There’s nothing better than delving into a whole other world when you’re stressed right? Millions of people around the world use fantasy novels or films as a way to unwind from the monotonous and stressful routines of their reality.
Fantasy has always been a popular genre, as demonstrated by the avid success of many authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and the thousands of authors that have followed in their footsteps.
There is a huge market of readers who devour fantasy books, despite many other readers not understanding what all the fuss is about. Many slander fantasy as drivel, thinking its useless because it’s so far from realism but the truth is there is a scale when it comes to fantasy, so you can find novels that are totally fantastical – set in different worlds, with different creatures, and different concepts – but others just flirt with a few fantastical elements and set their novels within our reality.
Regardless of what type of fantasy book you enjoy, or whether you’re skeptical about the whole thing, there will definitely be something on this list for you to enjoy. With a little open-mindedness, you can open up your sights to a whole new genre and find books you never knew existed.
A Court of Mist and Fury was written by Sarah J. Maas, one of the leading fantasy novelists of this generation, who predominantly writes about the faerie universe (which is nothing like the world of Tinkerbell!)
Maas actually writes very dark and twisted novels that toy with passion, politics, good and evil, and powers. It has numerous plots running throughout making for a complex and gripping read and you need only glance at the reviews to see that this book is worth reading!
Whether you’ve read A Court of Mist and Fury, any other of Maas’ fantasy novels, or you’re simply intrigued by the genre, keep reading to explore some brilliant fantasy recommendations!
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Sookie is quite quiet and keeps to herself. But she can read minds, which makes it much more difficult to stay out of other people’s business.
But there’s one mind she can’t penetrate, and that’s Bill’s. Intrigued and mesmerized by his good looks and sweet charm, Sookie can’t help thinking whether he’s exactly what she needs or whether this is all too good to be true.
A classic YA fantasy romance, encompassing powers and vampires – Dead Until Dark is the brilliant first book in this 13-novel series.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows is the best-selling book set in Ketterdam, home to criminal prodigy Kaz. He is offered the chance to carry out a heist, one that is riddled with risk and danger, but if successful, could give Kaz access to all the money he could ask for.
It’s a dangerous gamble and he won’t be able to do it alone. But perhaps with the help of five other outcasts with nothing to lose, they might just pull it off.
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
The second in this 4-book series, A Torch Against the Night is a best-seller across the board. Martial soldiers flee Serra and embark on a dangerous adventure throughout the Empire.
Tahir’s setting is inspired by Ancient Rome and features a group of warriors determined to prevent the horrific Emperor from destroying everything they know and love.
This novel is gripping and unpredictable, incorporating powers, slavery, injustice, torture, violence, and one big journey to freedom.
The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer Armentrout
This is the third book in the Blood and Ash series, which has been highly rated across numerous sites and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide.
Poppy has found the man she has been looking for and she couldn’t ask for anything more but she can’t sit back and enjoy her new love just yet. Her brother is missing and needs her help.
Poppy is the Chosen, the rightful ruler of Atlantia. She is a direct relative of the King of Gods and she carries a huge amount of responsibility with that title. So this journey is dangerous and risky but she is determined to do everything she can to save her brother.
The Crown of Gilded Bones is a brilliant book for all fantasy lovers, no matter what fantastical niche you enjoy.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This is the ultimate adult fairy tale, based on the original classic stories. It features dragons, wizards, immortals, and fantastical lands – everything you could ask for from a fantasy novel.
However, this fairy tale is not the romantic, idyllic story you’d read to your child. This story has a dark twist, incorporating violence, sacrifice, and death.
Uprooted is well-written, gripping, and gives you a flavor of what the original Grimms fairy tales were like.
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Inspired by the classic children’s story Little Red Riding Hood and set in the romantic, Renaissance setting of Versailles, this story tells of Rachelle and her journey with dark magic.
She undergoes training and practice to help control the use of dark magic and make sure it poses no threat to her village. Rachelle must fight terrifying creatures and risk her life to serve her kingdom.
Crimson Bound is an epic, feminist story of magic, desire, power, and evil. A beautiful but unexpected love story intertwines throughout the action-packed plot – you won’t have a clue what’s coming next.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Prince Rhen is forced to live his eighteenth autumn over and over again until a girl falls in love with him. At the end of each autumn, he transforms into a brutal, savage beast with no control. After destroying his own castle and family, he has little to live for.
Harper leads a difficult life too but in a much more normal way. She has mountains of family issues, no self-confidence due to her cerebral palsy, and not much hope for the future.
When the paths of these two characters unexpectedly collide, both of their lives will never be the same.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a twisted version of Beauty and the Beast, incorporating a multitude of complex themes, in-depth characterizations, and wonderful, enchanted lands.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
This is a YA classic, following the life of a loner, Bella Swan, as she moves to a new town. Thrown into a new school, with new friends and a new routine, Bella’s life has already changed a huge amount. So when she meets the handsome but incredibly complex Edward, her life becomes even more complicated.
She soon learns that Edward and his family are vampires, which poses a whole bunch of issues. But will the deep connection these two have for each other be enough to make their relationship last?
Twilight is one of the most well-read and adored YA stories on the market. With the help of the film adaptation starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Meyer’s novel has become a favorite among readers of all ages.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Addie LaRue lives a life destined to be forgotten by others. In 1714, she made a desperate plea for survival, one that involved becoming immortal and cursed.
Since then, she has met thousands of people and lived through dozens of lifetimes and not a single person has remembered her existence. Until she meets a young man who can remember her name.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a well-decorated novel and incorporates history, family, love, time, science, and of course, fantasy. It has been read and loved by millions across the world and is a brilliant addition to any reading list, even if you’re not usually a fantasy seeker.
Zodiac Academy by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti
This whirlwind novel combines every fantasy trope you can imagine: fae, vampires, werewolves, sirens, magic, dragons, astrology, and magical lands. It is the ultimate fantasy epic to indulge in.
Zodiac Academy follows the life of a young supernatural who attends school with pretty much any fantasy creature you can imagine – what could go wrong?
This school is only for those aged 18 and above and is riddled with danger, so don’t expect a smooth ride or a happy ending from this one!
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Luce, a 17-year-old girl falls in love with Daniel, who is everything she wants and more. Highly intelligent, good-looking, and funny. But when Luce finds out that Daniel is a cursed fallen angel their entire relationship must change.
Her life is set on a different path from his, they should never have even met. He is destined for either Heaven or Hell and she is just ordinary.
Fallen delves into the fragile and intense relationship between Luce and Daniel, a perfect coming-of-age romance for YA fantasy readers.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince follows Jude, 17 years old and struggling with her identity. Her parents were murdered when she was 7 and her two sisters were taken to the High Court of Faerie. She has no family, no good memories, and nothing to consider home.
So Jude is determined to regain the little family she has left and set out to infiltrate the High Court, but in order to do so, she must risk her life, surround herself in danger, and even become someone she’s not.
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
This is the first of a 3-book series that follows the warrior princess, Lara, who has been trained and raised knowing that she must one day defeat her enemy, King Aren.
When she is chosen as his new bride, Lara sees it as an easy way in. What better way to infiltrate and destroy a kingdom than from the inside?
But her determination wanes and a newfound feeling of passion sets in. Will she fulfill her destiny? Or will she find love where she least suspected it?
The Bridge Kingdom is an excellent read, filled with fantastical elements, real emotion, and adventure.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
The Shadows Between Us is a YA tale that concentrates on the life and experiences of Alessandra. She has a plan to get noticed – she aims to deceive the Shadow King, marry him, and then kill him, enjoying his luxuries and kingdom for herself.
But as she begins implementing this plan, she realizes the King may not last long enough. Several people have attempted to kill him themselves, but Alessandra needs him alive. She finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough to have him for herself, but who will get there first, and will her feelings tangle in the process?
The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The City of Bones is the first in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. It is a brilliant tale of shadow hunters, demons, vampires, and wizardry that explores themes of friendship, identity, love, and passion.
Clary is a normal girl, just like everyone else. That is until she finds out she’s actually a shadow hunter and that her mother had been protecting her from this dangerous world her whole life.
She unexpectedly witnesses a murder in a nightclub in New York City, a murder only she could see. So when she screams in reaction, she captivates the attention of the shadow hunters, who know she’s one of them.
Clary must now adjust to her new life and find out more about her family line but as the secrets unravel, so do Clary’s feelings for witty bad boy Jace.
Hunted by Megan Spooner
Hunted is a fantastic spin on Beauty and the Beast. It follows Yeva, whose father is a hunter in the beast’s terrifying forest.
When he goes missing, Yeva must undergo a dangerous quest to try and find her father, who she suspects has either been kidnapped or killed by the beast.
Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross
Every new moon, magic flows into Azenor. But this is dark magic, magic that carries curses and danger. So to protect the realm, magicians must help.
Clementine wants to take over as warden in her town but unbeknownst to her, there is a web of age-old magical rules that challenge her.
She sets it upon herself to save Azenor from dark magic but must overcome several obstacles in the process. Dreams Lie Beneath is Clementine’s story of adventure, mystery, magic, and romance.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The world is divided. Divided according to blood type. People with red blood are commoners, serving the silver-blooded superiors, who carry supernatural abilities.
Mare is a Red, living in a poor town stealing anything she can get her hands on to make ends meet.
But then her path is thrown into collision with the Silver court and she soon discovers she is not as normal as she thinks. She has a power of her own and must learn how to wield it before making the choice either to live as a Silver, neglecting everyone she once knew, or go back to a life of poverty.
Red Queen tackles the class divide, wealth divide, love, and loss all in one fantastical dream of a book.
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly follows Clara, a half-angel with superhuman powers like superstrength and superspeed.
She falls in love with Christian, who is perfect for her and seems like the ideal match. So when bad boy Tucker comes on the scene, he stirs everything up and unleashes Clara’s less angelic side.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Isobel is an ordinary woman with fantastic artistic talent who finds herself meddling in the faerie world.
Soon she finds herself making art for faerie royalty and she feels like things are getting out of hand. She relies on Rook, the one person she can trust in this strange world, and as the plot thickens, they are forced to fight for survival.
An Enchantment of Ravens is a brilliant story of romance, violence, and unworldly events that will change Isobel and Rook forever.
Hopefully, this list has opened your eyes to the world of fantasy literature and provided you with some food for thought. Regardless of your niche, there’s a fantasy novel on this list for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best fantasy novel ever written?
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is frequently referenced as the best fantasy story, with some of the highest sales across all genres and countries.
What are the benefits of reading fantasy?
It can spark creativity and stimulate imagination as well as develop your reading skills like any other book.
Is fantasy suitable for children?
It depends on the story. Some fantasy books like the Harry Potter series are suitable for children but many fantasy novels have adult themes running throughout such as violence and sex.
How many books has Sarah J. Maas written?
She has written 22 books, her last being published in February 2022.
Who is the best fantasy writer?
Tolkien, along with George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, and Brandon Sanderson are some of the best fantasy writers out there.
Which books did Sarah J. Maas write?
Here’s a list of all Sarah J. Maas books in order:
Throne of Glass Series
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, 2012 (prequel novella)
The Assassin and the Healer, 2012 (prequel novella)
The Assassin and the Desert, 2012 (prequel novella)
The Assassin and the Underworld, 2012 (prequel novella)
The Assassin and the Empire, 2012 (prequel novella)
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), 2012
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), 2013
Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), 2014
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), 2015
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), 2016
Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6), 2017
Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7), 2018
Court of Thorns and Roses Series
A Court of Thorns and Roses, 2015
A Court of Mist and Fury, 2016
A Court of Wings and Ruin, 2017
A Court of Frost and Starlight, 2018
Crescent City Series
House of Earth and Blood, 2019
Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3), 2018
The World of Throne of Glass (Official Guide), TBA