It’s Women’s History Month, and what better time to love on some lady authors! With so many amazingly inventive young adult sci-fi and fantasy novels hitting the shelves each week, there is no shortage of stellar lady-penned speculative fiction being published today. Here’s my list of some of the next great female YA science fiction and fantasy authors to watch.
I’ve deliberately left out some of the perennial favorites—Sarah J. Maas, Suzanne Collins, Marissa Meyer, etc.—to highlight some new female writers of young adult speculative fiction. (When I say “speculative fiction” I’m referring to fiction where the world is not the same as our own, through magic or science fiction or otherwise.)
Get out your TBR list because it’s about to rain book recommendations!
One of 2016’s most hyped books was Kendare Blake’s young adult fantasy novel, Three Dark Crowns. Taking the concept of sibling rivalry to the most extreme, in this novel three triplet sisters have to fight each other to the death to become queen of their island of Fennbirn. Each sister has a unique ability that helps her in her quest to overthrow the others. Katharine, poisoner is immune to toxins, but wields them with ease. Arsinole, a naturalist commands wildflower and wild animal alike. And Mirabella manipulates the elements into savage storms and fatal flames. At 16, the sisters must battle it out for the crown. Three Dark Crowns was named a favorite of the year by Kirkus Reviews, New York Public Library, and Chicago Public Library. Blake is also the author of the acclaimed YA horror novel, Anna Dressed in Blood, as well as several other supernatural-laced novel. If you’re looking for one of the next great female YA science fiction and fantasy authors, you can find out more about Kendare’s background on her website.
Sometimes amazing books get published and it takes awhile to catch on. That’s right, the slow burn book. Susan Dennard’s novel, Truthwitch, developed a similar following after being released early in the year to growing acclaim and eventual New York Times bestselling status. This electric fantasy series follows two gifted female best friends—Safiya a Truthwitch and Iseult a Threadwitch—as war comes to Witchland. Sarah J. Maas, queen of all things speculative YA, endorsed it by saying, “Make room on your all-time favorites shelf: Truthwitch is an instant new classic. It reminded me of why I started reading fantasy in the first place: its fierce and vibrant world, richly-drawn characters, and dazzling intrigue…”. Susan Dennard is a cookie-loving, fangirl marine biologist turned writer who has been to six out of seven continents. Undoubtedly, one of the next great female YA science fiction and fantasy authors out there. You can find more about her online at her website.
Rhoda Belleza’s debut science fiction fantasy space epic, Empress of a Thousand Skies, may be the quickest 320 pages you’ll have ever read or, excuse me, binged, to be more accurate. Rhee is a Crown Princess and the only surviving heir to an unstoppable dynasty. Aly has climbed his way up from war refugee beginnings to achieve fame—and the accusation that he killed Rhee. With political plotting worthy of Game of Thrones and the starry background of Firefly and Doctor Who, Belleza’s series opener is a thrilling, unputdownable lead with plenty of corkscrew twists not even the most jaded science fiction fan can predict. Rhoda Belleza grew up in Los Angeles, where she wrote X-Files fan fiction and devoured avocados. She is an editor at a publishing house. Another of the next great female YA science fiction and fantasy authors writing today. You can follow her on Twitter: @rhodabee
C. J. Redwine
It’s no secret that fairytale retellings are one of the hottest genres of YA fiction right now. One of the biggest names in this corner of speculative fiction is C. J. Redwine, author of the dark epic fantasy Ravenspire series. Each book in this series reinterprets a fairy tale in a totally new way. The books are designed as standalone titles. The first book, The Shadow Queen, was a new spin on the beloved Snow White story. Her most recent installment, The Wish Granter, reimagines the Rumpelstiltskin tale. Redwine is also the author of several other YA fantasy novels, including the Defiance trilogy. In addition, she teaches writing workshops online and is a huge Harry Potter fan. Visit her website: C. J. Redwine.
Melissa Landers writes riveting YA science fiction, including the Starflight series and the Alienated series. The Starflight series is an action-packed space opera led by a gritty heroine, Solara Brooks, orphan desperate to reach the outer realm of the universe. To do so, she must team up with a former high school classmate and enemy, wealthy quarterback Doran Spaulding. Solara’s determination leads her to hitch a ride on Doran’s ship. The unlikely couple find they have more in common than they think when they are forced into tight corners on the cozy ship, the Banshee. But the farther they get from Earth, the more they realize life is not all it appears in outer space or back home. Melissa is a former teacher and has participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). You can follow Melissa on Twitter: @Melissa_Landers.
Even though March is just 30 days long, with their many addictive, thrilling, mind-blowing YA fantasy and sci-fi novels and series these fierce female writers have spun enough pages to keep you busy year round!