A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is so hot right now. Despite being published eight years ago, this series has captivated brand new audiences of nearly every demographic, mostly thanks to word-of-mouth on popular social media sites known for their bookish content. Searching TikTok and Instagram Reels with the hashtag #ACOTAR will show you literally hundreds of thousands of videos of people who are newly obsessed with these books. Some of my personal favorites feature people who say things like, “I was never a reader before I discovered these books,” or, “These books made me remember why I love reading.”
I remember the same being said (and was true for me, personally) about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series. As a 20-something stepping into the real world with all of its quicksand, new parenthood, the full-time grind, falling into these books brought me back to a crucial part of myself. It was a reignition of a lost imagination, a return to staying up way past my bedtime and sneak reading whimsy. I wish this feeling for literally every person on earth, so hearing ACOTAR did the trick for so many people makes my librarian heart sing.
But we need MORE, right? I pooled all of my resources (including a number of other book lovers and librarians) to come up with the best possible list of what else to read if you loved ACOTAR. Who knows, maybe something on this list will keep the ball rolling for those who have rediscovered the joy of reading fiction. Or maybe even be that first, magical spark.
Many of you have likely already heard about this book. It has set the world of bookish content creators and consumers aflame. I'm always dubious of claims of "the next big thing in fantasy". However, LPL received an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of this book (my favorite librarian perk, hands down) and I was able to finish reading it shortly before its publication date on May 2. I loved it so much that I hopped on TikTok, determined to alert everyone that this really IS the next ACOTAR in terms of mass appeal. And somehow I was already too late. The legions of librarians, booksellers, and book bloggers who also had the privilege of reading this early were already ALL OVER IT.
And in my professional opinion, they are all 100% correct that Violet Sorrengail and this trope driven adventure featuring dragons, a magical academy, enemies-to-lovers spice, and so much more will have you in a chokehold. And there's more good news! Iron Flame, the second book in the Empyrean series, was published on November 7 and Yarros claims to have an additional three books already plotted.
Another first in a series, Chakraborty promises at least two more Amina books. I wish the number was 20, but ever since I finished this I have longed for more of the story and I'll take whatever she will give me. This series leans more heavily on adventure and less on romantasy, but Amina is such a compelling character with so many rich relationships, I hardly felt the lack.
Ava Reid is an astonishing new talent on the fantasy scene. This was her debut and the thoughtfulness of it blew me away. It's fantasy with an enemies-to-lovers subplot, but it was the social and political nuances of the world she built in this that really impressed me. She has a degree in political science, with a focus on religion and ethnonationalism, so it makes sense.
Here's one that's been flying under the radar but is slowly picking up steam if LPL's hold analytics are any indication. Atmospheric gothic romantasy is one of my favorite book vibes and this delivered that in…whatever the Providence Card equivalent of spades is. I read a one star review that said something I actually agreed with…the world building here missed some shots. BUT, I tend to be more forgiving of that considering this is the first book in a series and missing some of the lore of Blunder could be by design. Like, no, we don’t have all of the answers but there are presumably at least two more books? Which after this I’m totally down for.
Not to say that this series was the birth of the Shadow Daddy MMC, BUT Bardugo did it all the way back in 2012. Rhysand did not grace us with his dark presence until 2015.
This series is pure, unadulterated fun. The author, Tracy Wolff, claims that she was inspired to write this series simply because she's always loved vampire stories. I accept this, but think I will forever be side eyeing her, like, ma'am...this is Twilight fanfiction. That's all I could think about in the first half of Crave, book number one in the series, but as it progressed I found there to be quite a compelling and original story there. Packed with action and some PG13 spice (it is YA, after all), I had an absolute blast reading this.
Undeniably for adult readers, the Blood and Ash series features a blistering romance, lots of smut, an unpredictable plot with LOTS of twists and turns, a kickass heroine, a tall dark and handsome love interest...it takes some time to build, but honestly, oftentimes that are the easiest to get lost in.
Epistolary, slow burn enemies-to-lovers romance with a sorta kinda secret admirer element, all unfolding during a bloody war between gods. Ross has established herself as one to watch in fantasy, this was fast paced and action packed but also one to slow down and savor. And that ending 😲 I’ll be first in line for Ruthless Vows!
As this niche of publishing is currently exploding, I'll be adding to this list (which is not comprehensive...) as I find titles I feel are best suited for fans of ACOTAR. In the meantime, browsing our New Fantasy section, you're almost sure to stumble across something that will scratch the itch for trope driven romantasy. It has arrived and it's not going anywhere!
-Leah Newton is the Readers' Services Technician at Lawrence Public Library.