The Best Teen and Preteen Fantasy Series
Top Fantasy Books To Read
There are so many amazing books written for preteens today from Rick Riordan's Lightning Thief to Brandon Mull's Fablehaven. Despite being geared for such a young audience, these books contain great depth in plot, development of character, and humor of the age that is sometimes immature, but adults can appreciate it. Although they are innocent, these books are deep, complex, and very thoughtful. Not only good for the young minds but the young at heart.
Brandon Mull author of Fablehaven
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Fablehaven is a well-written, humorous, adventure-filled book. It's about a sister and brother who have never been allowed to spend much time at their grandparents. The reason why is not revealed until midway through the first book. Unexpectedly, they are forced to stay with them, only to discover that there is a world they never knew about. This world contains many common mythical creatures like fairies and naiads and lesser-known creatures. This story goes much deeper than just mystical fantasy. It deals with complex emotions, understanding oneself, and learning from mistakes. The characters are well developed. The best part about this book is that the journey does not end there. There are five books in the series, and once you start you won't want to stop!
Image of Cornelia Funke at a Book Signing
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Inkheart is well-written and thought out. Although some spots may drag for more novice readers, the story-line picks up with greater adventure the further you read into the book. The characters are authentic and captivating, leaving the reader wondering what is going to happen next. The book is geared for book lovers, pulling in the knowledge of other tales into this book. Meggie, the main character, learns that her father can bring characters from books to life, not just figuratively, which may sound neat, but there is a catch to this excellent gift. A catch that causes her to understand why her mother disappeared many years before.
Percy Jackson: The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
This book is a very quick read, well-researched in Greek mythology, and has a character many people can relate to. He is somewhat of a misfit and seems not to have much luck with anything until he discovers that he has an exceptional talent that he inherited from his father.
Throughout the book, he does not have very much confidence in himself but proves himself over and over. The storyline is sophisticated enough for an adult to become fascinated by its twists and turns. Early on, he is given a prophecy that causes you to question many of the characters' motives throughout the book. Fortunately, Riordan has a knack for developing character, and each of the characters has their endearing and not so appealing side, causing the characters to seem that much more real.
Splintered Series by A. G. Howard
is a take-off of Alice in Wonderland. It follows Alice's granddaughter Alyssa Gardner who can hear bugs and has an affinity for doing art with these creatures. Her mother is in a mental hospital due to similar issues, which causes Alyssa to fear others finding out. Howard slowly introduces more and more characters, many in which you can connect to characters from Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This story is imaginative and quick-paced at times. Great for readers of all ages. Splintered
Dorothy Must Die Series by Danielle Page
Dorothy Must Die is written after Dorothy goes home from Oz. It has many of the original characters from L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, but you see them in a way you never have before. It begins with Amy Grumm, who lives in a trailer with her mom, who has a few addiction issues. Amy is very miserable in her home and wants to be anywhere, but there.
Just as in Baum's version, a tornado hits Kansas bringing Amy to Oz, but it is not the Oz she remembers from the books. You meet all-new characters, many noble, many loyal to Queen Dorothy. As the story progresses, you learn that Amy needs to kill Dorothy.
The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles begins with Cinder and follows the character by the same name, who is an intelligent, brave teenager who happens to be a cyborg, half-human, half machine. She is a fantastic mechanic and just so happens to be the stepdaughter of a not very nice woman with, you guessed it, two stepsisters. Although Marissa does follow the story Cinderella slightly, it is written in a way that is not predictable and more real than the original tale. Each book in the series adds new characters and embedding yet another fairy tale in the mix. The next one being Scarlet about Little Red Riding Hood, who lives with her grandma. Each of these tales is so intricately woven together; they do not seem like separate tales at all.
Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Spiderwick is a five-book series that begins with a letter to the authors of the book. It then follows the adventures of twins Jared and Simon and their sister Mallory Grace. They find a strange book filled with characters they believe to be make-believe, such as dwarves, goblins, and elves. They soon discover that these creatures are real and find themselves on a mission to protect all that they know.
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
The Inheritance Cycle begins with Eragon, which follows the story of a boy named Eragon who finds what he believes to be a polished blue stone in the woods. He is just a poor farm boy who hopes that this beautiful stone will help him buy food for his family but finds he gets much more than he bargained for when this "stone" hatches.
The beautiful egg is then a magnificent dragon named Sephira, and he learns he now has become a dragon rider. His simple life is no longer simple but rather dangerous. He learns about magic and power and joins up with a fantastic storyteller who helps guide him on his journey against an evil King.
The Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl is a very original amusing series about a very clever, not so easily amused boy. It is perfect for preteens because it has potty humor and witty dialogue. Despite some of its crude humor, the plot is sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy with its shocking and unusual characters. Artemis is a preteen who is a criminal mastermind. He gets in over his head when he decides to kidnap a fairy to get its gold. As the series progresses, he learns there is more to life than crime, fame, or fortune. Though he never entirely leaves his peculiar oddities, he does develop as a person, learning friendship is sometimes more important than intellect and winning.
His Dark Materials Series by Phillip Pullman
His Dark Materials begins with The Golden Compass, where you meet a young girl named Lyra who soon finds herself in a world that is cold, armored bears rule the land, and Gobblers steal children. Her friend Roger becomes one of the taken, and she begins to try to find a way to save him and all the other children. Though she is merely a child, you find a grand champion who is a schemer and brave.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Chronicles of Narnia is a seven-book series that tell of a land called Narnia that four siblings find by venturing through a wardrobe. It involves animals that can talk, witches, and battles between good and evil. Although one of the oldest on the list, it still is relevant and captivating. C.S. Lewis wrote this as a sort of allegorical tale about God and his love for us. The God creature in this series happens to be a lion named Aslan that the four siblings love, yet fear.
And of Course: The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowlings
Does Harry Potter need to be described?
The series follows Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, or Ron Weasley through seven years. Early on in JK Rowling's career, news reports spread of people of all ages reading her books and enjoying children's fiction.
There are so many excellent preteen books that are not only appropriate for the young reader but enjoyable for the adult. Please share your favorites in the comments below!
© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz