Best Holly Black Books to Explore YA Fantasy & Magic and Adult Fictions
Born in 1971, Holly Black is better known for her writing work, rather than other related activities – she is also a popular editor, but most of her notoriety comes from her young adult fiction and children's books. With a young adult, middle grade, and graphic novels or short fiction or poetry, Holly Black has made herself pretty clear in this industry. She has an impressive bibliography and is better known for The Spiderwick Chronicles and the Modern Faerie Tales. All in all, here are some of the best Holly Black books to give your thirst for fantasy a new perspective.
Holly Black is a longstanding name on the New York Times bestselling list. With more than 30 titles under her belt, she is a front runner in terms of fantasy novels – suitable for teenagers, as well as kids. She has also received a bunch of honors for her work, and her books have been translated into over 30 different languages – some of them adapted for cinematography as well. Now, what are some of the best Holly Black books to get a glimpse of her fantasy and adult fiction work?
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air Series)
Jude's life was not the best. Her parents were killed when she was only seven years old. Having two sisters, they all got kidnapped and ended up living in the High Court of Faerie. A decade later, Jude's plans are clearer than ever – she just wants to belong there. However, the fey are not really eager to welcome any humans around.
Prince Cardan is High King's youngest son – a vibrant personality and a sharp mind. In order to earn her place at the court, Jude must defy the young prince. However, her actions will inevitably bring in a series of unusual consequences, and things turn out ugly, as she gets to learn more about her harsh surroundings.
There are lots of secrets, deceptions, and intrigues. Jude discovers her passion for bloodshed. Betrayal is everywhere around her, and all these false characters aim to ruin the Courts of Faerie. Jude realizes that she will never be able to sort the problems by herself, so she comes out with some alliances in order to save her sisters.
Book of Night (2022)
Charlie Hall is a thief who steals magic books for a living. She has spent half her life stealing grimoires for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. They keep secrets as greedily as any miser, though instead of gold they covet grimoires full of spells. And they need Charlie to steal them.
Charlie is now a bartender trying to not get caught up in the drama of her past while also attempting to distance herself from any association with it. Troubling issues then arise for Charlie when her sister finally reveals what's going on with herself.
Books of Night seems to be one of the best Holly Black book for adult audiences who love some darkish mystery.
Tithe (Modern Faerie Tale Series)
If you thought faeries are all pink and friendly, this book will give you a completely different perception. The book follows Kaye's story. She is only 16 years old, but she likes to see herself as a modern nomad. She joins her mother in a rock tour, and she ends up moving from one city to another. It looks like a fun lifestyle, until one day…
An unusual attack out of nowhere sends Kaye back to her origins. She ends up in her childhood home, not knowing what to do next. She is back in industrial New Jersey, and she has no clue how to get her life back on track. As she tries to realize what happened, she finds out more about a war that she has never heard about.
Two rival faerie kingdoms are at war. They have always been fighting, but the last war is more intense than ever and aims to destroy Kaye's world. Not only does she try her best to recover her lifestyle, but she also realizes that her life is very fragile and likely to end too if she makes a bad move – what is she going to do next?
The Darkest Part of the Forest
Children do not use too much common sense when it comes to justice. They will kill monsters and have unusual expectations and goals – and they will actually try to fulfill them too. The story introduces the reader to Hazel and her brother Ben. They live in a small town full of both faeries and humans – living together, side by side, without really disturbing each other.
Faeries have magic abilities that bring tourists around. While they seem harmless, Hazel knows that such spells could be extremely dangerous. She thinks she knows how to stop them, or at least she has an idea. The story moves to a glass coffin in a forest. There is a boy inside it – horns on his head and pointy ears. He has been sleeping there for ages – never awake.
But one day, he wakes up. Being asleep for generations, he is up one day, and everything turns to 180 degrees. Hazel remembers when she used to be a knight in her childhood games and realizes that this is no longer a joke. She is split between love, friendship, family, betrayal, and loyalty. What is she going to do next to prevent her world from collapsing?
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Tana lives in a very unusual world. Communities of humans and monsters are trapped together in walled cities. All these cities are known as coldtowns. Once you get into the area, you will never be able to come back. You will be a prey first, but surviving will turn you into a hunter. Tana manages to stay away, until one morning… After the party of a lifetime, she wakes up surrounded by corpses.
She has no idea what might have happened. Everyone is dead around her, except for two other people. Her ex-boyfriend is also there and alive, as well as a boy she does not know. The boy seems to have a secret. He is strange and scary at the same time, but Tana tries to understand the issues behind his appearance. Does he know what could have happened?
The book goes from loathing to love – from revenge to rage and from horror to guilt. Tana knows she will need to save herself, as well as the two other survivors. However, her mission is challenging and demanding. To succeed, she knows she will have to move on to the heart of Coldtown itself – otherwise, she will never be able to make it, though.
Doll Bones is one of the best Holly Black books if you like a bit of horror and mystery mixed in with loyalty and suspense. There are three good friends in the book. Alice, Poppy, and Zach have always been friends. They love spending time together and playing with figure toys in their own world – a world full of magic that makes their lives better.
Everything changes one day. Zach's toys are gone. His father decides he is too big to play with such small toys, so he throws everything away. The three friends are crushed, especially since their world is incomplete now. Embarrassed and confused at the same time, Zach makes some radical decisions that might change his life forever – he stops being friends with Alice and Poppy too.
One night, the two girls secretly visit Zach and tell him about some unusual mysteries. Things happen, and they cannot find explanations. Poppy is being haunted by a doll now – a doll made of bones of a killed girl. To overcome this mystery, the three friends must bring the doll where the respective girl lived. She must be buried there, or they will be cursed forever. Will they succeed then?
Valiant (Modern Faerie Tale Series)
Valerie is only 17 years old and runs to New York City. She is sick and tired of her life. She can barely remember any happy moments from her life. She feels betrayed and sad – she knows nothing is going to happen in her hometown. She is ready to face anything in order to get away from home and start a new life.
Anyway, she ends up in the city of dreams, and she joins a gang of squatters. The gang lives in the subway system, and she adopts the rough lifestyle. Everyone trusts everyone, and everything changes when one of Valerie's new friends shows her an incredible secret. Dying to know more about what keeps the squatters together, she joins the fun and learns more about their goals.
One of the squatters entices Valerie to join the hunt of a mysterious creature. One way or another, everyone seems to be involved with the respective creature. But as she gets to know more about the monster, Valarie realizes that the problem is somewhere else and not in this creature. Has she just been betrayed again?
The Silver Mark
The Silver Mark is the fourth book in the Magisterium series and one of the best choices – obviously, reading the previous releases will give you some better clues about characters and background. It introduces you to Constantine Madden – a magician who is close to achieving more than any other magician. Constantine is about to discover how to bring people back from the dead.
He fails eventually. However, he found a way to live forever, but not inside his own body. Instead, he is trapped inside Callum Hunt's body – one of the most prolific kids at the Magisterium. He is also known as the black sheep among students – often associated with dangerous issues, war, and death. People want to know what Constantine has managed to achieve, but no one knows he is inside another body now.
Compared to the previous releases, this fourth book brings in more action and darkness than ever – a mix of action, mystery, and revenge.
Lots of fantasy and action, as well as a clear audience towards young adults – this is what White Cat brings in. The story follows Cassel. His past is quite dark. He murdered a 14-year-old girl and how he is cursed with her memory. As a direct result, his life in school is always challenging.
Every family member knows that Cassel is a murderer, and no one wants to accept that. However, his family is not too clean either. His family is among the largest crime families in the USA. Since magic is illegal, his magic family has had to go into crime.
There is, however, a secret associated with Cassel's family. Whether he wants it or not, chances are he will end up inheriting it. He is terrified about it, but he has no other choice. In a constant struggle to find some answers, he ends up in a sophisticated plot that aims to change the levels of power.
The Lost Sisters
There is often a very fine line between love and horror, and The Lost Sisters will give you the perfect thrills to experience this sensation. The story follows Jude, who had to fight Prince Cardan for power. Meanwhile, her sister Taryn fell in love with Locke.
Taryn does not seem to be the main character in the story, but her role becomes extremely important. It turns out that she has some overwhelming secrets that threaten to come out. This is when action and a few plot twists kick in.
The novel is a companion book to a different one – The Cruel Prince. In order to understand what is going on, you would have to go through the main book first – get some ideas about the characters and their backgrounds.
The Poison Eaters and Other Stories
This is one of the most impressive Holly Black books and part of her first collection over. The story gets back to Tithe, a dark world where you could run into devils, faeries, werewolves, and vampires, among many others.
Readers will be introduced to an unusual faerie market. Later on, a mysterious girl kicks in. Then, another one. Things may not seem to make sense at first, but they are all related in one way or another by the end of the book.
There are more stories in this book, and each of them covers different scenarios. The writing style is full of action and suspense, but expect a bit of humor too every now and then. There is a bit of everything in there.
A Flight of Angels
This novel features beautiful illustrations and a fellow author – Bill Willingham for the fables. The story takes place in a mystical kingdom. A bunch of faeries and other creatures run into a dying angel. They decide to call a tribunal and figure out what to do with him.
Every character has a different point of view regarding angels. Some of them claim they are dangerous, while others believe in extreme powers. Some stories can get quite macabre, while others are clean and mysterious.
The action may seem relatively mild to a certain point. However, the suspense builds up as you go through the book. At some point, you will end up taking sides and changing your ideas based on the plot twists.
Kin (The Good Neighbors)
Kin is part of the Good Neighbors series, one of the most appreciated collections from Holly Black. Rue Silver is challenged with a few unhappy moments. Her mother is gone – no one knows where she is or what happened to her. Meanwhile, her father has been arrested as a suspect.
However, things are not that direct. Rue is a faerie, just like her mother. Her father did not kill her, and there is no evidence about it. Instead, he broke a promise to a faerie king – as a direct consequence, her mother had to fly back.
Rue needs to figure how to solve the problem. She knows what has happened, but she needs to save her mother and bring her back. The challenge is not that easy, though, as there are dark characters trying to stop her.
The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles)
Part of a long and interesting collection – The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Field Guide will constantly surprise you with its plot twists. Jared has a twin brother – Simon, as well as a sister – Mallory. They find a handmade guide in the attic of a house and decide to see what it is about.
They find a magical world hidden behind theirs. There is a parallel universe there, and they have the knowledge to go there. It is a faerie world that is very attractive to them, but it can also be extremely dangerous.
The three kids will try to share the story and let everyone know about this parallel world. However, the faeries do not want to be discovered and will try everything they can to stop the kids from accomplishing their mission.
As a short final conclusion, these are some of the most attractive Holly Black books to try out. Some of them have been released as standalone novels, while others belong to longer collections. You only need to go through one book of a series, and you will be instantly hooked in. Whether you are into suspense and magic or you simply love fantasy books, Holly Black's work will not disappoint you – and the list can go further.
If you are a big fan of Holly Black you could also check the best books from Victoria Aveyard.