5 local YA novels to love this winter

There is absolutely nothing better in the whole world than curling up with a book when it’s cold outside.

The little cottage I currently stay in has a fireplace, so I’ve been spending many weekends in front of it, with a book or three or five. My favourite cold-weather reads are young adult novels – stories that transport me to new places or bear witness to the doomed romances of their young protagonists.

I love the all-or-nothing emotion, the drama, the twists.

In honour of South African Youth Day, I wrote an article for The Sunday Times about the importance of young adult fiction in the world today. I focused on books that stand up to authority and the brave new voices that show us different perspectives to our own. I also listed a few local publishers who work tirelessly to make books in all languages accessible to South Africa’s young readers.

Space was limited, so I only mentioned a few upcoming titles that fit the brief, but there are so many more books by South African authors that I absolutely loved this year and more that I can’t wait to read.

Here are some of the titles I will be reading this winter. I hope you find a few from the list to keep you company during the cold snaps.


Elevation: The Fiery Spiral by Helen Brain

Book three in this gorgeous fantasy series released in February this year. I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to read this trilogy in one go and I can’t wait to get stuck in.


Trinity on Track by Fiona Snyckers

Trinity Luhabe is back, this time in grade ten to solve a mystery about the ghost haunting her school boarding house. I first encountered Trinity ten years ago in Trinity Rising and still have my signed copy. She’s such a fun character and I’m loving the YA spin.

The Wickerlight

The Wickerlight by Mary Watson

Anyone who knows me or follows this blog will know how much I adored The Wren Hunt by Ireland-based, South African author Mary Watson. The Wickerlight is set in the same magical world. This time we meet Zara, new to Kilshamble, who is about to find herself in the middle of the magical feud laid out in the first book. It’s available locally next month.

The Choice Between Us

The Choice Between Us by Edyth Bulbring

I mentioned this book in The Sunday Times article but it’s worth another bump. The Choice Between Us is the story of two girls living in Johannesburg more than fifty years apart. I’m a huge fan of Edyth, and this mystery is definitely on my must-read list.

The Turnaway Girls

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins

This mesmerising middle-grade fantasy takes readers to the stormy island of Blightsend and introduces the turnaway girls, who can turn music into gold. This debut novel by Johannesburg-based Hayley Chewins was chosen as one of Kirkus’s Best Books of 2018 so I’ve been itching to read it for a while. While officially a 2018 title, it released locally in March this year.

While you’re here…

My own teen doomed romance novel, Mine, is currently on sale at Takealot. Get it for 50% off now.

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