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What to Read: Fantasy Book Recs

Updated: Apr 27, 2019

Recently, I’ve jumped back in to the fantasy genre. Fantasy has always been a tricky genre for me to get through, because of the fact that you have to put so much effort in to the books of that genre. World-building and countless characters both tend to be staples, and so I’ve put together a list of my top five favorite fantasy series that I’ve read recently that I think everyone will enjoy whether they’ve been a long time fantasy fan or are just beginning to delve in.

1. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Trilogy) by Philip Pullman

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.

“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.”

This is, by far, my favorite series I’ve ever read. I’ve read this book every year since 2005, and it’s probably the closest thing to a comfort blanket I have. This book is amazing, redefines the limits of magical realism, and also throws in a ton of really interesting theology and science aspects that don’t seem ridiculously implausible. My favorite thing is the idea of daemons, and how they really shaped and are incorporated in to the world.

2.  Here, There Be Dragons (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica) by James A. Owen

An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

“I think that nonexistent mythological creature just broke some of your toes,” Jack said.

Oh, shut up,” said Charles”

Here, There Be Dragons is a book written by a book lover for book lovers. If you enjoy any of the great epic fantasies like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, orThe Chronicles of Narnia, this is the series I’m recommending for you. The story is fantastic, it has so many twists and turns and there is not a boring second anywhere in the book. The characters each bring something to the table, and after reading you grow to love each and everyone one of them. I have to say this is probably one of my favorite recently read fantasy series.

3. Alice (The Chronicles of Alice) by Christina Henry

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago. Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful. And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

“You’re only a mouse if you let them make you one.”

Alice is a darker, more twisted (if you can believe it) retelling of  Alice in Wonderland. I’m a huge fan of the original by Lewis Carroll, and this book captures that same way of writing, the topsy turvy world that Carroll created.

But, it stands out on its own because it takes the world that we’re familiar with and places it in this gritty, underground setting. Where seedy magical brothels are dressed up and offered to women like a choice by a man known as the Rabbit, and other twisted characters with familiar names roam this underground world like monsters in the dark. Alice is book one of a duology that I highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of story retellings or dark magical realism.

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