4 YA Books about Sexy and Dangerous Faeries

Or should I say the Fae. Whatever you call them, it can’t be denied. Immortal faeries with powerful magic, cruelty, hot bodies and tricky bargains are causing YA books to fly off the shelves. This fantasy trope still is going strong, although soon it may run the danger of being overused.

Here are 5 great books about sexy and dangerous faeries that you should read:

1) “Wicked Lovely” by Melissa Marr

This is a gritty fantasy book about Aislinn, a teenage girl with the sight. When Keenan, the Summer King, starts stalking her and trying to make her his Queen, Aislinn has to make a series of difficult choices. Keenan is sexy, but dangerous. He doesn’t care about Aislinn’s typical teenage hopes and desires. He doesn’t care about Aislinn’s relationship with her super pierced (and sweet) boyfriend Seth. All this faerie cares about is what he wants. Will he get it?

 

 

 

2) “Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare

It’s true: Clare’s latest series in the Shadowhunter world features other fantastical creatures such as werewolves, vampires, and warlocks. However, faeries take a critical role in the plot here – perhaps more than any other creature. The faeries are nearly at the brink of war with the Shadowhunters. When similarly multilated bodies of both humans and faeries are discovered again, protagonist Emma Carstairs gets involved. Her parents were killed in this way when she was a child. Many deals between faeries and humans will be made. The humans will always get the short end of the stick. As Clare excels in writing romantic relationships, faeries are some of the love interests and may form a love triangle later in the series. Ooooh.

Read my review of “Lord of Shadows,” the sequel of “Lady Midnight” here.

 

3) “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas

The romance is the driving force behind this book. You have Feyre, a Katniss type character, who hunts for her family’s survival. One day, in pursuit of a doe, Feyre kills a faery in wolf form in the woods. But it doesn’t matter. Sexy Tamlin drags her to the faerie kingdom as punishment. Feyre has to live at court for the rest of her days. At first, Feyre resents the faeries and worries about her family’s survival without her. However, after she gets to know her captor better… well, romance!

 

 

 

4) “The Iron King” by Julie Kagawa

The first book in this series, describes Megan Chase, a girl who goes to the Faerie world to rescue her little brother who was replaced with a changeling. There she meets many characters inspired by Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” including Oberon and Puck. Of course, there is a dangerous faerie love interest as well. Who? Well, I won’t say.

 

“The Wrong Side of Right” by Jenn Marie Thorne

I have to admit: I’ve always found American elections ridiculous. They start campaigning so far in advance it is absolutely insane. They debate all issues dry well before election night and it becomes more performance than promise. And it completely dominates Canadian news, but I digress.

With the current political climate being what it is in the US, it isn’t surprising that writers have taken inspiration. Say hello to “The Wrong Side of Right,” a YA novel that describes an election campaign.

When teenage Kate Quinn’s mom dies that year, she meets her father for the first time. He’s a Republican politician whose running for president. His campaign team turns a potential scandal into a promotional opportunity. Everything changes for Kate when she is thrust into the public eye, campaigns for causes she doesn’t necessarily support, and meets a family she never knew existed.

In an environment where everyone constantly adheres to party policy, it is hard to know who people actually are and Kate is constantly at risk of losing her identity. Should she stand up for what she believes in even if it opposes her father? Should she trust a boy she’s falling for, even if he’s on the wrong political side? Will she ever fit in with her new family if she’s true to herself?

Despite my poor interest in the subject, I found myself immediately swept up in the political drama. There are clear messages about people, politics, and extreme beliefs and how when they mix together there are necessary compromises.

However, this novel doesn’t just talk about political relationships. The strongest relationships are actually about family and friendship. There’s also a strong element of romance if you’re into that, which I am.

Of course, the most interesting part of the novel was the election’s conclusion. How the novel resolves and how the past election resolved and how they compare… well. You’ll have to read “The Wrong Side of Right” to find out what happens. Let’s just say in lieu of recent events the novel’s conclusion is most interesting.

 

“13 Days of Midnight” by Leo Hunt

When 16-year-old Luke’s estranged father dies, he bequeaths his entire inheritance to his son. This happens to be six million dollars – nothing to sniff at.

However, it isn’t that simple. Luke’s dad was a necromancer. Along with the money, Luke inherits eight ghosts. Eight ghosts who hate his guts and want to kill him so they can go free.

I don’t usually do ghost books and the emo cover really threw me off (so much so that when I was reading this one in public I was like “God, I hope no one asks me about this.” No one did though, so yay). However I’m glad I gave this one a try. It’s compelling yet creepy and Leo Hunt’s voice really captures the teenage vibes. His sentences relate to the real world in such a way that it makes the first person narrative believable.

The main character Luke has a nice character arc and although he’s okay, he certainly doesn’t start super likeable. He can be kind of a jerk actually. He’s got a lot going on with a mom in chronic pain though, which explains some of his stuff. Anyway, it’s nice to see him grow through the novel.

His ally the goth girl Elza though… I don’t know what it is about these books where the main character’s like “ooh it’s a goth girl she’s creepy” and then discovers that the goth girl really knows what’s up and what’s going on and is smart and kinda hot and he was wrong to judge her… Seriously. This goth girl character is becoming a common trope in YA.

Not gonna lie, I liked Elza. She works. But sometimes I wish that instead of the “I judged you wrong you’re awesome” plot twist, that it was more like “I judged you wrong you’re more awesome than I expected but you still have flaws.” I mean, Luke has flaws. Why doesn’t Elza have any either?

The plot was very compelling. So much so that when I was reading it in a busy place with lots of background noise, I became completely immersed and forgot about what was happening around me. Leo Hunt knows how to raise the stakes for Luke so you have to find out what happens next. At all costs. Also, the dog character Ham is hilarious. I laughed out loud. In said public place.

Overall, I really enjoyed “13 Days of Midnight.” And I’m glad I wasn’t born with second sight. Seeing ghosts everywhere would be waaaay too creepy.

 

 

“American Girls” by Alison Umminger

This book is a modern take on “The Great Gatsby” with Manson girl undertones. When teenager Anna loses it with her family at home, she runs away to LA to meet her half sister Delia. Delia is trying to make it as an actress, but despite her beauty, struggles.

On the sets of Hollywood’s D-list, Anna is forced to acknowledge that glittery LA is actually kind of scuzzy. Although not everyone is terrible, a creepy director wannabe hires Anna to research the murderous Manson girls and she becomes obsessed with discovering their back story.

This book is dark, but sometimes I like my books dark like my chocolate. There is a lot going on. The emotional violence in Anna’s family contrasts with physical violence of the Mason girls.

The book focuses on an intense comparison between women. The women include:
Daisy in “The Great Gatsby,” who is stunningly beautiful.
Delia Anna’s actress sister, who is getting too old to really make it.
The Manson girls themselves, whose beauty contrasts with their crimes.
An teenage princess star, who used to be on top but is on her way out.

The main character Anna may be an allusion to Daisy’s friend Jordan in “The Great Gatsby.” Anna is girl who’s in the middle of society, but isn’t the queen bee. Instead, she is on the side of all the action. She still somewhat has her head, even though she’s a little lost.

The comparison between women in “American Girls” left me with questions about why we value beauty in women the way we do. Can we, as women, really live the American dream? Does beauty help or hinder us?

“13 Little Blue Envelopes” by Maureen Johnson

When Ginny’s Aunt Peg dies, she leaves her niece with a little blue envelope. Inside is a thousand dollars to get Ginny started on a trip to Europe and instructions to receive the twelve other envelopes that will instruct her on where to go and what to do next.

Along the way, Ginny learns to come out of her shell, stay true to herself, and uncovers more stories about her aunt. Some of Ginny’s experiences cause her to understand her aunt better or herself better or a combination of the two. Also, there is a love interest.

it was interesting to learn about Aunt Peg, who is a critical character in the book who never appears. Also other forms of art, such as visual art as well as performance art played a thematic role.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It really captured the feeling of exploring new places and meeting new people and different kinds of tourists. Even though there was a light hearted quality about it, ultimately the novel centres around grief and growing up.

“Goodbye Stranger” by Rebecca Stead

“Goodbye Stranger” has a definite middle school vibe, where your friends are the most important and boys become interesting to some of your friends, but not everyone. Bridge, Tabitha, and Emily are best friends who encounter changes from growing up.

Bridge meets Sherm and starts hanging out with her maybe-crush. Tabitha starts resisting the appearance and attitude expectations that come with noticing members of the opposite sex. Emily has an older boy who’s actually interested in her. When Emily starts taking pictures of herself for this boy, the three friends have to decide if they fit together in the same way anymore.

Both libraries I visited placed this book on the YA shelves, even though it has a distinctly middle grade voice. I mean the characters are twelve-years-old for goodness sake! I suspect this decision was made because of the supposedly mature topic of a girl sending pictures of her body to a boy.

I think an age limit on this topic is a little ridiculous. Girls notice boys at a fairly young age. Boys notice girls around the same time. It is good for girls to think about boundaries and their bodies and the internet before they hit the late middle school and high school crowds. In fact, most of this book isn’t about the pictures. It’s about becoming comfortable about who you are.

There’s also a subplot about bullying in high school told from the second person in occasional chapters. I mention this because I think it’s the first time I’ve read a second person narrative that wasn’t a choose-your-own-adventure. At first it was jarring, but eventually I really wanted to know who “I” was and how “I” fit into the plot.

“A Step Towards Falling” by Cammie McGovern

When Emily and Lucas witness Belinda, a disabled girl, being assaulted under the school bleachers at a football game, they froze. Neither of them knew why. The school punishes them. They have to volunteer with other people with disabilities.

“A Step Towards Falling” takes a difficult, often poorly discussed issue and unpacks it with compassion and empathy.

The story is told from the perspective of Emily and Belinda. The different perspectives show the reader how people are people no matter what their abilities are. Disabled people have personalities, likes and dislikes, passions, and talents. And like anyone else, disabled people deserve to have friendships and romantic partners and to find true love.

Even though Emily and Lucas made a terrible mistake by not standing up for Belinda, they aren’t portrayed as evil people. Lucas is a star player on the football team who has experienced a family tragedy. Emily is an activist who is horrified that her actions did not match with her beliefs. When the volunteering experience increases their compassion, the reader comes along for the ride.

How we treat people matters. “A Step Towards Falling” reminds us of this.

“Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld

“Afterworlds” is really two YA novels in one. The first is the tale of Darcy, an 18-year-old whose Nanowrimo YA novel has been accepted for publication. The second is Darcy’s YA novel about Lizzie, a girl who pretends to be dead so well during a terrorist attack that she manages to access the afterworld.

The two novels are told in alternating chapters. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, which is saying something since usually I like fantasy hands down. As an aspiring YA author, learning about Darcy’s move to New York and introduction to the YA world seemed pretty magical as well.

The highlight in Darcy’s section really was her relationship with her family and her new romance with a fellow debut author. The whole thing had a just-moved-out-from-home vibe that I could relate to well. Also, the characters’ analysis of Darcy’s finished novel was funny since you are reading it simultaneously. Especially the discussions about sacrificing culture for YA hotness! Fortunately, no spoilers were introduced. It was neat to see what changes Darcy made to the novel as it progressed.

The highlight in Lizzie’s section definitely was the theme of death. This book was often super dark – I mean it starts with a graphic terrorist attack which allows Lizzie to see ghosts. And the ghost Lizzie winds up spending the most time with is an eleven-year-old girl who suffered a horrific death. How Lizzie comes into her supernatural powers and uses her origin story to stay strong is inspiring. Although the hottie was cute, he didn’t have much of a personality.

Anyway, reading Afterworlds is kind of meta. Makes you wonder at the additional layer of Scott Westerfeld writing Darcy writing Lizzie.

“Slated” by Teri Terry

What if the government could wipe your mind and you’d start a new life with a new family as a new person? How would you know who you really are without your memories?

This is what happens to Kyla. She is what the government calls Slated. Once she leaves the hospital, she joins a new family, which sounds hard enough, but also her mood is constantly monitored with a device called Levo. If she gets too sad or angry, an electric shock goes to her brain and kills her on the spot.

The government claims that she was a terrorist and that their treatment of her and the other Slateds is justified to protect society. That they have been lenient by giving Kyla a second chance.

But Kyla has scary dreams that might be her memories. What are they telling her? Who is she really?

This sci fi thriller had me flipping pages as quickly as possible. Terry’s writing is addictive. You have to learn what the deal is with Kyla. Was she really a terrorist or is she an innocent person the government targeted for asking too many questions? What is the real deal with the Slateds? Who can she trust?

Themes of governmental control and individual freedom, as well as a heightened teenage search for identity run through “Slated.” As always, it’s useful to ask how similar Kyla’s world is to our own. How is a person classified as dangerous to society? How much control should the government have over our own lives? Also, the book kind of creeped me out – in a good way.

I’m definitely hooked and going to read the next installments of the series.

“One Of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus

Five kids go to detention. One is murdered. Who killed him?

The premise of this book is simple and catchy. It works so well.

I loved so much about it from the standard school setting to the detailed characterisation. The four murder suspects are a jock, a nerd, a popular girl, and the school drug dealer. However, their background stories are intriguing enough to keep them from being too stereotypical.

At some point in the novel, you will be convinced that you know who is the murderer. For sure. And then out of nowhere, another hint will point you in a different direction and you’ll go “meh, maybe it wasn’t them,” and you’ll have to keep reading to find out the truth. Make sure you have time, because you’ll stay up all night with this book! Consider yourself warned.

Each character has flaws, but they also have positive traits as well. Sometimes I’d think, “Heh, I can see why this person would want to kill that kid.” And then I’d think, “God, I hope they didn’t. They have so much to lose if they did.” This constant flip-flopping feeling the whole way through is what makes McManus brilliant.

In terms of themes, this novel is extremely relevant. The kid murdered was a cyberbully with an inflammatory blog. Although everything he posted about his peers was technically true, it makes him the most unlikable character of the bunch.

In addition to cyberbullying, “One Of Us Is Lying” addresses academic cheating, high pressure to succeed, drugs, parental approval and disapproval, mental illness, and being true to your identity. This book involves so many topical issues that the high school environment feels dangerous, challenging, and real. The characters make tough decisions, sometimes the wrong ones. Sometimes there is no right decision to make.

“One Of Us is Lying” speaks directly to its teen audience. It’s cyberbullying gone too far. It’s bad decisions made for good reasons. It’s an awesome read.