Book review: Younger fantasy books with strong girls

I love a good fantasy (or speculative fiction). Transport me to another realm and I don’t wanna come back. Well, unless it’s a dystopian world. Then where we are now doesn’t look so bad. Usually.

So imagine my delight in finding a batch of recent fantasy books for kids featuring strong female leads. I plan to keep adding to this list, particularly with more culturally diverse authors and protagonists. I’ve organized them by general reader age appropriateness, and plan to include more posts for different ages. Keep checking back!

Younger Middle Grade (ages 8-10)

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls series by Holly Grant

Book I and Book II: The Dastardly Deed

This funny, imaginative mystery series begins with a funeral and goes downhill from there. After a bunch of strange occurances, Anastasia is forced to move in with her creepy aunties in their weird Victorian house. Once there, she becomes a very curious Cinderella, forced to serve her aunts in squalid conditions with a foreboding sense of something really bad about to happen.

The faux-Victorian setting and mixture of goofiness and existential dread echoes A Series of Unfortunate Events. When this intrepid prisoner turns to investigation, she discovers mystical friends and clues to the truth that will set her free in a most unexpected way.

In Book 2, The Dastardly Deed, Anastasia travels with her newfound relatives to an underground ice palace, just one part of a world of magic and fascinating people. Another mystery requires sleuthing, which brings her closer to finding the truth about her family.

Although the creativity and surprises are abundant, I preferred Book 1’s semi-realistic setting and humor (or maybe it’s just the Goth in me). The world-building in both books is engrossing, and the humor and mysteries keep readers guessing. Best of all, Anastasia is a smart, creative, delightfully imperfect guide that readers will enjoy following anywhere.

Looking forward to Book 3: The Witch’s Glass this summer!

Check next week’s post for a Middle Grade recommendation!