Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s theme is:
April 24: Frequently Used Words In [Insert Genre/Age Group] Titles
When I saw this title I almost yelled in excitement. There’s so much potential to have fun with this topic in any genre, but since there are a lot of similar naming conventions in YA titles, I chose YA fantasy.
1. A/The _____ Of _________
This is a hugely popular word formation for YA titles at the moment, because it has a rhythmical beat if the blanks are one-syllable words. It also usually gives you a hint about the setting or themes for the novel, and sounds dramatic to boot.
YA fantasy loves a bit of royalty, so it’s fitting that a lot of the titles involve Queens. ‘Queen’ and ‘prince’ seem to be much more popular than ‘princess’ and ‘King’, because lots of YA fantasy novels involve either a girl/woman discovering she’s royalty, or a girl befriending (and usually falling in love with) a prince. The only issue with this is it excludes NB and genderqueer/genderfluid readers. Does anyone know if there’s a non-binary version of Queen/King and prince/princess? I really hope there is.
If you’re going to have royalty for your main characters, then it stands to reason that they live in some kind of kingdom.
4. Themes of darkness and shadows
YA fantasy is often about light and darkness, and usually involves characters having to overcoming darkness or defeat the shadows. Makes sense that these words would end up in the title.
If it’s fantasy you’re reading, chances are there’s going to be elements of magic and the supernatural. And where there’s magic, there are often magicians.
If your fantasy novel isn’t set in a kingdom, it’s got to be set in a city right?! For urban YA fantasies, this is certainly the case. I mean, Cassandra Clare based her entire series off that word. Cities are vast, diverse, and have the potential for revolution, which makes them such a great backdrop for adventure fantasy.
7. Sky and Stars
If you’re a YA protagonist in a mystical kingdom/city, there’s a good 78.3% chance you’re going to be aiming for the stars at some point. Or the there’s going to be a beautiful night sky you’ll appreciate. Or you’re going to have to read the stars to survive. Or the sky turns a strange colour as an omen of impending doom. Or- well, you probably get the picture.
8. Alliteration in titles
OK, granted, two of the titles below are YA Westerns (not fantasy), but the point still stands that authors love a good alliteration if it sounds punchy.
Everybody loves a bit of blood in YA for some reason. I feel like we should be concerned?
10. Striking one-word titles
One way to grab the reader’s attention is to title your YA novel in just one word. One word to epitomise the whole book and yet still be mysterious enough to make someone want to read it is quite a big ask. Sometimes, authors merge two nouns into one to give more of an idea of what the novel is about. Jay Kristoff in particular seems to be a big fan of this. But kudos to any author who can represent all the themes and complexities of their book in one word, I’m not sure I could.
So basically, in conclusion, if your YA title doesn’t involve royalty living in a kingdom, then it’s probably about a city with a magician or two. Oh and there’s going to be blood. No matter where it’s set or what it’s about.
What are some of your favourite book titles? Are there any naming conventions for YA fantasy that you really love (or really hate)?