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It does not matter what year it is, the people want what they want: YA fantasy books with love triangles! And I am no different. There is simply something undeniable about a character caught between two people and two worlds, unsure which side to choose. Sometimes the choice is political, physical, or simply magical. There are often situations in young adult fantasy when fate steps in and makes the choice for the character. But no matter what, there is no easier way to ignite the flames of a debate between readers than for an author to introduce a steamy love triangle into their story.
When The Hunger Games books and then films came out, my friends and I often discussed Katniss’s predicament of choosing between Peeta and Gale. Unpopular opinion: many days I thought maybe Katniss should just ditch the boys and be happy by herself. Other days I was solidly Team Peeta. Today, I find way too much joy in debating romantic choices made by new young adult fiction characters. (I hope you’re reading this, Sarah J. Maas.)
Whether you end up loving these love triangle fantasy books, or end up loving to argue about them, let’s dive into the ultimate list of YA fantasy books with love triangles you will never forget!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The world is dark and hopeless in Panem. The wealthy are living in outrageous opulence, while others are starving. One way to earn wealth and fame for your family? Be picked in the annual Hunger Games lottery and be the last one standing. When Katniss Everdeen is chosen, she is sent to the Capitol to fight for her life. By her side is the sweet Peeta Mellark. And left behind? Her fiery best friend, Gale Hawthorne. Now Katniss’s life’s on the line, and two boys are vying for her attention.
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
What is one to do when they’ve accidentally murdered someone in 19th century France? Sail to America, scandalize some nuns, and get caught in another murder plot with some very attractive boys. Celine Rousseau is looking to escape her past and become independent in the new world, but Sébastien Saint Germain and Michael Grimaldi have other plans. Throw in vampires, werewolves, and some very quotable moments from the fierce Celine, and The Beautiful is an unstoppable ride.
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
Esha fights for her country in the moonlight, taking out her enemies one at a time. When her most important assassination mission is interfered with, she has to flee the scene. Kunal, on the other hand, has been known as a soldier and warrior his whole life. He often contemplates leaving, though, to seek a quiet life. When his uncle, a powerful military leader, is assassinated, Kunal sets off after the supposed assassin. Esha and Kunal’s lives are intertwined as they uncover the truth about their dying countries. But Esha’s feelings for the prince of Dharka might make things even more complicated. And let’s be real — the chemistry between Esha and Kunal is pretty epic, making The Tiger at Midnight a must for any list of steamy love triangle books.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
The story of triplet sisters with deadly gifts, all salivating over one throne. What could possibly go wrong? As is custom, the royal family is in shambles in the fantasy land of Fennbirn. Princesses Arsinoe, Katharine, and Mirabella are separated and pitted against each other in the name of power. In an intriguing love triangle, one of the sisters ruins any chance of reparation when she sleeps with her sister’s best friend’s lover. Three Dark Crowns is deadly, devious, and impossible to put down!
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez
In a retelling of the romantic and ancient legend of Iseult and Tristan, the readers get to hear the story from a little heard voice: Branwen’s. Branwen is the lady-in-waiting and close friend to the somewhat spoiled Princess Iseult. When she discovers a wounded stranger and saves his life, she is thrown into the tumultuous waters of love and potential betrayal. And of course, Branwen, Iseult, and Tristan are caught in a love triangle that will alter their lives — and their countries — irrevocably.
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Rue never wanted to have any part of the secretive magical society her father belongs to. But when her mother is killed, Rue is ripped from her sister’s side and brought to a world of gods called Ghizon. As a half-human, half-god, no one knows what to do with Rue. And all she wants to do is return to Houston and take care of her family. But when she does return, it’s to realize something is very wrong and that some of the same problems are present in Houston as in Ghizon. Along the way to saving the world, Rue’s first love shows up, as well as someone new she can’t take her eyes off of.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
In the Kingdom of Norta, the royals and wealthy — those with silver blood — have magic abilities. They look down upon those with red blood who are therefore magic-less. A girl with red blood, Mare Barrow has not yet been sent off to fight in a hopeless war for the kingdom (unlike all of her brothers). When she begins serving in the royal palace it is accidentally revealed that she has intense, unpredictable powers. Suddenly, she’s engaged to Prince Maven. But she’s also fascinated with his older brother, Prince Cal, and feels torn between their political views. Which one will actually do what’s right for her people? And which one illuminates rather than subdues her power?
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Things are great in Brooklyn until Alex, one of the most powerful witches — also known as a bruja — alive, decides to rid herself of magic. As her entire family disappears to another realm, Alex is forced to face her fear in order to rescue them. As she ventures into the realm of the dead, she has two people by her side: Nova, a shifty brujo, and Rishi, Alex’s best friend. Who wouldn’t enjoy battling mythical monsters and one’s own heart?
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Shadow Fold, a dark accursed place filled with winged creatures, has split the world in two for seemingly forever. In Ravka, the people are divided as well. Some have magic and are called Grisha. Others are without magic. So when Alina, a seemingly human girl reveals a power never seen before, she shocks the world. Separated from her childhood best friend, Mal, a powerful man called The Darkling takes her under his wing. But which side is The Darkling fighting for? And what world does Alina want to create with her powers?
The Selection by Kiera Cass
If The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have taught us anything, it is that the #1 best way to find a spouse is to just throw all the most beautiful people into a room and let the drama ensue. The Selection is the delightful — and dark — dystopian version of The Bachelor. Fighting for a better place in her war-torn world, America Singer is unwillingly entered into the Selection competition with 34 other girls. Whoever wins marries the prince. The problem is that America is already in love with her best friend from back home…but then she meets Prince Maxon, and things start to get pretty tricky.
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
The Camelot Rising series gets off to a spicy start with quite the love triangle! (Or maybe even a love quadrangle?) Raised and trained to go undercover as Princess Guinevere in King Arthur’s court, Merlin’s ward is thrown right into the thick of it. She is tasked with protecting a kingdom that has banned all magic. But who can she trust with sharing the burden of saving the kingdom? Who can she trust with her heart? The noble king? The sly friend? Or the mysterious knight?
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Elias has only ever known what it is to train to be a soldier in the Martial Empire. Unlike his best friend, Helene, he feels conflicted and dreams of a different, more peaceful life. When he meets Laia, a quick-witted servant and spy in his brutal mother’s household, everything starts to change. Both Elias and Helene are forced to fight in a competition to become the new emperor. But when Helene realizes Elias’s growing feelings for Laia, the characters no longer only need to choose between the empire and the resistance: now they must figure out who they love.
These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan
Brie and her younger sister were mysteriously abandoned by their mother years ago. Although Brie steals from the rich to make ends meet, the two humans are still impossibly indebted. Then Brie’s sister is cruelly sold to a wicked faerie king and Brie must venture amongst those whom she hates. As she uses all of her strength and cunning to rescue her sister, Brie finds herself caught between two princes.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
After the tragic death of her mother, Bree is headed off to college in a program for advanced students. Strange things start happening on campus though, like fearsome monsters showing up and people trying to hypnotize her. Bree finds she has magical abilities herself, and ends up in the middle of a secret student society called the “Legendborn.” Nick is assigned to be Bree’s mentor, and their feelings start to grow the more time they spent together. But there’s also Sel, who Bree isn’t quite sure about…
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Edward or Jacob? This has been the question for over 15 years. (Wild, right?) So it’s fitting that it’s impossible to create a list of YA fantasy books with love triangles without doing a shout out to one of the originals in the trope: Twilight. Bella is just enjoying another day in glory — also known as high school in the Pacific Northwest — when she meets a stunning boy with secrets. The more she knows about Edward, the more she finds him undeniable. But another new friend, a boy named Jacob, warns her away from Edward. As Bella becomes deeply embroiled in both their lives, she finds out that there’s something supernatural going on…and that she may have to choose between Edward and Jacob after all.
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