I’ve been a bit behind on my series reading lately, but over the years I’ve read some amazing book series. I’ve had to group a few together because it was so difficult to choose my Top 10 favourites. There’s quite a range – middle grade, YA, adult and a lot of fantasy.
1. The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
I think it’s no secret that I’m obsessed with all of Cassandra Clare’s books. The Mortal Instruments was one of the first series that I really became obsessed with. I know a lot of people had issues with TMI, but I personally loved it so much! The Infernal Devices is personally my favourite trilogy ever – I reread it this year and it was just as good as the first time. You can really see the development in The Dark Artifices, and I’m so excited to read all the upcoming series!
You can read my spoiler reviews of the following:
2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin
A Game of Thrones: Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
Who doesn’t love Game of Thrones? I actually read the books after already watching a few seasons of the TV show because I loved it so much. The books are so complex and political, with so much detail. I love high fantasy, and this series is a staple. All the other series I included on this list are complete, but I just had to make an exception for ASOIAF. I can’t even explain how excited I am for the next two books, and to see how the series ends (because let’s face it, season 8 of the show was disappointing).
3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!
Of course this is a classic! I loved this series when I was younger, and I still love it now. There’s nothing I like better than rewatching the films and rereading the books – I think they’re perfect to pick up around Christmastime. My favourite is Prisoner of Azkaban, but I’d be interested to see if my opinions have changed when I read them again.
4. Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
I love Rick Riordan’s books so much. The original Percy Jackson series is an amazing middle grade series – it’s so fun, and full of Greek mythology! I recent;y reread them and it was so enjoyable. I’ve actually only read the Heroes of Olympus series once, but it’s definitely one of my favourites. The ensemble cast of characters are all so unique, and this series is YA and incorporates Roman mythology too.
5. The Gone Series by Michael Grant
Gone: In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young.
There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your 15th birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…
This is such an underrated series. I read the first few books when I was fairly young, and the unique concept just blew me away – everyone over the age of 14 just disappears. The books do get quite dark, and they’re unlike anything I’ve read. The characters are all complex and morally grey, and so interesting to read about.
6. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy: Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.
Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .
Vampire Academy is such a fun series! It’s definitely a YA classic – I wish there had been a full adaptation (because the film was…). I actually haven’t read Bloodlines yet, but I really loved VA. Of course there’s the classic romance drama, as well as friendships and villains.
7. The Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Most people have probably heard of the Grishaverse books. A lot of people had mixed feelings about the original Grisha trilogy, but I personally loved them. I do prefer Six of Crows, but I would still recommend reading Shadow and Bone first – you get foundation knowledge, and the books only get better. This world is just so amazing – I’m so excited to see the TV adaptation.
8. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy and the Strange the Dreamer Duology by Laini Taylor
Strange the Dreamer: The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Laini Taylor’s books are just so amazing. I read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy years ago pretty much in one go – it’s definitely an underrated series. And Strange the Dreamer has to be one of my favourite books! The duology is so amazing, and it’s the perfect fantasy.
9. The Rebel of the Sands Trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton
Rebel of the Sands: Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.
Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.
I binge-read this trilogy last year before meeting Alwyn Hamilton, and it was so fun. I loved the setting, and the characters, and especially all the politics. I’m so interested to see what Alwyn Hamilton writes next – I’m hoping there’ll be another great series.
10. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The Bad Beginning: Dear Reader,
I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.
With all due respect,
I first read this trilogy when I was a kid and it was one of my favourites back then. I reread the series a few years ago and it really surprised me how I continued to be surprised by what happened. I would also highly recommend the Netflix adaptation of the series – it was hilarious, and the casting was perfect!
You can read my spoiler reviews of the first five books:
I do love to read series, and it was really difficult to choose a top 10. I’ve actually been reading more standalones recently, but I’m excited to discover some new favourites in the future.