I didn't want to point out the obvious books that most people have read already, so hopefully, there is something here you haven't tried yet.
1. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
"It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.”
Grave Mercy is the first book in His Fair Assasin trilogy. This series has always been a bit of a mystery to me because, frankly, more people should be reading it and talking about it.
The first book focuses on Ismae, one of a select group of assassin nuns, trained to do the bidding of Death himself.
Ismae is awesome and 100% fierce and capable. This reads more like a Historical novel than a Fantasy and, if you enjoy books with an atmospheric setting, then this is the book for you.
2. Sabriel by Garth Nix
“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”
Perhaps more well-known, Sabriel is the first installment of an exciting fantasy series by Australian author, Garth Nix.
Sabriel, at the age of 18, finds out her father is missing and is given the responsibilities of his job as the Abhorsen, a special kind of necromancer. She is forced to use her ingenuity and wits to survive and figure out what happened to her father.
I first read this novel in high school and it has remained a firm favorite. Sabriel is still one of my favorite characters along with her demon-feline companion, Mogget.
3. The Mediator by Meg Cabot
“Sometimes, the only way you can make someone listen is with your fist. This is not a technique espoused, I know by the diagnostic manuals on most therapists' shelves.Then again nobody ever said I was a therapist.”The Mediator series is probably my favorite of Meg Cabot's books, which is really saying something as I went through a serious Meg Cabot phase in my late teens. I mean, I have probably read over thirty of them.
This series features Suze Simon, a sassy teen with the ability to speak to and help the dead. This often ends up with her in some dangerous situations, throwing punches and saving her fellow classmates from the restless dead. This series was well before the days of Twilight and I think, had it been published a good decade later, it would have been even more popular.
I know it's been over 18 years since the first book came out, but I am still waiting for this series to be made into a CW series or something. Hope springs eternal.
4. The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan
“How am I going to make friends with these people if all I can think of is how easy it would be to rob them?”The first in The Black Magician trilogy, this novel introduces us to Sonea, a street urchin who suddenly discovers she has magical abilities and is thrust into the elite world of The Magicians' Guild, where she is the first from the slums to be considered to train.
I loved Sonea and her growth as a character throughout this series. In the early naughties, it was also unusual for a fantasy series to have a female lead, so that's why this series also stood out for me.
5. The Dark Days Club - Alison Goodman
"I am no warrior, sir, nor do I aspire to be. I have been taught to sew and sing and dance, and my duty is to marry, not fight demons. Look at me: I am an Earl's daughter, not a man versed in swords and fisticuffs.”Set in Victorian England, The Dark Days Club follows Lady Helen as she discovers that demons lurk in the shadows and sets about to follow a destiny beyond society parties and finding a handsome Duke to marry.
Helen is an interesting character, as she has to deal with the gender oppression of the 1800's that demands women be meek and obedient. This creates a fun internal conflict to read as Helen learns more about herself and fights with her desire to be a true lady.
Have you read any of these? And have I left anyone off who deserves a mention? Let me know in the comments!