Best Books List, Fantasy, middle grade, YA/NA

The Best East Asian Fantasy Books for Teens

Dragons, ninjas, samurai, gods – there’s always been something fascinating about fiction set in East Asia. With a lot of fantastic, engaging elements and action, East Asia fantasy and fiction is fun to read! Here’s a list of East Asian fantasy books that are great for teens! Filled with adventure and a lot of amazing lessons, these books will definitely give you a great time! Check out the list!

A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe

Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

What do the readers say?

  • “I thoroughly enjoyed A MORTAL SONG and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys sweeping adventure, complicated characters grappling with how to define their lives, lush and entrancing magic, and a dash of romance.” – Deva Fagan, Amazon user (5 stars)

Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

Once she was Eon, a girl disguised as a boy, risking her life for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. Now she is Eona, the Mirror Dragoneye, her country’s savior – but she has an even more dangerous secret. She cannot control her power. Each time she tries, it twists into a killing force. And more destruction is on her trail – High Lord Sethon’s army. She and her companions must find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power if he is to wrest back his throne. But to help him, she must drive a dark bargain with an old enemy, which could obliterate them all. Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama, unforgettable fight scenes, sizzling tension – and many surprises – brings to a close an epic story.



What do the readers say?

  • “This was one of the most amazing sequels I’ve ever read! The first book was absolutely so great that I had to buy the second, Eona. I enjoyed it more than the first. The writing was stylish, the story line simply wonderful and the characters, especially Eona, perfectly formed. Both of these books were a joy to read. Thank you, Ms. Goodman, for taking me into a fabulous new world with your story!” – baray, Amazon user (5 stars)

Storm Dancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. When hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. Any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shogun is death. Accompanying her father on the Shogun’s hunt, the girl Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

What do the readers say?

  • “This is a dark story, and while emotionally satisfying in some respects, it is overrun with moments when you want to ask the author what happened to him that he likes to hurt people. I can’t wait to find out what happens next though in this fantastically engaging story!” – Charlene, Amazon user (5 stars)

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

What do the readers say?

  • “This is a delightful book, and I absolutely recommend it. It has a very sweet set of romances, a complex magical world, and wonderful characters! This was the first book I had read by Melinda Lo, and I am eager to read more of her work!” – Moira Katson, Amazon user (4 stars)

Tiger by Jeff Stone

Twelve-year-old Fu and his temple brothers Malao, Seh, Hok, and Long don’t know who their parents were. Raised from infancy by their grandmaster, they think of their temple as their home and their fellow warrior monks—their “temple brothers”—as their family. Then one terrible night, the temple is destroyed. Fu and his brothers are the only survivors. Charged by their grandmaster to uncover the secrets of their past, the five flee into the countryside and go their separate ways. Book #1 follows Fu as he struggles to find out more and prove himself in the process.

What do the readers say?

  • “This is a great book and I recommend you read it. It keeps you in the book with fast-paced action and some humorous parts. After you finish it, you should read the other books in The Five Ancestors series, starting with Monkey, the second book.” – A Kid’s Review, Amazon user (5 stars)

Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

Could Taro, a fisherman’s son, be destined for greatness? In the course of a day, Taro’s entire life changes: His father is murdered before his eyes, and Taro is taken by a mysterious ninja on a perilous journey toward safety. Someone wants Taro dead, but who—and why? With his best friend, Hiro, and their ninja guide, Shusaku, Taro gets caught in the crossfire of a bitter conflict between rival lords for control of imperial Japan. As Taro trains to become a ninja himself, he’s less and less sure that he wants to be one. But when his real identity is revealed, it becomes impossible for Taro to turn his back on his fate.

What do the readers say?

  • “A fast paced book with interesting characters and loads of action. An interesting take on ninjas and the added twist of the supernatural was quite entertaining” – Vikram Jayanand, Amazon user (5 stars)

Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja by Simon Higgins

It’s the dawn of an age of peace in medieval Japan, and a power hungry warlord is plotting to plunge the nation into a deadly civil war using a secret weapon from the West. Enter Moonshadow, the newest and youngest agent for the Grey Light Order, a covert brotherhood of shinobi (ninja spy warriors) who work for the shogun. For his first mission, Moonshadow is sent on a perilous journey to capture the plans for the secret weapon. Can Moonshadow defeat the evil warlord, rogue samurai, professional killers, and another ninja spy to save his country from violent chaos? Or will his first mission also be his last?

What do the readers say?

  • “It’s a great book to recommend to young people who are fans of Japanese manga and anime. Highly recommended for school and public libraries, as well as for summer reading.” – M. Tanenbaum, Amazon user (5 stars)

The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

In the village of Huanan, in medieval China, the deity that rules is the Great Huli Jing. Though twelve-year-old Li Jing’s name is a different character entirely from the Huli Jing, the sound is close enough to provide constant teasing-but maybe is also a source of greater destiny and power. Jing’s life isn’t easy. Her father is a poor tea farmer, and her family has come to the conclusion that in order for everyone to survive, Jing must be sacrificed for the common good. She is sold as a bride to the Koh family, where she will be the wife and nursemaid to their three-year-old son, Ju’nan. It’s not fair, and Jing feels this bitterly, especially when she is treated poorly by the Koh’s, and sold yet again into a worse situation that leads Jing to believe her only option is to run away, and find home again. With the help of a spider who weaves Jing a means to escape, and a nightingale who helps her find her way, Jing embarks on a quest back to Huanan–and to herself.

What do the readers say?

  • “I loved so many things about this book. The characters were interesting and addictive, the cultural information was fascinating and the magic was intriguing and seamlessly woven into the story. Additionally, I can’t forget to mention the gorgeous cover. Definitely one to read. I can’t wait to find out what Lim writes next.” – Kimberly Sabatini, Amazon user (5 stars)

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

The youth Takeo has been brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But unbeknownst to him, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary, preternatural skills. When Takeo’s village is pillaged, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. Under the tutelage of Shigeru, he learns that he too possesses the skills of the Tribe. And, with this knowledge, he embarks on a journey that will lead him across the famed nightingale floor—and to his own unimaginable destiny…

What do the readers say?

  • “I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I love books that are based upon Japanese culture . This book is in many ways similar to Shogun. The story is well written and very entertaining.” – CHASE, Amazon user (5 stars)

Dragon Cauldron by Laurence Yep

A dragon named Shimmer, a monkey wizard, a reformed witch, and two humans go on a quest to mend the magic cauldron needed to repair the dragon’s home.

What do the readers say?

  •  “I really enjoyed this book, though I dislike the way that Shimmer played favorites with Thorn and Indigo. It’s all right to help a friend feel better, but not at the expense of another friend’s feelings. I recommend this book to anyone enjoys a good tale of magic and dragons.” – Amazon customer (5 stars)


Songs of Insurrection by J.C. Kang

Only the lost art of evoking magic through music can prevent Cathay from descending into chaos. Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when a song liberated enslaved humans from their orc masters. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool. When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing rebellion, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride. Obediently wedding the depraved rebel leader means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

What do the readers say?

  • “The writing not only lends well to the genre and story but also to the characters. The author has a talent for keeping true to his tale. There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested in the next scene. The ending was well done and I can’t wait to continue the series to follow Kaiya’s future adventures.”  Floryie, Amazon user (4.5 stars)

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and she’s also the prince’s bodyguard. A demon slayer and an outcast, she’s hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And she’s their only hope. . . .

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King’s prophecy, but the legendary lost ruby treasure just might be the true key to victory. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost, while raising a prince into a king.



What do the readers say?

  • “Such an incredible book!! I really like it!! If you are into an awesome female character who can fight her own battles, protects her loved ones, and maybe finds some love along her journey, then this book is for you!! It’s very Chinese, has royalty, and a strong family bond!! Not to mention the spirit of the tiger!! I really like this book and the author did an amazing job!! There are two other books too!!” – PuppyBear, Amazon user (5 stars)

The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford

Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan, his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates.

What do the readers say?

  • “This book series is well written, thought out and even has a couple of my favorite Samurai plot lines in it. This has been one of my favorite reads on Kindle at this time. Yeah it may seem like Harry Potter with ninjas yet it is so much more than that. It has impressed in every way while the story evolves.” – matt eustice, Amazon user (5 stars)



Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Ai Ling can see into other people’s minds and reach into their spirits. But she doesn’t know why this power has awakened inside her. She only knows that it is growing. It leads her on an epic journey—one that brings her to the edge of the deepest evil.

Chen Yong has a quest of his own, but then his path crosses Ai Ling’s. And there’s a connection so strong that neither can ignore it.

Now they must face terrifying demons determined to kill them, and battle through treacherous lands. It is their destiny. But can destiny keep them together?

What do the readers say?

  • “Buy this book. Seriously. You won’t regret it. This is me raving about Silver Phoenix to you. Cindy Pon has a hit on her hands! I can’t wait for another installment. Not only are there eunuchs and concubines, but also fish who spit venom, three-breasted woman-monsters, dragons, serpents, flying chariots, and a soul-sucking evil that lives in the emporer’s palace. You’ll lose yourself in this world.” – Amazon Customer (5 stars)

Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

What do the readers say?

  • “Bottom line is you should read Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale. It’s wonderful and refreshing in a YA world full of love triangles, angst and stupidity.” – Alexandra Ciobota, Amazon user (5 stars)

Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson

In the time of the Han Dynasty in ancient China, the last remaining dragon is in danger of being killed by the cruel Emperor. A nameless orphan with no past and an uncertain future becomes his unlikely ally. The young orphan soon discovers that it is her destiny to protect the aging dragon and his mysterious purple stone. Chased by an evil dragon hunter and a powerful sorcerer, their adventure is not easy.  Each must learn to help and understand the other if they are to survive. To succeed in her task, the young orphan must reach deep within herself to find courage she never knew existed. No longer can she be the timid, shy orphan she once was. She is now the one, true Dragon Keeper.

What do the readers say?

  • “Wilkinson’s style is simple yet paints a vivid picture of ancient China, and the characters are all well-written whether you loved or hated them. Ping’s character isn’t perfect, which makes her all that more real, and I was constantly amused by Danzi’s dry humor.” – Adair Lee, Amazon user (5 stars)

Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow

Kimi dreams of being a great samurai warrior, but she and her sister, Hana, are young ladies of feudal Japan, daughters of the Jito of the province. Her future seems clear: Girls do not become samurai.

Then, betrayal shatters the sisters’ world. Their power-hungry uncle murders their father, and their mother and little brother mysteriously disappear. Determined to seek revenge and restore their honor, they disguise themselves as boys to train at a school for samurai. Kimi and Hana are thrown headlong into a life of warrior codes, sharp swords, and shadowy figures—as they work with fierce determination to avenge the brutal wrongs done to their family.

In a flash, life has swept them into a terrible adventure, more heart-pounding than Kimi and Hana ever could have imagined . . . and once it has been set in motion, nothing will ever be the same.

What do the readers say?

  • “Author Maya Snow created what seems to me to be an authentic and accurate setting in feudal Japan. Japanese terms are used liberally in the text and I enjoyed learning about samurai rituals and life in Japan hundreds of years ago. Kimi and Hana are strong and smart, and in this suspenseful story they are befriended by a number of richly-drawn secondary characters, particularly Master Goku. This book is the first in a series, and ends with the promise of more adventures to follow.” – Maggie Knapp, Amazon user (5 stars)

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono

After normal high-schooler Yoko is whisked away to another world by Keiki, a holy man who claims she is the heir to the kingdom of Kei, she is left only with a magical sword, a gem, and questions about her destiny as she fights for her throne.

What do the readers say?

  • “In short, this book is well worth reading regardless of whether or not you have already viewed the anime, and it was worth it for me to go about finding the four available books in this series. I’m eagerly looking forward to the sequels, and I hope that more of this series will be translated.” – CannedKindness, Amazon user (5 stars)


Ink by Amanda Sun

On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.

Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

What do the readers say?

  • “What an exhilarating book. I couldn’t put it down. I loved watching Katie and Tomohiro develop their relationship. This story was a rollercoaster. I cannot wait to read the sequel.” – Erica Askew, Amazon user (5 stars)

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi

Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river — and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy — the Prince Chagum — on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.

What do the readers say?

  • “I love this story! I love the whole Moribito series. Uehashi is an anthropologist, and she creates worlds deeply linked to real human cultures and real human values. The heros of the story are inspiring and the story is well-written and compassionate. Note that the main hero is a woman in her early thirties who has trained all her life to wield a spear. The martial sequences are very well choreographed, and are balanced out by a direct vision into the world of the shaman, which we experience through the eyes of other really interesting characters in the story. A great world to visit and enjoy.” – Bleys A., Amazon user (5 stars)

Flame In the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace. Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

What do the readers say?

  • “Beautiful writing! All the characters are multifaceted and well-developed; no one is pure evil and everyone has their motivations. The heroine Mariko was smart and inspiring to read. The romance between Mariko and Okami was gradual and burning; it was well-developed and the moment that they had were very passionate and exciting. It was also nice to see Okami challenge her perception of what she’s allowed to do as a girl. As a nobleman’s daughter, she was very limited in what she was allowed to do, so it’s nice to see her perceptions change as she grew stronger.” – Dragonfly, Amazon user (5 stars)

What are YOUR favorite East Asian fantasy books? Let us know in the comments!

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