Looking for books like Legendborn? Here are 10 page-turning ya fantasy books you seriously need to read
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Secret societies, dark academia and magic. Legendborn is one of my all time favourite reads. Once you get into this ya fantasy book it’s almost impossible to put down. With it’s twisty plot and dark academia world building. And if you’re anything like me, then you also wanted to read more books like this one once you’d finished. Well you’re in luck, I’ve rounded upp the absolute best books like Legendborn.
Whether you're looking for ya fantasy books, books about hidden worlds or books with strong female characters. This post has got you covered.
After learning about all these books, you are going to have so many new books on your tbr list. Plus, keep reading to get a free printable reading journal. flow chart and comparison table.
This post is all about books like Legendborn
What are the best books like Legendborn?
1. Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
I am a HUGE fan of the found family trope and it was executed so perfectly in this book! The plot was also really action-packed and fast paced throughout. There were no lulls or sections that lost my attention.
It follows 16-year-old Deka. She lives in a village where all the girls undergo a blood ceremony. If their blood runs gold – they are impure.
Deka has lived in fear of this ceremony. And on the day – her blood runs gold. And Deka must face consequences worse than death.
But then a mysterious woman comes to her rescue. And offers her the chance to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her.
There is so much to love about this book. The found family trope works really well. There was so much diversity in the army of Alaki. The magic system was really intriguing and the world-building was excellent.
This book is not for everyone – it has a lot of violence. Please check the trigger warnings before reading.
Good reads ratings: 4.04
2. Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Lore is perfect for any greek mythology fans out there. It's Greek Mythology meets The Hunger Games. It features a strong, female main character, a romance and a competition element. Plus it's all set in an urbam setting.
Every seven years Greek Gods are hunted by descendants of ancient bloodlines. If the hunters succeed they seize their immortality. It follows Lore Perseus who has turned her back on this world. But as the next hunt dawns, two participants seek out her help.
The plot of Lore is quite complex but it’s executed perfectly. Bracken did a great job of building the concept. I was intrigued and hooked from the first chapter.
It has a really great revenge storyline. And it also has a great hidden world so if you're looking for books like Legendborn with hidden worlds - then this is a great choice.
Good Reads Rating: 3.84
3. Bright and Pale by Jessica Rubinowski
I do not hear people talk about Bright & Pale enough. It deserves so much more hype. It's the perfect fast paced ya fantasy book for winter. It's great to curl up inside and read all day.
It follows 17-year-old Valeria. As a child, she lived near this magical mountain. One day, it unleashed a big freeze that trapped her family. Valeria is one of few survivors.
So she flees and joins the thieves guild. And she does odd jobs to get by with her best friend Alik. Until he is brutally murdered.
Or so she thinks. A year later, he turns up alive. And she is forced to lead a group on a dangerous quest back to the mountain in exchange for Alik.
The world-building was truly enchanting. It’s heavily inspired by Russian folklore. But the winter setting added another layer to it. The two gods concept was intriguing but also quite creepy.
Good Reads Rating: 3.49
4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone combines a fast-paced, action-packed plot with magical West Africa inspired world-building. The book opens in a world where magic has disappeared.
There used to be magic in Orïsha. Zélie remembers how powerful her reaper mother was. But one-night magic disappears and Zelie is left without hope.
She now has to bring back the magic with the help of a runaway princess. Orïsha is full of danger everywhere. But Zeéie’s greatest danger is herself.
Children of Blook and Bone has much in common with Legendborn – A strong female lead and magic. I loved Zélie instantly and the world building is enchanting.
But Children of Blood and Bone also explores much darker themes such as racially charged violence. And that makes it a really powerful read.
Good reads rating: 4.10
5. Bone Crier's Moon by Kathryn Purdie
This is one of the more recent books I've read. I love fantasy romance books. And I'm a huge fan of enemies to lovers romance. So I originally read this for the romance and fantasy elements. But there were so many other elements I loved - the friendships, strong female leads and the magical elements.
It follows Ailesse and Sabine. Ailesse is a bone crier. And Bone Crier's have a sacred duty - they alone ferry the spirits of the dead. But the Gods demand a promise of dedication. The sacrifice of the Bone Crier's one true love.
Ailesse has been preparing for her rite of passage since birth - to kill the boy she's destined to live. Bastien's father was slain by a Bone Crier and he's been seeking revenge. But now his vengeance must wait, as Ailesse’s ritual has begun and their fates are entwined—in life and in death.
I love Sabine. She has such great character growth throughout the book. And her personality is really likeable from the start. I also enjoyed the world building - the mythical bone criers, the magical bridges and the catacombs imagery were beautiful.
It does have some negatives - the romance wasn't 100% convincing. So it's probably a 3-4 star overall. But it's still a really enjoyable, easy to read fantasy book. It features another hidden world - so if you liked the secret society aspect of Legendborn you should pick this up.
Good Reads Rating: 3.70
6. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Oh Ember in the Ashes is such an incredible ya fantasy book. And guess who was an emotional mess while reading this? ME!
It's a ya fantasy series with world building inspired by Ancient Rome. It also features a strong female heroine, an adventure plot and a dystopian plot.
An Ember in the Ashes opens with Laia. She has found an illegal sketchbook belonging to her brother. The empire comes and takes away her brother. So she must locate the resistance and go on a perilous mission to save him.
The book opens with a punch and it’s fast-paced throughout. The opening makes you really emotionally invested. Laia goes to extraordinary lengths and becomes a slave in order to save her brother. There is so much at stake that it leaves you on the edge of your seat.
7. We set the dark on fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
This book features one of the best wlw enemies to lovers romances that I’ve read! It's a Ya dystopian novel featuring a wlw romance and Latine representation.
We Set The Dark On Fire follows Daniela Vargas. She lives in a dystopian world where each man is entitled to 2 wives. A Primera and a Segunda. The Primera is intelligent, calm and analytical. The Segunda is the mother figure.
Outside the wall, the people go hungry. Dani started life outside of the wall. And she must use her wits to survive illegally in the capital. She is also married to one of the most powerful men in the kingdom.
The premise was intriguing. And the main character was instantly likeable. She also grows a lot through the book. But the romance is what makes this so perfect. Two badass women who are married to a Straight man but fall in love with each other.
The world-building is also excellent. And the book has such dark academia vibes. It opens in a prep school for girls. But it discusses so many important issues such as immigration politics and forced marriage.
We set the Dark on Fire features an intriguing dystopian premise and a likeable, strong-minded main character. This YA LGBTQ+ Dystopian book explores immigration politics, toxic masculinity and feminism.
If you liked the Dark Academia elements of Legendborn then you should pick this one up. It's an excellent ya dystopian books with dark academia worldbuilding,
8. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Kalynn Bayron writes some of the best contemporary fantasy books out there! This Poison Heart is an Urban Fantasy book. It opens in the city before the main characters move to a small town. There is also strong plant and cottagecore imagery throughout.
This Poison Heart follows Briseis. She has a magic gift where she can magic tiny seeds grow into rich blooms with a single touch.
Her aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York. And it’s there she must uncover her family’s heritage and secrets.
This is a quick, fast-paced and easy read. You could easily pick this up and binge read it in one setting. Kalynn Bayron writes plant imagery beautifully. And I absolutely adored the plant and forest imagery.
My only complaint with this book is that the romance was very insta-lovey. And I found it difficult to be invested in the romance.
If you 're searching for books like Legendborn then you HAVE to read this book. The way mythology is woven into the plot reminds me of how Deonn incorporates Arthurian legends into Legendborn. It also features a Black heroine, supportive same-sex parents and elemental magic.
Good reads rating: 4.20
9. Cinderella is dead by Kalynn Bayron
A Cinderella retelling with a sapphic romance. This is another twist on the classic story that features BIPOC characters and a wlw romance.
The premise is that teen girls are now required to appear at an annual ball where men select wives. But Sophia wants to marry her childhood best friend Erin. And isn’t a fan of the whole parade in front of suitors thing.
She decides to flee and decided to take down the king once and for all.
The dystopian twist on the classic Cinderella story makes this book so unique. The romance is a bit insta-lovey but it's so well developed that it's still engaging.
The plot will keep you hooked throughout. Women overthrowing a dystopian patriarchy. There is also a lot of cottagecore and woodland imagery. Kalynn Bayron writes cottagecore imagery so well. This book will 100% make you want to live in the forest.
I also LOVE that it's a standalone. Standalone ya fantasy books are hard to find. Let alone with lesbian representation. If you're looking for a ya lesbian fantasy book then I highly recommend Cinderella is Dead.
Good reads rating: 3.73
10. Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Six Crimson Cranes is an incredible YA Fantasy book featuring shape shifting dragons, curses and magic. The main character is a princess and it follows a royal family.
It follows Shiori. She is the only princess in Kiata. Shiori lives in a land where magic is banned. And demons are locked away inside a mountain. But forbidden magic runs through her veins.
Shiori normally conceals it. But on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, she loses control. And she attracts the attention of her stepmother Raikama.
Raikama possesses dark magic. She banishes the young princess. And turns her brothers into cranes. Shiori must speak of it to no one. For with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
The worldbuilding in this book is exquisite. Especially when Shiori is in Iro. The images of snow-capped mountains and eating hot buns in the snow is beautiful. If you're looking for books like Legendborn with magic then you should definitely read this one.
Good Reads Rating: 4.31
11. Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
If you enjoyed Legendborn then you'll love Blood Like Magic. It's a ya urban fantasy book about a teen witch. It's the perfect choice if you're searching for books with Black Girls with magic.
It follows Voya. After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail.
But then Voya's ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling. So she agrees. But she's horrified when her task is to kill her first love.
And failure means every Thomas Witch will be stripped of their magic.
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline.
Good Reads Rating: 3.99
12. Babel by R.F. Kuang
Did you like A Secret History, The Atlas Six or Jonathon Strange and Dr Norrell. Then you will love Babel.
A dark fantasy set in an academic setting. It discusses the power of language and the evils of authoritarianism.
It follows Robin Swift. Orphaned by cholera, The mysterious Professor Lovell brings him to London.
There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek and Chinese. All to prepare for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation. Known as Babel.
Babel is the world's centre for translation and magic.
Silver working is the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation. And it uses enchanted silver bars.
So what's the point?
Well it has made the British unparalleled in power. Likewise, its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia.
Dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power.
The problem is, as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland.
If you're after dark academia books, then you NEED to read this
Good Reads Rating: 4.29
13. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Whether it's romance, mystery or fantasy you're after, These Violent Delights has everything you want in a dark academia romance. It's a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai.
Set in Shanghai in 1926, aA blood feud between two gangs leaves the city helpless. And in the grip of chaos.
The book follows Juliette Cai, an 18 year old at the heart of all the chaos. She's a former flapper. And she's returned to assume her role as heir of the Scarlet Gang —a network of criminals far above the law.
Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows.
As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their grudges aside and work together. Otherwise there will be no city left for either to rule.
This is a captivating read. If you're after dark academia books, then you will love this book. A fast paced romance with rival gangs, beautiful worldbuilding and heart-wrenching romance.
Good Reads Rating: 3.92
This post was all about books like Legendborn
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Books like Legendborn - Comparison table
Use the comparison table below to see the rating, tropes, price estimate and trigger/content warning.
Name & Author
Gilded ones by Namina Forna
found family, fantasy, adventure,
toxic masculinity, an extremely patriarchal society, mentions of and discussion of rape, enslavement of characters based on color of their blood, death of main character, mind control, xenophobia, misogyny, brutal abuse of main characters and side characters, and discussion of genocide
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
long lost friend, competition, found family
Lore features themes of sexual assault, child brides, and mentions rape/attempted rape
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
magic, adventure, royalty, enemies to lovers
Bright and Pale by Jessica Rubinowski
long lost friends, quest,
Grief, Violence, Abandonment, Death of parent, Gaslighting, and Murder.
Bone Criers Moon by Kathryn Purdie
enemies to lovers, fantasy, magic, found family, morally grey
Animal death/killing · Bone removal (animals) · Captivity · Death (parental) · Hunting · Murder · Ritual sacrifices · Trauma
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Enemies to lovers, arch-enemy, heroic vow, multiple pov
Attempted rape (on-page), Blood, Child abuse
We set the dark on fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
abusive relationship, Assault,
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Cinderella is dead by Kalynn Bayron
Six Crimson Cranes by ELizabeth Lim
magic, evil stepmother, slow burn romance, dragons
Enter your tdeath of a parent, murder, fire, animal death, bullying.ext here...