If you’re anything like us, you couldn’t wait to watch Netflix’s latest fantasy series, Shadow and Bone. An adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s original Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, the magical drama is filled with incredible world-building, complex heroes, rakish heists, and enticing villains. But if bingeing the eight-episode first season only left you wanting more, we have you covered.
Whether you’re new to fantasy or well-versed in the expansive genre, building out your reading list can seem intimidating without some guidance. Reading all of Bardugo’s Grishaverse books, including the recent Nikolai duology, is a great place to start. But for those who want to keep going, we’ve compiled a guide to the very best books that align with the heart of what makes the Grishaverse so special. So if your favorite part of Shadow and Bone is Alina’s (Jessie Mei Li) journey to embracing her own power, Kaz’s (Freddy Carter) charming caper crew, the alluring edge of the Darkling (Ben Barnes), or the Russia-inspired culture of Ravka, we’re confident there’s at least one book you’ll fall hard for on this list.
This dark fantasy features so much for Shadow and Bone fans to love: an intricate, Slavic-inspired world; a divine young girl tasked with saving her kingdom; an alluring boy with a terrible secret; and a weary prince unsure of his identity off the battlefield. Set amid a centuries-long war between Kalyazin, a devout polytheistic country where only a select few can access the gods’ magic, and Tranavia, a country that cast out the gods and is ruled by ruthless blood mages, Wicked Saints is a seductively brutal tale about power, faith, and agency. It’s also metal as hell, with creatively incorporated elements of cosmic horror. The series’ extensive lore adds a wonderful sense of history to this story, and it features an epic enemies-to-lovers romance that will be sure to resonate with any Darkling fans.
One of the most delightful parts of Six of Crows is its refreshing break from the traditional Chosen One journey, instead giving us a full-blown fantasy caper. The Gilded Wolves takes a similar tack, following a multicultural crew of magical thieves in 19th-century Paris who attempt to pull off a heist that could change the world. Each team member is beautifully developed, with their own unique voice and complex motivations — from the leader, Séverin, a half-French, half-Algerian hotelier who’s determined to reclaim his birthright; to Laila, an Indian cabaret star searching for a book that could save her life; to Enrique, a bisexual half-Filipino, half-Spanish historian looking for his place in the fight for Filipino independence. This lavish, fast-paced adventure is an inventive exploration of colonialism and what it’s like to navigate between two often opposing cultures, which serves as the foundation for the charming cast of characters. And the clever plot will keep you guessing every step of the way.
One of the best additions to the young-adult fantasy genre in recent years, this four-book series begins as so many do: with a young girl who decides to take on impossible odds to help those she loves. After Laia’s brother is arrested, she agrees to venture into the heart of the Martial Empire’s military academy to spy for a rebel group, in exchange for saving the last family she has left. There, she meets an unlikely ally in the school’s most decorated soldier, Elias, who dreams of being free from the tyrannical Empire he fights for. As the series’ page-turning plot develops, Tahir masterfully builds out the historical mythology of this world, blending influences from ancient Rome and Middle Eastern folklore into a wholly original and often heartbreaking story about imperialism, oppression, and destiny populated by an ensemble of unforgettable heroes and compelling villains.
The first book in the Legacy of Orïsha series is getting its own screen adaptation produced by Lucasfilm, and it’s easy to understand why. Adeyemi takes readers into the vibrant and dangerous world of Orïsha, where a sadistic king has wiped out magic, allowing him to slaughter and oppress the now-defenseless maji. But when young Zélie learns there’s a way to return magic to the world, she teams up with an unexpected ally, the king’s daughter Amari, to outrun the magic-hating prince Inan and free her people. It’s an engrossing coming-of-age story with pointed explorations of racism and allyship, impeccable world-building that pulls from West African mythology and Yoruba culture, and captivating magic, including Zélie’s ability to commune with the dead.
Cunning Nahri is making a living as a con woman in 18th-century Cairo when she accidentally summons Dara, a powerful daeva (or what we’d call a djinn). He reveals that she’s the last descendant of a revered line of magical daeva healers and forces her to journey with him to the gilded city of Daevabad. Once stranded there alone, Nahri must navigate deadly court politics, warring daeva tribes, and violent prejudices, while discovering the truth of her legacy. Much like Shadow and Bone’s Alina, Nahri’s unique abilities raise her to sainthood for many, and watching Nahri learn how to become more than just a divine figurehead for scheming politicians and a true champion for the disenfranchised is a mesmerizing journey that defies predictability. This trilogy is filled with an array of fascinating figures and fantastical creatures that pull from Islamic folklore, delivering fresh spins on chosen one and enemies-to-lovers tales.
In Otera, all women are forced to undergo a purity ritual at the age of 16. On the day of her ceremony, Deka’s blood doesn’t run the hoped-for red, instead revealing itself to be a cursed gold. Now considered a demon, Deka is forced to face a consequence worse than death by the village elders, until an enigmatic woman rescues her and recruits her into a new army made up of girls just like her. Known as alaki, near-immortal young women with superhuman speed and strength, Deka and her new blood sisters are trained to face the scourge of the kingdom, monstrous creatures known as deathshrieks. But inside the training grounds, Deka discovers not all is as it seems — even among the alaki, she is an anomaly, with terrifying abilities she can’t explain. A phenomenal feminist epic with shocking twists and beautiful friendships, The Gilded Ones is a powerful start to this West African–inspired series that already has a movie adaptation in the works.
Set in a world where the written word is nonexistent, young orphan Sefia’s life is forever changed once she discovers that the odd artifact she inherited from her father is a book. As she teaches herself to read, Sefia discovers that the stories inside the book are all true … though not all of them have occurred yet. Using the magical book as her guide, Sefia sets out on an adventure to rescue her aunt from dangerous abductors and uncover the mystery behind these prophetic tales. Along the way, she develops close relationships with Archer, a mute boy who’s gone through the unimaginable to survive, and the pirate Cannek Reed, a good-hearted rogue who will appeal to any fans of the Grishaverse’s Sturmhund. The Reader is the first book in a meta series about fate, self-determination, and the power of the written word, but it’s the characters that Chee has created that will steal your heart — and possibly break it more than a few times.
In Lyra’s world, all people are born with dæmons, physical manifestations of their soul that take the form of talking animals. When Lyra’s best friend Roger goes missing, she and her dæmon Pan embark on a risky journey north to save him, and along the way they uncover the nefarious conspiracy behind the rash of kidnappings and its connection to a substance known as Dust (or what Christians would call Original Sin). As the His Dark Materials trilogy progresses, it evolves into a philosophical coming-of-age saga, as Lyra partners with Will, a boy from another world, in a journey across universes as they try to outmaneuver powerful figures fighting to either destroy or maintain the power of the ruling church. Much like Mal (Archie Renaux) and Alina, Lyra and Will are forced to make painful sacrifices, but they are helped throughout the journey by an ensemble of instantly lovable friends — including an armored bear, a witch, and a Texan aeronaut — on their quest to, essentially, kill God.
Like the tailors of the Grishaverse, the titular Belles are women gifted with the ability to alter human appearances. With the rest of humanity cursed with naturally gray skin, it’s only through procuring the Belles’ services that people can keep up with the ever-changing beauty standards that make or break one’s social standing in opulent Orléans. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court to take up this duty, she discovers everything she knew about the history of the Belles is a lie — and that her powers are far more dangerous than she ever knew. Imagining a richly detailed world where beauty is commodified and revered above all else,The Belles celebrates all types of beauty, while drawing damning parallels to our own world, exposing the gruesome horrors that often lurk underneath glamorous façades.
One of the best things about the Grishaverse is Bardugo’s detailed explorations of the origin, methodical applications, and limitations of the Small Science. And fortunately for fans, All the Stars and Teeth delivers an equally intricate magical mythology. The duology is set on an island kingdom where all citizens can choose a single magical specialty — all except the royal family, whose dangerous soul magic is bound to a vicious beast that seeks to destroy humanity. Whenever Princess Amora uses her powers, she must fight to keep the monster linked to her soul at bay, or risk becoming a vessel for its destruction. But after she slips up during a public demonstration, Amora is forced to flee all that she’s known in order to escape possible execution. With the aid of a swashbuckling pirate Bastien, Amora sets out on a thrilling seafaring adventure, where she’ll uncover dark secrets about her magic, face legendary monsters, and try to save her kingdom from a terrifying new threat.
Celaena Sardothien is a convicted teenage assassin whose deadly knife skills could give Inej (Amita Suman) a run for her money. While serving her sentence in a death camp, Celaena gets an offer she can’t refuse: act as the crown prince of Adarlan’s champion in a tournament to select the next royal assassin, in exchange for her eventual freedom. But once Celaena’s competitors start turning up dead, she uncovers a sinister plot with implications extending far beyond Adarlan’s borders. As the seven-book series progresses, the stakes of Celaena’s story are raised as fantastical new characters — including demons, fae, and witches — are introduced. Though the books don’t shy away from violence and feature several nail-biting battle scenes, the Throne of Glass series is very much a high-fantasy fairy tale, featuring harlequin romances with the glittering promise of happily ever afters.