Not all books stick to just one genre. There are tons of different genres out there in fictional literature, and some books can feature characteristics of more than just a single genre.
These genre-blending books are a great way to explore new genres of literature you are unfamiliar with – so where do you start?
Check out the list below to discover some of the best genre-blending literary fiction books out there!
Never Let Me Go By Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go is a groundbreaking novel first published in 2006, and since then it has sold over 2 million copies.
It’s a character-driven novel that blends realism with science fiction elements. The result is a deeply emotional story set against an alternative version of 1990s England. It’s engaging and thought-provoking.
- Never Let Me Go masterfully blends genres of realism, romance, and science fiction.
- It’s an incredibly moving story with rich characters.
- It’s pretty well-known so you may already know the twists and turns this novel offers.
Terra Nullius By Claire G. Coleman
Calling this novel a genre-blending piece of literature may actually spoil one of the big twists of the novel.
So, we can’t really dive into the details here – just know that it’s a great choice if you love historical and literary fiction blends, with a healthy dose of sci-fi thrown in.
Another great thing about Terra Nullius is that it’s one of the few novels out there about Australian Aboriginals written by an Australian-Aboriginal.
- This book is a thrilling read with plenty of suspense and shocking sci-fi elements set against a historical literature background.
- The representation of Australian-Aboriginals feels authentic and real.
- To really enjoy this novel, we recommend avoiding any spoilers but this makes it more difficult to determine if this book is right for you.
Awayland By Ramona Ausubel
Fantasy is one of the most popular literary genres out there and Romona Ausubel’s Awayland takes the genre to new territory by mixing it with myth and realism.
The contrast between the realism and fantasy elements of this book can give you whiplash but it’s all tied neatly together through a touching story and themes.
- If you love a book that makes you cry, Awayland is one to read.
- It offers a more emotional, touching look at the fantasy genre.
- The pace is fast as it’s technically a collection of short stories, so you may not get enough time with each character as you would like.
Zone One By Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead is one of those authors who just keep pushing their audience’s expectations.
In Zone One, he creates a deeply suspenseful zombie apocalypse novel that is gripping and emotional. It’s a perfect blend of sci-fi and realism with horror thrown in.
- Zone One is a masterful blend between sci-fi and realism, with elements of horror.
- Colson Whitehead manages to sculpt some truly authentic and relatable characters in such an extreme setting.
- It’s a zombie book and the genre has outstayed its welcome for a lot of readers.
The Vegetarian By Han Kang
This genius novel from Han Kang takes the fantastical myth of Daphne and Apollo and spins it on its head.
This is done by combining it with realistic fiction, well-built characters, and an allegorical plot that is engaging and thought provoking.
- Han Kang takes a relatively simple story and turns it into something thought-provoking and intense.
- This makes it an incredibly unique genre-blending novel.
- If you like books with a lot of action and movement, this isn’t the one for you.
The Bird King By G. Willow Wilson
Historical fiction blends with fantasy in this gorgeous, exciting tale from G. Willow Wilson.
The story is split between the rich and realistic setting of Spain but as the story escalates, it moves to a fantasy island and dives deeper into its secondary genre.
- Ideal for fantasy readers who love grounded, realistic settings.
- The imagery in this book is rich and vivid, thanks to the fantastic creative writing on show here.
- Contains strong adult themes that may be unsuitable for some readers.
Bestiary By K-Ming Chang
Bestiary is a book that takes some incredibly high fantasy elements and manages to merge it seamlessly with the realistic experiences of Taiwanese American women.
It bounces between family drama and myths and magic to create an enjoyable tale.
- Great for high fantasy fans who love well-built characters with meaningful storylines.
- The experiences of the characters range from harrowing to wonderful, making it a book full of different emotions.
- Some fantastical elements may be too extreme for some readers.
Sing, Unburied, Sing By Jesmyn Ward
This award-winning book captures the classic elements of Southern US literature while merging it with fantasy elements.
It’s a ghost story found in the middle of an emotional series of books that tackle pretty hard-hitting topics.
- It’s a well written ghost story set with realistic characters and setting.
- Chapters switch from emotional to thrilling to suspenseful with ease.
- Some of the themes in this book may be too triggering for some readers.
The Snow Child By Eowyn Ivey
Historical fiction and fantasy blend really well together to create some amazing tales. One such example is The Snow Child.
It features a historical setting (1920s Alaska), realistic characters, and a story filled with magical twists to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
- It’s a tearjerker thanks to the amazing characters and the well-built relationships between them.
- The realism is grounded and highly praised in this novel, especially when it comes to its historical setting.
- The fantasy elements present are few and far between.
The Old Drift By Namwali Serpell
This historical novel is set in early 1900s Zambia and follows three separate families through their lives.
The fantastical elements of this story weave seamlessly into the story but they are soon joined by an array of other genres including science fiction and romance.
- Zambia is a fantastic setting for this novel and the historical elements are what make this book really shine.
- It also is amazing thanks to its creative fantastical elements that range from heartbreaking to wonderful.
- Trying to pack so many genres into one book can mean there’s not enough of each genre to satisfy some readers.
She Would Be King By Wayetu Moore
This novel is another amazing genre blend between historical fiction (this time set in 1820s Liberia) and fantasy, this time following three magical individuals as they try to find a new home.
It’s a classic fantasy story set in a historical setting that is educating as it is engaging.
- Features some truly interesting characters.
- The historical elements flesh out the story and the world.
- It tackles some serious issues that come with a lot of historical novels.
Burn By Patrick Ness
This fantasy-historical fiction blend takes things in a new direction by adding plenty of suspense and deep themes. This makes it an engrossing adventure with touches of other genres like sci-fi.
- Genre elements are very fleshed out and play an integral role in the story.
- The action is exciting and varied.
- Some themes may be challenging to some readers.
Jane, Unlimited By Kristin Cashore
If you were a fan of the award winning movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, you may want to try out Jane, Unlimited.
It’s a sci-fi and fantasy blended novel with a similar concept. It’s adventurous and emotional all at the same time.
- Features a really engaging story frame that is fun to explore.
- Its deep themes help build a truly emotional story.
- The twists can be a little confusing to follow.
Storm Front By Jim Butcher
The Dresden Files is a huge book series and the very first entry is Storm Front. It’s a grizzly murder-mystery with strong fantasy elements with fast-paced action and plenty of twists.
- If you love action, you’ll love this novel.
- The fantasy elements keep the mystery alive throughout the novel.
- The worldbuilding is so detailed it can be difficult to follow for new readers.
The Deep By Nick Cutter
This chilling novel is blended with strong sci-fi and fantasy elements. The writing is fast paced with horrifying elements to chill you to the bone.
- Perfect for those who love heavy horror books.
- The sci-fi elements bring a touch of grotesqueness to fuel the horror.
- The narrative is a little flimsy so read for the emotion, not the story.
Bunny By Mona Awad
If you love dark humor novels, then Bunny is one you need to try. Its comedy is described as on par with Mean Girls while the darker, horror elements give it a grizzly narrative.
- The humor is engaging and hilarious, if you love dark humor.
- It balances comedy with horror perfectly well to make a truly enjoyable book.
- You need to have a particular type of humor to enjoy this novel.
The Changeling By Victor Lavalle
In this novel, folktales clash with modern realism to make an engaging but haunting fantastical tale. It’s a blend of a lot of different genres – fantasy, realism, horror, suspense, and more!
- Great for those who love a good fantastical mystery.
- The plot will have you on the edge of your seat as the multiple genres open up so many possibilities.
- Too much genre can sometimes be a downside as elements get muddled together.
The Charm Offensive By Alison Cochrun
Romance blends well with a lot of different genres. One great option is The Charm Offensive.
It’s a romantic story with comedic elements. If you want something fun and whimsical to read, give this book a try.
- It’s a story packed with interesting characters and meaningful relationships.
- The comedy is light and enjoyable.
- Not one for those who prefer deep, engaging novels with thought-provoking themes.
A Heart Of Blood And Ashes By Milla Vane
This romance novel is set in a fantasy world that is well-built and detailed enough to feel real.
The story is also a lot more engaging than in traditional romance novels – the fantasy elements help the stakes to be raised, the characters to be more morally gray, and the story more engaging.
- It’s fast-paced and engaging.
- The world is interesting and fleshed out.
- It can be a bit violent and disturbing at times.
What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky By Lesley Nneka Arimah
Last but not least, we have What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky.
This award-winning book is deeply realistic with a collection of fantasy short stories that leap from sci-fi to horror and more.
Each character feels like a real person in this book – despite the fantastical events they go through.
- Perfect for fantasy fans who want to dip into realistic fiction for a change.
- You may love the short story format as it’s fast paced.
- Not everyone loves short stories and you may wish for more time with each character and their story.
Choosing The Right Genre-Blending Book For You
So there are a lot of genre-blending works of literature out there for you to read – how do you filter them down to just a few?
The last thing anyone wants is to waste their time with a book they didn’t enjoy, so how can you avoid that?
When choosing the right genre-blending book for you, it’s a good idea to stick to the genres you love.
If you are a huge fantasy fan, choose a book that blends fantasy with another genre you also like – like sci-fi or romance.
It’s a great way to dip your toe into some new genres while sticking to someone familiar.
And that’s it – those are 20 great genre-blending books for you to read.
From blending X and X, X and X, there are plenty of different genre combinations for you to choose from.
Carefully consider what genres you like and what genres you have yet to read. Then, pick a book, sit back, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Blended Genre In Fiction?
A book that is defined as ‘genre-blending’ features characteristics of two or more genres. If they cannot be solely categorized in just one genre, they’re classed as genre-blending literature.
What Is A Literary Genre That Might Blend Fiction And Nonfiction?
Semi-fiction is a genre in literature that mixes elements of fiction and nonfiction. So, part of the book is based on realism while others are sourced from the writer’s imagination.
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