FEBRUARY IS FANTASY MONTH! So proclaimed the lovely and brilliant fantasy expert herself, Jenelle Schmidt.
This is the 3rd year she has hosted this month-long celebration of all things fantasy and I couldn’t be more thrilled! (Because, hello??? FANTASY. It’s my life’s blood!) If you want to learn more and join in yourself, check out Jenelle’s post. She has all sorts of fun planned for this month!
Oooobviously I had to immerse in all the fantasy fun. BECAUSE FANTASY.
There is so much to love about this genre. It’s truly infinite. Full of mythical creatures or new creatures altogether, strung up from a single person’s mind. Swordfights and magic battles. Elves and dwarves and all manner of fascinating races. People with extraordinary abilities. Trees that walk and talk or items imbued with unknown enchantments. When you crack open a fantasy novel, the wonders you may find inside are endless.
One of the greatest things of fantasy is the other worlds; that feeling of being transported to somewhere completely new and different where perhaps the laws of our own universe may not even apply.
There are so many brilliant and amazing worlds found in fiction that have captured our imaginations for years. Some we even may call home. Because I believe “home” is often a feeling. I’m sure you know it, that sensation of returning to a favorite book and sighing with contentment as you step through the portal of words into that mystical land that feels so familiar, so right. Home doesn’t have to be one place or even a physical building. It’s that warm feeling in our hearts where we feel comfortable and content. And, for so many of us, there are some places like that nestled within the pages of books.
So, in honor of February is Fantasy Month, I wanted to list 7 fantasy worlds I call home. (Though I suspect none of these will be a surprise to anyone who knows me. *cough*)
. . . THE WORLDS . . .
The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings + other Tolkien works
AREN’T YOU IN SHOCK??? I mean, obviously this one goes first. Did you seriously think I’d have a list of fantasy worlds and not include it? Let’s be real.
But GUYS. Middle-earth! Where do I even begin? I was first introduce to the world of Middle-earth when I was 10. I had started writing just a year prior, but this, this, is when I realized the power of imagination and words. It opened up a whole new world for me, literally and figuratively! I’msofunny.
My imagination soared with this world of majestic elves and hearty dwarves and hobbits who, though common folk and small, were brave enough to save the world. Of talking tree-like people and great eagles and dark places and shining places and wonders abound. I couldn’t get enough of it. This was what storymaking was about. It snatched up my heart and never let it go.
Who wouldn’t want to go have afternoon tea in a cozy hobbit hole or gallop on horseback with the Riders of Rohan? To sing with the elves under the trees of Mirkwood or Lothlorien? Or rest in the peace and beauty of The Last Homely House, Rivendell?
Tolkien’s brilliance and dedication to his world blows my mind. The history and complexity of Middle-earth tricks me into thinking it is real. It’s so broad and rich with life, sometimes it’s hard to remember it’s a fictional place.
As a writer and fantasy lover, Middle-earth will forever put me in awe.
Though Middle-earth pulled out the desire to create my own worlds and showed me how grand fantasy could be, I’d say Neverland was my first fantasy home.
I’m not sure I can even describe what Neverland is to me. It holds an extra special place in my heart, possibly more so than any other fantasy world out there. Whenever I think of Neverland, a single word comes to mind: Wonder.
I can’t think of any other fantasy world that fills one with wonder as much as Neverland. Because isn’t that the point? Neverland isn’t one specific place, it’s the center of all children’s imaginations. It’s an island where imagination runs wild, where imagination creates it. To each child, Neverland is a little different. But what child wouldn’t want a place where they never grow up? Where they can play with fairies and fight pirates and swim with mermaids, all led by a boy who knows nothing else but how to have fun?
I’m about to go off into Crazy Christine Land, but the truth is, I long for Neverland. Yes, I long for all these wonderful worlds, but Neverland is different. My heart swells whenever I think of it. I’m ecstatic whenever I hear there’s a new Peter Pan adaption coming out and I always so hope it’ll be good, because I need another taste of Neverland on a constant basis. I need to be there and experience it. I need that sense of wonder it always leaves me with.
I believe whenever one “visits” Neverland, hints of fairy dust clings to them and reminds them there is wonder and magic out there.
The DragonKeeper Chronicles
(Donita K. Paul)
I was probably in my mid-teens when my bestie recommended these books to me. The second I read the first few pages, I was hooked. I’ve since read the whole series 3 or 4 times.
Donita K. Paul is another one of those brilliant worldbuilders who puts so much thought and effort into every detail of their world. How do I even begin to describe her world?
Well, firstly, THERE ARE DRAGONS. So…yeah. Obviously that’s important. But not only that, there are TINY dragons. Of course you still have the large, epic dragons who can totally eat people…and you can ride. #Important. But there are also minor dragons which are basically kitten-sized ones and EXCUSE ME BUT I WANT A KITTEN-SIZED DRAGON STAT.
And the dragons are just the beginning. There are countless races, all utterly made-up by Mrs. Paul. Such as the doneel—small, furry little people who have a penchant for flamboyant clothing—or the emerlindian who are born pale and grow darker as they age, or kimen, 2-foot people who run so fast and are so light it looks like they’re floating on air. It just goes on and on and on.
This world is full of so many different regions and species and races. The magic system is utterly fascinating—each wizard having a specialty. Even the minor dragons have their own special gifts depending on what color they are. There’s intriguing food and fauna and culture galore. Literally every single corner of this world is something new and interesting to explore. I’ve only scratched the surface.
It’s so full of color and joy and fascinating things to see. I feel like a little kid being taken to an aquarium when I read these books—entranced by all the strange and interesting things found around each corner. But, at the same time, there’s something cozy about Amara. I always feel comfortable and content when I read or even think about these stories.
Amara is definitely a place I call home.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
You knew we were coming to this, didn’t you?
Ah, Wonderland, that utterly bizarre world Alice falls straight into from a rabbit hole. A lot of people don’t really understand my (unhealthy) love for Wonderland. It’s such a weird and random place after all. But Wonderland and I click because, well, my brain is a weird and random place.
Mom has joked before that she expects the inside of my mind looks a lot like Wonderland. She is right on the mark. Whenever I read the story or watch adaptions from it, I feel right at home. A mischievous talking cat, rocking horse flies, live flowers—those are all things I could have absolutely seen my childhood imagination coming up with. I’ve always had a strange fascination with characters who are a bit mad, so of course the Mad Hatter captured me from the get-go. Then again, they’re all mad in Wonderland. “We’re all mad here.” They’re silly and bizarre and speak in riddles or take things too literally. There are talking animals galore, an army made out of decks of cards, a time-conscious rabbit, an endless tea party—really, I don’t see what’s not to love.
To me, this world, the real world, is weird and random. You guys are on the internet, you know the nonsense this world produces! (I mean, seriously.) But Wonderland embraces it fully and accepts nonsense as a way of life. I love that. I love how you literally never know what you’re going to find there, what sort of characters you’re going to come across. And Wonderland is different to each person; it’s what you make of it. Is it wondrous? Is it silly? Is it creepy? It’s all a manner of how you look at it! And I love how it can be perceived in so many ways.
It’s called Wonderland for a reason. It feed a child’s curiosity with wonderment.
“Curiouser and curiouser.”
Tales of Goldstone Wood
(Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
It was around 2010 I believe when I first entered Goldstone Wood, and I have been entranced by it ever since. This world of magic and faerie instantly snagged my fairytale-loving heart.
Goldstone Wood is a place in between, a bridge between the mortal world and world of Faeries. It is not a safe place, but it is beautiful and full of curious and magical things and beings.
I think what really draws intrigue about the Goldstone Wood is the sense of mystery. Because do we ever really know what all it contains? In the first few books especially, we only get small glimpses of the Wood, little tastes of a much grander thing beyond. It’s the kind of place you both long to enter and fear to. Because underneath those trees may be dark, twisted things or wondrous, beautiful ones. Or perhaps beings that are both.
It is a world to fear and love all at the same time. And though I’d prooobably get lost and/or die the second I stepped foot inside it, I can’t help but desire to visit that enchanting Wood anyway.
HUNDRED ACRE WOOD
(A. A. Milne)
My childhood consisted of two main things: Playing in the woods and stuffed animals. I didn’t play with dolls much. Give me a stuffed animal any day! So a story set in a wood where a child’s stuffed animals are basically alive? MY CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE.
Sadly, I didn’t actually read the official Winnie-the-Pooh books until just a few years ago (I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT! *SOBS*), but I watched the Disney animated movie possibly more than any movie in existence, and I soaked up ALL things Winnie-the-Pooh. To this day the Winnie-the-Pooh theme song sends a thrill down to my heart. The movie, the books, everything about this adorable story makes me indescribably joyful. I could happily spend hours in the Hundred Acre Wood.
This is a world built by a child, and there’s something so charming and pleasant about the simplicity of it. The little houses of all the different animals. Pooh’s thinking spot, the bee tree, the sandpit where Roo plays. These are places of Childhood. The cozy little haunts to play and have pretend adventures in.
Whenever I’m feeling down, I know I can visit the Hundred Acre Wood and instantly be cheered again. These stories take me back to the simple, happy days of childhood unlike any other.
The Chronicles of Narnia
Naturally no list of fantasy worlds is complete without Narnia.
I think the most captivating thing about Narnia is that we get to see it from its creation to the very end (well, not the end exactly. The new beginning perhaps is more accurate). I’ve never read any other story that allowed me to experience the entire history of the world. What a grand and magical feeling it is. And what a world we get to experience!
Is there anything more alluring than a great, fantasy world with a lamppost curiously planted right in the middle of the woods? Or the fact that its first rulers were a humble couple from our own world?
What I particularly love is, though it definitely had dark days and hard times, Narnia also was utterly full of golden days as well. It gives you a sense of hope and happiness. A reminder that war and hardships do not last forever.
Narnia is such a charming place, with its talking animals and mythical creatures and beautiful, hilly countryside. And then there is Aslan himself, his very presence filling one with amazement and fear and awe and hope all at once.
Wouldn’t you love to go dancing with the fauns or try to cheer up poor Puddleglum or visit the Beavers’ comfortable little house or dine with the Pevensies in the grandness of Cair Paravel?
There’s something cozy about Narnia that makes me yearn for its comfort and beauty. If that’s not a feeling of home, I don’t know what is.
And there we have it! There are so many more fantasy worlds I wish to visit and explore, but these are the ones that carried me through childhood and my teen years. The ones I’ve visited again and again and again for years and years. The ones that forever give me that comfort of familiarity when I go back to them.
That feeling of home.
TALK WITH ME
Tell me, O’ World Questers, what are your favorite fantasy worlds? Do we share any? And pleeeease tell me I’m not the only one who yearns for these places and calls them home! (Because sometimes I feel like a mad person. Then again, maybe I’m actually from Wonderland. *wriggles eyebrows* Thatwouldactuallyexplainsomuch.) And don’t forget to check out all the fantasy fun over on Jenelle's blog!