The best fantasy novels to achieve dazzling feats of storytelling

Why am I passionate about this?

When you grow up believing in magic, you inevitably face a moment when the world invites you to stop. Books are the reason to keep believing. Fantasy novels specifically give their readers magic to dive into and savor. What makes these fantasy novels so important to me is that they don’t just tell stories about magic, they tell their stories with such verve, such daring, such commitment to achieving the impossible, that they make magic. Reading these books, you will hold your breath, unable to believe that what feels like it’s about to happen could possibly happen when you turn the page... but don’t worry.  It will.


I wrote...

Book cover of Silenced

What is my book about?

Four women. Four enchantments. One man. But he is no handsome prince, and this is no sugar-sweet fairy tale. Jo, Abony, Ranjani, and Maia all have something in common: they have each been cursed by the CEO of their workplace after he assaulted them. He wants them silent and uses his sinister dark magic to keep them quiet. But Jo, Abony, Ranjani, and Maia are not fairy-tale princesses waiting to be rescued. They are fierce, angry women with a bond forged in pain, and they’re about to discover that they have power of their own. This is a #metoo fairy tale about seeking justice, not revenge, and a story that celebrates survivors’ strength.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Summer Tree

Ann Claycomb Why did I love this book?

Guy Gavriel Kay is widely known and admired for his sweeping, epic fantasy novels, all set in fantastical version of real historical countries—but before he turned to that genre, he wrote the Fionavar Trilogy. 

Think Lord of the Rings with critical differences: the characters all have a wry sense of humor and an appreciation of irony and many of those characters are women, strong, intelligent, fierce, complex women. Kay also goes for broke as a storyteller here; you can almost hear him wondering, “Can I pull this off?” And he does it every single time.

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first volume in Guy Gavriel Kay's stunning fantasy masterwork, now reissued with the beautiful original cover art by Martin Springett.

Five men and women find themselves flung into the magical land of Fionavar, First of all Worlds. They have been called there by the mage Loren Silvercloak, and quickly find themselves drawn into the complex tapestry of events. For Kim, Paul, Kevin, Jennifer and Dave all have their own part to play in the coming battle against the forces of evil led by the fallen god Rakoth Maugrim and his dark hordes.

Guy Gavriel Kay's classic epic fantasy plays…


Book cover of Jack the Bodiless

Ann Claycomb Why did I love this book?

Is this a nine-book series? Well, yes. Sort of. It’s also a four-book series, then a duology, then a trilogy.  And the first four are set in the Pleistocene. Stay with me. 

May commits to world-building that encompasses ESP—but taken to 11; time-travel; international, intergenerational, and intergalactic political intrigue; powerful familial and romantic relationships; gut-wrenching tragedy, and the transcendence that compassion can make possible. 

To say there is a large cast of characters doesn’t begin to convey how many richly imagined, memorable creatures (not all human) populate these books; the main characters, in particular, are absolutely indelible, by turns terrifying, seductive, tortured, and quietly extraordinary. 

By Julian May,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jack the Bodiless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Earth stands on the brink of acceptance into the Galactic Milieu, a benevolent political and telepathic alliance of alien races. But some are wary, as their new supervisors have introduced stringent new laws. Leading humanity is the powerful Remillard family, but a ruthless entity known only as the Fury has its own agenda for the Galactic Milieu. It starts to murder those with metapsychic talents, triggering a chaos that could delay Earth's inclusion.

At this delicate juncture, Teresa, wife of clan leader Paul Remillard, conceives a child who could represent humanity's future. But Jack's birth is illegal under Milieu law…


Book cover of Paladin of Souls

Ann Claycomb Why did I love this book?

Bujold is rightly known as a master of Sci-fi thanks to her Vorkosigan saga, but this novel, the second in her World of the Five Gods series, won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and rightly so. 

It tells the story of Ista, a middle-aged (yes, you read that right) woman recovering from unimaginable tragedy, betrayal, and what felt like madness (all explored in the previous book, The Curse of Chalion). Ista is certain that she’s been released from her past too late for her life to have meaning or joy, but a certain trickster god and two gallant, handsome brothers will prove her spectacularly wrong. Turning every page is a joy.

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Paladin of Souls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lois McMaster Bujold has won the Hugo award four times, and the Nebula award twice. This is her second epic fantasy and the sequel to Curse of Chalion.

The Golden General's curse has been lifted from the royal family and Cazaril can now rest easy and enjoy his new life with his bride Betriz.

However, life for Ista, the Dowager Royina has not improved. With the death of her mother, the Provincara, and with her surviving child Iselle now ruling Chalion from the Capital Cardegross, she is left without purpose. Her brother's family still think she's mad and aim to…


Book cover of American Gods

Ann Claycomb Why did I love this book?

Imagine Gaiman’s pitch for American Gods: I’m going to write a book about what happened to the gods that immigrants to this country brought with them then abandoned, the gods we’ve since created and begun to worship, and the gods who have been here all along. 

There are 100—1000—ways that this unbelievably ambitious, complex, layered, and resonant story could have gone wrong, and it would be enough that it doesn’t.  But Gaiman isn’t content just to successfully tell a huge story. He also nestles an intimate, deeply personal story of one man’s self-discovery at the heart of American Gods, and never lets his hero—Shadow—get lost in the cavernous spaces of history, belief, and power that he traverses.

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked American Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a STARZ® Original Series – Season 3 premiere in January 2021

“Pointed, occasionally comic, often scary, consistently moving and provocative….American Gods is strewn with secrets and magical visions.”—USA Today

Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text. A modern masterpiece from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman.

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after…


Book cover of Rivers of London

Ann Claycomb Why did I love this book?

When I recommend this series (as I do regularly), I don’t go with the obvious description: “imagine Harry Potter meets Sherlock Holmes.”  

I mean, sure, these books follow British police detective Peter Grant as he learns magic and pursues criminals both human and not.  But they also throw our hero up against an insidiousand uniquely British—master villain and bring the landscape of London itself to life—literally. 

And the real wonder is that Aaronovitch’s brilliant world-building would be nothing without the real magic that is Peter’s voice: smart, perceptive, observant, and often infused with wonder that he invites the reader to share.

By Ben Aaronovitch,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Rivers of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1 in the Rivers of London series, from Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch.

My name is Peter Grant, and I used to be a probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth.

My story really begins when I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead...

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. After taking a statement from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost, Peter comes…


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Subjugation: Zanchier

By SG Boudreaux,

Book cover of Subjugation: Zanchier

SG Boudreaux

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life.

After escaping from a government holding facility where she, along with other scientists, was being forced to build a deadly weapon. She headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains.

The one place where no one would think to search for her. There, she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…

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What is this book about?

Harper Brinley is running for her life. After escaping from a government holding facility, where she along with other scientists were being forced to build a deadly weapon, she headed for the most remote place she could think of, the wild Xantifal Mountains. The one place where no one would think to search for her. There she found a massive hollowed tree in which to survive the harsh mountain winter. If she can survive the four-legged, fire-breathing firebirds, and the equally large wildcats of the mountain ridge, then maybe she can find her way back to her children. She was…


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