The best fantasy novels about forests

Thoraiya Dyer Author Of Crossroads of Canopy
By Thoraiya Dyer

Who am I?

I’m a fantasy addict, I work with wild animals for return to native ecosystems, and my favourite place to be is in a forest! People mock all the hiking in Lord of the Rings. But how better to tune into an unfamiliar landscape than to turn over that mossy stone, to uncover that buried gem, to find mushrooms? I enjoy fairy rings on three levels. First, by knowing they’re a food source for malleefowl and bush turkeys. Second, by understanding that their structure stems from the radius travelled by the hyphae underground. Third, by imagining where I might be whisked off to if I only dared set foot inside.


I wrote...

Crossroads of Canopy

By Thoraiya Dyer,

Book cover of Crossroads of Canopy

What is my book about?

Enter a green world of reincarnated gods and living magic. Follow Unar, a young woman, through a labyrinthine forest city where a misstep can send the unwary, the unworthy, or the unfortunate plunging to an unremarked doom. At times self-serving, at times compassionate, Unar’s ferocious attempts to both rescue fallen children and seize personal power see her snared in a wider plot to turn society upside down.

The books I picked & why

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Daughter of the Forest

By Juliet Marillier,

Book cover of Daughter of the Forest

Why this book?

This is a hauntingly gorgeous, heartening and yet cruel retelling of the brothers-transformed-into-swans fairy tale. In third grade, I gasped aloud in my school library at the imagined feel of nettles burning my hands, and wondered if I loved my own bratty brothers enough to make Sorcha’s sacrifice. This book reminded me of that. It punctured my chest and made me fall even deeper in love with Marillier’s work.


Moonheart

By Charles de Lint,

Book cover of Moonheart

Why this book?

I can’t resist the combination of magic, music, and forests. Plus my mother grew up in Canada, and I’ve meandered along those berry- and bear-rich pebbly beaches. In this book, magic, fey-inhabited Wales crashes into modern Ottawa. De Lint’s setting and style seized my soul as a young adult reader. That yearning youngster is not only still part of me, but part of everyone, I hope.


Magician

By Raymond E. Feist,

Book cover of Magician

Why this book?

Look. It’s not derivative if you read it *first*. And I read Magician almost a full decade before I read The Lord of the Rings! Two awesome forests to be found in Midkemia are Elvandar, ruled by the elf queen, and the Green Heart, hideout of the moredhel. Some of Tolkien’s bias carries over, here, since the bloodthirsty Brotherhood of the Dark Path has dark hair and eyes, while the eledhel are “fair”. Still, Feist’s worldbuilding allowed enough room at the margins for my brunette self to imagine being one of the Returned – a dark brother who turns good and is magically embraced by Elvandar. Or like Martin Longbow, elf-like enough – we first see him sparing the life of a deer – to be allowed into the forest’s embrace.


Walking the Tree

By Kaaron Warren, Greg Bridges (illustrator),

Book cover of Walking the Tree

Why this book?

Warren’s work is darker, more complex, and more compelling than most, and I loved this book to pieces. It’s a coming-of-age quest to circumnavigate a giant island which is also a monstrous tree, each tribe a segment of the orange, or an hour on the clock, to be discovered, savoured, and potentially escaped from, with the tree itself a constant, anchoring presence in the world. Get it! Read it!


Uprooted

By Naomi Novik,

Book cover of Uprooted

Why this book?

Speaking of dark. Normally I like it better when the forest is an ally. Or at least neutral. Menacing forests, to me, are a hangover of colonisation, of unfamiliarity with stolen lands. But this forest has a secret. And these characters are just wonderful, they dragged me into the story without a care for my reservations, and the writing is lush and the pacing is brilliant. Seriously, Naomi Novik is a master. Holds up amazingly well after several re-reads.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in forests, Celtic mythology, and Canada?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about forests, Celtic mythology, and Canada.

Forests Explore 25 books about forests
Celtic Mythology Explore 13 books about Celtic mythology
Canada Explore 216 books about Canada

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Lord of the Rings, The Last Wish, and Magic Bites if you like this list.