The thing that makes fantasy fiction great is that it lets us imagine things we can’t or dare not imagine in our real life. Reading and writing fantasy make us find the parts of ourselves we didn’t even know were there. The mystery, magic and beauty of fantasy stretch out across the ages to touch people who never meet. It connects them on a level beyond words, and that’s what we consider important: finding, connecting and celebrating wonderful stories.
Reading a fantasy is like being sucked into another universe. It can be intimidating, especially for adults, who often judge it to be less engaging, or simpler, than fiction that tries to represent everyday life.
Fantasy Fiction is my escape from this reality. I love finding new books in the genre that take me to newer places. These are some of my favourites this year.
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: Matt Haig’s latest book, The Midnight Library is about the power of stories. It asks: what happens when someone has read so many books that they start to forget who they actually are. On the face of it, it’s a book about travelling between different versions of someone’s lives. It doesn’t need you to look too deep to find it’s about dealing with depression and finding your self worth.
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow: It is a mesmerising work of art. A story as strange and glorious as its heroine, the book is a page turner, a modern day fairytale that you will want to read again and again. The Ten Thousand Doors of January’s imagery and language unspool grand mysteries that are best savoured rather than solved. Her use of language and how she describes everything are poetic.
- The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman: This was my first time reading a comic book series so it took me time to get used to the format. In The Sandman Series, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by multiple artists, you follow the story of Dream, who is one of the seven Endless: Destiny, Death, Despair, Desire, Delirium, Destruction, and Dream. All six of his sisters are after him to finally give up the throne so they can each have a turn at ruling over the realms. The story is full of twists and has a myriad of characters. The illustrations are extraordinary.
- Mort and Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett: Personal favourites of mine, Mort and Reaper Man offer two very different views – in Mort you are the Death of the Discworld, in Reaper Man the Death of a small country town. Both books offer excellent stories with a lot of humour and substance. What I like about Terry Pratchett’s writing is the blend of metaphors — it’s unexpected, and he uses it to catch his readers by surprise. The Discworld series books are my go to for any revival of my reading flow after a slump.
- The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: This is an original, inventive, and gripping mystery. Stunningly unusual yet utterly compelling, this book will surprise, delight, provoke, amaze, confound – and linger in the mind long after the last page is turned. I really don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say I loved the book. I would describe this book as a great mix of John Grisham and a bit of fantasy thrown into the mix.
- The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin: I’m not a big fan of sci-fi, mostly because I don’t understand a lot of it. However, there’s more to this book than sci-fi. The book combines elements of both science fiction and political thriller. Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilisation on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. It is a story of intrigue and deception. It asks, how far can you go for the one you love?
- Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin: It is a sequence of books that tell the story of a young boy’s quest to become a wizard, alongside his own inner journey towards maturity and wisdom. The books in the series have simple storylines that blend in towards the end. Reading the Earthsea series is a great way for all adults to introduce or reintroduce themselves back into the world of fantasies. The storyline is complex and deep. It has a lot of twists and turns which will make it hard to put down your book without knowing what happens next.
- Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden: She has written a story of family and redemption, with mythical creatures, ghosts and priestesses, demons and trolls, neighbours and aurochs. The bear is her hero: wise, childlike, with a huge hunger for fish and honey. And his presence in the story transforms Vasilisa’s life from a nightmare to a blessing. ‘ Winter is coming. At least it is in Russia where fantasy author Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy takes place. The imagery of the place and a strong central female character makes this a must-read.
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