Yes, it is Saturday and not Monday. BUT DON’T WORRY. I haven’t completely lost my mind. (Though I usually am doing good if I even know what day of the week it is…) I’m purposely posting my weekly post a couple of days early. Becaaaause… Today is the 63rd birthday of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring! To celebrate and to end The Silmarillion Awards you may have seen sweeping the blogosphere this month, Jenelle Schimdt and many others are throwing a big fantasy celebration today in which we can rave about Tolkien and/or fantasy on our blogs or anywhere on social media! Thus the Saturday-instead-of-Monday post.
Last year I did a post on what Tolkien means to me, and around the same time also posted about how fantasy is infinite and why I love to write it. I didn’t want to repeat myself, sooo I decided to go in an entirely different direction this year.
Instead, I’m going to pile up everyone's TBRs (“to-be-read piles” if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about) with delightful fantasy books. Because it’s not like your piles are already so large they’re probably going to crush you any day now. Nooo. You need even more books.
I’ve purposely chosen to not list the over popular books, because, well, you all already know about Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Peter Pan, etc. (Though if you haven’t read those then WHY ARE YOU READING MY BLOG??? GO READ THOSE BOOKS INSTEAD.) Annnd I would list Howl’s Moving Castle but I’m pretty sure I manage to squeeze my utter unhealthy love for that book in every post I write, so… I’ll try to stick to some I may not have mentioned here before.
There are so many amazing books in the world, and as hard as we try, we don’t always know about all of them. Thus I’ve chosen some not quiiite as well-known and/or pretty obscure books to share. Because some books just deserve more love than they get! I’m also making this a variety of different types of stories so there will (hopefully) be something for everyone.
(And because I’m nice, all titles link to their GoodRead’s pages.)
. . .
THE BEAST OF TALESEND
By Kyle Robert Shultz
I just read this a few weeks ago and OH MY GRACIOUS, GUYS. THIS BOOK.
Imagine a 1920s detective story set in another world where fairytales is the world’s history instead of boring politics. Then add a grumpy detective who is determined that fairytales aren’t actually real, a mad girl who happens to have magic, and the grumpy detective’s happy-go-lucky brother all working together to stop a crime lord from ruining the world. And there you have this story! I KNOW, RIGHT?
It was seriously one of the most unique and FUN settings I’ve ever read. AND THE HUMOR. This book is chock full of hilarious mishaps. But it’s also just fascinating! I loooove 1920s detective settings. I always have. So add that in a fantasy world and you make A VERY HAPPY CHRISTINE.
Oh, and did I mention this was a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST RETELLING???? Because YES. It’s probably my favorite B&B retelling to date!
Just…just read this story.
By Robin McKinley
This probably isn’t all that obscure, but I never really see anyone talk about it? SO HERE I AM TALKING ABOUT IT.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t read this in…probably a decade or so? o.O BUT. I do remember absolutely loving it.
This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling as well (I’m obsessed, okay?). But what’s kind of neat about it is…it’s not exactly a retelling but more a novelization of the very short original Beauty and the Beast story. It’s like the actual story but lengthened and elaborated into a full novel. Which I thought was fantastic! Because I, for one, always wish fairytales were longer than like…3 pages. Not to mention wish they were sooometimes a bit more logical. Heh. So with Beauty, you get just that! The Beauty and the Beast story in a lengthened, logical format. Not to mention it has this slightly dark, chilling feel which I love. Especially for fairytales.
If you’re a fan of the Beauty and the Beast story or just dark fairytales in general, I’d definitely recommend this one!
BONES OF FAERIE
By Janni Lee Simner
I had never heard of this, but one day my best friend and I were secondhand bookstore shopping (like we do) when she found it and thought it looked intriguing. She read it right away and then proceeded to yell at me to read it as well (like good bookworm friends do). So I did. And then I understood why she demanded I read it.
This book was fascinating. I read the whole thing in one day (something I sadly can’t do much anymore these days, but I could not put it down!).
What absolutely made this book shine was the worldbuilding. The gist is, faerie folk came into the world and there was this huge war between humans and faeries, and it devastated both sides. So now people are living without much technology and lots of the world is taken over by faeries. (Such as trees that come alive and try to eat people, and all sorts of fun.) The world just had SO. MUCH. EPICNESS. I was blown away by the worldbuilding.
Honestly, the story itself was almost too simple for the huge, fascinating world it was set in. It’s mainly a story of a girl going on a little quest to save her village. And it’s good. But, it also was so simplistic. I wanted this humongous, epic series to go with this world. (Though it is a trilogy and I haven’t read the other two books yet, but I think they stick with the simple storyline as far as I can tell.)
Still, the story was fun, the writing beautiful, and the world so dangerous and creepy and intriguing. Fair warning though, it is quite a dark book. It’s not exactly the feel-good book of the year. There’s a smidge of domestic abuse, and, if I remember right, a guy isn’t dressed in one scene. But otherwise it was clean and fine.
I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who loves evil, creepy fae and chillingly dark and unique stories.
A DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS
By Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder
This one is a bit different because it’s intended for a much younger audience. BUT THAT’S NEVER STOPPED ME FROM READING A BOOK BEFORE. #NeverGrowUp And, come on, look at that title! Do you seriously think I’d pass up a book with that title? I THINK NOT.
The story follows Miss Drake, a rather disgruntled but perfectly ladylike dragon, and her new "pet", the clever but reckless Winnie. It’s set in our world but where dragons and all sorts of magical creatures and things exist. Just no one knows it because the magical creatures are good at disguising themselves. Such as Miss Drake can shapeshift into a human. (GIMME A SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON ANY DAY.)
Since this is juvenile fiction, the storyline was pretty straightforward, but really, it added to the charm of the story. And, unlike a lot of books meant for a young audience, this one did not skimp on character development. Miss Drake and Winnie’s relationship grows throughout the story. And there was even some emotional depth as they both had to deal with losses in their lives.
The whole thing was absolutely precious and fun. AND THE ENDING. The ending was PERFECTION.
If I had children, I’d totally be reading this out loud to them. But hey, even in my 20s I adored it. I think everyone occasionally needs a cozy, juvenile read now and again. This one is perfect for that.
By Jessica Day George
I read this book years ago and it became an instant fave. It’s just FUN. It takes a ton of fairytale cliches and flips them over. Such as the damsel in distress refusing help from the knight in shining armor and leaving the dragon’s den herself. XD
Our main character, Creel, is not a force to be reckoned with. BUT she is not a warrior. Instead, she escapes mayhem using her wits, and she’s a seamstress. That’s her thing, she loves to sew, and makes gorgeous dresses and things. I loved how we had a heroine who was both strong and yet still feminine.
The whole story itself is such a fun ride. We go from dragon dens to quaint dress shops to castles and everything in between. And the spin on the dragons themselves was my FAVE. Instead of hoarding gold and jewels like everyone expects, these dragons each hoard something different. One collects slippers, another collects dogs…like, live dogs. Yes. A dragon with a brood of dogs, it’s the BEST. Each dragon has their own interest! There’s just so much fun stuff going on!
This story is for all those who enjoy light, fun, and unexpected fairytales. (Also I remember liking the sequel Dragon Flight just as much. I haven’t read the third book yet BUT I NEED TO.)
By Heather Dixon
All right, so I kinda think everyone has heard of this book. I don’t think it’s obscure at all. But I had to add it to the list juuuust in case someone out there hasn’t read it. BECAUSE EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK.
This is a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling (which is my 2nd favorite fairytale after Beauty and the Beast #FunFact), and probably my favorite fairytale retelling I’ve ever read. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS.
The thing about a lot of 12DP stories is it can get overwhelming because there are essentially 12 main characters. But this book magically balanced every single princess perfectly while still giving them each their own personality, and not even confusing the reader on who was who!
The world was fantastic, the magic system was one of my favorites, and the VILLAIN. Ooooh, the villain. Literally one of my top favorite villains of ever. He was CREEPY. But…just…AGH. THAT VILLAIN.
The whole story was just gorgeous and so vivid. I could see everything. Sometimes I’d forget I was even reading. It all felt so real. Each and every character was lovable in their own way, the storyline kept me glued to the page, and the writing made me jealous of its pure gorgeousness. It had a slight dark feel which, as we’ve established, is my favorite for fairytales. And yet, at the same time, it had a ton of light and downright hilarious moments. It was the perfect balance! I honestly don’t think I had a single complaint with this story. And, let me tell you, that does not happen often! This is literally one of my most favorite stories in existence.
BUT. As I mentioned, the villain is soooo creepy. There’s a couple of very chilling scenes and use of dark magic from the villain. I’d recommend this for a slightly older audience (I’d say 15 or 16+) because of that.
By Stefan Bachmann
For all you steampunk lovers, this one’s for you!
One day someone brought this to the secondhand bookstore I work at and it looked so intriguing—a steampunk world with fairies? YES PLEASE—I just had to buy it. (Perks of working at a bookstore—first dibs.) I was not disappointed in my purchase!
This one actually sorta kinda reminded me of Bones of Faerie in that there’s a constant feud between humans and faeries (apparently I’m totally in love with the fairies vs. humans storyline???), the worldbuilding is some of the best I’ve ever seen, buuut the storyline seemed a smidge too simple for the epic world. BUT STILL. The plot was still EPIC, even though I feel like it could have been even bigger. (But I’m super picky in that I want a huge, epic, complex storyline so…this is probably just a Christine problem.)
The feel of this story is what really drew me in. It’s so very steampunkish but with all manner of weird fairy folk (TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS), and it just felt so…British! I don’t know, something about the style had this witty, snarky British tone which I absolutely adored. And it also had a slightly creepy but intriguing odd feel to it. To me, it so felt like a Tim Burton movie. Dark and weird but fascinating all rolled into one. (Seriously, Tim Burton needs to pick this one up!)
The characters were all odd and lovable and unique, the setting was just so bizarrely fun, and the strange mystery of it all kept me reading and reading. This book was amazing, guys! BUT, make sure you have the sequel, The Whatnot (which is just as good), on hand because THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING. *collapses*
PETER PAN IN SCARLET
By Geraldine McCaughrean
I think I’m an uneducated porcupine, because I had no idea there was an official sequel to Peter Pan until my bookfairy Celti told me about it. But GUYS. THERE’S AN OFFICIAL SEQUEL TO PETER PAN. Apparently there was some big contest for someone to write the official sequel and Geraldine McCaughrean’s story won. AND WITH GOOD REASON.
At first I was suuuuper dubious about this story. I’m a Peter Pan purist and was not sure about someone other than J.M. Barrie himself writing something canon for Peter Pan. Peter Pan was my CHILDHOOD. What if this book somehow ruined it for me???? I’m not a fan of classics being turned into something new. But I thought I’d at least give this book a try. AND I’M SO GLAD I DID.
Geraldine McCaughrean did an AMAZING job capturing the magic of Peter Pan. Honestly, it felt like J.M. Barrie penned this tale, it really did. It perfectly captured his style, humor, and wonder. And the characters were PERFECTION. Wendy especially was precisely the Wendy I know and love. It didn’t try to change anything, it kept true to the characters (most remakes or sequels of classics destroy the original characters, ugh), and felt respectful toward the original story (again, most remakes/sequels/what-have-you so disrespect the original authors). Honestly, I loved every little thing about it. It was a delight, and I happily accept it as canon to the original Peter Pan story.
So if you’re a rabid Peter Pan fan like me, YOU NEED THIS STORY.
By Jamie Foley
This series is a new obsession of mine because OOOOOH MY GOODNESS. IT’S SO GOOD.
Now, this isn’t exactly heavily fantasy in any way. It’s set in a different world where there are specific mental powers, but otherwise it very much feels like our world—cars, cell phones, and the like reign. BUT IT’S STILL SO GOOD.
How do I even describe this book? It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s like an apocalyptic setting with mind powers and government conspiracies and military intrigue and immense amounts of action and suspense and snarky characters for daaaaays. IT’S SO UNIQUE.
Not only is it packed full of action (seriously, get ready for nail-biting, heart-pounding scenes), it’s got humor as well and the CHARACTERS. The characters make the story. Namely our main character Darien, whose constant confusion on what was going on made me crack up. And JET. JETTTT. He’s officially now one of my top, TOP favorite characters in existence. Basically the opposite of Darien in that he’s always in control, deadly, and serious, but will certainly sass you to death if the need arises. HE WAS THE BEST. And then you team them up and SKDJLFSJLJDF. HILARIOUSNESS.
And did I mention there’s mind powers? BECAUSE MIND POWERS. Mind powers are amaziiiing! Some people could control your emotions, others could make invisible walls appear, others could hurl a striking force. Just…MIND POWERS.
Something about this book actually reminded me of the Final Fantasy video games. I have no idea if any of you play those games, but if you do, I think you’ll like these books! Just the setting and style reminded me of the unique setting those games have. (And I loooove the Final Fantasy games, so that was a huge plus for me!)
But anyway, if you like apocalyptic worlds with mind powers and action galore, GIVE THIS BOOK A TRY. And the sequel, Arbiter, is just as good (and has even more fantasy-type things in it)! Maybe even better. I don’t knoooow! THEY’RE BOTH AMAZING. And I’m desperate for the third book but it’s not out yet. *writhes on the floor moaning*
VALLEY OF THE DRAGONS TRILOGY
By Donita. K. Paul
(Yes, I’m cheating and putting a whole trilogy. Shhhh.)
Okay, so I’m pretty sure most of you have read or heard of The DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul (and if not, IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITE SERIES GO READ IT.) But I hardly see anyone talk about the spinoff trilogy, Valley of the Dragons. I’d actually highly recommend reading The DragonKeeper Chronicles first. This trilogy kind of felt like it was intended more for people who were already familiar with the complex world, even though this is actually a prequel to The DragonKeeper Chronicles. It just didn’t have quite as much in the way of details and explanations of how the world works (Mrs. Paul’s worldbuilding is #Goals). But anyways. THIS TRILOGY WAS STILL AMAZING. If I’m being honest, I almost enjoyed it just as much as The DragonKeeper Chronicles. Which is saying a LOT.
These books have the most lovable characters and hilarious mishaps and epic plots and the world is amazing. I LOVE THESE BOOKS. I honestly can’t even tell you much about them because the plots are all so crazy and unique and fantastic.
Also DRAGONS. Dragonssss. DRAGONS!!!!!!!! Big dragons and adorable kitten-sized dragons (I’m serious) and just DRAGONS. Mrs. Paul is not shy about dragon-usage with her stories. SO. MANY. DRAGONS.
If you like rollicking fun fantasy stories with hilarious and precious characters, GET THESE BOOKS. They’re clean reads and great for young and old readers alike.
. . .
THERE YA HAVE IT. Some fairytales, some steampunk, some mind powers, some dark fiction, juvenile fiction, DRAGONS. And all fantasy! I hope I’ve succeeded in connecting you to some books you may have not heard about (and made your TBR uncontrollable *cackles*).
And don’t forget we’re celebrating the Fellowship of the Ring’s anniversary today! So if you have something Tolkien and/or fantasy related you want to share via your blog or any other social media outlet, GO FOR IT. And you can use the hashtag #SilmAwards2017. Let’s show our dear fantasy some love!
TALK WITH ME. Have you heard of/read any of these books? (Because if so I want to flail with you!!!) Did I list any that piqued your interest? And, IMPORTANT HERE, what are some lesser known fantasy reads you love??? (Because I obviously need even more books out of my hundreds that I don’t have time to read. Eheheheheheh…heh heh…heh. *collapses*)