May 13, 2015

The Newbie’s Guide to Fantasy

Fantasy. The world of dark and light, magic, the unusual and the simply odd. Fantasy can be an escape from your world into another or a metaphor in dealing with day-to-day problems. It’s one of those magical genres that you either love or hate. I love fantasy because it’s the world where anything can happen. 

The basic traits of fantasy are pretty straightforward…well, pretty straightforward for an invented world! Fantasy operates off of the idea that anything is possible. This genre follows its own rules, allowing for any and everything to happen. However, worldbuilding is key to fantasy: if a sound world isn’t created to support the story’s fantasy, then the story will fall apart. 

Fantasy has many different subgenres that it’s hard to choose a favorite:

dark fantasy – fantasy with elements of horror or macabre
dragons – based off European or Chinese dragons
epic/high fantasy – stories set in invented/parallel worlds
fairy tales – typically short stories featuring magic and characters from folklore, like fairies, elves and dwarfs. 
fantasy of manners – based off the comedy of manners, this genre focuses on social/class structure
heroic fantasy – tales of heroes in imaginary worlds
low fantasy – set in the real world with magical elements
magic – deals with magic of ALL sorts
mythology – a body of myths or traditional story, usually telling the story of a supernatural hero.
paranormal – stories based on unusual experiences without scientific explanation
supernatural – witches, vampires and ghosts, oh my!
urban fantasy  – magic elements in the real world

Want more? Try these recommendations! 

dark fantasy: try this author and this author
dragons: try this book and this series
epic/high fantasy: try this series and this series
fairy tales: try this author and this author
fantasy of manners: try this book and this book
low fantasy: try this book and this series
magic: try this author, this book, and this author
mythology: try this book and this author
paranormal: try this series and this author
supernatural: try this author and this author
urban fantasy: try this series and this author

When it comes to this genre, I have some serious favorites. The magic of fantasy, of delving into another’s world full of who-knows-what, always appealed to me. Here are my TOP fantasy recommendations:

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz  // The narration of this Grimm fairy tale retelling makes this YA novel a must read for all ages!

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth // A beautiful homage to the Rapunzel fairy tale, intertwining different narratives to make a fabulously engaging story. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo // Although listed as YA, Bardugo’s worldbuilding is so fantastic that readers of every age will fall in love. 

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist // A guilty-pleasure fairy tale, complete with a princess, mistaken identity, and a kingdom in dire need of saving. 

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen // A princess, whisked away for nineteen years, returns to her throne a queen and immediately becomes involved in an age-old feud with the powerful, ageless Red Queen.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling // It’s Harry Potter. Enough said. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon // A bit of a tome, Outlander is a fantastic, time-traveling read about a young World War II nurse that is whisked away from her 1940s life to 1743 Scotland and must make her way in the world.

Hopefully, this installment of The Newbie’s Guide has intrigued you to check out some fantasy, or helped you find a new author to try. Are there any that must be added to this list? Let me know! 

Posted May 13, 2015 by Ellen in the newbie's guide to, Uncategorized / 2 Comments

2 responses to “The Newbie’s Guide to Fantasy

  1. What a great, informative post. I love fantasy and I always find it hard when it comes to all those subgenres. I obviously love Fairytales, but I'm also a huge fan of epic/high fantasy, mythology and magic. I always thought paranormal was a genre, not a subgenre, interesting ๐Ÿ˜€

    • I think paranormal is one of those flexible genres that could be considered a part of fantasy or a standalone. The fairy tales are my favorite, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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