The Best Middle Grade High Fantasy Books

Hello world, Millie Florence here!

A couple of weeks ago I posted a YouTube Video full of middle-grade book recommendations of the high fantasy kind, and you guys loved it! So, I decided to make an easily skim-a-ble blog post version for those who prefer reading to watching. That said, if you missed the video and prefer to watch, you can find it below.

Stay tuned because, this book recommendation thing will be a series, and there are more posts and videos to come. If you want to be notified the moment they come out you can subscribe to my YouTube channel, or if you want something more low key, you can subscribe to my email newsletter for monthly video and post-round-ups.

Now lets get to the books!

What is High Fantasy?

According to Wikipedia –

“High fantasy is set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than the “real” or “primary” world. This secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterized by being set in the primary or real world, or a rational and familiar fictional world with the inclusion of magical elements.”


Basically high fantasy is a type of fantasy that takes place in a made-up world as opposed to taking place on earth.

What makes a good high fantasy middle grade book?

Everyone has their own opinions on what makes a good book, but here are mine. All the books on this list follow these criteria on some level.

  • Creative and imaginative
  • Clever
  • Some funny and humorous moments
  • A thoughtful, heartwarming, and hopeful theme at its core
  • Beautiful language and a classical writing style don’t hurt either.

And now… on to the books!

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is a master of storytelling. She has written a string of award-winning, and award honor books, with The Tale of Despereaux among them.

This book tells the enchanting story of a little mouse with very big ears living in the mouse holes of the king’s castle. Under the playful premise lies a story of love and light, forgiveness, stories, darkness, and belonging, all told through lyrical prose.

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

On the Only Island in The World, there is a mountain known as Majestic. Mount majestic rises and falls every day, and it always has, no one know why, until one young girl discovers the reason. It’s actually the belly of a sleeping giant – a giant who could wake up at any moment!

Creative, clever, heartwarming, and uproariously funny, it’s everything I love in a middle-grade book. I read it aloud to my siblings and there were parts that I couldn’t read for laughing. This would make an excellent family read aloud as it will keep younger siblings entertained and older siblings challenged and thinking.

The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I do love my Newbery Award winners. XD

“Moonlight is magic, ask anyone you like.”

This is the enchanting and twisty story of a village that sits by a deep dark forest. Everyone knows there’s a Witch in the forest, so each year they leave a baby for her to find, hoping it will keep her from attacking them. But the witch, Xan, is kind. Each baby she finds she carries across the forest to a loving family on the other side, wondering why on earth the village would abandon such children, to begin with. But one year, the baby she finds swallows a bit of magic, and it’s clear that not just any family can take care of this magical child.

A blend of fantasy and mystery, The Girl who Drank the Moon is filled with unexpected twists and turns. It’s a story about motherhood, childhood, despair, joy, and love.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

(I guess I like books that have ‘moon’ in the title.)

Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, takes place in a fantasy version of ancient China, and centers on young Minli, a girl who’s family lives at the base of Fruitless Mountain. Seeing how unhappy her mother is with their poor life, Minli sets off on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask how to change their fortune. Along the way she meets magic, adventure, and unlikely friendships.

This book explores the question: what is true happiness, and how is it reached? The normal format of the story is often broken up by stories that the characters tell each other, and all the stories told within the book eventually link together for the end realization. The book is a beautiful and magical glimpse into Chinese culture, full of clever ties to Chinese folklore and fairytale style prose. This was my family’s most recent read aloud, and it was a favorite among all.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Vivid, rich, funny, and imaginative, my 9-year-old sister has proclaimed this her favorite book of all time.

Furthermore takes place in a magical world where color represents magic, so, when a young girl is born with “hair and skin as white as milk” everyone assumes that she has no magical talent at all. But the girl, Alice, knows this is not true, and when her father disappears she must use all her magic and the help of her unwanted companion Oliver, to venture into the deadly and unpredictable country of Furthermore, to save him.

It’s a story of family love, unlikely friendships, and loving yourself as you are. Tahereh’s prose is luscious, rich, and experimental. Fans of Alice in Wonderland will appreciate this book, as it was heavily inspired by it.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Sensing a pattern? Moons and moors.

Nevermoor, the first book in a middle-grade series by British author Jessica Townsend, is what some people are calling ‘the next Harry Potter’. It certainly does have a rapidly growing fanbase and a movie deal, and I don’t think it’s been over-hyped either.

Morrigan Crow is destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But she doesn’t. Instead, she is saved by the eccentric Juniper North and whisked off to the magical city of Nevermoor. She loves it there and wants to stay, but the only way she can do so is if she wins a spot in the Wunderous Society through a series of dangerous, magical trials.

With clever, quirky humor, bright characters, and magical adventures, my whole family loved this book.

Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen by Millie Florence

My debut fantasy novel, Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen is a story of family, change, and how even in the darkest moments there is always light if you look for it. I think it’s safe to say that I like this book quite a bit. XD

Lydia Green never had reason to worry much before.

She lived in a timeless Glen on the edge of the Valleylands with her mismatched family of fairies, philosophers, and two troublemakers known as the Zs.

But now, at age eleven, her world is turned upside down when rumors reach Mulberry Glen about a mysterious Darkness that dwells in the forest Tenebrae.

Lydia knows it is nothing to be trifled with, but, fiery and headstrong, the Zs have other ideas. A foolish choice puts their lives in danger, and although she is no hero, Lydia realizes that family is something she is willing to fight for.

But among the shifting library shelves and lonely stone towers of her quest, Lydia is chased with more questions than answers. The Darkness of the forest lurks within her own mind, and how can you fight something which is all in your head?

In her second novel, Millie Florence weaves a tapestry of passion, heart, and magic. Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen is a pure, hopeful fantasy for both parents and children alike.

Pick up your copy today to experience this fervent and uplifting tale.

That’s all I have for you today! I hope you enjoyed it and that you consider checking out some of the books mentioned. If you have high fantasy middle-grade recommendations of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below, because I am always looking for more books to read, and you may help out some other readers as well.

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

“This is interesting.”

Some years ago, I was 11 years old and attending the Illinois Young Authors Conference. After the opening Q and A panel the students had the opportunity to get their books signed and speak with the authors.

Leanne Ellis, one of the authors, had interested me particularly during the panel. When answering questions she was lively and warm and imaginative. So I picked up and copy of her book and took it over to be signed.

I trembled with excitement all the way up the signing line, I had only met authors (The people who make magic happen) a couple times before, and I could still hardly believe it.

After a ‘hello’ once I reached the front of the line I said right away “I’m a writer too!”

“Well of course you are!” Leanne said. “This is the young authors conference after all!”

I nodded and then launched into a (rather long winded) explanation of my work in progress at the time. Leanne looked straight at me, and nodded and listened – really listened! – even though I was holding up the line.

During my explanation her daughter came over and tried to ask her a question.

“Hold on a minute.” Leanne said to her daughter, putting up a hand. “This is interesting.”

This. Is. Interesting.

A really truly author thought my story was interesting. She was really listening to, and prioritizing, what I had so say, as if it was really truly important and serious and not just some childish fantasy.

I finished my explanation. She signed my book, and she made some comment about my story, I don’t remember what exactly, something like “that reminds my of so-and-so book. Have you ever read that?” Something that made it clear she had listened and thought about what I had said.
Then she handed me the book back and said.

“It was great to meet you! When you publish that book, let me know.”

I nodded, smiled, and left.

Inside the book she had written “To Millie, a fellow author who is AWESOME! Keep writing!”

The signed book.

Well of course you are!
Hold on a minute, this is interesting.
When you publish that book, let me know.
A fellow author.
Keep writing!

It’s funny how such simple words can make your heart sing.
Someday I hope I can do the same as Leanne Ellis. I can look straight at a child who is bursting with dreams, and listen, really truly listen, and really truly care. And if anyone tries to interrupt, I’ll put up my hand and I’ll say:

“Hold on a minute, this is interesting.”

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

A Lesson Learned

I thought I was going to finish this book.

Ever since I published Lydia Green there’s been a new sort of pressure on me. The month of its publication my book sales quadrupled. I was, of course, over the moon about this. I must have done something right.

But then I had to write again. I HAD to, I felt. My readership was only growing, I HAD to write another book, it HAD to be as good as Lydia Green! What had I done right in Lydia Green? I HAD to do it again.

Do you see my mistake dear Reader?

No self-respecting story wants to be forced out or compared to another book, even if it is by the same author.

Nevertheless, I pushed through. The words came very slowly. Slower than I had ever written them before. I crossed the 50,000-word mark before Christmas. I took a break. I tried to start writing again. I thought I was nearing the end of the first draft and that I would soon be celebrating it. But I realized my mistake.

I was trying to make it too much like Lydia Green, but I couldn’t reclaim the past. The story had never stirred me to any emotion other than frustration. I had no true passion for the vision of what it was to be. I was writing for the sake of publishing, not for writing.

I don’t know why this didn’t happen when I was writing Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen, after all that was right after I had published my first book, Honey Butter, and you would think that would be a similar shock. But I think Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen was just so DIFFERENT from Honey Butter that I couldn’t compare it in even the smallest way. It was twice as long and it was essentially the opposite genre.

So I’m going to learn from my mistakes.  I’m going to start over. I’m going to write a completely different story in a different genre. I’m going to try hard not to put pressure on myself. Not to force it.

I don’t know what it’s going to be about, I don’t know what it’s going to look like or when I’m going to start it.

But I do know that it’s going to be better. It’s going to be real. And I am going to write it because I have something beautiful to say.

And those 50,000 words now cast away? I don’t believe they are wasted. I’ve learned an important lesson from them, and therefore they have moved me forward in my life and my career more than anything else could have done. After all, isn’t that the point of a story? To impact people? To teach them a Truth? This story has certainly done that for me, and I am stronger and better because of it.

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

Honey Butter on Audio


It releases on December 2nd, just in time for Christmas! Available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Click this link to preorder!

And in the meantime… How about a sneak peek at the first chapter…?

What is it like to record an audiobook?✨🌻

  1. If you do not have water with you, your throat will die.
  2. When the characters are shouting you can’t actually shout or your microphone will die. You have to speak loudly and put the emotion into emphasis rather than volume.
  3. No. Keeping character voices consistent is not easy. I cannot tell you how many times I have to restart a passage after accidentally using Jamie’s voice when Erica was speaking.
  4. You can’t move or background noise will invade your audio with its weapons of destruction. ⚔️ I usually move a lot when I talk, so this was hard.
  5. You have to record a few passages at a time, one-page max, then save the audio and start on the next one.
  6. You may cry and have to start over sometimes. Wait, just me? Okay than.😉For every person who has told me Honey Butter made them cry, I have probably cried twenty times over it. I’m never going to get over this book.😭

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

Deleted Scene from Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen – Memories and Rain

I wrote this scene in the first draft, mostly, I recall, to reach my word count for the day. It ended up being a lovely beautiful scene that gave you a deeper look into life in Mulberry Glen, but it didn’t add much to the story as a whole and conflicted in some ways with Lydia’s character arc at that point, so I cut it later in the writing process. However, I thought that some of my readers might enjoy a look into some of what Lydia Green was before the final version.

This scene was meant to be placed right after Lydia’s second visit to Terra’s cottage. Note that in the earliest drafts Terra’s name was Pina, so that’s who Lydia is referring to in this scene. The scene is also very raw, and almost word for word what I first wrote, as a result, there are probably some typos.

Explanations aside though; enjoy!


Lydia stood in the entrance to the lone tower, wind sweeping her hair and cloak about, flying through the air. If she had needed to talk to someone, she would have had to raise her voice to be heard, but luckily there was no one with whom she would need to attempt a conversation anywhere nearby, and she could hear her thoughts perfectly well.

Lydia had needed some time to herself, to think about what Pina had said, and about the harvest festival, the next day when she could meet with the ranger to had met with the Zs
so she had taken a detour from the road back to Miss Castra’s cottage up the side of the valley wall to the lone tower. The quiet solemn stone rising against the pale sky. Back in Mulberry Glen time to herself had been bountiful, but now every spare moment seemed to be filled, and every moment that wasn’t she spent worrying about what would come next.

Lydia stood with one hand caressing the stone archway, worn smooth by time. The tower seemed a great sturdy friend, silent, tall, unspeaking. Only there for her to lean upon. Stretching out below her was the valley itself. The colorful leaves of the treetops simmering in the wind like a pot of mallow tea. Here and there houses and clearings and pavilions doting the swathes of natural color that bathed the valley with brilliance.

Lydia let her head slid to one side and lean upon the empty stone doorway, the hollow sweeping of the wind inside carrying a mournful tune.

Darkness chased her thoughts like the wind chased the leaves.

Omnis Res Mundi, Tenebrae, the Zs, Livy, Pit, and Garder, they all floated in and out of her thoughts.

Lydia closed her eyes and in her memory, she saw snowflakes.

Her hands were clod and her cheeks were red and the wind was blowing as now. Snow fell thick and fast like when Livy dusted pies with sugar. She was in the middle of a laugh, cold and rosy and filled with joy.

A ball of snow pummeled into her from behind, and she whirled on her feet to see the Zs swooping from tree to tree like acrobats and diving into white piles of cold fluff. Laughing all the while.

“Watch out! You’re no match for us!” Yelled Livy. He was standing next to her, packing another snowball.

“Are you quite sure about that?” She asked him, still laughing. “I don’t think we can swing from trees like that.”

“Oh hush!” She gave her a playful shove in a snowdrift.

“Now you had better watch out!” She said, flinging a handful of snow at him.

“Everyone for themselves!” Zale shrieked and pushed Zamilla out of her tree.

“Excuse me.” Garder voice came from the doorway. “Livy, I do believe that your pie is the precise shade of brown you asked me to keep watch for. So I’m taking it out, if you do not wish to come in, at least I beg you not to let your snow clumps bang against the window.”

A small smiling figure appeared above his head, shaking her own good-naturedly.

“In other words.” Called Pit “The pie is ready!”

“Everyone for themselves!” Zale shrieked, and all of them flew to the door in a fluttery of laughter and snow and the smell of mincemeat pie.

The memory melted slowly away from Lydia’s senses, leaving barely it’s sweetness lingering on her tongue, and dancing in her ears and eyes like distorted specks of starlight. She opened her eyes, back in the present world, looking over the windswept valley, gray clouds clustering overhead, her hair whipping about her face. Her heart ached, and she let it go on so. She missed Pit’s soft touch on her head and the Zs laughing shrieks and merry faces. She missed Livy’s good-natured grin and teasing eyes, not to mention his cooking. And she missed Garder and the stories he would launch into after a bit of pleading, and his ironically funny responses to the Zs behavior. The even the Glen itself she missed, from her sun, warmed patches of herbs that she knew like that back of her hand to that one twisted tree that she had found only recently and had never truly had time to explore yet.

But yet still she could not return until her journey was completed.

The stone around her was becoming spotted with little dark blots; rain. She looked up and watched the tiny drops hurtling down.

It came, the rain came, brought along by the breeze. A soft rain, a silky breeze. It tickled and kissed the leaves of the trees far below. It laughed on the rocks of the tower, it giggled in the grass. It sang and danced on Lydia’s head, drenching her hair with its song.

What do you think? Was I right to cut it or do you disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence