Mary Pearson’s Picks: YA Thrilling Fantasy and Romance

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Mary E. Pearson returns to her Remnant Chronicles universe in Dance of Thieves—a young adult novel that follows a thief named Kazi who is sent on a mission by the queen of Venda to hunt down a war criminal. Along the way, Kazi comes face to face with Jase, the ruler of the Ballenger empire. To celebrate the release of Dance of Thieves, Pearson put together a list of book recommendations perfect for YA readers craving both thrilling fantasy and heartstopping romance.

 

Grave Mercy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy is the first book in a trilogy about assassin nuns! I really don’t need to say more, but I will because this trilogy is one of my favorites. Each book tells the story of a different nun who is trained at the convent of St. Mortain—the god of Death—and they each have their own unique talents. LaFevers is an amazing storyteller who weaves a complex fantasy with historical fiction, sexual discovery, romance, and lots of twists. I loved the world LaFevers created and she has a spinoff coming in February titled Courting Darkness.

The Wrath & The Dawn (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers) by Renée Ahdieh

This is the first book of a duology that’s a twist on Arabian Nights. Shazi tells a story to the murderous Caliph every night, stopping just before dawn before the story is finished. Unlike the original, however, her motive is not to save her own life but to exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her friend. As she tells her story, she learns the Caliph’s dark unexpected secrets which change the stakes of the game. Ahdieh’s prose is lush and beautiful, the descriptions of Shazi’s world are perfectly sumptuous, and the romance is sizzling. This book has it all!

Daughter of the Pirate King (Feiwel & Friends) by Tricia Levenseller

This one hits all my sweet spots: a fierce unapologetic female pirate, a strong sisterhood, a covert mission, slow-burning romance, non-stop action, and dry, witty dialogue that made me grin, snort, and laugh out loud. Alosa is an irreverent captain of a pirate ship in search of a treasure map. To find it, she allows herself to be captured by enemy pirates—the only hitch in her plan is the enemy pirate Riden who is assigned to watch over her. He’s smarter than the rest of his crew, not to mention he’s far more attractive.

Caraval (Flatiron Books) by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett receives an invitation to an event she has dreamed about her entire life: Caraval, an annual show on a faraway mysterious island where guests are part of the performance. Sadly, she must decline because of her impending marriage. Tella, her adventurous sister, encourages her to go anyway, and they escape with the help of a handsome sailor. But as soon as they arrive on the island, Tella disappears, and suddenly Scarlett finds she’s entangled in a game of deception, romance, and high stakes. Garber has created a magical, suspenseful world where nothing is ever what it seems.

 

An Ember In The Ashes (Razorbill) by Sabaa Tahir

This first book in this planned quartet is told in two viewpoints. Laia is part of the enslaved class of scholars that live under an oppressive regime. Opposition of any kind is met with death. Elias is a soldier of that regime, but he secretly wants to be free of its cruelty. When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, she embarks on a dangerous journey to save him—and then her life intersects with Elias’. Tahir has woven an amazing and gripping story of a brutal world where the reader is never sure of the outcome—or the romance.

Sky in the Deep (Wednesday Books) by Adrienne Young

This is a Viking story that hooked me from the first page. Eelyn thinks her brother is dead, but then she encounters him five years later fighting with an enemy clan. Her world is turned upside down by his betrayal, even as she finds herself growing closer to the enemy warrior who nearly killed her in battle. Eelyn is a loyal fierce warrior in the truest sense—Young doesn’t hold back on showing the brutal realities of Eelyn’s life—but she is also a fully dimensional young woman struggling with the truths of her world and her desires.

Black Wings Beating (Farrar Straus Giroux) by Alex London

This one won’t be out until September, but I’ve just dipped in and can’t wait to read the rest! I was hooked at the word “falconry.” Uztar is a place where birds of prey are revered. Brysen wants to be a falconer, but his twin sister Kylee wants no part of this legacy. However, war is looming so the siblings leave to capture the Ghost Eagle, a great bird of prey who might be able to help them save their homeland. Brysen hopes this quest will fulfill his dream of being a great falconer, while Kylee goes to atone for a past misdeed. Romance and falconry? Yes, please.

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ABOUT MARY PEARSON:

Image courtesy of goodreads

Mary E. Pearson is the author of many novels for teens, including The Kiss of DeceptionThe Heart of Betrayal, The Beauty of Darkness, and the acclaimed Jenna Fox Chronicles. She writes full-time from her home in Carlsbad, California.

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