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The Legacy of Androva Series

Standout Standalones: YA Fantasy ✨πŸ“–✨

“Like all sweet dreams, it will be brief, but brevity makes sweetness, doesn't it?”
― Stephen King

I love reading YA books, but I especially love reading YA fantasy/romantasy. And the thing about stories involving magic is the world-building
—there’s a lot of it. Often far too much to fit into one book. That means I read a lot more series than I do standalones.

I’m definitely a fan of the series format, both as a reader and a writer. But I’m also a fan of mixing up my reading choices because I discovered some of my favourite books that way. And so I got to thinking about standalone YA fantasy books. When I made my 
New Year reading choices a few months ago, I included Revelle, by Lyssa Mia Smith, and I really enjoyed it ☺. I decided to search for more standalones to add to my TBR. Today’s blog post contains my top five, and I can’t wait to read them! I hope you enjoy my choices, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.

Dreams Lie Beneath, by Rebecca Ross

Do not trust your eyes alone…

The realm of Azenor has spent years plagued by a curse. Every new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians—who serve as territory wardens—stand between people and their worst dreams.
Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians arrive to challenge her, she is unknowingly drawn into a century-old conflict. She seeks revenge, but as she gets closer to Phelan, one of the handsome young magicians, secrets—as well as romance—begin to rise.
To fight the realm’s curse, which seems to be haunting her every turn, Clementine must unite with her rival. But will their efforts be enough to save Azenor from the nightmares that lurk around every corner?

Seven magicians had kept detailed dream recordings before Papa had come to Hereswith, and I had always hoped to become the ninth magician, after my father retired. But I felt the weight of those inked dreams of people now dead and buried. I felt them as if I had embraced a millstone. 
I met Papa’s gaze, and he saw my shock. I hadn’t realized it until now. The weight he carried as the town’s magician. And suddenly… I didn’t know if I was strong enough to bear it. 
“Come here, daughter,” he whispered.
I crossed the room, the book heavy in my arms, and sat on the edge of his bed. I could feel the feverish heat rolling off him in waves, and it made me worry. 
“I’ve taught you all that I know,” he said. “You’ll do just fine recording this dream, so long as you stick to the rules and pre-determined spells.” He paused to study me with squinted eyes. “You know, it’s not a bad thing to be fearful every now and then. The fear reminds you of limits, of what lines you should not cross. Of the doors you shouldn’t open.”

Where the Dark Stands Still, by A. B. Poranek

A cursed forest. A twisted bargain. A love eternal.

Raised in a small village near the spirit-wood, Liska Radost knows that Magic is monstrous, and its practitioners, monsters.
After Liska unleashes her own powers with devastating consequences, she is caught by the demon warden of the wood - the Leszy - who offers her a bargain: one year of servitude in exchange for a wish.
Whisked away to his crumbling manor, Liska makes an unsettling discovery: she is not the first person to strike this bargain and all of her predecessors have mysteriously vanished. If Liska wants to survive the year and return home, she must unravel her host's spool of secrets and face the ghosts of his past.
Those who enter the wood do not always return…

“Yes, I am he,” said the demon. He is tall and lean in stature, holding himself with the elegance of an aristocrat. “As for you, I will only ask once more. What is your name?”
“Kasia,” Liska says quickly.
The demon goes still, and so does the wood around him, as if every bracken and bough is straining to listen to their conversation. Then he murmurs, “I can hear the skips in your heartbeat, little liar. Try again.”
Liska’s throat constricts with shock. She swallows, then speaks once more, chastened now. “L-Liska.” That is all she will give him. Her surname is hers to keep. 
He chuckles warmly. “Liska, Liseczka … oj, lisku. You’re not a very clever fox, are you?”

A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge

Child, thief, madman, spy, which speaks the truth and which one lies?

In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare – wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show joy, despair or fear – at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…

In the fleeting second before the door closed between them, Neverfell glimpsed something that made her heart stumble in its pace. Madame Appeline was watching her with a Face she had never seen before. It was unlike anything from the many Facesmith catalogues Neverfell had treasured over the years, nor was it smooth and beautiful like the other Faces Madame Appeline had worn during her visit. It contained a smile, but one with a world of weariness behind the brightness, and sadness behind the kindness. There was something a little haggard around the eyes as well, that spoke of sleeplessness, patience and pain.
Next instant the image was gone, and Neverfell was left staring at the door as it clicked to. Her mind was crazed with colour and jumbled thoughts. It took her a moment or two before she remembered that she should be throwing all the bolts.
That extraordinary Face had sent a throb through her very soul, like a breeze shivering the string of a harp, and she could not account for it.

The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.
But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

He stands still for a moment, watching me. He has tied the lamp to his belt, and his hand strokes it absently. It’s an affectation common to Lampholders, and he’s picked it up already.
“How old are you?” he asks.
A cool wind flows between the dunes, pulling my hair across my face and ruffling his patched cloak.
“Three thousand and one thousand more.”
“Great gods,” he says softly. “But you look no older than me.”
“Looks are deceiving.” I don’t tell him that the face I wear is stolen, its possessor five hundred years dead. Of course, I have a face of my own, one slightly younger than yours. I was seventeen the day I was first put into the lamp, when I ceased aging and became the timeless slave I am now. I have little desire to wear that face anymore. It is the one that betrayed you to your death, Habiba. The face of a monster.

The Wicked Deep, by Shea Ernshaw

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Two centuries ago, in the small, isolated town, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return from the depths, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them down to their watery deaths.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into or the fact that his arrival will change everything…
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.
But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Tourist season starts tomorrow. And with it comes an influx of outsiders and the beginning of an eerie and deadly tradition that has plagued Sparrow since 1823—ever since the three Swan sisters were drowned in our harbor. Tonight’s party is the start of a season that will bring more than just tourist dollars—it will bring folklore and speculation and doubt about the town’s history. But always, every year without fail or falter, it also brings death.
It starts as a low croon that rolls in with the tide, a sound so faint it might just be the wind blowing through the clapboard shutters, through the portholes of docked fishing boats, and into narrow cracks along sagging doorways. But after the first night, the harmony of voices becomes undeniable. An enchanting hymn sailing over the water’s surface, cool and soft and alluring. The Swan sisters have awakened.

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