July 14, 2013

Cross My Palm 2013: YA Fantasy

The first Cross My Palm 2013 post took a look at trends in sci-fi YA, the second one analyzed contemporary YA. This week it's fantasy YA! This is just based on my own observations of books and what I've seen publishers/authors/other bloggers talking about. (Note: like last year, I'll be dedicating a separate post to paranormal YA.)

Trends from last year's post that are still going strong:

- Assassins, thieves, and things that go bump in the night. Well, something like that. If you're writing about these in the YA fantasy genre, you are in good company. Several series are on the go, including Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassin series, Ari Marmell's Widdershins series, and Sarah Maass's Throne of Glass series. There are also upcoming releases like Deathsworn by Leah Cypess, Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong, and Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne.

- There's still a ravenous appetite for fairy tales. A fan of Bluebeard? Try Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson. Beauty and the Beast more your style? Keep an eye out for Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. Prefer The Snow Queen? You're in luck: Jackson Pearce's Cold Spell releases in November, and Crown of Ice by Vicki Lemp Weavill is due out next year. There's also The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman, Minnow by Stephanie Oakes, Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley, Mortal by Sarah J. Maass... and then if you want a little of everything, there are the books that mash up fairy tales: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal, Trail of Shadows and Blood by Bianca Ison, Banished by Liz de Jager, Stray by Elissa Sussman, and of course, the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

- And not just "fairy tales" but tales of the fey. That's right, there are plenty of faerie stories alive and kicking in YA. From historical UK (The Falconer by Elizabeth May, the Faerie Ring series by Kiki Hamilton) to historical New York (Winterspell by Claire Legrand) to modern-day Boston (Breathless by Skylar Dorset) and modern-day London (All That Glows by Ryan Graudin), faeries are happening.

- Time travel – or in some cases, time manipulation. YA books featuring a traditional presentation of time travel are doing quite well; Julie Cross's Vortex was published earlier this year, Myra McEntire's Infinityglass and Kerstin Gier's Emerald Green come out in August and October respectively, and then there's the upcoming books The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen and The Eighth Guardian by Meredith McCardle. But I think a broader notion of time alteration/manipulation is on the rise, with books like Gennifer Albin's Crewel World series, Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee, and After You by Jessica Corra.

Hopeful trends that haven't quite gotten off the ground yet:

- Dragons. There's a smattering of dragon YA books — the Seraphina series by Rachel Hartman, the Newsoul series by Jodi Meadows, the Dragon King Chronicles by Ellen Oh — but I don't think this trend has yet, shall we say, taken flight.

- PoC characters. There are certainly at least a handful of recent and upcoming YA fantasy books featuring PoC characters — Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, Ink by Amanda Sun, The Night Itself by ZoĆ« Marriott, Gilded by Christina L. Farley, The Fire Wish by Amber Lough — but I would love to see more! I'd especially like to see a larger number where the protagonist is a person of colour, and also greater diversity generally in ethnicities represented.

New trends:

- Deserts. No, not desserts as in yummy chocolatey goodness, but rather those arid places lacking water. At the moment it seems very chic to give your YA fantasy novel a desert setting. Sarah Beth Durst did it with Vessel, Cassandra Rose Clarke with The Assassin's Curse, Rae Carson with Girl of Fire and Thorns, Moira Young with her Dust Lands series (admittedly, these probably fall more into the dystopian genre) and Amy McCulloch with The Oathbreaker's Shadow. I suspect we might get a desert-like atmosphere in Amber Lough's upcoming The Fire Wish, too. Let's face it: deserts are *hot* right now in YA fantasy. (See what I did there?)

 Vanishing trends:

- The power of touch. This made a brief appearance with books like Maria Snyder's Healer series, Holly Black's Curse Worker series, Corrine Jackson's The Sense Thieves series, Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me series, Leah Clifford's A Touch trilogy, and Kim Harrington's Clarity series. But it seems like it was a rather short-lived blip, because besides upcoming books from the aforementioned series, I don't think I've seen very many new books that would fall into this category. Have you?

You also might want to check out Stacked's Get Genrefied: High Fantasy post if you're looking for suggestions of YA books to read in this genre!

So, what do you think of these trends? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Think I'm way off base? Let me know your thoughts!


  1. I still love all the trends all the trends of last year as well as the desert setting. But that might just be because I love fantasy in general ;)

  2. I'm all for publishers jumping on the fantasy bandwagon. I'd like to see the dragon subgenre grow more and I' really like some YA epic/quest fantasy and court fantasy. Fairy tales and assassins/thieves always make me take a second look.

    Love you pun, btw :)


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