Fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read. I think knowing someone’s favorite books is helpful to get to know them as a person and as a writer. So to help you all get to know me better. Here are my top 5 favorite fantasy books and why.
1. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
I love the character experience this book has. Also the very dystopian adventure feel as well. The battle of wills and the “hunger games” hint that it has. Now, I’ve found any book that just has this element alone isn’t enough for me, but it was the character of the young boy that caught me. I love the tone of the first person writing as well. Nielsen does a great job keeping things hidden even though the story is in first person. I’ve learned I’m a first person as I’ve gotten more into reading and writing as a professional. So anything with first person that I’ve read in the last five years gets bonus points.
2. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
This is a 100% biased choice. The live-action Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is not the best movie ever made, best retelling ever made, or even best of their live actions, but it tops my charts always despite all of that for very biased reasons. I’ve never felt I could relate to a character more than to the Belle portrayed by Emma Watson (Funny as I’m not the biggest fan of hers. I don’t’ dislike her, just not a fan.) I just identified with her so fully, and this book made that feeling even stronger. So though I will not say this movie and book are about all reporch. (I have a lot to say on how the remake made things worse plot wise not better), but I just feel so understood and empowered by the character. I could read this book over and over to help me find hope and press forward in my dreams.
3. The Princess Tales (Formerly known as the Tables of Biddle) by Gale Carson Levine
I read listened to this series on tap over and over as a child. I’m not exactly sure why. I think I enjoyed that they were all their own story but also interconnected. My favorite of them was Cinderellis and the Glasshill I think because it was a fairytale I’d never heard before but also felt like a gender swap of Cinderella. It also has retellings of other lesser known fairytales and classics like The Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, and The Frog Prince. Just a fun collection to enjoy over and over.
4. Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck (But only the first book!)
It was all about the magic of the mythology for me, and my love of tigers. I’d love to own a tiger if that wasn’t meant to the tiger and just unsafe for them all around. This book uses Indian religion and mythology, tigers, romance, and mystery to draw you into a magical world that makes even the most awkward of girls a goddess. Sadly though, the second book just turned it into a Twilight knock-off with love triangles that were very forced, a plot twist that seemed inevitable to me, and odd time travel awkwardness that didn’t help. So though I loved the first book, I feel it lost its potential by going the Twilight route after the first book. Even the ending was very Twilight-like. Which annoyed me, but I expected the series to keep being as magical so I kept going. Honestly, I regretted reading the rest. I just wanted to rewrite the series in a way that kept the real magic that got me hook going. It wasn’t the romantic drama that made it a best seller, it was the magic and romance. Romance was second. Everyone else who read it that I talked to agreed. Feel free to feel differently and say so kindly, but I just found it a disappointment. It could have been so much better.
5. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I was surprised this one got on the list. I made my list based on books I would buy and reread. It’s why Harry Potter didn’t make it on the list. Until I was about nineteen, I used to listen to the audiobooks over and over to help me go to sleep, but I wouldn’t pick up and read them. I have a very hard time reading. I’m very picky about my actual reading time. And if I wouldn’t take the time to read it, it didn’t make it on the list. But Seraphina actually made it to my surprise. It was the character of Seraphina and seeing her struggle and try to blend in and see how the world forced her to ride the line of safe and dangerous on showing her true parentage. A great story for those of us wanting to fit in but not change. I think it’s that I like stories that take girls who just want to stay out of it, but are drawn to be front and center to use their unique heritages or powers to help even when they don’t feel they want to or can. We all have gifts, and those gifts will call to use to use them. I love that message, so I suppose Seraphina did a good enough job with that message to get me to reread it.
6. The How to Train Your Dragon Series by Cressida Cowell
This one might just be for the laughs. I found her use of similes and writing Vikings in a way safe for kids but as realistically as possible quite funny. She was writing for young boys, and the humor makes that clear. Also the impressive character growth of Hiccup and his main villain is plain to see. The movies I think have a better story over all, but the long plot going over so many books yet making solo books just fine to read alone was impressive and beautiful to see. Also comparing the books to the movies is a real treat for anyone who enjoys analyzing literature and retellings. They are so different yet so the same and it’s beautiful. I prefer the movie story, but the book story is so different it stands on its own in my mind enough to make it to my top seven.
7. Beauty by Robin McKinley
I think this is because it’s the best to the basic plot of the very first retelling we can find book I’ve found yet. I liked the tone and the voice of the book as well. It has a gentle, mysterious beauty in the tone and presentation. Part of that is likely that I really wanted a hardcover so I got a copy that was published a long time ago. But it had such an old, mystic feel to its words and phrasing to go with one of the sweetest stories in fairytale tomes.
And those are my top seven. I went through and picked out all the books I’d buy to read over and over that were fantasy on my personal read book list from Goodreads and the library. (Some of these were missing on my Goodreads when I started this blog.)
What are your top 7 fantasy books and why? Do you agree or disagree with something I’ve pointed out? Would you like full on reviews of these books? Let me know in the comments. Most of all your top 7. I love finding new favorites in others favorites.