If you’ve grown up reading and loving Harry Potter, then it’s probably a safe bet to assume you enjoy reading fantasy novels. But when it comes to quality fantasy fiction, chances are there’s both too much Twlight-inspired YA novels to choose from or you’ve probably read and revised all the mainstream classics and you know the magical lands of Narnia and Middle Earth by heart. Yet there are plenty of gems in this genre, if only you know where to look.
Here is a list of 12 amazing fantasy novels to appeal to all sensibilities.
If you have a love for the circus
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Perhaps the best thing about this book is the way it literally sweeps you off your feet to the most enchanting circus of the night. The author quiet deftly paints a tapestry with her words. Set in Victorian London and featuring two rival magicians, this is a riveting tale of love, jealousy and illusions. If you’re looking for something surreal and vivid imagery, this is sure to be a bewitching read.
2. The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan: Set in a dystopian waterworld and richly alive with myth and magic, this book tells the story of a circus performer and an exiled woman and how their lives interweave and separate to explore loneliness and isolation in a world that has changed forever. The beautiful, lyrical prose in particular makes for a mesmerizing fairytale-ish ride.
If Arthurian legends are your thing
3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White: Arthurian tales have inspired poets and novelists for centuries and have now become a part of pop culture with countless retellings and adaptations. But T.H.White’s take on it is particularly commendable- not only for the way he represents archetypal figures but also for the way he explores the idea of ‘chivalry’. Packed with adventure and intrigue, this is one Arthurian novel that you must have on your bookshelf.
4. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley : Another Arthurian story that innovates a lot, Mists of Avalon is an important fantasy novel because of its strong feminist stance. It retells the old legends from the point of view of female characters and follows the journey of Morgan Le Fey, who is traditionally depicted as the mysrerious antagonist of Merlin’s in most stories. In a world of gender inequality and patriarchy, this is a particularly well-written and noteworthy work that deserves to be read by all.
For those who love their heroines
5. Coraline by Neil Gaiman: If you loved Lyra Silvertongue from Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and lamented the fact that there weren’t enough women-as-protagonists fantasy novels to read as a child, then Coraline should definitely cheer you up. While it’s not an exact retelling of Alice Through The Looking Glass, there are some distinct Carollian influences and is considerably dark. It features a mischievous child, Coraline who upon moving to a new house, discovers the door to the ‘Other World’ where everything is the same except it is much more satisfying and people have buttons for their eyes. The Other Mother is everything Coraline wanted her own mother to be until she discovers her deadly secret..
6. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: Another adventure story for kids, this book also comes with delightful illustrations at the beginning of every chapter and tells the story of twelve-year old September who is whisked off to Fairyland by the Green Wind, meets a wyvern and a marid, has some death-defying adventures and manages to save Fairyland from destruction. Although the tale is relavtively somple, the author’s clever narration and exploration of complex themes, make it a thought-provoking and entertaining read.
So that’s Part 1. Part 2 is coming up tomorrow. Meanwhile let us know your favourite fantasy novels in the comments below!