Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, the TV adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels (namely, the eponymous Shadow and Bone and the first of its sequel series, Six of Crows), dropped on April 23, and if you’re reading this blog post, I think it’s fair to assume that you’ve already binged it all. I certainly did, and as I sit here surrounded by the carnage of popcorn husks, candy wrappers, and empty soda cans, I find myself hungry instead for other reads to fill the void now that it’s done.
If you, too, have devoured Leigh Bardugo’s works and are looking to fill out your TBR pile with more dark fantasy; with more intricate magic systems and deft world-building; with more clever thieves, complex villains, and fated heroes who turn destiny on its head — well, Kim and I have the perfect titles to tide you over until the (presumed) second season of Shadow and Bone.
Do be warned: if you pick up one of these books, you may not be able to put it down. (If you’ve ever missed a Zoom meeting because you were too enthralled by a good read, you’re in good company.) So, enjoy and good luck — that is to say, “no mourners, no funerals.” — Madeline
The first novel in the Winternight trilogy, The Bear and the Nightingale follows young Vasya Petrovna, raised in the medieval Russian wilderness where winters last a full year. Vasya’s nurse weaves strange tales of frost kings and blue-eyed winter demons and when Vasya becomes older she spends more time in the forest and meets wild characters straight out of Russian folklore and Slavic mythology. An enchanting tale. — Kim
Where the Grishaverse is inspired by Russian mythos, this fantasy draws from ancient Arabia, and the world-building and lore of the kingdom of Arawiya are rich and enthralling. A hunter with a secret identity and a blackmailed assassin might be able to bring magic back to the world, might even fall in love — if they don’t kill each along the way. — Madeline
In Girls of Paper and Fire, we meet Lei, who lives in the remote village of Ikhara. Royal guards take Lei away, along with eight other girls from her caste, to serve the king, and Lei finds herself in a forbidden love with one of these concubines. If you liked the strong female characters and relationships from the Shadow and Bone series, Girls of Paper and Fire is a must read! — Kim
In this first of a three-book series by Faith Erin Hicks, we meet Rat, a streetwise orphan and native of The Nameless City. This Asian-inspired, fantasy adventure graphic novel, with beautiful artistic attention to detail, is a great fit for Shadow and Bone fans. Rat’s character is similar to the Dregs characters in the city of Ketterdam, and will immerse you quickly in her adventure. — Kim
This series pulls from Hindu mythology and ancient Indian history, and if Inej is your favorite Grishaverse character, you won’t want to miss it! Inej has knives; Esha has whips. She crafts her vengeance against the imposter king who killed her parents by becoming a notorious rebel assassin — but she’s quickly drawn into plots that could change the future of the world. — Madeline
The first in a multi-volume manga series, The Girl From the Other Side is a dark and rich fantasy that follows a little girl named Shiva, and her caretaker/demon/teacher. A simple story with surreal atmospheric art, The Girl tells the tale of two worlds, one where humans live and one where monsters, known as outsiders, live. It’s known that if the monsters touch humans they’re cursed, and it’s fascinating the watch the relationship develop between this unlikely pair. — Kim
Kiva Meridan is the healer for the infamous Zalindov prison; she’s also a prisoner, brought in when her father was accused of rebellion. When the Rebel Queen is brought to the prison on the verge of death, Kiva is pulled into circling plots, and finds herself in four deadly trials of elemental magic to save the crown’s worst enemy and win her freedom. — Madeline
Set in a West African patriarchal society, The Gilded Ones takes place in a world where girls are outcasts by blood and fierce warriors by choice. This “Chosen One” narrative is tilted on its head and will leave you eagerly awaiting the second book set in this gloriously built world. If you were fascinated by Baghra, General Kirigan, and the big state secrets that can shape the world, this one is for you! — Kim
Across the Wall from Ancelstierre, in the Old Kingdom, the living dead walk. To stop an evil spirit and find her missing father, Sabriel must take up the bells of the Abhorsen, a Necromancer tasked with keeping the dead at rest. The magic system in this series enthralled me as a teen, and I’m still enraptured when I reread them today. — Madeline
Nominated for 2015’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Nimona combines both futuristic and medieval elements to this sharp and witty graphic novel fantasy. Villian Lord Ballister Blackhart and sidekick, shapeshifter Nimona, must prove that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his cronies are not as good as they seem. Surprising relationships and wonderful character development make a great pick! — Kim
If you were fascinated most by the Orders of the Grisha or the city of Ketterdam, this series is for you. Teen ward boss Isoka has a secret: she can draw on the Well of Combat, one of the nine wells of sorcery. When she’s discovered, she’s sentenced to an impossible task — to steal a ghost ship. The price of failure? Her sister’s life. — Madeline
Portland-based author Vera Brosgol tells the tale of Anya, a young girl who recently moved from Russia to the U.S. along with her mother and brother. Despite her efforts to fit in, Anya often finds herself alone and befriends a ghost named Emily who died 90 years earlier. The cause of Emily’s death is slowly revealed in this compelling and beautiful young adult graphic novel. — Kim
Malinda Lo’s 2009 debut masterfully blends faerie lore with the Cinderella narrative in a dark fantasy perfect for Grishaverse fans. Aisling, or Ash, makes the dangerous choice to bargain with a fairy prince to escape her stepmother. But when she falls in love with Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her debt takes on new weight; now, she has something to lose. — Madeline