Magical YA Reads for a Witchy Halloween


Here at Pine Reads Review we love books with intricate magic systems and strong female protagonists! From divination to magical romance to mysterious creatures, fantasy and YA are PRR’s bread and butter. During “spooky season,” magical systems truly couldn’t be more enticing to us readers as we dive into detailed world building and adventures. Here’s some books to read if you like magic systems and want to broaden your horizons past the usual fan favorites for some year round enchantment.

The Nine: Origins by Kes Trester

Content Warnings: Murder and brief sexual content

Trester’s magical world revolves around Blake Wilder, a college-student who sees visions of the future and of other people’s pasts. When she sees a vision of another student being in danger, she decides to intervene and ends up dragged into a paranormal society called The Nine. But will she be able to balance her personal life with the fate of her community on her shoulders? Or will the killer on the loose get to her too?

If you like romance with a little bit of clairvoyant magic, this book is for you! Check out our review and interview with Kes Trester here!

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Content Warnings: explicit language, underage drinking, drunk driving, home invasion,

violence, death of an animal, violence against animals, blood, self-harm.

For lovers of Hocus Pocus and other witchcraft and wizardry alike, Our Crooked Hearts follows a mother-daughter duo as they pursue the solution to the mess created by daughter Ivy’s dabble with black magic. The book explores relationships between mothers and daughters, friendships, and power. If you’re looking for a book with several twists and turns that leaves you speechless, this one’s for you.

Check out our review here!

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

Lin’s debut book follows Ning as she travels to the heart of her kingdom to compete in a magical competition. In Ning’s world, as a tea-making apprentice, tea-making is more than an art or job, it’s magical. After the death of her mother, she has to navigate this corrupt royal system and save her sister, and herself from the horrors that await her. A Magic Steeped in Poison is a perfect fit for anyone looking for a non-traditional magic system with a tinge of royal-inspired fantasy.

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Content Warning: graphic descriptions of dead bodies, grief and loss, death of family members, blood, violence, emotional manipulation, alcohol, racism, allusions to human experimentation, war

Vira’s kingdom runs on a resource that’s running out: magic. After her mother’s death, Vira must step up to the plate to rule. Can she save her kingdom and find a new resource that produces magic? Or will her home be destroyed? The world of magic inside this book goes beyond spells and gothic romance, it is an adventure. Solve puzzles alongside Vira and her siblings, and immerse yourself in a rich mythology with the world of The Ivory Key.

Read our review here!

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

If you’re like me, and can’t get enough of YA dystopian fiction, this one’s for you. A cross between fantasy, mythology, and tropes of royalty, The Tiger at Midnight follows Esha, an assassin for the rebel forces as she is assigned a mission to kill an important General. But unexpectedly, she begins to fall in love with the General’s nephew, and she suddenly questions her entire worldview and fate. This book is definitely a non-traditional magic system, but a go-to for strong female protagonists and dual point of view narrators.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Content Warnings: Whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death of a loved one, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect, non-sexual nudity, murder, emotional manipulation, kidnapping

In case you need more reads about powerful female protagonists, you can’t go wrong with Blood Like Magic. Voya Thomas is a witch, but not a full witch, more like a witch-in-training. In this magic system, in order for a witch to complete their training, they must complete their Calling, something Voya has failed. She has one last chance to make things right, complete her training, and save her family’s magic. In order to do so she has to choose to kill the person she’s falling in love with. Can she make the right decision? Find out for yourself!

Read our review here!

PRR Lead Editor/Writer, Ami Jones