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May 1, 2022

Spring into 5 New Young Adult Fantasy Novels

by MK French

Are you looking for new young adult fantasy to read this spring? There are plenty that are coming out this month. So that you can plan your reading I highly 4 novels that come out this month and if you can't wait to get a new fantasy novel, then I have one that came out last month.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Frozen Hearts and Death Magic by Day Leitao and read by Casey Maxwell

audiobook cover of young adult fantasy novel Frozen Hearts and Death Magic by Day Leitao
April 2022; Sparkly Wave; B09XPGGQJM
audio (15h 22 m); ebook, print; YA fantasy

Naia’s metal magic pales in comparison to her twin brother Fel’s, which is just as well because he is the crown prince and she is destined to never marry and become his primary advisor when he ascends to the throne. Their people had been at war with the White Fae for generations, but none have been seen in the past twenty years. Naia finds one dying in the woods and saves him, intending to find out what the fae are planning. Instead, they kiss and he disappears in black smoke. She keeps it a secret and accompanies her brother a year later to the gathering of all kingdoms’ royals and nobility. Fel is instructed to find a suitable wife, though neighboring kingdoms hate theirs. At the same time, the necromancer princess Leah is instructed to find a husband and consider any prince except for Fel. The two instantly bond, but dangers loom outside the kingdoms of Aluria as the teens try to navigate their way around romance.

We have an almost excessive amount of detail in all of these chapters. Sumptuous descriptions, from all of their dresses, the rooms and furniture, the food, the actions, and the thoughts that our characters take. Naia and Leah are our main POVs, and we see everything that they do. Casey Maxwell has a very youthful-sounding voice, so it’s perfect for a bunch of seventeen-year-old main characters. Is it awkward when she has to describe how they feel about their first crushes and first kiss? I almost feel a little secondhand embarrassment at hearing it, even though it was painfully obvious the first time Leah was instructed to choose anyone else and ignore her heart that she would lose it to Fel. I also found it incredibly embarrassing on Leah’s behalf that clearly no one ever taught her anything about sex or relationships in her entire life if her mother must give an allegorical story as a warning for “losing her honor” that she doesn’t properly understand. I get it, she’s an only child, but that’s just painful to hear how much she has no clue about how the world works and how easily manipulated she is. It’s a patriarchal society if virginity is prized so much, though Queens readily rule their kingdoms.

It took far too long for the action to pick up,  and then it was still bogged down and slowed with so much description and talk. I found that so incredibly frustrating, and it detracted from my enjoyment of this book. I liked the world-building and different kinds of magic, the intrigue that began the story. The problem was that it didn’t feel like there was a payoff, and anything that was explained came too late. The characterization of some characters was thin, and I found it hard to connect with them. There was also too much reliance on misunderstanding and manipulation to drive the plot, which I didn't enjoy.

(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for free)

An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco

book cover of young adult fantasy novel An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco
May 2022; Sourcebooks Fire; 978-1492672692
audio, ebook, print (464 pages); YA fantasy

The Snow Queen is still determined to bring about the end of Avalon. Tala and the others all decide to prevent it, even after Ryker shows up after attacking detention facilities and freeing refugees. Legends tell of incredible power, and Tala's life only gets messier. It's only a matter of time before the Snow Queen arrives with an unlikely ally.

This follows right after the first book in the A Hundred Names For Magic series, after Wicked As You Wish (read my review), so absolutely read that one first. (Don't worry, you won't regret it!) Here, the frost receded from Avalon, and now there's more politics to deal with. Alex must provide leadership for his country, with the Fianna and the Banders keeping the people safe. While there are trials to be had, in the shape of our teens figuring out the nature of their dooms, Tala trying to finish the obstacle course and learn how to use her agimat, to the entire team tracking OzCorp's dangerous experiments. The dooms have repercussions for their love lives as well as for Avalon, and Tala is still figuring out her relationship with her father, Ryker, and her extended Filipino family. 

Magic carries a cost, and none of the teens are exempt. When Loki battles a jabberwocky early on, their weapon is damaged and they must work without it as it's repaired. Legal ramifications follow the raids into lockdown facilities, and using spellstones or spell shards results in very dangerous consequences. In this world of magic kingdoms and fairy tales come to life, which remains a feature keeping the teens and story grounded. Prophecy isn't always what people think it is, so I'm sure there's much more in store for them in future novels of the series.  I for one can't wait to see it!

Buy An Unreliable Magic at Amazon

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

book cover of young adult urban fantasy Burn Down Rise Up by Vincent Tirado
May 2022; Sourcebooks Fire; 978-1728246000
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); YA fantasy

Raquel had ignored the disappearances in the Bronx over the past year. Police do, too. She starts paying attention when her crush Charlize has a cousin go missing, and her mother falls mysteriously ill in a way connected to the disappearances. Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, and find that it's connected to the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York's past. The two will have to play the game to save those they love or die trying.

The Echo is the past, memory of traumatic events tied to a particular location. There are precise directions to enter it, and the challenge is to stay on the journey for an hour without turning back or breaking rules; that's difficult for most people to do while traveling through a hellscape mirror world. It's this situation that Charlize's cousin fell into, and the Echo takes on the shape of fires of the 1970s Bronx, as well as the slum conditions in the buildings. This is a situation that is explained in the course of the novel, and Raquel sees the devastation firsthand. 

This novel even references Silent Hill, which it reminds me of. I also think of the more recent novel Rabbits, which involves a game that most people don't know exists, let alone can play. The prize in this novel is survival, coming back to the world they left with a better understanding of how they fit into it. People think of the Bronx as dangerous, but there's more to it than that. Raquel has a Dominican heritage, and that's leaned into. Charlize is Creole, and Aaron is another Black young man figuring himself out.  He and Raquel are best friends and support each other through times of trouble. As strained as their friendship got at times, they helped each other through and there was never a question of how much they cared about each other and their families. 

Raquel is driven by her crush and her life for her mother to investigate what happened by participating in the Echo Game, but it's her connections in the end that keep her whole. It was such an engaging novel, I had no idea how much time passed as I read it, and was thoroughly engaged in the story. 

Buy Burn Down, Rise Up at Amazon

Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

book cover of young adult fantasy novel Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez
May 2022; Wednesday Books; 978-1250803351
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); YA fantasy

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. Disaster strikes their arena, and now Zarela must become a Dragonador in order to save her family's legacy. She refuses to let the handsome Arturo Díaz de Montserrat turn away, and ensures his hire and help. She refuses to let her entire world burn down.

Hispalia in this novel has wild dragons in the countryside, and the sport of killing dragons in an arena mirrors bullfighting of our world. They speak Spanish and have similar foods and flamenco, but also guilds for mages, dragon hunters, dragonadors, and all the major aspects of industry. Zarela witnessed her mother's death in a dragon fight gone wrong, and another one years later led to her father's severe injury and massive fines as the guild master took out his hate for her father on the family legacy. She refuses to consider losing the arena or the reputation for her family name even as she sells items that her mother had been known for. Her sacrifice keeps the arena afloat, but she knows there is only so much that could be sold.

Seeing Zarela and Arturo bristle at each other from the start of their meet not-cute to how stubborn Zarela is when hiring him, I knew immediately there would be a romance as well as the fight to save the arena and her heritage. She must overcome her fear and loathing of dragons, and his own history with dragons must be engaged with. He has a secret that he fears would come between them, and there is the matter of whoever tried to sabotage the family arena. When the answer comes, Zarela fights it with every fiber of her being, just as she fought against the world trying to take her family's reputation from her. Her father is important to her, as Arturo becomes, and Zarela works to blend both halves of her family legacy.

Inspired by flamenco and Spanish culture, this book is an enemies to lovers romance with a taut ending that I had to race to finish. I simply had to know what happened next, even when I should have shut the book to go to bed. Reading this was worth staying up all night!

Buy Together We Burn at Amazon

The Fae Keeper by H. E. Edgmon

book cover of young adult fantasy novel The Fae Keeper by H E Edgmon
May 2022; Inkyard Press; 978-1335425911
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); YA fantasy

Asalin is still in turmoil even after the door to Fae is shut. Emyr and Wyatt are hunting Derek and Clarke after abolishing the corrupt Guard, and are trying to convince the other kingdoms to follow their lead. They uncover the hidden truth about the witches' place in fae society, revealing that the problems are deeper than anyone knew. And this may be more than the two of them can fix.

This is the second part of the Witch King duology, taking place right after the Witch King (my review here). Transgender Wyatt had to decide if the witches were more important than his own freedom in the United States, and he faced many betrayals along the way. This novel opens up soon after the first finishes, and there is a lot of fallout for Wyatt to deal with. He has been constantly on the move and on the defensive, unable to really learn much about his witch heritage or how to control his magic. Emyr is traumatized, changed by the events at the close of the first book, but at least their love remains intact.

Within this novel is discussion about the spectrums of gender and sexuality, and the appearance people have that gives them certain privileges. We also learn about the source of fae and witch magic, and how each of them served a role in the sense of magic. We also get a glimpse at what the true citizens of Faery were like, as well as the other kingdoms on Earth. This is a story that sucks me in so that I keep thinking "One more chapter" and keep going long after I should put the book down and do something else. I guessed one of the plot twists correctly, but not the rest. Wyatt connected with his powers and faced a lot of his self-doubts and fears. I'm happy to see his growth, as well as the other characters. Their future will be complicated, but I know they'll be up for that challenge. 

Buy The Fae Keeper at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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