This week’s topic was difficult for me because I am not the biggest fan of fantasy. I can not even articulate why that is. I am just very picky when it comes to the fantasy novels that I read and I tend to lean towarda magical realism. I also think that part of the problem is that so many fantasies are series, and I am terrible at reading series. I need to find more standalone fantasy novels!
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
No surprises here! I have talked pretty extensively about how much I adore The Poppy War. I love that it is a Chinese-inspired fantasy novel and the setting of this novel is special. I also found the magic system fascinating. Early reviews for the sequel, The Dragon Republic, are starting to pop up and they are glowing. Makes me even more excited to read it!
The Wayward Children Series
I am sure that the Wayward Children series will appear on many lists today, and it is well-deserved! There is something to special about each one of the books in the series (though I have yet to read In an Absent Dream!). They are darker than you expect but also a lot of fun and each world is so distinct and creative. Can not wait to continue on with the series!
Circe by Madeline Miller
I have read and loved quite a few Greek mythology retellings lately, but there is something about Circe that stands out. Madeline Miller is an incredible writer and she manages to bring Circe to life. You see a side of her that you never have before and you come to understand her motivations. It is very compelling!
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Scythe absolutely blew my expectations out of the water! I thought it was an interesting premise but I had no idea that I would enjoy it quite as much as I did. I think what is so great/scary about it is the fact that this world does not seem that far-fetched. I could see this as our potential future!
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I have never read a book quite like The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The writing is beautiful (I mean duh! It is Neil Gaiman) and the characters/creatures are memorable. There is a bittersweet feeling to the story. Even though it has been a couple years since I read this book I can distinctly remember the way that it made me feel. I love when books stick with you in that way.
I would love some recommendations for standalone fantasy novels! I have Priory of the Orange Tree- I just need to get to it and to stop being intimidated by the size!
44 thoughts on “Top 5 Fantasy Novels”
I feel the exact same way about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Neil Gaiman! That book is just perfection, so lyrical, so aesthetic, so everything ❤️
I think it was my second Gaiman book (after Coraline) and if I had any doubts before that he would become one of my favourite authors of all time, this second book dispelled them all.
I don’t exactly remember what happened, but like you I remember exactly how it made me feel. Even my review of it is one of my favourites because Gaiman’s writing style seemed to seep through into my own post and it just looks so superior to everything else I’ve written 😊
Amazing list, Kristin!
That is amazing that the book could bring that out in your review. I completely understand what you mean. I have vague memories of the book but it is the feeling that has stayed with me. So powerful!
This is an excellent list! I still need to read the majority on this list (I’ve only read Scythe and Every Heart a Doorway) but I’ve heard great things about all of these books too!
Thank you! All amazing books!
I really want to read The Poppy War! Glad to hear it comes so highly recommended from you as well 😊
It is excellent!
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favorite books ever. Technically it’s part of a series of loosely connected stories, but it works as a standalone, too. Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, which begins with The Crystal Cave, is excellent, as are the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin. I would also recommend The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany. It’s a little older, but it’s fantastic.
Wow! Thank you for the recommendations! Going to look in to all of these. I have heard amazing things about Ursula K. Le Guin!
You’re welcome! Le Guin was an amazing human being. The Left Hand of Darkness is a sci-fi classic that is worth checking out, too.
I too loved, loved, loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane💜
Such an incredible book!
I agree with you on Circe. I loved it! Also I just picked up Scythe. I look forward to another good fantasy. Thanks for sharing your list!
Awesome! I can not wait to see what you think about Scythe!
I NEED to read “The Poppy War”!! I keep saying I’m going to and then forget about it! Great list!
Yes! It is so good!
Scythe also exceeded my expections, and although I’ve had Thunder Head since it was released, I still haven’t gotten to it. And the third one will be released soon!
I haven’t read Thunderhead yet either! Hoping to get to it before the release of the third book.
I love that you included Scythe. Bless you.
If I did this it would include SOC/CK/Scythe/Thunderhead (I can’t say Toll cause I haven’t read it but it wouldn’t shock me) but I’d stick Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King in there.
I haven’t read the rest of your list but the poppy war does sound like something I would enjoy.
Isn’t Scythe brilliant?! I haven’t read Thunderhead yet because I have been saving it to read closer to the release of Toll.
I have yet to read anything by Stephen King! So ashamed!
You’ll love Thunderhead even more than Scythe (hard to believe as that might be) … I was reading Stephen King at 15… do with that what you will. But lord knows he isnt for everyone thing is. Even if you dont like his horror.. eyes of the dragon is to me his best book and complete fantasy. It is incredible
I feel the exact same way about Circe (and TSoA by Miller). I found it to be both incredibly moving and gripping. Definitely one of my all time favs
Yes! Miller is a genius! Can not wait to see what she writes next.
Thanks for the recs 🙂 I venture into the world of Fantasy when I need a big break from the genres I usually go to, but it’s hard to pick the right one!
I agree! There are so many out there!
I think Neil Gaiman captures childhood so very well and The Ocean at the End of the Lane was as you said – so bittersweet. There’s something so melancholic yet hopeful about it and I think it’s one of my favourite Neil Gaiman works because it truly kicks the nostalgia into gear.
So well said! It’s incredible what Neil Gaiman can do!
Excited for The Toll? 😉
I love Scythe and cannot wait to read the sequel, Thunderhead! I also want to read Circe… I’ve only heard wonderful things about that book!
Same! I’m trying to wait to read Thunderhead until closer to the release date. I think you’ll love Circe!
I love, love, LOVE The Poppy War! I can’t wait to read The Dragon Republic 😊 The Wayward Children series looks so good & titles are very enticing! I hope to read them someday 😁
I have such a good feeling about The Dragon Republic!
I think you will enjoyed the Wayward Children series. It is very original!
Based on your reading taste, I think you might like Shape of Water. It’s worth reading even if you’ve seen the movie. It a fav or mine.
I have had that on my TBR since it came out! There is something about it that intrigues me for sure.
I really need to read the poppy war and circe! And I absolutely loved scythe!
They are both amazing!!
Scythe was so original and phenomenal–and I think Thunderhead was even better. I can’t wait for book three!
If you want a fantasy standalone, I recommend Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker or Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. I think Warbreaker is maybe one day getting a sequel, but Sanderson is writing so many books, it’s not really a thing that I expect ever to happen at this point. And it works very well on its own, anyway.
That’s great to hear about Thunderhead. I’ve been waiting to read it closer to the release date of Toll!
Thanks for the recommendations. I have only heard good things about Sanderson’s novels!
That’s smart! I’m thinking I might have to reread Scythe and Thunderhead to prepare!
Sanderson is great, but he writes faster than I can read! So I really appreciate his standalones. The Emperor’s Soul, for instance, is a very manageable novella!
Such a great list! I love circe and I’m really looking forward to poppy war!
Thanks! I really think you will love The Poppy War!
I have a copy of The Poppy War but I still need to read it; I’m really looking forward to it though as it sounds amazing. I also really need to pick up Circe sometime as that sounds fantastic and always gets such glowing reviews (:
I really think you will love both of those books!
I hope so 😀