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Funny List

17 Funniest Fantasy Books

Art by concept artist Darek Zabrocki. ArtStationInstagramsite

It takes a steady hand to write a fantasy story that’s exciting, interesting, and funny as hell.

Or maybe it’s just that people are funny, and no matter what you do with them, like putting them on dragons or in the afterlife, they’re going to do something ridiculous.

 

17
Welcome to Night Vale
by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor – 2015
Book 1 of 3 in the Welcome to Night Vale series

Pawnshop proprietor Jackie Fierro abides by routine. But a crack appears in the standard order of her perpetually nineteen-year-old life when a mysterious man in a tan jacket gives her a slip of paper marked by two pencil-smudged words: KING CITY. Everything about the man unsettles her, especially the paper that she cannot remove from her hand. Yet when Jackie puts her life on hold to search for the man, no one who meets him can seem to remember anything about him.

Diane Crayton’s fifteen-year-old son, Josh, is moody and a shape-shifter. Lately, Diane has started to see the boy’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as he did the day he left when they were teenagers. Josh is growing ever more curious about his estranged father—leading to a disaster Diane can see coming but is helpless to prevent.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search to reclaim her routine life draw them increasingly closer to each other, and to this place that may hold the key to their mysteries and their futures . . . if they can ever find it.

“The book is charming and absurd—think This American Life meets Alice in Wonderland.
—Washington Post

16
Carry On
by Rainbow Rowell – 2015
Book 1 of 2 in the Simon Snow series

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

“Rowell imbues her magic with awe and spectacle. It’s a powerful, politically minded allegory about sexual, ethnic and class identity—with a heady shot of teenage lust.” ―New York Times Book Review

15
Hounded
by Kevin Hearne – 2011
Book 1 of 9 in The Iron Druid Chronicles

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention he draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

“Hearne, a self-professed comic-book nerd, has turned his love of awesome dudes whacking mightily at evil villains into a superb urban fantasy debut.”
—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

14
Dealing with Dragons
by Patricia C. Wrede – 1990
Book 1 of 4 in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

This children’s book stars Princess Cimorene, a princess who refuses to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tombyish smart…

And bored.

So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul—one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons arounds. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince, and some very oily wizards.

“What a charmer! A decidedly diverting novel with plenty of action and… laugh-out-loud reading pleasure.”
—Booklist (starred review)

13
The Imaginary Corpse
by Tyler Hayes – 2019

I love this tragically underrated book.

Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas—until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.

“Hayes’s debut is an affectionate, lightly mocking homage to noir tales… A strong psychological thread weaves through the story as characters confront the trauma of being imaginary and forgotten, adding depth to what at first may seem a silly concept. Readers will revel in this strange, fully realized world.”
—Publishers Weekly

12
The Last Unicorn
by Peter S. Beagle – 1968

The Last Unicorn is a quirky little masterpiece. It’s short, and anyone who likes fantasy should read it: it’s one of the best fantasy books in existence.

A unicorn, fully aware of how majestic she is, decides to find out if she is indeed the last of her kind. She sweeps several humans into her wake as she travels the land and finally confronts the creature who would drive her kind to extinction.

This story feels like a perfect fairy tale, complete with humor, wonder, sadness, and a single unexpected taco.

“[O]ne of the best fantasy novels ever.”
—The Atlantic

11
Storm Front
by Jim Butcher – 2000
Book 1 of 17 in the Dresden Files series

As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do, enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put it mildly—stinks.

So when the Chicago P.D. brings him in to consult on a double homicide committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name…

“One of the most enjoyable marriages of the fantasy and mystery genres on the shelves.”
—Cinescape

10
Pippi Longstocking
by Astrid Lindgren – 1945
Book 1 of 3 in the Pippi Longstocking series

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, a pet monkey named Mr. Nilsson, and superhuman strength. Whether Pippi’s scrubbing her floors, doing arithmetic, or stirring things up at a fancy tea party, her flair for the outrageous always seems to lead to another adventure.

“A rollicking story.”
—The Horn Book

9
Gil's All Fright Diner
by A. Lee Martinez – 2005

Duke and Earl are just passing through Rockwood county in their pick-up truck when they stop at the Diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around—until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them $100 to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this looks right up their alley.

But the shambling dead are just the tip of a particularly spiky iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the Diner, and more than willing to raise a little Hell on Earth if that’s what it takes. Before Duke and Earl get to the bottom of the Diner’s troubles, they’ll run into such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jailbait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig-latin.

And maybe, just maybe, the End of the World, too.

“Fans of Douglas Adams… will happily sink their teeth into this combo platter of raunchy laughs and ectoplasmic ecstasy.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

8
The Amulet of Samarkand
by Jonathan Stroud – 2003
the Bartimaeus series

I’m a huge Jonathan Stroud fan, and this is the book that got me hooked.

Nathaniel is eleven-years-old and a magician’s apprentice, learning the traditional art of magic. All is well until he has a life-changing encounter with Simon Lovelace, a magician of unrivaled ruthlessness and ambition. When Lovelace brutally humiliates Nathaniel in public, Nathaniel decides to speed up his education, teaching himself spells far beyond his years.

With revenge on his mind, he masters one of the toughest spells of all and summons Bartimaeus, a five-thousand-year-old snarky djinni, to assist him. But summoning Bartimaeus and controlling him are two different things entirely, and when Nathaniel sends the djinni out to steal Lovelace’s greatest treasure, the Amulet of Samarkand, he finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of magical espionage, murder, and rebellion.

7
This Book is Full of Spiders
by David Wong – 2012
Book 2 of 3 in the Jogn Dies at the End series

My wife hates it when I read this book because there are actually spiders all over the cover.

As I’m writing this, my heavy metal station on Pandora is screaming, “I WANNA GET PYSCHO!” which is perfect for this book, because This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It gets seriously bizarre and creepy.

It’s also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, and yes, I’m including The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in that list.

Two reluctant and generally irresponsible heroes are aware of huge invisible spiders that live in people’s heads due to their earlier ingestion of a drug called Soy Sauce. While they try to stay out of trouble (the kids, not the spiders), Armageddon finds them anyway. Hilarity and horror ensue.

I’m currently reading the sequel, What the Hell Did I Just Read and loving that one, too.

“[A] phantasmagoria of horror, humor–and even insight into the nature of paranoia, perception, and identity.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

6
Nyx
by D. M. Livingston – 2013

My kid has probably re-read this book more than any other, and not just because his dad wrote it.

Nyx, a sarcastic, mildly homicidal fairy, is hurled into Hell, but instead of damned souls and devils, she finds only a group of confused, young human witches.

It’s hate at first sight.

But Nyx and the witches, whose magical skills are not quite polished, must work together to survive the ravages of Hell, and then the demon-infested nightmare Earth has become.

The motley crew searches for the Keys of Iron, Flame, and Sorrow, which will (hopefully) close the Gates of Hell. However, the dark queen Morda, who opened the Gates by tricking Lucifer himself, takes a special interest in obliterating the bickering group.

That is, if they don’t obliterate each other first…

“Yes, I gave Nyx 5 stars & I don’t run around, Willy Nilly givin’ out 5 stars.”
—An Amazon reviewer

5
The Eyre Affair
by Jasper Fforde – 2005
Book 1 of 7 in the Thursday Next series

Great Britain, circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense.

All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.

“Neatly delivers alternate history, Monty Pythonesque comedy skits, Grand Guignol supervillains, thwarted lovers, po-mo intertextuality, political commentary, time travel, vampires, absent-minded inventors, a hard-boiled narrator, and lots, lots more.”
—The Washington Post

4
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman – 1973

A nearly perfect tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, a frightening assortment of wild beasts, and, of course, the basis for the wonderful movie.

“[N]utball funny… A ‘classic’ medieval melodrama that sounds like all the Saturday serials you ever saw, feverishly reworked by the Marx Brothers.”
—Newsweek

3
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore – 2002

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more—except maybe Maggie, Mary of Magdala—and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

“An instant classic… terrific, funny and poignant.”
—Rocky Mountain News

2
Good Omens
by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett – 1990

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to the Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

“Reads like the Book of Revelation, rewritten by Monty Python.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

1
Small Gods
by Terry Pratchett – 1992
Book 13 of 45 in the Discworld series

Terry Pratchett is probably my favorite author and this is one of his best books.

Lost in the chill deeps of space between the galaxies, it sails on forever, a flat, circular world carried on the back of a giant turtle—Discworld—a land where the unexpected can be expected. Where the strangest things happen to the nicest people. Like Brutha, a simple lad who only wants to tend his melon patch. Until one day he hears the voice of a god calling his name. A small god, to be sure. But bossy as Hell.

Believers as well as unbelievers have praised the book for supporting their position, according to fan mail received by Terry Pratchett.

“[A]n extraordinary novel… biting but compassionate satire.”
—SFreviews.net

2 replies on “17 Funniest Fantasy Books”

I’m curious to know if you’ve read Tom Holt’s Expecting Someone Taller and, if so, what you thought of it?

I’ve never heard of Tom Holt, but after checking out the book description on amazon, I’ve put it on my To Read list. Thanks!

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