Categories
List Magic Realism

27 Best Magical Realism Books

 

Hoisting Our Dreams Into the Light of Another Sun by Paul Bond

Stories with magical realism tend to take place in the real world with a few life-changing fantastical elements thrown in. Magical realism usually involves intensely personal journeys instead of epic sword-and-sorcery quests. They also tend to be stand-alone books, instead of series (which fantasy readers tend to love). Book series often rely on the protagonists not changing very much from book to book, while in magical realism books, protagonists usually undergo profound transformations.

Categories
Audiobook List

19 Best Fantasy Audiobooks

I get excited by a good book, and sometimes read more quickly than I should. Audiobooks slow me down to a more humane pace, allowing me to really spend time in the words of a book instead of blasting through it. Listening to an audiobook can give me a surprisingly deeper reading experience than, well, reading. I’m not ever giving up paper books, but I’m impressed at the depth of the experience of a really well-done audiobook.

Categories
Ghosts List

24 Best Ghost Books

Ghosts may have been our first gods. The Vodun religion (which voodoo is based on) might be the world’s oldest, and some forms of Vodun focus on the spirits of human ancestors, which could be interpreted as a form of ghost.

According to my deep research (I watched Mulan), ancestor worship is common across the world, so it’s not surprising that we’re still thinking and writing about ghosts.

Categories
Grimdark List

26 Best Grimdark Books

 

Art by Kai Lim

Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre that is particularly dystopian, amoral, or violent. Its protagonists tend toward the conflicted antihero, and its worlds are often brutal and nihilistic. The writing also tends to be much grittier and realistic. A whimsical quest to get the magic doohickey this is not.

The slightly overwrought term is inspired by the tagline of the tabletop strategy game Warhammer 40,000: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war.”

Categories
List Witch

23 Best Witch Books

 

Art by Yoshitaka Amano

Women through the ages have been burned or beloved as witches, seen as everything from green-skinned child-eating cacklers to protectors with near god(goddess?)-like powers.

Categories
List Urban

25 Best Urban Fantasy Books

 

From Shadowrun, a cyberpunk fantasy RPG game.

Here, “urban fantasy” means “supernatural events in a contemporary city,” and ranges from noir wizards, infernal assassins, fairy wars, and a veritable parade of kick-ass young heroines. The tone can swing from seriously violent and dark, to more teen-friendly paranormal romance.

If you find a book you like, you’re in luck: chances are it’s a part of a lengthy series.

Categories
Dragons List

18 Best Dragon Books

No mythical creature exemplifies fantasy fiction more than dragons, whether it’s the cunning, predatory dragon of the west or the wise, benevolent dragons of the east.

Categories
List Romance

21 Best Fantasy Romance Books

Fantasy romance is a wildly popular subgenre, and if you’re looking for love (and lust) in stories about a young woman hoping for more excitement in life, or a secret princess saddled with powers she neither understands nor wants, you’re in the right place.

Categories
List Pirate

21 Best Pirate Fantasy Books

Perhaps nowhere does storytelling so totally reverse reality as when it deals with pirates. It’s difficult not to like swashbuckling rogues tweaking the noses of the uptight British ninnies as they ply their brave way across the wild, lusty seas.

Of course, actual pirates were about as romantic as the tortures they would inflict on prisoners, including holding lighted matches to the victim’s eyes or keel-hauling, where a sailor had a rope tied to each arm and thrown off the bow of a ship. The unfortunate was then dragged along the length of ship, scraping against the sharp barnacles and probably drowning.

Fun fact: “Avast!” means “Stop!” or “Stand still!” not “Hello, fellow pirate!”

Categories
Epic List

27 Mindblowingly Epic Fantasy Books

Epic fantasy is usually big, loud fun: kingdoms in peril, good about to be obliterated by dark evil, and scrappy adventurers defying death in nearly every chapter.

While there’s plenty of fun to be had in the Quest for the Magic Thingy, the trend toward focusing on character and realism is welcome, and some of the books on this list flip on its head the whole idea of what “epic” means.