Who wants to spend time on Earth when you could visit made-up kingdoms and supernatural worlds?!
There are two types of people in this world — those who love fantasy and those who don’t. Okay, there is also a third group — the one that shall not be named… but I will tell them this — non-readers I promise you, we bookworms will win you over. Now, seeing as I am writing about fantasy books, one can easily assume I belong to the former group. But what non-fantasy readers don’t realize is that we’ve all encountered fantasy at some point in our lives. Dare I say, non-fantasy readers might have even enjoyed those encounters. Whether it was reading bedtime stories of fairies and far-off lands or joining a house of Hogwarts after finally seeing the magic-filled series your friends wouldn’t shut up about, non-fantasy readers have slowly, but surely, begun migrating over to the fantasy-loving side.
However, there are still those fighting their secret desire to check out the fantasy genre. So, if you are new to the fantasy game, or are an avid fantasy reader trying to win over a non-fantasy lover, here are some book recommendations that will definitely take you on the ride of your life.
The Mortal Instruments (2007-2014)
While it can seem discouraging that the first book on this list is a six-part series, I can assure you Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments is worth reading. Set in New York, the novels start with a girl, Clary, witnessing a murder. But unlike her, the assassination was anything but ordinary. You see, a group of teenagers committed the crime, all covered in weird tattoos… oh, and did I forget to mention; the body disappeared right after, leaving no evidence behind. Mind-swirling with ideas of how to bring the group to justice, debating if what she saw was even real, Clary once again finds herself entangled with the killers when her mother disappears.
Thrown into a world completely different than her own, yet totally the same, her eyes become opened to the hidden creatures living amongst all the mundanes of Earth, her included. But is she really mundane? That’s the only question one can ask themselves when they’re attacked by a demon and are gifted ‘the Sight’. Determined to find her mother, Clary and her new acquaintances embark on a journey that’ll change everything she ever thought she knew about herself.
Now, if you loved this series and are looking for a similar read or simply can’t commit to reading six books, perhaps you should give Clare’s other books a shot. Whether you start The Infernal Devices trilogy, the prequel to The Mortal Instruments, or the spin-off trilogy, The Dark Artifices, you’ll certainly find yourself engrossed in the Shadowhunter world this author has crafted.
Children of Blood and Bone (2018- 2023)
Some might consider that for any fantasy novel to be great it must include magic. But what if magic is suppressed, forced to disappear by a ruthless monarch? That is precisely the reality Zélie finds herself living. The paradise she considered home, the magic-filled realm of Orïsha, has now turned into her worst nightmare. They’ve killed her mother, drained the people’s hope that magic will ever return, and they don’t plan on stopping there. However, they don’t know that she, a born fighter, also doesn’t plan on stopping.
Forming a surprising alliance with a rogue princess, Zélie is determined to do whatever it takes to stop the crown prince from eliminating magic for good. But, like with everything in life, she will have to accept that things rarely go as planned… especially when her heart gets involved. Inspired by pre-colonial Nigeria, Tomi Adeyemi manages to deliver an original story that’ll not only engross you in a fictional world, but also touches upon themes of colorism, classism, and sexism found in every society.
The City of Brass (2017-2020)
Next up is a fantasy series that’ll delight non-fantasy lovers. “Why?” you might ask. Well, the story follows Nahri, a con artist living on the streets of 18th-century Cairo. And while she pays her bills holding palm readings and healings, she knows it all utter nonsense, merely a way to swindle Ottoman nobles. Now imagine her surprise when this non-believer of magic finds herself accidentally summoning mysterious djinn warrior, Dara. Could the magic-filled childhood stories and fairytales of her childhood actually be real?
But she doesn’t have time to digest the answer to that question, her new ‘friend’ already captivating her in a new story of a city that lay across scorching hot deserts, creatures of fire and rivers, and enemies of the sky. Daevabad, otherwise known as the City of Brass, is a city Nahri is permanently bound to. But what happens when they get there? When she ignores all of Dara’s warnings and wanders into what could potentially be a war zone, ignited by her arrival. While she may have survived the dangerous streets of Cairo, will she be able to make it out of the City of Brass unscratched?
The Hazel Wood (2018)
Look at most fairy tales, and you’ll realize that many take place in the woods. Take, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Hansel and Gretel. Thus, it’s only natural that an author known explicitly for her dark fairytale stories would name her estate the Hazel Wood. But, contrary to the group of cult-like fans she’s managed to gain, not everyone is intrigued by her and the cruel supernatural world she created, named Hinterland. In fact, Alice and her mother have spent their entire lives running from her grandmother, her estate, and the bad luck that seems to follow them around. And just when they think things couldn’t get worse… they do.
A grandmother is dead, and her mother is kidnapped; Alice is left only with a clear message to stay away from Hazel Wood. But as we all know, seventeen-year-olds rarely listen to advice from their parents. Now, teamed together with a Hinterland superfan, she sets on a journey to explore the Hazel Wood and the world her grandmother created.
While some have criticized this book for having a tangled and confusing plot line, this would be a great read for those who love twisted fairy tales and the Brothers Grimm books. Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood truly does transport readers into the world she created as they follow her characters, envisioning the scenes vividly.
Last but not least comes a novel that will undoubtedly captivate any Greek mythology fanatic. While some might have come across Circe through Homer’s Odyssey, you have definitely not met this version of the Greek goddess. In Madeline Miller’s retelling of the enchantress story, Circe is born a goddess but forced to live as a mortal. Although she didn’t inherit power and allure from her parents, she was gifted with witchcraft, strong enough to scare even the greatest of Gods.
And that’s how she got banished to a deserted island, where alone this immortal being will begin to question how to truly live, what it means to love, romantically and not, and how to heal. While Odyssey does make his appearance, this book is about the assumed evil sorcerous and how she writes her own story. Ever wondered why she turned his men into pigs? Read to find out.
Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
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