In a fantasy story, anyone can be a hero. One of the great delights of fantasy literature is getting to watch an unlikely protagonist learn just how special they really are – and things are even more fun when the one chosen for greatness is a plucky kid. Here are our picks for the best books about magical kids and young adults. Add your own in the comments!
City of Bones has is the first book in Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. It follows Clary Fray, who discovers that she has the power to see the magical world hidden all around in New York City. Her destiny is to become a “Shadowhunter,” or demon-hunter.
We wouldn’t forget Harry! The Harry Potter franchise changed the world when it burst on the scene in the late 90s (UK) and early 2000s (US). Harry Potter has all the elements that make stories like this great: grumpy adults, talented kids, magical locations, and the classic showdown of good vs. evil.
The Iron Trial is the first book in the Magisterium series, a collaboration between two of fantasy’s most exciting young adult writers. Callum Hunt, the book’s protagonist, wants nothing to do with magic. His father has warned him to stay far away from magicians, but Hunt can’t help but pass the Iron Trial and be sent to the magical world of the Magisterium.
Riodran’s protagonist, Percy Jackson, is more than magical: he’s (kind of) a god! Jackson, to be precise, is a half-god or demigod. He’s the son of the Greek god Poseidon, and he has powers he never could have dreamed of.
Before Harry Potter, there was Matilda, the brilliant girl who could move objects with sheer brain power. Matilda went on to inspire film and stage versions. We even have some cool Harry Potter crossover fan fiction, thanks to the star of the Matilda movie!
Nimmo caught some flack for emulating Harry Potter when her books first came out, but this popular series has some significant differences. Yes, Charlie heads off to wizarding school, but his magical academy isn’t much like Hogwarts. In fact, as the series goes on, we find out that Charlie’s school is a pretty sinister place.
Derek Landy’s story follows the adventures of Skulduggery Pleasant, an undead detective, and his young friend Valkyrie Cain. Though Cain (whose real name is Stephanie Edgley) doesn’t seem to have magical powers at first, she soon learns that magic is her birthright. Though it will take some work, she can use magic just like Skulduggery Pleasant does.
In the world of the Grisha trilogy, magic means power. Protagonist Alina Starkov learns the power of her abilities when her newly-discovered powers elevate her from orphan mapmaker to the most important person in the kingdom. This exciting series is a must-read for teenage fantasy lovers.
Some magical powers are darker than others. Vampire Academy follows the story of Rose Hathaway, who is a Dhampir. That’s a half-human, half-vampire, in case you didn’t know! Rose heads to Vampire Academy to learn how to defeat evil unread vampires called “Strigoi.” She soon finds romance as well.
Witch & Wizard follows a pair of siblings who are both magical. The only trouble is, they live in a dystopian future where people with magical abilities are arrested and locked away. The book is followed by several more in the series, each written by Patterson with a different co-author.