Categories
List Mystery

23 Best Fantasy Mystery Books

We like mystery because life is mysterious, and storytelling exists to help us figure out how to live. Mysteries help us figure out how to deal with the unending avalanche of unknowns in our own lives (probably not directly, unless you deal with dead bodies a lot).

Some say that mysteries are popular because people like puzzles. Well, I like a certain kind of mystery, but I’ve never been a puzzle person.

I like Raymond Chandler mysteries, the hard-boiled detective who fights to stay alive while prowling dark alleys and darker minds. Often, I don’t care that much about the final reveal of who the real criminal is. It’s the journey, the tortuous path that I like.

In fantasy especially, the who-dunnit can easily become a what-dunnit.

Categories
For kids List

36 Best Fantasy Books for Kids

Fantasy can be vital for kids.

“Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
—G. K. Chesterton

And the world these days has its share of dragons.

Categories
List Military

13 Best Military Fantasy Books

The best military fantasy isn’t just a bunch of castle sieges and knights hacking at each other (although those are fun). The most interesting books also examine what life in the military actually involves, and what combat can do to a person’s mind.

Categories
High Fantasy List

27 Best High Fantasy Books

High fantasy overlaps with epic fantasy to the point where distinguishing between the two depends entirely on how one defines “high” and “epic.”

For the purposes of this list, high fantasy has distinctly fantastical setting. These books are more about the journey of a protagonist through an exotic landscape. No vampires strolling through downtown Manhattan here.

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

22 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.