A few of my young adults fantasy books

The 7 Best YA Books for Adults of All Ages in 2024 – Fantasy Romance Edit

YA books used to be for teenagers, but that is no longer the case; we’ve come a long way from Harry Potter and Hunger Games! In fact, you might be surprised to learn that over 55% of people who buy young adult books are actually older than 18.

It’s a revelation that highlights the universal appeal of these stories, transcending age boundaries and offering something magical for everyone. Plus, YA books are a lot more mature than they used to be. (A separate topic I have recently shared my thoughts on.)

If you’re looking for your next magical read, here are some of the best YA books for adults in the fantasy romance genre – all of them personally read and vetted by myself!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in the below article, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one, you may earn a commission. Full disclaimer here.

These are a few of the best YA books for adults in the fantasy romance genre
A few of my young adults fantasy books

1. A Study in Drowning By Ava Reid

One dark window

Reid’s YA debut has become a #1 New York Times bestseller and is highly praised for its exploration of themes like mental health, gender discrimination, and folklore. The immersive storytelling has left quite an impression on me as well.

The novel has a dreary, moody setting, taking place at the Hiraeth Manor, a dilapidated house situated atop a crumbling seaside cliff.

A Study in Drowning had me engaged from the beginning.

The central characters of A Study in Drowning truly drive the story. The protagonist, Effy Sayre, is an architecture student struggling with anxiety while aspiring to attend a literature college.

At times, she might seem a bit immature, but her growth throughout the story is definitely heartwarming.

I particularly enjoyed the slow-burning romance between Effy and Preston Héloury, the literature scholar she initially rivals.

Reid has an elegant writing style that makes her work almost poetic. I was mesmerized by her way with words, exquisite descriptions, and enchanting phrases. (She does have a penchant for similes, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience.)

If you are a fan of dark academia, standalone fantasy novels, or mysterious plots, A Study in Drowning is well worth a read.

You can check out my detailed review for more thoughts on the book.

2. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer

The Strange the Dreamer duology by Laini Taylor is an absolute gem!

Despite being labeled as a YA series, Taylor’s beautiful and sophisticated prose makes it easy to resonate with readers of all ages. The characters are uniquely unique and lovable, making it easy to become immersed in their fantastical world.

The duology consists of two books: Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares.

The story takes you on an epic journey into a captivating and richly detailed fantasy realm, following a young man named Lazlo Strange, an orphaned librarian who dreams about the legendary city of Weep – except, Weep is not the city’s true name, which has been magically stolen from everyone’s minds.

Lazlo soon gets his chance to embark on a journey to the mysterious city to learn what became of it and what he must do to help.

One of the things I love about this story is the exceptional character development; each character has depth, which makes it easy for readers to connect with their emotions, desires, and growth.

At its core, Strange the Dreamer is a love story, but I won’t spoil anything about the romance. It’s a book that’s best when you go into it blind.

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass Cover

Throne of Glass is a remarkable young adult fantasy series that has captivated millions of readers of all ages with its strong female characters and intricate plot.

The protagonist, Celeana Sardothien, is one of the most feared assassins in the kingdom of Adarlan and becomes entangled in an epic journey to regain her freedom and uncover the dark forces at play.

The series consists of eight books, with some over 700-900 pages long, so it’s definitely a commitment. Admittedly, the first couple of books in this series are not draw-dropping, but it’s well worth investing your time in the later books – especially if you enjoy epic adventures and multiple romantic subplots!

One of the reasons I enjoyed this series so much was the gradual world-building that allowed me to fully immerse myself in the fantastical land of Erilea.

As I said, it’s a bit of an undertaking, so feel free to check out this Throne of Glass Series Review & Reading Guide to help you decide the best way for you to approach the series.

4. Heartless Hunter by Kristen Ciccarelli

Heartless Hunter Cover

The author describes this book as a combination of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Scarlet Pimpernel, which is an apt description. The story revolves around a witch girl named Rune who is being hunted for her identity, and she takes on the persona of the Crimson Moth to rescue other witches.

Then we have Gideon, the witch hunter who is tasked with finding the Crimson Moth and executing her. Rune needs Gideon for information, and while Gideon suspects Rune as being the Crimson Moth, he has no proof. And so, they end up courting each other to learn each other’s secrets.

This book is primarily an enemies to lovers romance, and I was drawn to it from the very beginning. In fact, I breezed through the entire book in just a single day!

Heartless Hunter is written for a more mature audience, which is evident in its writing style. I found that the words flowed smoothly and easily, lending a unique appeal that’s perfect for adults who enjoy well-written young adult fiction.

Some highlights of Heartless Hunter include:

  1. Fast-paced and engaging plot

  2. Compelling character development

  3. Skillful blend of genres

  4. High-quality writing style appealing to adults

5. Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna cover

As I delved into Belladonna, I couldn’t help but be captivated by its mysterious elements that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The tale includes unexpected romance wrapped up in gothic vibes, making it an enchanting read, especially for those who love a dash of darkness.

This book is about a young woman named Signa who has a strange ability to see and communicate with death. Also, her guardians keep dying. Eventually, she ends up at the estate of her last remaining relatives, and mystery and intrigue ensue.

It becomes apparent that a murderer is on the loose and Signa must form an unlikely alliance with Death to solve the mystery.

The haunting atmosphere lends itself to the mystery, hooking you from start to end.

Adalyn Grace beautifully weaves in several mysteries and a romantic subplot that deviates from the typical tropes you’d expect in a YA novel. The romantic twists contribute to the charm of this story, ensuring that it appeals to both adult and young adult readers alike.

If you like a mystery that keeps you guessing throughout, a unique romantic subplot with a gothic twist, an stories with ghosts, you’ll love this one. I certainly did!

6. One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

One Dark Window cover

This fantasy romance novel is the first book in a duology, followed by Two Twisted Crowns.

The story follows Elspeth Spindle, a young woman who lives in the Kingdom of Blunder – a cursed city with ominous mists that infects all it touches with insanity. Elspeth was secretly afflicted when she was young and has lived most of her life with a mysterious monster in her head she refers to as The Nightmare.

Soon, she encounters a highway man who turns out to be the king’s nephew, and she gets drawn into a quest to gather twelve magical Providence Cards – the key to curing the mists.

I absolutely love the magic system of the Providence Cards in One Dark Window and found it one of the book’s strongest points. It was unique, well-developed and added an extra layer of intrigue to the story.

The novel manages to strike a perfect balance between dark vibes and passionate romance, making it a thrilling read for fans of both genres.

Now, I know some readers might be hesitant about starting a duology, but don’t worry!

The second book, Two Twisted Crowns, is just as good as the first one, if not even better. The characters experience growth and face new challenges that keep the story engaging and exciting.

7. Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Divine Rivals Cover

Set in a unique world that reads like historical fiction akin to World War 2, Divine Rivals will have you hooked from the very first page.

The premise revolves around two rival columnists who work at the Oath Gazette, Iris and Roman. They end up finding themselves communicating through magical typewriters and developing feelings for each other while a war between gods in a neighboring land brews closer.

The author masterfully brings the country’s political tensions to life, as the world they live in is on the brink of a war between gods. It’s a story with great world-building, memorable characters, an emotionally charged romance, and a suspenseful plot.

The story flows seamlessly as it delves into themes of loyalty, love, and the consequences of war, while the protagonists, once enemies, are faced with their undeniable attraction.

Ross’s writing style is engaging and easy to read, making Divine Rivals a perfect recommendation for both YA and adult readers. (She also has another duology that I like even more called the Elements of Cadence, but this is technically an adult book.)

Why Adults Read YA Books (And Why You Should Too)

There is a common thread that ties all the above books together and identifies them as ideal reads for adults older than 18. If you need further convincing to pick up one of the above books, here is why I like them as an “Elder millennial.”


I find that young adult books offer a wonderful escape from adult responsibilities.

The captivating storylines and characters instantly transport me into their world, allowing me to forget about the daily grind.

YA novels often include adventures, fantasy, or romance, which allow me to unwind and immerse myself in the story.

It’s not surprising that these page-turners offer great escapism for me and other adults alike.

Explores Universal Themes

Another reason I believe adults enjoy YA books is that they tend to explore universal themes.

YA novels don’t just explore topics such as friendship, family, and love, but deeper issues like mental health, discrimination, and death that resonate with both young adults and adults.

By reading these stories, I can relate to the characters, empathize with their experiences, and learn from their journeys.

Cleaner Content

Similarly, YA books offer cleaner content that I find refreshing when compared to some adult novels.

Most YA stories don’t include explicit language, graphic violence, or explicit intimacy. This can be refreshing, especially when I am looking for a lighter tale.

Fast-Paced Plots

Lastly, I appreciate the fast-paced plots in YA books.

The authors in this genre understand that their audience has a shorter attention span, so they create riveting stories that keep me engaged and turning the pages.

As an adult, I have limited time to read; these fast-paced stories make it easier for me to finish a book, ensuring that I can enjoy the satisfaction of a complete story without investing too much time.

If you saw a bit of yourself in my experiences, you have your answer as to why adults read YA books.


In my journey through the world of YA literature, I’ve discovered that there are countless great books that hold immense appeal for adult readers.

Exploring the YA classification has helped me find my next favorite book time and time again.

To sum it up:

  • YA novels often explore deeply emotional and compelling themes that resonate with readers of all ages.

  • The enchanting worlds and engaging characters make YA books highly immersive and enjoyable.

  • The accessible language and brisk pacing make for a satisfying reading experience.

If you are looking for pics outside of fantasy romance, you can also try:

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  3. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

  4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

  5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

At any rate, don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone and explore young adult literature.

Adult readers often find that they can connect to these stories in ways they may not have anticipated.

Give some of these amazing books a chance, and you just might find your next favorite read.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some top-rated YA novels that resonate well with adult audiences?

There are plenty of top-rated YA novels that connect with adults just as well as with younger readers. Some of my personal favorites include Strange the Dreamer, the Harry Potter series, and the Throne of Glass series.

Am I too old to read YA?

Absolutely not! YA novels might be marketed toward a younger audience, but they often tell compelling stories that can be appreciated by readers of any age. (In fact, I believe some of them are wrongly classified as young adults, but that’s another topic for another time.) No matter how old you are, it’s important to keep an open mind when selecting books. Focus on the stories that resonate with you and enrich your life!

What percentage of YA readers are adults?

Surprisingly, a significant percentage of the YA market consists of adult readers. 55% of YA readers are adults aged 18 and older. While this might seem surprising at first glance, it’s a clear reflection of the universal appeal of many YA novels, which often tackle complex themes and relatable characters that can be enjoyed by readers across the age spectrum.

How can you tell if a book is YA or not?

It can sometimes be tricky to determine if a book is classified as YA. In general, YA novels tend to feature teenage protagonists, focusing on their journey through various challenges and experiences. They often explore themes of self-discovery, identity, and relationships. But it is more about book marketing than anything else. Classifications shouldn’t limit your reading choices – if a story interests you, go ahead and read it!

best YA fantasy romance books for adults of all ages

Similar Posts