The fantasy genre was once dominated by male authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Robert Howard, but over the last 30 or 40 years, a growing number of female fantasy authors have also made a name for themselves in the genre, and fantasy has also become increasingly popular among female readers. If you have a budding young fantasy fan, here are some of the best fantasy novels for girls:
1. Jacques, Brian – Mariel of Redwall
Although Brian Jacques’s popular Redwall series featured many memorable female characters through the years, many girls list Mariel, a young mouse on a mission to rescue her father from pirates, as their all-time favorite.
2. Jones, Diana Wynne – Howl’s Moving Castle
An inventive stand-alone fantasy novel about an eldest daughter who resigns herself to a boring life preparing her younger sisters for adventure… only to have adventure find her instead.
3. Kaye, M.M. – The Ordinary Princess
A sweet and charming fairy tale about a princess who is given the gift of Ordinariness at her christening.
4. McKinley, Robin – Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
This beloved classic fairy tale retelling offers a fresh twist on Beauty and the Beast: a heroine who’s not only a bookish, horse-loving tomboy, but also rather plain. McKinley’s Newberry-award winning novel about a princess who becomes a knight, The Hero and the Crown, is also highly recommended.
5. Nix, Garth – Sabriel
Darker and scarier than most of the other books on this list, Sabriel is the first book in the Abhorsen Trilogy about the daughter of a necromancer who must fight the forces of evil to save her father.
6. Pierce, Tamora – Alanna: The First Adventure
An award-winning novel and the first in the popular Song of the Lioness fantasy series about a girl who disguises herself as a boy to become a knight. Girls who love animals will also love the author’s The Immortals series, which starts with Wild Magic and is set in the same kingdom as the Alanna series.
7. Pratchett, Terry – The Wee Free Men
Pratchett, author of the hugely popular Discworld fantasy series, has written several novels set in Discworld for children and teens. The Wee Free Men introduces Tiffany Aching, a clever young farm girl who hopes to become a witch. After her brother is kidnapped by fairies, she teams up with a rowdy group of pixies to get him back.
8. Pullman, Philip – The Golden Compass
A curious and appealing heroine and smart, complex worldbuilding have helped make this, the first novel in the His Dark Materials series, a modern classic of the fantasy genre.
9. Rowling, J.K. – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Although the titular protagonist is male, the Harry Potter series also offers a large and diverse cast of characters full of inspiring female role models and villainesses alike. Plus, it’s sheer fun.
10. Wrede, Patricia – Dealing With Dragons
Dealing With Dragons is the first in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a funny series that turns many common fairy tale tropes on their head. Princess Cimorene is bored of palace life, so she runs away and becomes a dragon’s princess, fending off would-be rescuers and scheming wizards along the way.
What are your favorite fantasy novels for girls?
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