will also be hitting screens in partnership with Lucasfilm and Disney – is rich in story, characters and worldbuilding alike, and is sure to satisfy any fantasy fan looking for another memorable tale.
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
The first in an epic YA fantasy trilogy that spans generations, Furyborn introduces readers to the two distinctly headstrong female leads of Rielle and Eliana, whose stories are set a thousand years apart in a world of elemental magic. Much like Alina in Shadow and Bone, Rielle has extraordinary powers like no other before her. Her society is fearful of a prophecy that claims two queens will rise to save and destroy their kingdom. Now Rielle must prove to the royals that she is the Sun Queen rather than their ruination. In the distant future, Eliana lives in a very different version of this world, one that has been wrecked by the Blood Queen’s ambitions. She has become a bounty hunter set on protecting those she loves by whatever means necessary. This series combines their adventures for a sprawling story of magic and time, anti-heroes and villains and lightness and darkness.