My love of fantasy novels is no secret, it is a genre that I revist time and time again, and it is a genre that that mostly pulls me out of a reading slump. There’s just something about the genre that I love, and I’m going to try and tell you what those are, and give some recommendations – because who doesn’t love recommendations??
Epic and expansive worlds
I absolutely love escaping to lush and vivid fantasy worlds, a world where we can escape the ugly and harsh realities of our own, even if it means reading about a dark and brutal world. Worldbuilding is always hugely important for a good fantasy, and if that fantasy book has a map? Even better. I actually did a post recently of some beautiful fantasy maps that we absolutely loved. What I also really love about fantasy worlds, are worlds that have their own mythology and their own gods, and if those gods play a role in the story, I love that even more.
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – at 850 pages this is nothing sort of a brilliant and epic fantasy book full of dragons, religion, queendoms, and plenty of history. Adult novel & f/f romance.
- Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron – an immersive fantasy full of heritage, magic, and love and a richly detailed world and a brilliant exploration of Gods and mythology. YA novel and a black m/c.
- There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool – an expansive world with a complex history and an ancient secret prophecy given by the Prophets that have vanished. Adult novel, brown m/c’s, and gay m/c.
- The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski – a brilliantly written fantasy novel full of magic, secrets, hidden histories and a pantheon of gods. YA novel, brown m/c and f/f romance.
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – this one has an expansive world based on Slavic countries. It explore this world throughout the series, and also with the companion series Six of Crows. YA novel.
If a book has political intrigue, it’s a guaranteed hit and I really do mean that. I love books about rulers that have to deal witha unruly court, and an unstable country, or books about characters attempting to avert a war – or cause one. I just love books about secrets, betrayal, deception, and subterfuge. Books about assassins, rulers, and spies. I love books where the author has managed to create such a turbulent atmosphere where one wrong move by our characters could have drastic consequences. Books that really discuss power. I find those books thrilling.
- Crier’s War by Nina Varela – full of political unrest that Varela executed so flawlessly. Crier’s War explored the struggling balance between lust for power and the goal of self-governance. YA novel and f/f romance.
- Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – an immersive and descriptive world, a thrilling court of politics, lots of betrayal and deception, and intense mystery, a masterfully crafted story, and a brilliantly complex and flawed protagonist. It literally has everything. YA novel, chinese-inspired fantasy.
- Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran – is a brilliant fantasy novel full of secrets, sabotage, and political intrigue. Featured a divided Parliament and Court all determined to see the new Queen fail. YA novel, f/f romance, lesbian m/c’s, brown m/c.
- Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria – this has a failed rebellion, a fight for revenge, a scheming chancellor, and a mysterious prisoner under the citadel It is a book that makes you ask the question, who do you trust? YA novel, brown m/c’s, bi m/c, gay m/c, m/m romance, asexual m/c.
- The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – This one features a unstable politcal environment, neighbouring contries on the brink of war, and an ancient artifact that, when it’s power was momentarily released, created a magical and a political disaster. Adult novel, bi m/c
Magic and legendary creatures
Who doesn’t love dragons? Or mermaids? Or incredibly powerful mages? I adore fantasy that feature intricate and unique magical systems, and legendary creatures. When reading books that feature these it makes me feel epic, as though anything is possible and that is the best possible feeling especially when reading for the feeling of escapism. But it’s not just that, I feel like it’s a true test of the human imagination because that what fantasy is – the epitome of human creativity. I just love reading about magic and creatures -whether these creatures are new or whether they are based in our own world’s mythology and folklore. One amazing book that features magic and dragons is The Priory of the Orange Tree but I recommended it earlier, so I’ll rec different ones but that is a must read for dragon lovers.
- Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto – perfect for fans of epic fantasies full of intrigue, history, nuance, and magical and mythical creatures. The fact that this book also has a bunch of brilliant fiery PHOENIXES should make you want to pick this up immediately. YA novel, brown m/c, gay m/c.
- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – dragons that can transform themselves into humans?? So much tension and politics between dragons and humans!! Must read for dragon lovers. YA novel.
- Girl, Serprent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust – Persian inspired fairytale about a princess who was cursed to be poisonous to the touch. It is a story brimming with intrigue, lies, betrayal, power, and monsters. YA novel, brown m/c’s, bi m/c, f/f romance.
- To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo – The Little Mermaid retelling, but don’t think disney’s version because these mermaids will rip your heart out, literally. It’s brutal and it’s vicious and I loved it. YA Novel.
- Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – this one is on here for the unique magic system. It was a dark and atmospheric book full of gangsters, corrupt officials, thieves, con-men, gambling, murder, and deadly card games. YA novel, black m/c, bi m/c.
Strong and powerful women
One thing about fantasy, especially YA fantasy, is that women are at the forefront of these stories. They are usually multi-faceted, complex, layered, and sometimes, they are even outright bad or morally ambigious. I’ve loved reading stories with queendoms and strong female rulers. I love reading books about female warriors who wield weapons and I love reading books with female characters who don’t wield any other weapon except their wits. So many different women being good and being bad or a little bit of both and I love it.
- Three Dark Crows by Kendare Blake – this one is about three sisters, one crown, and a fight to the death. There are three main characters – Katharine, Mirabella and Arsinoe – and they are very distinct, and thoroughly enthralling, and each wielding their own dangerous power in a bid to win the throne. YA novel.
- Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – this follows Lei as she is taken from her home to become a Paper Girl, a sex slave for the demon king. Lei is a formidable protagonist – fierce and selfish and she has some amazing character development throughout. YA novel, east/southeast asian based characters & settings, f/f romance.
- The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco -a slow-paced, but an atmospheric, original, and dark high fantasy. Tea, our protagonist, is an anti-hero – a villian in people’s eyes. There are two alternative timelines, one is following Tea as she learns to control her magic and the other is of Tea as a dark asha – a formidable and villainous witch. YA novel, east/southeast asian inspired cultures.
- Furyborn by Claire Legrand – follows two women who are living their lives centuries apart, both of whom hold the power to either destroy or save the world in their hands. Our two women are Rielle and Eliana and I loved their fury and anger and the darkness they both held within. YA novel, bi m/c.
- Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – described as a as Gothic Joan of Arc, this is a perfect read for those who enjoy dark and gritty fantasy novels. Nadya, one of our main characters in this, is a very flawed and well-rounded character. She is determined but also so self-righteous, she’s passionate and intelligent but also naive at times. She is headstrong and stubborn, but not always curious or open-minded enough. One of my favourite female characters. YA novel.
Adventure, rebellions, and hope
When you hear of fantasy novels, I bet you immediately think of Lord of the Rings – full of adventure, a long and difficult quest, and a fight between good and evil. I love those type of stories, stories about good winning, stories about finding glory through slaying a beast, stories full of adventure, stories full of rebellion and hope. I just love a good story.
- Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller – has a fascinating magic system in which poor and common people are often used as ‘hacks’ by the ruling elite who often channel their own magic through the ‘hacks’ so they themselves don’t have to bear the consequences. This, among other things, leads to a group called ‘Laurel’ fighting back, and it leads to a rebellion. YA novel, f/f romance, asexual m/c,
- We Set The Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia – it features intricate storytelling, a beautifully crafted world, political intrigue, uprising and fighting against injustice and it has a Latinx main character and a passionate, swoon-worthy, enemies-to-lovers f/f romance! YA novel, f/f romance.
- An Enchanment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – this has some really atmospheric and lavish storytelling.
- For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig – this is about Jetta, who is trying to make her way to Aquitan to flee the rising rebellion, but as the rebellion lands on her front steps, she has no choice but to face difficult truths and decisions. YA novel, ownvoces bipolar rep, inspired by south east asia under french colonial rule.
- The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke – this one features an epic quest. It was a story full of magic, witches, warriors, myths, and adventure. It follows a group of fierce, glorious, axe-wielding women in a quest to find glory in slaying a beast. YA novel.
Books on my TBR pile to be read asap
- Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender – this one sounds amazing. It follows Sigourney on her quest for revenge against the colonisers who murdered her family ft. political intrigue and magic.
- The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin – so N.K Jemisin was constantly recommended to me when I asked for recs on twitter, and I have heard excellent things about her works so I thought I must have her on my immediate tbr. Adult novel.
- The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S Villoso – the title of this series is Chronicles of the Bitch Queen so how could I not buy it immediately! This one appears to be about a queen trying to unite her divided people. Adult novel.
- The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – this one sounds like a dark fantasy full of political intrigue and it sounds so awesome. Adult novel.
- The Poppy War by R.F Kuang – i’ve seen this floating about twitter for a while now, and i know that it is super dark and gritty as it is about the consequences and brutality of war. Adult novel.
Upcoming and highly anticipated books
- The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – I am beyond excited for this one as it sounds so good. It has an f/f romance and appears to be full of interesting magic and mystery. September 10th, Adult novel.
- These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy – I’m so excited for this one. It has russian folklore, twin sisters, an f/f romance, and according to the author ‘a hufflepuff who thinks she’s a monster’! I have a might need. Unfortunantely it’s a long wait – April 20th 2021, YA novel.
- Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald – from the author’s twitter: ‘I wrote a weird fantasy book about a tiny chaos lesbian who’s going to save her world—or burn it all down trying.’, if that doesn’t make you immediately add it to your tbr I don’t know what will. October 13th 2020. YA novel.
- Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone – the author said this is full of monster boys, almost kisses, secret gardens, a haunting mansion, and death gods. It sounds super atmospheric and gothic and i’m here for it. 2021, YA novel
- Ruinsong by Julia Ember – a queer retelling of Phantom of the Opera, that’s all you need to know. November 24th 2020, YA novel.