Filled with secrets, powers, betrayals, and rebellions set to a backdrop of court politics, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen quickly became known as a YA series that rivaled Game of Thrones for its body count. If you don’t get sucked in by the breathless twists and turns of the plot, you’ll get hooked on its rich, evocative writing that brings to life an entire universe carrying on to three more volumes. Here are just a few other books like Red Queen that are worth the hype!
1. A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
One of the best parts of Red Queen was the evolution of its heroine, Mare, as she grew to wield her powers for the sake of a cause bigger than herself. Sorcery of Thorns has a similar journey to Elisabeth.
Raised to hate sorcery, she wants to become the warden of a library dedicated to safeguarding society from its dangerous grimoires. However, she’s forced to reconsider everything she knows when she’s falsely accused of unleashing the power of an ancient grimoire. The only person willing to help her is someone who should be her enemy: a sorcerer named Nathaniel Thorn.
As she unravels the mysteries of what happened to her, Elisabeth discovers a conspiracy that dates back centuries. She also grows closer to Nathaniel, throwing her mind and heart into disarray.
If you enjoyed Red Queen as a power fantasy, you will love Sorcery of Thorns. It’s all about a young woman growing into herself as she kicks down the doors of a corrupt system, and as a bonus, this system revolves around magical libraries!
2. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Darkly compelling, The Cruel Prince pushes the boundaries of YA by dropping you into a world where everyone is just a little bit corrupt, including its heroine, 17-year-old Jade.
Jade was just a child when her parents were murdered. In the aftermath, she and her sisters were swept away to the Court of Faerie and were raised alongside a beautiful but disdainful fey who looked down on them for being mortal.
Jade is desperate to belong. However, she’ll need to become just as smart, sly, and treacherous as the high society fey. She’ll also need to navigate a tricky relationship with the king’s youngest son, Prince Cardan, who is as deadly as he is lovely.
Red Queen isn’t the only series that brings complicated morality to the world of YA. If you like dark fantasy with a teenage cast, try The Cruel Prince.
3. The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
You’ve never seen the story of Snow White told quite like this. In The Shadow Queen, Lorelai is on a mission to kill her stepmother, a cruel queen who murdered her father and stole her birthright. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, a second son named Kol has just become king after his father and older brother are killed in a magical raid.
Kol needs help to hold his kingdom together, so the queen offers him a deal. Her price: kill her wayward stepdaughter and cut out her heart.
The Shadow Queen is another one of those books like Red Queen that combines political intrigue with magical lore. It also benefits from being a fairy tale retelling with familiar faces like the evil stepmother, the handsome huntsman, and the beautiful princess. It just so happens that this princess is also a fierce, blade-wielding assassin looking for a bit of payback.
4. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
If revolution is your thing, An Ember in the Ashes is sure to get your blood pumping. It’s an action-packed fantasy series inspired by ancient Rome where dissidents rise against an empire that’s oppressing them.
In this case, the dissidents are Laia and Elias. Laia is a young woman whose life is turned upside down after her brother is arrested for treason. When a group of rebels offers to save him in exchange for Laia becoming a spy in a military academy, she agrees. Once there, however, she finds herself falling for the academy’s finest scholar and solider, Elias who might not be as loyal to the empire as he appears.
Filled with internal and external conflict, An Ember in the Ashes can whet your appetite if you’re still hungry for politics, passion, and power after Red Queen.
5. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Were you drawn to the blood-based powers of Red Queen? Were you intrigued by the split between the Reds and Silvers and how their abilities manifested throughout society?
Children of Blood and Bone has equally complex world-building. Inspired by the Yoruba mythology of West Africa, it’s set in a world where maji, or magic users, were an everyday force until a tyrannical king decided to kill them off and eradicate magic for good.
Zélie is a young maji burning for vengeance after her mother’s death. Hoping to spark a revolution, she undertakes a long and grueling journey interrupted by mystic spirits just as much as attacks from the king’s son. She’s also struggling to contain her powers, which could doom her before she can even overthrow the empire.
Will Zélie get her revenge? Will her heart betray her as she finds herself growing closer and closer to the king’s son, who might not be as much of an enemy as he appears? You’ll have to read Children of Blood and Bone to find out.
6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses isn’t your typical YA novel. In fact, it’s often classified as “new adult” rather than “young adult” since it deals with heavy themes and the occasional steamy scene.
The plot follows a 19-year-old woman named Feyre. After killing a wolf in the woods that turns out to be a faerie in disguise, she’s taken back to their realm to live out her remaining days as a prisoner. Things are never that simple, of course, and she’s soon confronted with ancient threats in addition to cursed yet compelling men. You can probably guess how the latter end!
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in a trilogy that also includes everything from side novels to coloring books, so even after you’ve finished with the first few romps of Feyre and Tamlin, you can continue the adventure with lots of sequel material.
Already read this book? Make sure to check our top choices for books like A Court of Thorns and Roses.
7. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Another novel filled with dark, morally dubious characters, The Young Elites is the kind of book that will make you question everyone’s motives. You might change your loyalties after a while, wondering if there are any “good guys” at all. Like Red Queen and its constant parade of lies and betrayals, The Young Elites is set in a world where trust doesn’t come lightly.
Also like Red Queen, there are three main characters rather than your standard boy and girl. The heroine is Adelina, the survivor of a deadly plague that’s left her physically scarred but magically gifted. This makes her a member of the Young Elites, a scattered, secretive group of people believed to have powers that can change the world.
Chasing Adelina are two men with very different purposes: Teren, an inquisitor hoping to exterminate Young Elites, and Enzo, a rebel looking to recruit them.
Who can Adelina trust? With all of the blood on her hands, she might not be able to trust even herself. This ambiguity is what makes The Young Elites such an irresistible novel, especially for fans of Red Queen who are eager to immerse themselves in another world of danger, magic, mystery, and domination.
8. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Red Queen has such a unique premise that it can be difficult to find other books with the same levels of creativity and ingenuity. Fortunately, The Belles is an exception.
Following a heroine named Camellia Beauregard, The Belles takes place in a dark, dystopian society that lurks beneath a lavish court filled with ballgowns, tea parties, and floral arrangements. Camellia is a Belle, a person with magic who can transform others into their most beautiful selves, and she’s trying to land a job with the Queen of Orléans. If she can become the Queen’s favorite Belle, she can live a life of luxury forever.
Things aren’t that easy, of course. There are secrets about the Belles and what their powers can actually do, and the truth will have consequences for Camellia, the Queen, and society as a whole.
If you’re looking for books similar to Red Queen in terms of interesting dystopias that you haven’t already seen in a thousand YA series, try immersing yourself in the beautifully ugly glory of The Belles.
9. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
You might have heard of Shatter Me because of its lyrical prose. Every word is painted on canvas like a masterpiece, forming beautiful visions that will linger long after you’ve turned the page.
That said, Shatter Me is more than just its metaphors: It’s also a tightly plotted adventure story that’ll take you on a ride.
The heroine is Juliette, a teenage girl with a touch that’s literally deadly. She’s been locked up by the government during the apocalypse, and she assumes that she’s never getting out. Things only change when the rebellion starts brewing, and the government starts seeing potential in a girl with the power the kill.
Shatter Me isn’t like Red Queen in terms of setting, but it has similarities in many other ways, including a strong heroine in the midst of a fight for survival. If you aren’t ready to let go of Mare, you can consider Juliette as her spiritual sister.
10. The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty
Taking place in 18th century Cairo, The Daevabad trilogy is different than other books like Red Queen. Rather than being set in a dystopian future, it’s set in a historical past. Rather than having a love triangle, it has a “will they, won’t they” romance with its two main leads.
Its similarities to Red Queen come in the form of its storytelling. The heroine, Nahri, is a young con artist pretending to have magic. One day, after accidentally summoning a djinn, she realizes that magic is real and that she’s been caught in a deadly web of court politics relating to the Daevabad: the Brass City.
Nahri will have to navigate new powers, new conflicts, and new circumstances if she wants to make it out alive. Because just like the Reds and the Silvers, there’s more to this society than what meets the eye.
The City of Brass is the first book of the trilogy and the debut novel of Chakraborty.
Rising Red Like the Dawn
If you’re looking for books like Red Queen, you’ll need to kick up a notch with your search. It isn’t a fantasy series that’s easily replaced by another. Its unique blend of action, romance, rebellion, and old-fashioned carnage is something as rare and exceptional as Mare herself!
Did we miss other novels? Hunger Games? Throne of Glass series? Cinderella is Dead? Delirium? Let us know in the comments!
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