The best adult fantasy that won’t make you grow up too much

Why am I passionate about this?

My favorite fantasy novels tend to be rather complex. Winding plotlines, mysteriously interconnected characters, whimsical settings, and intricate, thoughtful worldbuilding combine to create immersive stories that stick in the mind like overworn folklore. Time travel or interworld travel lend additional layers of intrigue and mystery, forcing the inescapable contemplation of a more thrilling, alternate reality. And if it’s all packaged in artful, breathtaking prose that breeds full-color images, audible noises, indelible flavors, nose-crumpling odors, and tangible textures, I will happily lose myself in the pages, truly forgetting about the strictures of everyday life… at least until I get hungry and remember I need to consume more than books to survive.


I wrote...

An Heir of Realms

By Heather Ashle,

Book cover of An Heir of Realms

What is my book about?

Rhoswen is following her dream of becoming a Realm Rider to help defend her realm against soul-sucking parasites. Riders and dragons work together to burn away Narxon swarming in through tears in a realm’s fabric. But the mere touch of the smoky parasites can reduce the dragons—and Riders—to ash.

Misconceptions about Narxon are as destructive as the parasites themselves, and in the Exchange—the organization tasked with protecting the realms—Emmelyn fights a similar battle. The Exchange’s desperation to thwart Narxon has incited a theory that the parasites’ extinction hinges upon exterminating their food source: the realms—including all inhabitants. Emmelyn must convince the higher-ups that the theory is outrageous, or citizens like Rhoswen will be extinguished with the realms, rather than protected.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Discovery of Witches

Heather Ashle Why did I love this book?

I’ve repeatedly consumed the entire All Souls Trilogy in its various formats. This is because A Discovery of Witches is not your typical twinkle-skinned romance of a vampire story. Harkness intellectually substantiates vampire, witch, and demon lore with biological references, realistically grounding old wives’ tales in temptingly believable “research” without making it read like a textbook. Although the creatures find themselves embroiled in an existential battle against pureblood obsessives and a star-crossed love story, they are richer for the interplay between their cultures, family dynamics, and the secrets they must and choose to keep. This renders them relatable on a deeply human level as we learn that they’re subject to the same faults of DNA and upbringing that we are, even amidst a fascinating and well-obscured world of magic.

By Deborah Harkness,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked A Discovery of Witches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.


Book cover of Wraeththu: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire

Heather Ashle Why did I love this book?

As the kid who roamed the halls between classes with a book in my hand, I suspect Wraeththu gave my nerd façade an impressive boost: technically an omnibus of three stories, Wraeththu is very thick—in both binding and plot. It follows the emotionally charged and mesmeric tales of a hermaphroditic race that is steadily subsuming the human one in a Darwinian battle for biological perfection. We follow the journeys of a few characters as they navigate the mental and physical growing pains inherent in joining a new race and the wild tribes and communities that have emerged in the wake of their hermaphroditic transformations. Dark, fascinating characters and cultures drive this story to its unusual climax when their true purposes are stunningly revealed.

By Storm Constantine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wraeththu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here at last in a single volume are all three of Constantine's Wraeththu trilogy: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, and The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire.

In this powerful and elegant story set in a future Earth very different from our own, a new kind of human has evolved to challenge the dominion of Homo sapiens. This new breed is stronger, smarter, and far more beautiful than their parent race, and are endowed with psychic as well as physical gifts. They are destined to supplant humanity as we know it, but humanity won't…


Book cover of The Dragonriders of Pern

Heather Ashle Why did I love this book?

I cut my young-adult teeth on the Dragonriders of Pern, and it contributed in large part to my fascination with dragons and subsequent dream of writing about them. McCaffrey’s dragonriders enjoyed such a long-enduring culture that many ancient, efficient ways of surviving were long forgotten to them. But now, while engaged in an unending battle against the thread—small, worm-like creatures invading their planet to prey on its biological matter—the dragonriders learn how severely they have been disadvantaged by the careless lapses in their cultural recordkeeping. This complexly interwoven and expansive cast of characters (which necessitates a glossary) unfolds the mysteries of dragons, dragonriders, and thread in surprising and creatively tangled ways.

By Anne McCaffrey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dragonriders of Pern as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Together in one volume—the first three books in the world’s most beloved science-fiction series!

DRAGONFLIGHT

On a beautiful world called Pern, an ancient way of life is about to come under attack. Lessa is an outcast survivor—her parents murdered, her birthright stolen—a strong young woman who has never stopped dreaming of revenge. But when an ancient threat reemerges, Lessa will rise—upon the back of a great dragon with whom she shares a telepathic bond more intimate than any human connection. Together, dragon and rider will fly, and Pern will be changed forever.

DRAGONQUEST

Since Lessa…


Book cover of Good Omens

Heather Ashle Why did I love this book?

Comedy is an infrequent mainstay of fantasy, but this story wouldn’t be the same without it. Good Omens displays genius in the pairing of these two prolific authors whether you’re reading it, listening to it, or watching the utterly delightful series adaptation. An apocalyptic battle between heaven and hell is complicated by a rather problematic friendship between the Earth-bound angel and demon orchestrating each side of the war. Along with a blundering cast of characters whose lack of understanding of the human condition and repeated miscommunications only breed further disaster, the opposing elements put into place to end—or save—the world are left to their own devices… and their British upbringing. This book will make you laugh out loud, heedless of onlookers’ stares.

By Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Good Omens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BOOK BEHIND THE AMAZON PRIME/BBC SERIES STARRING DAVID TENNANT, MICHAEL SHEEN, JON HAMM AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

'Ridiculously inventive and gloriously funny' Guardian

What if, for once, the predictions are right, and the Apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

It's a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon, now find themselves in. They've been living amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there's the small…


Book cover of Fool

Heather Ashle Why did I love this book?

Nearly any of Christopher Moore’s other books would have better fit this list generically, but I am relying (heavily) on the presence of fantastical creatures and magic spells to maintain the necessary toe in the fantasy pool for my non-sequitur selection of Fool. Based skeletally on Shakespeare’s King Lear, Fool credits Lear’s court jester, Pocket—along with MacBeth’s trio of witches, a “bloody ghost,” and other foils—for engendering the war that followed the king’s tragic decision to disinherit his kindest daughter in favor of his other conniving offspring. Linguistic and bawdy humor are packaged in Moore’s cockeyed and delightfully Will-esque prose, rendering half the fun—at least for readers fond of the Bard—the detection of Shakespearean elements amidst olde-timey twists on today’s ruder colloquialisms.

By Christopher Moore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fool as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity,. . . If that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!'

So speaks Christopher Moore, one of America's funniest and bestselling authors, regarded as highly as classic satirists such as Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Read Fool and discover for yourself why this book has dominated bestseller lists across the world, and why it has reduced millions of grown men and women to tears of helpless laughter...


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The Last Bird of Paradise

By Clifford Garstang,

Book cover of The Last Bird of Paradise

Clifford Garstang Author Of Oliver's Travels

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Fiction writer Globalist Lawyer Philosopher Seeker

Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Two women, a century apart, seek to rebuild their lives after leaving their homelands. Arriving in tropical Singapore, they find romance, but also find they haven’t left behind the dangers that caused them to flee.

Haunted by the specter of terrorism after 9/11, Aislinn Givens leaves her New York career and joins her husband in Southeast Asia when he takes a job there. She acquires several paintings by a colonial-era British artist that she believes are a warning.

The artist, Elizabeth Pennington, tells her own tumultuous story through diary entries that end when World War I reaches the colony with catastrophic results. In the present, Aislinn and her husband learn that terrorism takes many shapes when they are ensnared by local political upheaval and corruption.

The Last Bird of Paradise

By Clifford Garstang,

What is this book about?

"Aislinn Givens leaves a settled life in Manhattan for an unsettled life in Singapore. That painting radiates mystery and longing. So does Clifford Garstang's vivid and simmering novel, The Last Bird of Paradise." –John Dalton, author of Heaven Lake and The Inverted Forest

Two women, nearly a century apart, seek to rebuild their lives when they reluctantly leave their homelands. Arriving in Singapore, they find romance in a tropical paradise, but also find they haven't left behind the dangers that caused them to flee.

In the aftermath of 9/11 and haunted by the specter of terrorism, Aislinn Givens leaves her…


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