Try a Taste of: East Asian Fantasy

Published Friday, October 2, 2020

Mythology, folklore, and fairy tale retellings are some of my favorite books to read. I love hearing the stories from my childhood re-imagined and learning about the stories of other cultures and exploring their beauty. With the recent influx of diversity in authors of color and non-western settings, there have been a number of these stories inspired by East Asian culture. As such, I have been exploring as much East Asian Young Adult fantasy as I can find. From adventure and found family in Japan to magical beings in modern-day South Korea, these are a few of my favorites so far.

Shadow of the Fox
by Julie Kagawa

Every millennium, whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers has the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for one wish. The time is near...and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. When demons kill half-kitsune Yumeko’s adoptive family, she’s forced to flee her home with one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of mysterious samurai Kage Tatsumi, who is Yumeko’s best hope for survival. But he’s under orders to retrieve the scroll. An uneasy alliance forms, and Yumeko begins the deception of a lifetime, knowing her secrets are more than a matter of life or death—they’re the key to the fate of the world.

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The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan
by Sherry Thomas

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel. But when a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north, Mulan dresses as a man to take her father's place in the army. Thanks to her martial arts skills, she is chosen for an elite team, but an old enemy and an attraction for her troop's commander complicate her mission.

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Wicked Fox
by Kat Cho

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung, a nine-tailed fox – a gumiho – surviving in modern-day Seoul by feeding on the souls of evil men, crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead--her gumiho soul--in the process. With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. After a disastrous attempt to reunite Miyoung with her bead, she is forced to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon's.

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Flame in the Mist
by Renée Ahdieh

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known her place. Despite her cunning and and skill as an alchemist, since she was not born a boy, her future is to form a political marriage to elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits who have been hired to kill her. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt 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.

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About the Author

Kaylee is a Circulation Clerk and has been working at the library since 2018. She loves reading fantasy, has a particular weak spot for reimagined fairytales, and can most often be found in the Youth Library helping reluctant and enthusiastic readers alike find the perfect book.