Ten Middle-Grade Fantasies with Incredible World-Building

Keeper of the Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1) by Shannon Messenger

Sophie Foster has always known she was different, but she never expected to learn she was an elf or to be whisked away to learn to hone her magical abilities at an elven academy.  But Sophie is not normal even for an elf.  A secret organization seems to have genetically modified her.  But what do they want?  And what lengths will they go to in order to reach her?

The Dragon’s Tooth (Ashtown Burials #1) b y N. D. Wilson

Antigone and Cyrus Smith live in a dilapidated hotel with their older brother Daniel.  No one ever checks in, until the night a strange man requests a specific room.  By morning, the man has died, the hotel has burned to the ground, and Daniel has disappeared.  Informed that the only way to save their brother is to join a mysterious order of explorers, Antigone and Cyrus find themselves racing against time to find the order and swear their loyalty.  However, not everyone welcomes the new initiates.

100 Cupboards (100 Cupboards) by N. D. Wilson

When Henry moves to Kansas, he doesn’t expect to find a whole lot of excitement.  Then he finds an attic wall covered in cupboards and each one seems to lead to a different world!  When his cousin Henrietta crawls through one, it’s up to Henry to bring her back.  But the two of them may have woken an ancient evil.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

One day the Green Wind catches up September and takes her to Fairyland—but all is not how it should be.  Fairies are scarce, winged beasts are forbidden to fly, and the Marquess has stolen the spoon the witches use to see the future.  September agrees to travel to the capital and retrieve the spoon, but somewhere along the way she realizes that her quest has grown bigger than she anticipated.

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

The minions of Castle Hangnail need a new Master in residence or the Board will decommission them and the minions will have to find a new home.  But when Molly shows up on the doorstep, the minions are not so sure things will work out.  Molly, after all, is only twelve-years-old and hardly seems like a Wicked Witch.  In fact, she seems like rather a polite witch.  But the minions need someone to be Master and so they are willing to give Molly a chance.  But she has secrets that might ruin them all.

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme #1) by Megan Morrison

Rapunzel lives happily in her tower with Witch, who protects her from the outside world and provides her with everything she could ever need, from stories featuring herself as the heroine to household objects that obey her commands.  Then one day a boy called Jack climbs into her tower and claims they have met before.  His story means that Witch could be in danger, so, disbelieving and frightened, Rapunzel chooses to follow him outside, braving terrifying peasants and monstrous ground beasts, all to save her beloved Witch.

May Bird and the Ever After (May Bird #1) by Jodi Lynn Anderson

May Bird lives on the edge of the woods of Briery Swamp and, though most people find the woods creepy, May thinks of them as freedom.   But then she finds herself dragged down into the world of Ever After, a place of ghouls, ghosts, and specters.  A place where Live Ones are not welcome.  Now on the run from the evil ruler Bo Cleevil, May must find and read The Book of Dead or risk being turned into nothing.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Fifty years ago, the dead stopped staying dead.  An entire industry has sprung up with the purpose of eradicating the ghosts that can not only drive people mad but also kill them.  Only children, however, have the ability to see and hear the specters and only one agency works without any adult supervision—Lockwood & Co.  As a result, the company has a poor reputation, but when a rich patron offers Lockwood one of the biggest cases in the nation, their future seems assured.  That is, if they can survive the ghosts of the infamous Screaming Staircase

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins, like most Hobbits, does not want any adventure, thank you very much.  Then a wizard appears at the door asking for a burglar to set forth on a quest to reclaim the stolen gold of a group of Dwarves.  Suddenly respectable Bilbo Baggins is on journey to a dragon’s lair.  But will he make it back again?

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Every four years, two children disappear from the village of Galvadon, whisked away by the School Master.  The villagers believe the children attend the School for Good and Evil, where one child learns to become a fairy tale hero and the other a fairy tale villain.  Sophie longs for the day the School Master comes to take her away to attend the School for Good. She assumes Agatha, the weird girl who lives by the graveyard, will become a witch.  But when the School Master comes for the children, he drops Agatha in the School for Good and Sophie in the School for Evil.  How can Sophie correct this mistake and end up where she truly belongs?

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17 thoughts on “Ten Middle-Grade Fantasies with Incredible World-Building

  1. FranL says:

    I loved The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It was in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland, etc, but it was still very original. Very much its own thing, with a unique tone.

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  2. Deepika @HeyBookish says:

    May Bird and The Screaming Staircase are on my TBr.Now I am even more excited to read them 🙂

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  3. La La in the Library says:

    I have the Fairyland books, but so far I have only had time to read the prequel and the first book. I loved both of them. Castle Hangnail sounds fabulous. Ha ha. I am adding it to Goodreads. They have the School For Good and Evil books at Ollie’s bargain store. Maybe I should buy them?

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    • Krysta says:

      Ooh. I haven’t read the Fairyland prequel yet. I should do that!

      Why are you asking me for book buying advice? I will be the worst influence. “Yes, go buy it! Go buy everything! Ollie’s is such a deal! You can’t pass that up!.” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Geraldine @ Corralling Books says:

    I’ve actually got The School for Good and Evil on my bookshelf, but haven’t taken it down to read! Must MUST MUST put it as a priority!
    To be honest, I haven’t heard of many of these books…but I dunno, with middle grade books, I never hear much about them. I wonder why… :/

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    • Krysta says:

      I didn’t read The School for Good and Evil for awhile, but I thought it was fun!

      I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers look down on MG. I don’t really think it makes sense because it’s just a marketing label and there are upper MG books that could just as easily have been marketed as YA. The Lockwood & Co. series, for instance, is pretty intense and would have made sense as YA. But often the labels are decided by the age of the protagonist. If they’re 12, it’s a MG. If the same character is said to be 13, it’s suddenly YA even though nothing else has changed about the book.

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  5. Nandini Bharadwaj says:

    I’ve had my eye on The School for Good and Evil for quite a while. Lockwood & Co. has been on my radar as well. The only book on here that I have read is The Hobbit. Thanks for introducing me to all of these new books! 🙂

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