Fantasy books give us magical worlds, mythical creatures, alternative realities and a way to dream ourselves out of everyday life.
There are different types of fantasy, with two of the most popular being urban fantasy and high fantasy.
Urban fantasy books have supernatural and/or magical elements set in contemporary, real-world, urban settings.
High fantasy books are more ‘traditional’ fantasy stories, set in imaginary locations.
Popular Urban Fantasy:
The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare
A thousand years ago, the Angel Raziel mixed his blood with the blood of men and created the race of the Nephilim. Human-angel hybrids, they walk among us, unseen but ever-present, our invisible protectors. They call themselves Shadowhunters. The Shadowhunters obey the laws set down in the Gray Book, given to them by the angel: their mandate is to protect our world from the interdimensional parasites they call demons, who travel from world to world, razing and destroying everything in their path. Theirs is also the task of keeping the peace among the warring Downworlders: the human-demon crossbreeds we know as warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and faeries. In their duties they are aided by the mysterious Silent Brothers. Their lips and eyes sewn shut, the Silent Brothers rule over the City of Bones, the necropolis below the streets of Manhattan that holds the dead bodies of slain Shadowhunters. The Silent Brothers keep the archival records of ever Shadowhunter ever born. They also watch over the Mortal Instruments, the three divine objects the Angel Raziel gave to his children. One is a sword. One is a mirror. And the last is a cup. For a thousand years, the Nephilim have protected the Mortal Instruments. But that was before the Uprising, the civil war that almost tore the Shadowhunters’ secret world apart. Though Valentine Morgenstern, the Shadowhunter who started the war, is long dead, the wounds it left behind have never healed. Fifteen years have passed since the Uprising. It’s August in New York; the streets blistering with heat. Rumors run rampant through Downworld that Valentine is back, at the head of an army of Forsaken warriors. And the Mortal Cup has gone missing…
When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder— much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died.Or was he a boy? This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary people like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…
So begins the story of The Mortal Instruments, an epic six-book fantasy series centering on the adventures of Clary Fray and her friends and fellow adventurers.
The Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor
A seventeen-year-old Prague art student named Karou leads an interesting life: she has blue hair that grows from her head, speaks a variety of languages, has three bullets in her stomach, and has been raised by creatures with human and animal features called chimaera. These are Brimstone, with lion legs and ram horns; Issa, with a snake’s lower body, hood, and fangs; Twiga, with a giraffe neck; and Yasri, with a parrot beak. Kishmish, a crow with bat wings, acts as a messenger from Brimstone to Karou. Karou is often sent on missions to gather teeth for Brimstone, although she does not know what they are used for and why there are certain rules such as “no baby teeth” and “no rotting”. In return she gets wishes; the higher the price, the greater the wish.
When Karou and her best friend Zuzana are at a restaurant, Kishmish flies in bearing a letter from Brimstone saying to come immediately. Karou is sent off to Paris via a magical door to get a seven-foot-long matching pair of elephant tusks. When she finds another portal back to Brimstone’s shop, she notices a scorched black handprint on the door, but fortunately she is able to get back home. Similar handprints are appearing across the world. When Karou returns to Brimstone’s shop, a violent thud strikes the second door to the shop that Karou is forbidden from investigating.
When Karou is on a mission in Marrakesh, a man with fiery eyes and wings notices her and chases after her to kill, but as Karou turns around, the man notices something about her that’s familiar and stops himself just in time for her to escape. The man’s name is Akiva, an angel.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.
The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies . . .
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.
After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.
Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .
Popular High Fantasy:
The Young Elites series by Marie Lu
The Young Elites is the origin story of a villain that is set in an alternate fantasy version of Renaissance Italy. After The Blood Fever sweeps through the world, a few children survivors come out of the illness with supernatural powers, these lucky few are named called The Young Elite. The main character, Adelina, is essentially the teenage girl version of Darth Vader or Magneto—the story chronicles her downfall into darkness.
The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas:
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, Celaena, an assassin, is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
Flame in the Mist series by Renee Ahdieh
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta:
Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.
Caraval series by Stephanie Garber:
Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard:
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.