The best fantasy novels with storyteller voices that reach out and grab you

Who am I?

Like most authors, my love for writing grew from a love for reading. In particular, I’ve always loved stories with captivating storyteller voices. There’s a huge variety of subgenres in fantasy—with endless combinations of imaginative worlds, magic, heroes, monsters, and villains—but at the end of the day, what draws me in are fantasy novels with bold voices that are clearly in control of the story and immediately take you to another place. Those are the types of novels I like to read, and always aim to write.


I wrote...

Dreamwielder

By Garrett Calcaterra,

Book cover of Dreamwielder

What is my book about?

In a world shrouded by soot and smoke, young Makarria has literally been forbidden to dream…

Legend has foretold that a young sorcerer will bring about Emperor Guderian’s demise. When Guderian’s minions discover the presence of a dreamwielder—Makarria—on a seaside farmstead, Makarria is forced to flee and embark on an epic journey. Dogging her every step is the part-wolf, part-raven sorcerer, Wulfram, but Makarria soon discovers she is not alone. With the help of her new friends—a dishonored prince, an underground sorcerer, and a nightflying airship captain—Makarria discovers the power growing within her and their only hope to defeat Guderian.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Wizard of Earthsea

Garrett Calcaterra Why did I love this book?

This fantasy adventure is a classic for good reason. From page one, Le Guin whisks you away to a faraway island in a storm-racked northern sea where we meet Ged, a soon-to-be wizard bound for greatness. Le Guin’s storyteller voice makes you feel like a kid again, hearing the first fairy tale that truly captured your imagination. Add to that the non-stop adventure and subtle philosophical undertones that set this novel apart from male-written fantasy classics, and A Wizard of Earthsea is a timeless story.

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked A Wizard of Earthsea 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 first book of Earthsea in a beautiful hardback edition. Complete the collection with The Tombs of Atuan, The Furthest Shore and Tehanu

With illustrations from Charles Vess

'[This] trilogy made me look at the world in a new way, imbued everything with a magic that was so much deeper than the magic I'd encountered before then. This was a magic of words, a magic of true speaking' Neil Gaiman

'Drink this magic up. Drown in it. Dream it' David Mitchell

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge,…


Book cover of Stardust

Garrett Calcaterra Why did I love this book?

Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced Neil Gaiman read in person, but every time I read the opening pages of Stardust, I hear it in Gaiman’s rich voice. You don’t even have to wait for the first line. That quintessential British storyteller voice comes out in the title of the first chapter itself: “In Which We Learn of the Village Wall, and of the Curious Thing That Occurs There Every Nine Years.” While the other fantasy novels in this list all take place in secondary fantasy worlds, Stardust is set on Earth and has all the charm and wonder that perennially draws readers to fantasy lore set in the British Isles.

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture—this charming fairy tale by the #1 New York Times bestselling author, weaves a magical story set long ago in the tiny English village of Wall, a place where things are not quite what they seem.

Go and catch a falling star . . .

Tristran Thorn promises to bring back a fallen star for his beloved, the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester—and crosses the wall that divides his English country town from another, more dangerous world of lords and witches, all of them in search of the star. Rich with adventure and magic, Stardust is one…


Book cover of The Fifth Season

Garrett Calcaterra Why did I love this book?

I have to be honest, I was a little off-put when I first read the opening lines of The Fifth Season, which are written in second-person: “You are she. She is you. You are Essun.” One of the first things I learned in Creative Writing 101 was to avoid writing in second person, and I had to push past that bias. I’m so glad I did. Jemisin is a masterful storyteller, and the way she intertwines the primary storyline with the backstory by alternating between a present-tense second-person viewpoint and a more traditional past-tense third-person viewpoint is remarkable—giving life to a breathtaking adventure set in a wholly unique fantasy world.

By N. K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked The Fifth Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this "intricate and extraordinary" Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land…


Book cover of The Hobbit

Garrett Calcaterra Why did I love this book?

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but where the writing in those latter books is often dense and slow, the voice in The Hobbit is light and bristling with energy. Tolkien brings the full power of an omniscient narrative to play here, unflinchingly jumping from one character’s inner thoughts to another’s, from one far-off place to another, often within the same chapter, giving The Hobbit an epic scope that’s truly remarkable seeing as how it’s only a couple hundred pages long.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

40 authors picked The Hobbit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Special collector's film tie-in hardback of the best-selling classic, featuring the complete story with a sumptuous cover design inspired by THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and brand new reproductions of all the drawings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End.

But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey 'there and back again'. They have a plot to raid…


Book cover of The Elfin Ship

Garrett Calcaterra Why did I love this book?

Blaylock may be an unknown name to many traditional fantasy readers, and if that’s the case for you, consider The Elfin Ship as your gateway drug to his work. This fantasy novel is very much in the vein of The Hobbit in that it has dwarves, elves, and a good bit of pipe smoking, but it does so with Blaylock’s one-of-a-kind voice that shines with understated American wit and humor. It also has airships! (Which crossover into Blaylock’s more well-known steampunk works.) The adventure is both action-filled and hilarious, never taking itself too seriously but at the same time embracing the traditional tropes that make fantasy so fun to read.

By James P. Blaylock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A trilogy sets sail with a novel that’s “charming, light-hearted and funny . . . Feels a little like The Hobbit or The Wind in the Willows” (Fantasy Literature).
 
James P. Blaylock’s debut novel The Elfin Ship has become a classic of whimsical fantasy. With echoes of Kenneth Graham and Mark Twain, it’s a gentle, eccentric, and hilarious novel that will delight readers of all ages.
 
Trading with the elves used to be so simple. Every year Master Cheeser Jonathan Bing would send his very best cheeses downriver to traders who would eventually return with Elfin wonders for the people…


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The Constant Tower

By Carole McDonnell,

Book cover of The Constant Tower

Carole McDonnell Author Of Wind Follower

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Armchair anthropologist Asian drama addict Christian Perseverer

Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Carole's 10, and 12-year-old's favorite books.

What is my book about?

This is a multicultural epic fantasy with a diverse cast of characters. Sickly fifteen-year-old Prince Psal, the son of warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. But his clan disdains the disabled.

When the mysterious self-moving towers that keep humans safe from the Creator's ancient curse rebel, Psal attempts to find the Constant Tower and break the power of the third moon. Psal must risk losing the little respect his father has for him and face the dangers of the unmaking night to find the Constant Tower and save all of humanity.

The Constant Tower

By Carole McDonnell,

What is this book about?

Sickly fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. A priest-physician like his friend Ephan, Psal lacks a warrior's heart, yet he desires to earn Nahas's respect and become a clan chief. If he cannot do this, he must escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father's enemy, and his own weaknesses work against him. When war comes, Psal defends Ktwala and her daughter Mahari, wronged by Nahas, and speaks out against the atrocities his clan commits, further jeopardizing…


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