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15 Must-Read Books For Fantasy Fans

As recommended by BuzzFeed Book Club members.

Posted on June 10, 2019, at 2:05 p.m. ET

Last month we asked BuzzFeed Book Club members to share their favorite fantasy books, in honor of our May selection, The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. Here are the books that got the most love:

1. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Del Rey

"This book is incredibly dense, packed full of elaborate prose and heady ideas. A very inventive fantasy world with an unpredictable plot and intriguing characters. This is definitely not your average fantasy book — no knights in shining armor, no powerful wizards saving the day. Instead you have cactus people, strange spider gods, winged bird people from the desert who have a very nonhuman set of morals and cultural norms. The setting is almost a character in itself." —Chelsea (Amazon)

2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

HarperCollins

"When the story starts, the main character has spent almost a year in an insane asylum, so she questions everything, including her own motivations. I thought the book would focus a lot more on dystopian world building, but instead it focuses much more on the characters, and in particular how the main character discovers what has happened and what it takes to live in this world. The plot is solid, with a steady pacing, and I loved every second of it." —Silverscarf (Amazon)

3. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Grove Press

"The modern world of computers and hackers and technology meets the djinn of the Arabian Nights. Alif, a hacker, receives a strange old book, and this unleashes an even stranger series of events when he becomes enemy of the state and enters a parallel world — the realm of ghosts and spirits and djinn and other magical creatures. It's a different kind of coming-of-age as the main character discovers the limits of perception, the power of belief, and the gift of love. The style is alert, concise, and silky smooth; we are swept together with the characters, witnessing the battle between good and evil with an unexpected twist." —Andreea Pausan (Amazon)

4. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Harper Voyage

"Nahri is a clever con artist, with strange healing powers, who soon realizes she may not be completely human. She sets out on a journey with Dara, a daeva (don't call him a djinn) with a grumpy personality and a dark past. Alizayd is the prince of Daevabad — a righteous boy who wants to do well but doesn't always succeed in court politics.

"As the main characters intersect, the web of court politics begins to tighten. Everyone has an agenda, and, impressively, I found myself sympathizing with most of them. This novel is so intricate, so compelling, and with such a complex world, it's astonishing." —Haley (Amazon)

5. Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

St. Martin's Press

"Maybe This Time is romance–comedy–paranormal fiction, making it a delightful fantasy. It centers around the character of Andy (short for "Andromeda") who is unexpectedly thrust into helping her ex-husband with an unusual and unexpected problem — one that sparks old flames they thought had died out years ago. The characters are so entertaining, and it’s easy to become immersed in the story. It has twists and turns, romance, and a ghost that just won’t quit. I was in love at Chapter 1. What a page-turner!" —Sarena (BuzzFeed Book Club)

6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Bloomsbury

"If you like GOOD historical fiction, if you like GOOD fantasy, if you love reading and magic because they are one and the same, boy, are you in for an incredible treat. As in Tolkien, there's narrative within narrative spilling from every footnote. In the Napoleonic era of a fictional early-nineteenth-century England, magic, once such an integral part of everyday life in Britain, has mysteriously gone dormant — or so it seems — until very different magicians bring it back, to everyone's surprise and discomfort!" —E.M. Moore (Amazon)

7. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Bantam

"I love the communities that Allen creates, and the people who live there — the different loving relationships, e.g., a grandfather and granddaughter who don't know each other. Allen's books are like lounging in a hammock in the shade by the water on a warm spring day." —Amy Cookson (BuzzFeed Book Club)

8. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Mariner Books

"Reading Everything Is Illuminated was a visual journey of its own. The book switches between two stories — one is the fictional history of the Jewish Polish town where the main character's grandfather was born; the other is his trip to find pieces and remnants of that time." —Casey Marchfeld (BuzzFeed Book Club)

9. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Harper Perennial

"I found this book enchanting and beautiful to read. The story is interesting, the characters are well developed and relatable, and it's set against the background of two fascinating cultures. The premise is this: Golems come from Jewish mythology, which tells that a particularly skilled rabbi can create himself a servant by animating a clay image of a person. The jinni is a disembodied, supernatural being from Middle Eastern mythology and can be enslaved by humans through the use of magic. They both find themselves in the immigrant communities of New York, trying to find their place in the world, torn between their true nature and the need to blend in among beings that are so similar and yet so different from them. The way the author interweaves the magic and mythical part into the mundane was very well done." —Sy (Amazon)

10. Aura by Carlos Fuentes

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

"An advertisement is asking for a young historian with rather specific qualifications, offers a generous salary and easy terms, and is tailor-made for Felipe Montero. He applies, gets hired, and finds himself within a dark, rat-infested mansion. His first assignment is doled out, his curiosity is piqued, and then... It's a fascinating short story with an end open to questions. I had to read it several times, and still there are new discoveries!" —Anne Phillips (Amazon)

11. The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

Square Fish

"I could read this series over and over! Taran and Princess Eilonwy are amazing characters, and their growth through the series puts the Harry Potter canon to shame (don't hate). I am a 45-year-old woman, and I still sneak into my 12-year-old son's room to reread them. More often than not, he is rereading them, too. Unfortunately, Disney butchered The Black Cauldron, which was such a small part of the series and didn't give the series a chance to really grow. Hopefully the reboot, should it happen, will be better." —Karen McNary (BuzzFeed Book Club)

12. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Simon & Schuster

"From the minute I opened The Book of Lost Things and all the way to the end, I was hooked by Connolly's fast-paced, vivid writing style, and I couldn't put the book down. This is one of the darkest fantasy books with a young-teen protagonist I've ever read, but it was so perfectly executed (especially paralleled with the old, original, super-dark fairy tales) that the darkness only made it more real. This is not a tale of good versus evil so much as it is a tale about growing up, finding out who you are, and realizing that we all have both a 'good guy' and a 'bad guy' deep down inside us somewhere. Our battle lies in choosing which one will win." —Kathrin Hutson (Amazon)

13. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Penguin Books

"In A Discovery of Witches we meet Diana Bishop, a historian who always worked hard to just be 'normal.' And Diana succeeded in that, until one day she accidentally comes across an alchemical manuscript filled with magic. At first Diana didn’t think a lot of it, but soon the library she uses for her work gets fuller and fuller with creatures, demons, witches, and vampires watching her — including Matthew Clairmont, a handsome and mysterious vampire. Soon Diana finds out that she can’t ignore her own magic, and especially Matthew, anymore. And her life changes forever. This is a book unlike any other I've read. There is romance, suspense, and a lot of history in these pages." —MaureenB (Amazon)

14. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Bloomsbury

"The Priory of the Orange Tree is nothing less than epic. In one book, Shannon manages to create an entire world, complete with over a thousand years of history, various conflicting religions, generations upon generations of royalty, dozens of nations, and a sea full of pirates. Pirates! There is pirate action in this book! Are you not convinced? I mean, there’s dragons — and not just one sort of dragon, either. Also, did I mention the whole book has a very, very strong feminist bent to it? How much more convincing do you need? If you like dragons, if you like epics, if you can make it through 800 pages, then you need to read it." —A.W. (Amazon)

15. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom

Metonymy Press

"I love Kai Cheng Thom's use of magical realism throughout the book to portray an atypical fantasy trans memoir!" —Veronica Francis (BuzzFeed Book Club)

Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Nina Patane / BuzzFeed


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