Can A YA Book Have Older Characters?

My publisher and I have been having a long…discussion about a category for one of my series. Often, my Merging Worlds series gets comments like it’s great for adults and young adults or teens would enjoy this. Whenever I’m at a conference, teens are the ones grabbing my books the most.

But, I don’t market the series as YA. In The Sciell only has one POV character who’s 25. The rest are 30 and over. In Books 2 and 3, most of the characters are over 30.

I’m wary of labeling my books wrong.

I used to market some of my books as horror. Then, someone read my book expecting horror and was annoyed to find it was more dark fantasy. They gave me a one-star review. Since then, I try to be careful about how I label my books. In general, my stories are very dark and a little gory. I’d rather choose the right categories so people know what to expect going in.

Articles say YA books need teen protagonists. Makes sense. I’ve never heard of a YA book with characters are over 18. They usually become NA (New Adult) books.

I dug a little deeper and found some forms. It looks like this is a no. For me to market a book as YA, the main character needs to be a teen. It looks like the cut-off age is 19.

What do you guys think?