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The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

From awesome retellings of Beauty and the Beast to Les Miserables, epic historical novels, to romantic fantasy stories, here are The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019.

In the modern book marketplace, there are endless novels released each year. From sweeping historical romances, swoony paranormal romances, to imaginative fairy tale retellings, how is a reader to choose?

As both an editor of The Silver Petticoat Review and as a young adult librarian, I narrowed my 2019 reading pile down to just young adult literature. (And yes, I’m ready to pick up some adult books and classics.) Finally, with 2019 behind us, I am here to recommend several of the best YA novels of 2019 to all the wonderful readers here.

Overall, with about 100 novels read throughout the year (I wish I could have read more), I narrowed the best YA novels of 2019 down to 25. Romance, fantasy, the supernatural, sci-fi, historical, retellings, and romanticism all dominated my reading selections and is also a focus on this list. (Sorry, I don’t include excellent YA social issue novels. It’s just not my thing or the theme of this site.)

Furthermore, while I read several graphic novels and nonfiction, I decided to concentrate only on fiction for this particular list.

Once selected, I also reached out to the authors of these fantastic YA books so you could get to know a little more about some of these wonderful writers and books. They talk about their most romantic books, best writing advice, recent book recommendations, and so much more. (On a side note, I would love to add more if any authors on this list are interested.)

Without further ado, it’s time to share the best YA novels of 2019. Hopefully, you’ll find a book that speaks to you. Additionally, I included Amazon links and Goodreads so you can add books to your reading lists. Make sure to follow the authors too. Enjoy!

The 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

(In Alphabetical Order)

#1: American Royals by Katharine McGee

The Silver Petticoat Review's 25 Best YA Novels of 2019: American Royals Book Cover

Imagine that when the Americans won the Revolutionary War, George Washington became King instead of the first President. Just imagine the royal line down to today with all the paparazzi interest in kings, queens, and princesses.

That is the premise for American Royals, an addicting novel full of several swoony romances (including a princess and her bodyguard) that entertains from start to finish. However, prepare yourselves for a cliffhanger…

Meet Katharine McGee

The author I’d trade places with for a day: “Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is one of my absolute favorites. I’d love to find out how he manages to write such compelling stories, both on the broad thematic level and sentence by sentence. I’d probably also look through his notes to see if I could find out how the story ends 🙂 “

A recent book I couldn’t stop reading: “I absolutely loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I listened to it on audiobook, and it got to the point where I was listening constantly—while I was driving or cooking dinner, yes, but also while I was supposed to be working, or while I put up my Christmas tree. It was so good, I hated turning it off!”

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be… “I always wanted to be a French professor! Or maybe I would live in Paris and teach English and eat croissants all the time.”

The best piece of writing advice I ever received: “I used to work in editorial, and my old boss always told authors not to stress the first draft too much. You’re going to rewrite most of it anyway! I try to remember that the first draft is for figuring out the broad strokes of the story, not for getting bogged down in the details.”

A Favorite Classic Book I always return to… “Before there was Downton Abbey, there was Edith Wharton. She’s the absolute queen of upstairs-downstairs romance and forbidden love, of social commentary, and of beautiful language.”

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#2: The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

The Babysitters Coven book cover

If you love Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed and also read The Babysitters Club religiously, this is the book for you! The Babysitter’s Coven falls nicely into the same witty contemporary fantasy genre as Buffy, and that’s a rare find these days. Also, the idea behind the Sitter mythology and how it connects to horror films with babysitters was particularly funny and creative.

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#3: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019: The Beautiful Book Cover

Vampires, New Orleans, and a historical fantasy set in 1872? Add in romance, a mysterious serial killer, and compelling characters? For those reasons, The Beautiful had my name written on it in bold letters. And it didn’t disappoint. If you love vampires, The Originals, or the author, you should definitely read The Beautiful. And here’s to hoping for more vampire novels in 2020!

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#4: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Bone Houses Book Cover

The Bone Houses is an original fantasy that reminds me of the excellent YA novels I read in my youth like Sabriel. The story is about Ryn, a gravedigger, who fights risen corpses she calls bone houses. However, more and more are rising, and the village is in grave danger.

Meanwhile, a mysterious mapmaker named Ellis arrives. Together, they must discover the truths of their past and enter the dangerous mountains where the dead are not far behind. Romance, adventure, believable characters, The Bone Houses has it all.

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#5: Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

Butterfly Yellow Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review's Best 25 YA Novels of 2019

Butterfly Yellow takes place at the end of the Vietnam War. It follows Hằng, a Vietnamese refugee in Texas looking to reunite with her brother, and LeeRoy, a city boy who longs to be a cowboy looking for rodeos over the summer. It’s a strange pairing that surprisingly works.

Overall, the novel is quietly poetic and beautiful written. The way Thanhha Lai uses language to immerse readers seamlessly into both Hằng’s and LeeRoy’s understanding of one another is truly masterful. As a result, the literary quality is superb. Without a doubt, Butterfly Yellow is definitely one of the best YA novels of the year.

Meet Thanhha Lai

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be… “a naturalist. Going up in Vietnam I was sure I would go into the wild and discover a bug and name it the ‘Thanhha Lai bug.”’

A book I can’t stop talking about “is News of the World by Paulette Jiles.”

The best piece of writing advice I ever received: “I have the right to suck as long as necessary to turn out something decent.”

My biggest challenge as a writer “is sitting still.”

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#6: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

Call Down the Hawk Book Cover

Call Down the Hawk is more mature and older (keep that in mind) than most of the novels on the list. I also wasn’t aware that this isn’t the first book about these characters. However, if you love The Raven Boys, then you will appreciate this new story as well. Maggie Stiefvater is a storyteller and her imagination in creating these dreamers was wonderfully told with figurative language and symbols that weave nicely into the novel.

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#7: The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

The Candle and the Flame Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Fatima lives in Noor, a fantastic city where people of varying religions and cultures live in peace. The setting is based on Middle-Eastern mythology and is absolutely gorgeous. I can see it. Feel it. Taste it (you’ll be hungry sometimes). Furthermore, the world of Noor is richly developed, where you easily imagine the beauty of the landscape.

The story of Fatima is about a human girl who is given the fire of a Djinn. When her mentor dies, Fatima enters the royal world of the Maharajah and becomes the name giver. Meanwhile, she meets Zulfikar, a Djinn commander beginning the sparks of an interesting romance. I also loved that this is a stand-alone fantasy. Nafiza Azad is a debut author with a promising future.

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#8: A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse so Dark and Lonely Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

A Curse So Dark and Lonely follows Harper and Rhen in this Beauty and the Beast retelling, switching back and forth from their perspectives. As a huge Beauty and the Beast reader (I devour the folklore, read retellings, and watch almost every adaptation), I give props for originality in a sea of so many. First of all, the writer knows what makes a good Beauty and the Beast story (she has all the right ingredients while still making the tale fresh).


Beyond that, the novel is also hugely influenced by Arthurian chivalrous romance, particularly with Grey. He’s the protective knight, and you will adore him. Altogether, there’s action with fantastic battle scenes to engage readers, a compelling romantic triangle in a non-annoying way, excellent characterization, and it’s just super readable. While the book ends on a cliffhanger, book two is only one day away! Generally speaking, if you’re a reader of fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and good chivalrous romance, this one should be at the top of your list.

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#9: The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl Book Cover

In this wonderfully crafted historical fiction, Jo Kuan is a Chinese American living in 1890s Atlanta. Secretly, she writes under the pseudonym Miss Sweetie for the newspaper family she’s watched from the shadows. In her column that begins to take Atlanta by storm, Jo makes controversial statements about race and gender, and everyone wants to know who the real Miss Sweetie actually is. Meanwhile, Jo also goes on a journey of self-discovery. Who are her parents? Why was she abandoned?

The story is truly gripping from start to finish with superb writing and layered characters. To top it all off? A sweet old-fashioned romance that warms the heart. Overall, The Downstairs Girl is absolutely charming.

Meet Stacey Lee

The author I’d trade places with for a day: “Brandy Colbert, author of THE REVOLUTION OF BIRDIE RANDOLPH, because I love her books, and I want a sneak peek at what she’s writing next. Plus, she is much hipper than me, and it would be nice a cool kid for a change.”

Two books I can’t stop talking about: “Kip Wilson’s WHITE ROSE which is a verse novel about a student resistance group in the Third Reich. It has all the feels, set against a dark period of history, and it’s gorgeously written.

“And, I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE by Christine Day, a middle-grade novel about a girl discovering her family’s secrets and her Native American roots. I’m excited about this book not only because it fills a great need for books about Native Americans, but it’s also full of hope.”

A book I can’t stop reading (listening to on audiobook): “Laura Ruby’s THIRTEEN DOORWAYS, WOLVES BEHIND THEM ALL, a haunting, beautiful tale of two girls (one alive, one dead) during World War II. I’m a little obsessed with Laura’s writing. Each sentence is so full of meaning.”

A great piece of writing advice comes from “Sherri L. Smith, author of FLY GIRL and the upcoming THE BLOSSOM AND THE FIREFLY, which is to reconnect with nature as a way to awake storytelling. The world speaks to us, but we have to listen.”

A favorite book that I think should be a classic “is PASHMINA by Nidhi Chanani, a graphic novel about an Indian American teenager who begins to understand why her mother left her native country through the magic of a pashmina shawl. The art is as delightful as the story is heartwarming.”

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#10: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Before reading The Fountains of Silence, I didn’t know a lot about the dictatorship of Spain under Franco. It’s a solid historical fiction book with a fabulous love story as well. If you’re a fan of Spanish Period Dramas like Velvet, you should read Fountains of Silence. Needless to say, the writing, the impeccable characterization, and the story immerses you in the past and stays with you long after the last page.

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#11: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens Book Cover

The fantasy western setting in a YA book is rare. Of course, I was utterly immersed in the writer’s powerful imagination. Furthermore, the female characters and their horrifying struggles were also excellent. I don’t often see a YA novel about teens sold into sex slavery in a fantasy setting or about girls on the run. If you’re interested in stories like Firefly meets The Handmaid’s Tale (without the explicit content), I highly recommend this intelligent novel.

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#12: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

The Good Luck Girls Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

The fantasy western setting in a YA book is rare. Of course, I was completely immersed in the writer’s powerful imagination. Furthermore, the female characters and their horrifying struggles were also excellent. I don’t often see a YA novel about teens sold into sex slavery in a fantasy setting or about girls on the run. If you’re interested in stories like Firefly meets The Handmaid’s Tale (without the explicit content), I highly recommend this intelligent novel.

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#13: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady Rogue Book Cover

The Orient Express, castles in Romania, witty banter, and magic, what’s not to love? In the story, Theodora’s father is an archeological treasure hunter (think Indiana Jones meets The Mummy) who goes missing.

Soon, she partners up with her ex in a search through Romania to find Vlad the Impaler’s ring and save her father. Too bad, there are bad people and maybe even a one-eyed wolf trying to kill them along the journey. Additionally, if you like romantic banter, Bennett sets just the right tone. She also writes adult urban fantasy novels, and that influence really shows marvelously.

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#14: The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined
by Stephanie Hemphill

The Language of Fire Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Joan of Arc is one of the most fascinating females in history with several fictional interpretations over the years. With that in mind, this novel in verse charmingly explores her story. For example, the narrative tells Joan’s entire story, even using her name as she used it. Jehanne is more real. Human. Not to mention, the story is more accurate to the history of Joan of Arc than many versions I’ve read or watched on screen.

For example, the research done here is close to flawless, and any changes are explained with the word “reimagining.” Moreover, I feel Stephanie Hemphill’s passion for Joan’s history, and it really comes across in the telling. The addition of fire imagery throughout the book also really brought everything together nicely.

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#15: The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

The Light at the Bottom of the World Book Cover

It’s the end of the 21st century in this Sci-Fi adventure, and the entire world lives underwater. Leyla, a British Muslim, lives in London. Soon, her father’s arrested, and she will do anything to set him free. So, she goes on a quest to leave London and save her father, all with the help of Ari, a boy she barely knows.

In the deep seas, Leyla and Ari face unknown sea creatures, a corrupt government that chases them, and the frightening anthropoids (a new human species created in the Old World that are stronger and can breathe underwater) who are terrorizing the New World.

Overall, the imaginative world-building and genuine suspense (one scene like actually scared me) made for an exciting book. I liked the romance too, but I don’t want to say anything more about that without giving away spoilers. You should just read this one for yourself…

Meet London Shah

My biggest challenge as a writer: “Without any hesitation whatsoever, drafting. It’s the longest part of my writing process, and just takes forever! I’m distracted far too easily, and I cannot bear to face a blank page. On the other hand, I find the editing process incredibly exciting and interesting!”

A book I can’t stop talking about: “It has to be S K Ali’s Love from A to Z. Ali manages to capture contemporary Muslim identity in the realest way—and does so while protecting and highlighting the everyday beautiful in our lives. It’s such an empowering and enlightening book.

“To see in the unforgettable Zeyneb not only a Muslim girl, but an unapologetically Muslim girl means everything to me. To hear such thoughts and words from her, to witness the way she refuses to accept ignorance in all its forms, is just glorious. Love from A to Zbelongs in every bookshop, library, and classroom. It’s astoundingly good.”

A Favorite Classic Book I always return to: “I very rarely re-read a book. Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange is one of only two classics I can recall reading twice. My head spun when I first discovered it. It’s the language, what Burgess does with it, how he adapts and reinvents it. I absolutely love it.

“I recall feeling so incredibly excited by it. His linguistic choices really suit the themes of the book—the contrast between the two is exquisite. The main character’s own register is to die for and remains one of my absolute favourite fictional voices. It really is an exceptional read.”

A Recent book I couldn’t stop reading: “Nadine Jolie Courtney’s All-American Muslim Girl. I couldn’t put it down, and loved and appreciated every page. Sweet and brave 16-yr-old Muslim Allie’s tale is an utterly fascinating one, and her sheer determination and integrity will absolutely win your hearts.

“Allie is a non-practising Muslim girl who explores her identity and realises her growing desire to practice her faith. It’s just the most perfect portrayal of identity and growing up. It also smashes so many stereotypes about Muslims and Islam. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I wish every high school library had several copies.”

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#16: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Lovely War is a romantic WWI saga with a compelling mix of sweeping romance, well-researched historical fiction, Greek mythology, and outstanding characterization. The story begins in WWII in Manhattan as the goddess of love, Aphrodite, goes on trial because her husband found out she was having an affair with the god Apollo. To plead her case, she decides to tell a love story of two souls she brought together near the end of WWI.

During WWI, Hazel and James have a very sweet romance that tugs at the heartstrings in all the best ways, particularly at the climax of the book. Beyond Hazel and James is another fantastic love story between Aubrey, an African American Jazz musician soldier from New York, and Collette, a Belgian girl who was orphaned by the Germans. Basically, if you love epic romances, Greek mythology, and old-fashioned period dramas, Lovely War should be at the top of your reading list. It’s excellent.

Meet Julie Berry

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be… “I suppose I’d still be doing what I did before, which was technical sales and marketing, but I do think it would be wonderful to own a bookstore. Or to be a schoolteacher. Presenting in schools around the country has made me fall in love with the classroom environment and the opportunity to make a difference to bright young minds.”

The best piece of writing advice I ever received… “I’m not sure it’s writing advice. Maybe it’s just advice for living. But this quote, by Henry Van Dyke, has always meant a lot to me. ‘Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang but those that sang the best.'”

My biggest challenge as a writer: “My biggest challenge as a writer is simply finding time to write. Life can be so maddeningly busy and distracting. Challenge number two would be finding faith in a new project or a new idea. Like a newborn foal, all gimpy and wobbly, a story idea in its early stages looks weak, clumsy, and covered in slime. It takes faith and hope to see past the weaknesses and trust the story, and yourself, to grow past the awkward stage into something strong and graceful. Self-doubt may be our greatest enemy. It does, however, keep us humble, which is helpful.”

A Favorite Classic Book I always return to…North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I love the book so desperately. I know people are passionate about the film adaptation, but to me the book is sacrosanct and I can’t cope with any alterations. Not for this title.”

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#17: The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

The Princess and the fangirl book cover

Set in the Geekerella universe, this is still a stand-alone romantic comedy that anyone can read. Altogether, it’s funny, the teen voices are authentic, and this will highly appeal to anyone who ever attended a con. That being said, this very engrossing book will also appeal to anyone who loves a good romantic comedy.

Furthermore, Ashley Poston successfully creates a fictional sci-fi fandom reminiscent of Firefly or Star Trek. Overall, I recommend this to readers who want YA novels that believe in happily ever afters because stories that make you feel good are important too. Extra points for the Ten and Rose shout out!

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#18: Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Sky Without Stars Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

The novel is basically Les Misérables in space. And this Les Mis retelling surprisingly fits into the science fiction/fantasy world seamlessly. The idea of revolution in a futuristic world just makes sense. Add in Sci-fi technology, romance, and memorable characters (the Inspector is a cyborg in this version), and you have a great start to a new series.

While the book is almost 600 pages, the alternating points of view and short chapters make for a quick read. Overall, this is an enjoyable science fiction novel with excellent world-building.

I’m looking forward to book two.

Meet Joanne Rendell

The most romantic book I ever read: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy! I know, I know, it’s not exactly the book most people think of when they think of most romantic book ever! But I just love this epic story of 19th century Russia.

“In particular, I adore the love story between Natasha and Pierre. They don’t fall immediately in love, but their love grows as they grow themselves. Through great losses and challenges, ups and downs, they become better and more mature people who eventually realize they are meant for each other. It’s a romance that feels so earned and beautiful!”

The best piece of writing advice I ever received: “’Write at least 500 words a day!’ A writing teacher told me this a long time ago and its SUCH invaluable advice. The important thing, though, is that those 500 words don’t have to be brilliant, they don’t have to be for the project you’re currently working on, and you can completely rewrite them later that day or on some other day. But just the act of writing will work your ‘writing muscles,’ and over time that will make you a better and more productive writer!”

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be… “A movie director!! Well, that’s a fantasy, but realistically I would be happy to do anything on a movie set, even serving the coffee or sticking down wires with gaffer tape! My teen son is budding filmmaker and through him, and through a couple of experiences as an extra on a movie set, I find the whole process so interesting and, most of all, collaborative. I love how a whole “village” of people come together to bring a vision and story to life!”

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#19: Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Song of the Crimson Flower Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

This is set in the same world as Forest of a Thousand Lanterns but is a stand-alone novel anyone can understand. Even though I haven’t read the previous books in this world, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Vietnamese Fairy Tale fantasy novel. Not to mention, I didn’t feel like I was missing any crucial details. Aside from all that, Julie C. Dao’s writing style captures the essence of a fairy tale with clarity and absolute beauty. There was a sort of simplicity to the writing that was super engaging.

I loved how Julie C. Dao emphasizes the importance of idealized love versus real love. Furthermore, the characterization and growing love between the two was filled with lovely romantic moments you might see in a period drama. A touch of the hand, a rescue on a horse, etc. Overall, this is just a sweet, enjoyable read I recommend as a great diverse book with non-convoluted fantasy writing.

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#20: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Sorcery of Thorns Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Sorcery of Thorns is a fantasy novel for readers who really love books. Imagine a whole novel devoted to the Forbidden Section of the Hogwarts Library, and you will get just a small taste of why this one is such a delightful read. In the story, Elisabeth is an orphan apprentice training to become a warden librarian. Now librarians in this world are awesome because they get to fight Maleficts with swords. Maleficts are dangerous grimoires that have come to life when damaged.

Meanwhile, the setting is an alternate fantasy world of 1824 centered around magic and sorcerers, grimoires, a little high society, and librarians who must protect the grimoires from the “evil” sorcerers. Add in the attractive (and perhaps bad) sorcerer Nathaniel Torn and his demonic servant Silas who turns into a cat, and you have one entertaining novel you can’t put down.

Meet Margaret Rogerson

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be: “I would love to work at a baby sloth sanctuary and spent my days caring for tiny orphaned sloths.”

The best piece of writing advice I ever received: “I can’t remember where I first read this advice, but the idea that my first draft didn’t have to be perfect (and in fact, could be pretty bad) was life-changing for me. I struggle with perfectionism and find it difficult to silence my inner critic.

“I’ve learned to handle first drafts like I’m writing in a diary—I don’t need to show them to anyone, ever. They’re allowed to be horrendous. To this day no one has ever read a first draft of my work, including my editor and my best friends. I think that’s the only way I survive as a writer.”


A Favorite Classic Book I always return to: “That would have to be Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones! The dynamic between the leads Howl and Sophie singlehandedly defined my taste in romance. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve re-read my beloved, disintegrating paperback copy.”

A book I can’t stop talking about: “Oh my gosh. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. They are a series of four science fiction novellas with a full-length sequel publishing in spring of 2020. I’ve never been so excited for a book in my life, even as a kid waiting for the Harry Potter novels to come out. They are just so mind-blowingly fun. Despite being narrated by a security robot that calls itself Murderbot, reading each one truly feels like being wrapped in a warm hug.”

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#21: Stain by A.G. Howard

Stain Book Cover

I love A.G. Howard’s writing style, and this fairy tale is no exception. Stain is a Princess and the Pea fairy tale retelling with a gothic, magical twist. Mix in other fairy tales and an almost old-fashioned narrative voice reminiscent of older fairy tales, and you have this wonderful book. It’s always a pleasure to discover a good gothic in the YA genre. Plus, a fairy tale gothic is even better! (Jane Eyre was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast after all.)

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#22: Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All is a beautiful, stunning historical fiction novel that is both moving and a work of art. Set during WWII in a Chicago orphanage, Ruby follows two teen girls: one the daughter of Italian immigrants and one a ghost. Pearl, the ghost, is our narrator, telling the story of Frankie but also slowly uncovering her own past, revealing layers like a good mystery. Both stories are compelling and authentic.

Indeed, Frankie’s story is based on Laura’s Mother-In-Law, and an actual orphanage run by nuns in Chicago. Significantly, this abuse has also been documented. Consequently, the fiction mixed in with the researched truth makes this WWII novel (that’s not overly focused on WWII) feel fresh. Then there’s the theme. In this story, there are real wolves hiding behind doors, ready to attack. But there’s still hope and that’s what makes the novel a wonderful read with powerful characterization and brilliant plotting. Overall, this is truly a gorgeous read.

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#23: The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

The Waking Forest Book Cover

Dreams become reality in this interesting paranormal fairy tale with slight touches of Sleeping Beauty. Rhea is the oldest of four sisters and has always suffered from nightmares. But what happens when the nightmares become reality?

Meanwhile, the novel also jumps to the point of view of the “Witch in the Woods” who grants wishes to children. Here, there’s a fox who is no fox who also likes to tell the witch stories. How the two stories interconnect is part of the mystery and echoes Guillermo del Toro’s dark, visual style.

Meet Alyssa Wees

A recent book I couldn’t stop reading: “The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. It’s the third and final book in the Winternight trilogy, a magical fantasy that incorporates familiar figures from Russian fairy tales. It was such an exciting ending to one of my favorite series, and I know I’ll want to read it again and again.”

If I wasn’t a writer I’d be “a ballerina! I started dancing at four years old and continued to train seriously through college. Ballet gave me an understanding of rhythm and movement that has carried over into my writing and my love of poetic language. I wouldn’t be the same writer without ballet.”

The most romantic book I ever read “is still one of my childhood favorites: Ella Enchanted! I love how Ella and Prince Char write funny letters to each other, and the way they’re always sliding down banisters together, plus the proposal at the end when Ella breaks her curse. So dreamy!”

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#24: War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

War Girls: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

War Girls is a post-apocalyptic novel set in Nigeria about two sisters who end up on two opposing sides of a war. When Ify is kidnapped (or rescued depending on the point of view), Onyii believes she was murdered and wants revenge. To get her revenge, she joins the Republic of Biafra as a child soldier. She also happens to be an Augment who has replaced body parts with mechanical ones.

In the meantime, Ify is more about her scientific intelligence, who uncovers her terrifying past and her sister’s connection to it. The sci-fi details are fantastic and the futuristic world-building horrifying, detailed, and heartbreaking. As a whole, the writing is good, the characterization superbly developed, and the world-building gets everything right.

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#25: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Wicked Fox Book Cover: The Silver Petticoat Review’s 25 Best YA Novels of 2019

Wicked Fox reads like a supernatural Korean Drama, and I mean that in the best possible way. The novel is a contemporary Urban Fantasy/ paranormal romance with Korean mythology. It’s even set in Seoul with authentic language and customs, transporting readers to a new place.

In the story, a Gumiho teen girl (similar to a Succubus who kills men) saves a human boy from a Goblin. Unfortunately, she has to keep this a secret because her mother hates humans. Nevertheless, the two become connected, and the story continues from there! Basically, Wicked Fox is a great twist on the paranormal romance that has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves, or witches.

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A Recent book I couldn’t stop reading: “There Will Come a Darkness! Every time you read it you discover something new! The world-building is so intricate and each point of view character is so deeply fleshed out. I adore this book and I know this is going to be one of my all-time favorite fantasy trilogies!”

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be… “An editor. I actually was/am an editor but I realized quickly that I couldn’t effectively split my attention between the full-time job of editor and debut author and give both 110%. My dream is that once I’m more established in my author career I can re-visit the idea of being an editor because the only thing better than reading and writing books is to help develop them and bring them to the world behind-the-scenes!”

The best piece of writing advice I ever received: “Leigh Bardugo once told me to stop overthinking it and just write a bad first draft. And it was such great advice to kind of help me set aside my anxiety and just put words on the page no matter how bad they were.”

The most romantic book I ever read:The Time Traveller’s Wife. I kind of love how messy their love is. That it’s not simple and that’s okay because they truly love each other and would literally wait for each other across time!”

A book I can’t stop talking about: “Red White and Royal Blue. I was late to the train, but oh boy, I have caught up and I am so glad I did! It’s such a beautiful, sweet love story! I love Henry and Alex with all of my heart and I want to protect them forever!”

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What are your favorite YA Novels of 2019? Sound off below…

The Silver Petticoat Review's 25 Best YA Novels of 2019: Book covers include The Downstairs Girl, Lovely War, Fountains of Silence, Butterfly Yellow, Sorcery of Thorns, Stain, The Waking Forest, Wicked Fox, The Light at the Bottom of the World, and Sky Without Stars


By on January 6th, 2020

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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