The best fantasy novels that sweep you into a very strange world

Why am I passionate about this?

As a fantasy author, I love stories set within complex and unusual worlds. I especially enjoy worlds where the rules of physics and metaphysics are re-imagined, adding an extra dimension to the story. Most fantasy worlds are much like our own – big, spherical, ordinary climactic zones, normal physics. Magic sort of exists around the edges. A handful of fantasy worlds are different: the world is flat, layered, hollow, has physical and metaphysical laws that change when you step across a political border – or is wholly contained within an infinite House with oceans pouring through the lower levels. Those are worlds I find especially delightful to visit – and to write about!


I wrote...

Book cover of Tuyo

What is my book about?

Ryo inGara has been left as a sacrifice, a tuyo, to die at the hands of enemies. All he hopes for now is that the sacrifice will be accepted – and that he will have the courage to face death without flinching.

Lord Aras Samaura may be Ryo’s enemy, but he is aware that the true enemy is a deadly sorcerer manipulating both their peoples for his own design. To defeat that enemy, Lord Aras will make pitiless use of any advantage that comes to hand … including a young inGara warrior who has fallen into his hands. Tuyo is a story about the uses and abuses of power; loyalty and the limits of loyalty; trust and friendship that spans deep cultural divisions.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Night Watch

Rachel Neumeier Why did I love this book?

There’s hardly any fantasy world stranger than Discworld – a flat, round world resting on the backs of four elephants, who are in turn standing on the back of the great World Turtle, A’Tuin, who is swimming through space. There are plenty of Discworld novels, but of the entire set, my favorite is definitely Night Watch, which also happens to be the first Discworld novel I read. Night Watch features Sam Vimes at his best: a guy who is smart, sneaky, competent, and exactly the cop you want to travel through time to take charge if your city happens to erupt into chaos. 

By Terry Pratchett,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Night Watch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A beautiful new hardback edition of the classic Discworld novel.

Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all.

But now he's back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck...

Living in the past is hard. Dying in the past is incredibly easy. But he must survive, because he has a job to do. He must track down a murderer, teach his younger self how to be a good copper and change the outcome of a bloody rebellion.

There's a problem:if he wins, he's got no…


Book cover of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Rachel Neumeier Why did I love this book?

Narnia is just as flat as Discworld – though the similarities pretty much end there! In fact, at one point, Prince Caspian is so annoyed with the Pevensies because they hadn’t mentioned they’re from a world that’s spherical. Those are so special and romantic! The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is actually aimed at reaching the edge of the world, and though they don’t quite make it all the way, the voyage is well worth following.

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A beautiful paperback edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, book five in the classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. This edition is complete with cover and interior art by the original illustrator of Narnia, Pauline Baynes.

A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world's end is only the beginning.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the fifth book in C. S. Lewis's classic…


Book cover of Chalice

Rachel Neumeier Why did I love this book?

The world in Chalice isn’t flat. Or spherical. Or any particular shape. This is a world of little bubble domains embedded in surrounding chaos and the story is all about protecting one of those domains. This book is like a dream. It’s slow and graceful and, well, dreamy. I like the bees. And the honey. I’m not especially fond of honey in the real world, but I love the honey in this story. Some stories are instant “comfort reads". Chalice is one of those. It’s like wrapping up in a fuzzy robe in front of a fire with a mug of hot chocolate. If you’re in the mood for a warm story, beautifully told, you could hardly do better.

By Robin McKinley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chalice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The earthlines speak to Mirasol, but her family has lived in the demesne for centuries, and many of the old families can hear the land. She knows that the violent deaths of the last Master and Chalice have thrown Willowlands into turmoil; but she is only a beekeeper, and the problems of the Circle that govern Willowlands have nothing to do with her—although she wonders what will become of her demesne, because the Master and Chalice left no heirs to carry on their crucial duties.

And then the Circle come to Mirasol, to tell her that she has been chosen…


Book cover of The Pyramids of London

Rachel Neumeier Why did I love this book?

The Pyramids of London has the most ornate, baroque alternative-history setting of any novel in the entire history of fantasy novels. Seriously. To start with, every kind of mythology is true in whatever region that mythology developed. Also, the pharaohs of Egypt have been vampires for thousands of years. Plus, when they die, vampires might become stars. Which are also gods. Plus France is ruled by the Fae. At night, when the Fae Court of the Moon arises in Paris, gravity suddenly drops dramatically.

Insert a murder mystery into this wildly ornate setting, plus fully realized characters you both believe in and root for, and off you go, on a fantastic journey through a world that is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

By Andrea K. Host,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt's vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia's fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air. But the peace of recent decades is under threat. Rome's automaton-driven wealth is waning along with the New Republic's supply of power crystals, while Sweden uses fear of Rome to add to her Protectorates. And Prytennia is under attack from the wind itself. Relentless daily blasts destroy crops, buildings, and lives, and neither the weather vampires nor Prytennia's Trifold Goddess have been…


Book cover of Piranesi

Rachel Neumeier Why did I love this book?

The House is the World, with infinite Halls filled with marble statues that whisper meaning to you, if you know how to listen. Birds swirl through the air, and the drowned lower levels contain a multitude of oceans, with tides that rush through halls and roar up stairways. Piranesi is built around the most remarkable world in all of fantasy. Also, a remarkable narrator, both naïve and innocent and yet fundamentally right about the nature of the House. Plus a puzzling mystery: who is the narrator and how did he come to this place? A lovely story.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction
A SUNDAY TIMES & NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
__________________________________
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…


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Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

Book cover of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

Rebecca Wellington Author Of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am adopted. For most of my life, I didn’t identify as adopted. I shoved that away because of the shame I felt about being adopted and not truly fitting into my family. But then two things happened: I had my own biological children, the only two people I know to date to whom I am biologically related, and then shortly after my second daughter was born, my older sister, also an adoptee, died of a drug overdose. These sequential births and death put my life on a new trajectory, and I started writing, out of grief, the history of adoption and motherhood in America. 

Rebecca's book list on straight up, real memoirs on motherhood and adoption

What is my book about?

I grew up thinking that being adopted didn’t matter. I was wrong. This book is my journey uncovering the significance and true history of adoption practices in America. Now, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women’s reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, I am uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption.

The history of adoption, reframed through the voices of adoptees like me, and mothers who have been forced to relinquish their babies, blows apart old narratives about adoption, exposing the fallacy that adoption is always good.

In this story, I reckon with the pain and unanswered questions of my own experience and explore broader issues surrounding adoption in the United States, including changing legal policies, sterilization, and compulsory relinquishment programs, forced assimilation of babies of color and Indigenous babies adopted into white families, and other liabilities affecting women, mothers, and children. Now is the moment we must all hear these stories.

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

What is this book about?

Nearly every person in the United States is affected by adoption. Adoption practices are woven into the fabric of American society and reflect how our nation values human beings, particularly mothers. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women's reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, Rebecca C. Wellington is uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption. Wellington's timely-and deeply researched-account amplifies previously marginalized voices and exposes the social and racial biases embedded in the United States' adoption industry.…


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