Many players are also lovers of literature, and more specifically of the fantasy genre. And what better way to get away from the screen than reading a book curled up on the couch, with the holidays just a breath away and all the fictional worlds to discover?
Whether new or old, fantasy novels have the unique ability to offer escape while offering an inside look at people’s values and desires and working – quite simply – to make us all better humans.
9/9 The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany
Fantasy lovers unfamiliar with this book should pick it up right away and then pick up a few more for their friends, as they would make great holiday gifts.
The “why” this book is great is a difficult question to answer: the story is one that more or less all fantasy readers know. A prince goes on an adventure to find his princess. Only his princess comes from another world called Elfland, and the problems start after they get married.
Written in a language that reads like a spell and an old forgotten fairy tale, The King of Elfland’s Daughter allows readers to visit a universe that does not always make sense, but which creates strong emotions.
First published in 1924 by GP Putnam’s Sons
8/9 Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
This author may have written only three books, with Lud-in-the-mist being the third, but she is a shining example of quality VS quantity.
Lud-in-the-mist is the fictional town where the novel takes place, and it is located at the junction of two rivers, one of them leading to Fairyland. In this world, eating fairy fruit is frowned upon, and no one is more inclined to punish those who do so than Chanticleer, the mayor. When his son is suspected of having eaten a fairy fruit, Chanticleer must change his way of acting and thinking if he wants to have any chance of saving his kingdom and his heir.
Players know all too well how much fun it is to explore fictional locations, and readers of this novel will find themselves exploring more than expected – and they’re going to love it.
First published in 1926 by William Collins, Sons
7/9 Midnight Folk by John Masefield
It could be considered a children’s book, but the fantastic world and the extravagant characters of Midnight Folk are more than enough to whet the appetite of adults looking to be captivated by mysterious worlds and creatures.
It’s on the list of books that need to be made into a series, and one day hopefully sooner rather than later, fans will get the chance to not only read Kay Harker’s adventures, but watch them as well.
Kay searches for treasure that was stolen from her great-grandfather, but he’s not the only one. A clan of witches, as well as its governess who is also a witch, are looking for the same treasure. The good thing is that Kay is not alone – he goes on many adventures, with talking animals, strange creatures and his toys.
First published in 1927 by Heinemann
6/9 An Earthsea Magician by Ursula K. Le Guin
Viewers who watched Tales from Earthsea and didn’t like the chance to change their minds about the story. The adaptation may have failed and even annoyed the author, but the book itself is a wonderful example of quality fantasy literature.
Epervier, the main hero, discovers that he has magical powers that go beyond his village’s understanding. A mage takes him on as a student, and together they embark on many adventures, one of which is finding his real name.
First published in 1968 by Parnassus Press
5/9 Little, Big: Or, The Fairy Parliament by John Crowley
With Small bigthe reader will be transported to Edgewood, which is a house, but not exactly a house, since it is several houses altogether, a place, but not exactly a place, since it does not exist on any map.
Edgewood is where Daily Alice Drinkwater lives with her family, a ‘sampler’ house her great-grandfather built for potential clients to view and hire as an architect. In reality, however, the house protects the family with its confusing design and is a place that leads directly to Fairie.
Smoky Barnable, in love with Alice, goes in search of her and marries her. And it’s the beginning of an epic story that spans many generations, many worlds and many stories.
First published in 1981 by Bantam Books
4/9 Moon Heart By Charles De Lint
Another home, another portal to a different world, another love. What’s different in moon heart? All. Charles De Lint, with this formidable urban fantasy novel, manages to take the reader both to places that are well known to him and to places that do not exist with the same ease and conviction.
It all starts in the 80s in an Ottawa antique store when a girl determined to know more about everything finds a ring that can afford it.
First published in 1984 by Ace Books
3/9 The City of Beasts by Isabel Allende
The type of viewer who loves alternative kids movies like Stardust, Pan’s Labyrinthand Taken away as if by magic will have a very pleasant surprise by opening the first volume of this astonishing trilogy by the ethereal Isabel Allende.
She may be known for her books on magical realism, but in this trilogy she manages to write a perfectly “normal” young adult fantasy book, only… it’s not so normal. It’s an adventure that takes place in the Amazon rainforest, with a boy whose family is in crisis, a super cool grandmother, many interesting friends… and beasts.
First published in 2002 by Sudamericana
2/9 Sun by Robin McKinley
It’s almost unbelievable that this stunning vampire fantasy novel hasn’t been picked up for a show yet. With so many incredible series based on books, one has to wonder “where are the producers looking?”
Sunshine takes place in a world that is very similar to our own; only it contains the Others, who are the ones with the biggest fan base in our world: werewolves, vampires and demons.
Sunshine, the heroine of this book, gets caught by vampires and is trapped in a room with one of them, who is chained to the wall. An unusual relationship develops between them and no, it’s not because he is very handsome.
First published in 2003 by Berkley Publishing Group
1/9 Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
Readers love it, and listeners love it even more, thanks to the excellent audiobook adaptation of the book.
In both cases, Half sick of the shadows is a story that stays with the reader long after it’s over. King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Morgana. Yes, it’s a myth everyone knows, but this time it’s told from the perspective of Elaine, the Lady of the Shallots – and she has a lot to tell.
First published in 2021 by Ace Books
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