Sorry it's been so long since the last post in this series! You can catch up on all the previous posts here (contemporary, sci-fi/dystopian, historical, and paranormal YA have already been covered), but this time it's YA fantasy trends.
- Time travel is the next "hot" topic. I think time travel stories hold a lot of potential for creativity — and apparently publishers think so too, with offerings such as the Hourglass series by Myra McEntire, the Ruby Red series by Kerstin Gier, the River of Time series by Lisa Bergren, and Tempest by Julie Cross. Not always "fantasy" in the strictest sense, I know, but time travel books kind of fit into several genres...
- Retellings — both fairytale and mythological — are holding their own. On the fairy tale side of things, we've got books like the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Jackson Pearce's fairy tale companion books (Fathomless is releasing this year), Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maass, and Enchanted by Alethea Kontis. In terms of mythology, there's a whole subsection just for "the underworld" stories, like Meg Cabot's Abandon trilogy, the Sirenz series by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman, the Everneath series by Brodi Ashton, and The Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter. Other mythological retellings (or stories with mythological aspects) include the Starcrossed series by Josephine Angelini, the Medusa Girls series by Tera Lynn Childs, Starling by Lesley Livington, and the Gods & Monsters series by Kelly Keaton. And there are even a few upcoming fantasy retellings of classic tales like Jane Eyre (Ironskin by Tina Connolly) and the Ugly Duckling (The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors).
On a related note, fairytale retellings seem to be popping up in TV and movies as well! Any of you who have not yet tuned into the TV show Once Upon A Time, you guys are missing out. And I haven't watched Grimm but I know that it's a CSI-style show based on the Grimm fairytales. Also, be on the lookout this year for the movies Snow White and the Huntsman (yes, it stars Kristen Stewart – but seriously, check out the cool trailer!) and Mirror Mirror (which has Julia Roberts in it, even though the trailer makes me think a lot of the comedy might not be my style).
- Here be dragons — well, a few, anyway. Dragons are no vampires in YA, at least not yet. But there seems to be the start of a renewed interest in these fire-breathing monsters, with books like Sophie Jordan's Firelight series, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Prophecy by Ellen Oh, and Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey.
- Faeries are in, but elves and dwarves are not. Tolkien-esque fantasy does not yet seem to have made its way back into popularity, but faeries still hold an allure for readers. (Note the spelling there: by and large these are the unpredictable, can't-always-be-trusted "fey," not the Tinkerbell type of fairies.) Examples of upcoming faerie releases include Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier, The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long, The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney, The Falconer by Elizabeth May, The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton, and Luminance Hour by Ryan Graudin.
- Thieves and assassins are stealing readers' hearts. In a way, I think this is kind of the fantasy version of the trend in historical YA for secret agents and spies. I guess there's something about the seedy underbelly of a city that draws readers in... Recent or upcoming books that fit into this category are Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell, Mastiff by Tamora Pierce, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maass, Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers, and Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce.
- Oddly enough, "touch" seems to be an important theme in fantasy (and paranormal) YA these days. I don't know if this is just a fluke or what, but with books like Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder, Touched by Corrine Jackson, the A Touch trilogy by Leah Clifford, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, the Clarity series by Kim Harrington, and the Curse Workers series by Holly Black...it seems like this idea is becoming popular. What do you think?
- Unusual settings (for fantasy) and PoC characters are making an appearance. I wouldn't say yet that either of these aspects are common in YA fantasy, but hopefully others will follow these authors' leads and make it happen. We're talking books such as Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, the Wildefire series by Karsten Knight, the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson, and Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson.