There are quite a few tales in fiction about the lone wolves setting out to save the world. They can trust no one, except grudgingly, and ultimately their victory is arrived at by their own strength. While I respect these characters’ ability to hold the weight of the world on their shoulders, there’s something to be said about solid friend groups. Some of my favorite books contain the most unforgettable friendships in YA fantasy, with plots driven by the loyalty between friends.
Who doesn’t love figuring out the relationship dynamics? Trying to keep up with rapid fire banter? Watching as characters laugh or lean into each other during the hard days? And—a crowd favorite—wondering if there is chemistry between lifelong friends?
If you are eager to jump right in the middle of complicated friendships, here are six of the best friendships in YA fantasy.
Speaking of lone wolves, Bisou prefers to lead a life that revolves only around her grandmother and her boyfriend. Everything changes when she comes across a vicious wolf in the woods after the homecoming dance. Something strange happens after the wolf is dead, leading to a chain of questions and a long history of cruel boys stopped only by fierce women. As Bisou uncovers the messiness of her grandmother’s past, she cautiously learns to rely on two new friends: smart, tenacious Keisha and funny, loyal Maggie.
The small Kansas town in which Rome, Lux, and Mercy live is not glamorous at all. The town is dusty, tired, and so are each of these friends. They do have a mouthful of magic each to help them along: Rome can fix anything put in front of her, Lux can control others with her voice, and Mercy can make whatever she has last or multiply enough to get her by. When Rome finds the spooky diary of a prominent historical figure, she also uncovers a way to reverse the curse that lays over the land. She will need Lux and Mercy’s help to break it.
Mariko is part of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the land. When she escapes a failed assassination attempt on her life, she swears to infiltrate the rogue band of warriors known as the “Black Clan” and avenge those killed in the raid. When she successfully joins the members, though, she does not find bloodthirsty monsters: she finds wild, cunning boys who fight for justice, challenge her abilities, and are worthy of her friendship.
Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is heir to one of the most powerful magical houses in France. But he will not be accepted unless he helps the corrupt Order of Babel on a dangerous mission. Thanks to his own cunning, he has amassed not only great wealth as a hotelier and treasure hunter, but also a skilled group of friends—a historian, a dancer, an engineer, and a fighter—who can aid him in his task. His relationship with each are tested as danger and drama follow them all with each step through Paris.
Both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo set up one of my favorite friend groups in King of Scars. Leigh Bardugo’s latest focuses on King Nikolai Lantsov and the demon that is growing stronger within him everyday. With the country already weakened, the kingdom of Ravka cannot afford its king to struggle as well. Thankfully, Nikolai has friends who will stand by him through all circumstances, including five powerful Grisha: Zoya, who can summon the elements; Genya, who can manipulate people’s appearances; David, who can transform materials; and twin warriros Tamar and Tolya, who can control internal organs.
Effie and Tavia are best friends who are practically sisters. They live in Seattle, a city with an extremely high density of white people who fear those with magical abilities. To make her teen years even more challenging, Tavia is secretly what the world unfairly fears the most: Black and a siren. Staying quiet seems the only way for Tavia to be safe. Effie harbors her own secrets as she questions the possible magical properties of her increasingly frequent blackouts. Could she be a siren, too, she wonders? Or something else? As the country is swept by protests over the murder of a siren superstar, Effie and Tavia will have to choose whether to lift their voices or stay hidden in silence.
Interested in learning about more of the best friendships in YA fantasy and contemporary fiction? Check out Girl Power: 9 Badass Girl Crews in YA. Want to read about intriguingly complicated relationships? Check out 3 of the Best YA Books About Best Friend Breakups.