The Best Completed YA Fantasy Series to Read Right NowBooks Lists Fantasy Books
Look, some of us just aren’t very patient. And that can go double for book lovers, as readers often have to wait for years between installments of their favorite series before they hit shelves (cough cough A Song of Ice and Fire cough). It’s no wonder that sometimes, you just want to dig into a series whose ending is already available.
This is especially understandable when it comes to YA fantasy series, whose individual installments often end in the sort of shocking cliffhangers that make you want to crack open the next book immediately. (Or feature the kind of plots whose details are easily forgotten in the long wait between installments.)
Here are a few of our picks for the best completed YA fantasy series that you can settle down and binge-read right now.
The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
Titles in the Series: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, and Kingdom of Ash.
What Makes it Great: When the Throne of Glass series began, it was ostensibly the story of Celaena Sardothien, an 18-year-old assassin who attempts to win her freedom by entering a tournament where she must battle nearly two dozen thieves, killers, and warriors from across the kingdom of Ardarlan.
By the time the series ends, its scope has expanded into the battle for the very soul of the world, complete with everything from lost-lost princesses and Fae warriors to witches, shapeshifters, and demons. Wildly addictive and massive in scope, this is Sarah J. Maas at her best as a storyteller. (And is a great introduction to her work.)
The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco
Titles in the Series: The Bone Witch, The Heart Forger, and The Shadowglass
What Makes It Great: One of the darkest and most original YA fantasy series on shelves at the moment, Rin Chupeco’s trilogy follows the story of a girl named Tea who discovers she is a bone witch—a rare and powerful magical specialty that makes her feared and ostracized in her community thanks to her ability to raise and control the dead.
Full of tension and menace Tea’s origin story unfolds next to crystal clear evidence of how far she’s willing to use her power for her own ends, creating a delicious tension and menace that grows with every page. A true original in this genre space.
The Poppy War Trilogy by R.F. Kuang
Titles in the Series: The Poppy War, The Dragon Republic, and The Burning God
What Makes it Great: A Chinese history-inspired epic fantasy about empire, shamanism, and opium that’s also a violent retelling of the Second Sino-Japanese war, this is a series that won’t turn out to be anything like you expect.
Featuring a morally gray heroine at its center who only grows darker and more complicated as the trilogy goes on, this is the kind of thrilling, magical, horrifying, and heartbreaking story you’ll get lost in.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Titles in the Series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, with ancillary novellas Stars Above and Fairest.
What Makes It Great: Fairytale retellings feel as though they’re a dime a dozen at the moment, but Marissa Meyer’s always seem to stand out. Her Lunar Chronicles series reimagines the stories of several famous female fairytale characters, setting them in a futuristic world where humans, androids, and cyborgs coexist.
From a cyborg take on Cinderella (Cinder) to a Rapunzel who’s also an imprisoned computer hacker (Cress), you’ll be surprised by the sheer amount and breadth of creativity at work in these tales.
The Folk of the Air Trilogy by Holly Black
Titles in the Series: The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, and The Queen of Nothing, along with companion novel How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
What Makes It Great: No YA author writes the world of the Fae quite like Holly Black. And her Folk of the Air trilogy is magical from start to finish. The series follows the story of a human girl named Jude who is raised in the High Court of Faerie after her parents are murdered and is determined to find a way to belong there, even if it means defying the cruel and wicked Prince Carden, the youngest son of the High King.
Featuring lush descriptions, intriguingly unique and detailed descriptions of Faerie, and fast-paced twists, this is a series that’s easy to tear through in a weekend, and only regret you don’t have more to read.
The Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard
Titles in the Series: Red Queen, Glass Sword, King’s Cage, War Storm, and multiple ancillary novellas which you can read collected in Broken Throne
What Makes It Great: Set in a world divided by blood, lower-class Reds (whose blood is, you guessed it, crimson) must serve the magical Silver-blooded elite classes who rule over them. But when young Mare Barrow, a Red, discovers that she possesses powers she shouldn’t be able to have, the Silver king will attempt to keep her abilities a secret by passing her off as a long-lost princess and marrying her to his son.
As Mare delves further into their elite world, she’ll risk everything to help the Scarlet Guard—an underground, Red-led rebellion—bring it down.
The Grishaverse Series by Leigh Bardugo
Titles in the Series: Shadow and Bone, Ruin and Rising, and Seige and Storm make up Bardugo’s original trilogy, joined by a pair of ancillary duologies set in the same world featuring related characters. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom follow the adventures of Kaz Brekker and his gang, while King of Scars and Rule of Wolves picks back up with the stories of Nikolai Lantsov, Zoya Nazyalensky, and Nina Zenik.
Supplemental books such as The Language of Thorns and Lives of Saints recount various Ravkan folktales and stories of the Grisha saints who form the basis of the world’s popular religion.
What Makes It Great: If you’ve seen Netflix’s Shadow and Bone series you probably already have an idea of the rich scope of this story, in which magical soldiers known as Grisha can manipulate and control matter at its most fundamental elements, granting them power over specific elements like fire (Inferni), objects like metal or textiles (Durasts) and even the human body (Heartrenders). The first three books in the series follow the story of Alina Starkov, a rare Sun Summoner whose prophesied powers over light itself might just save her world from the literal powers of darkness.
Of course, Bardugo’s Grisha series is much more expansive and thrilling than even the initial trilogy makes it seem, boasting rich, layered worldbuilding and complex, compelling characters. There’s also no guarantee this series will stay complete, as author Leigh Bardugo quite seems to like writing in this universe.
The Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber
Titles in the Series: Caraval, Legendary, and Finale are the main completed trilogy. The Once Upon a Broken Heart spin-off series takes place in the same universe that follows secondary character Evangeline Fox.
What Makes It Great: A tale of secrets and magic centered around a legendary circus-like carnival, Caraval is a lush and richly detailed story that includes all the tropes you’ve come to expect from the best YA fantasy tales. But what sets Garbert’s story apart is that its ultimate focus isn’t on romantic relationships or solving an age-old magical mystery, but rather the unshakeable bond between the sisters at its center.
Despite the entertaining romances that occur, it’s Scarlett and Donatella who are the true OTP of this story, and whose devotion to one another will keep you reading.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.