The best fantasy books with lyrical writing that will make you swoon

D. Wallace Peach Author Of The Ferryman and the Sea Witch
By D. Wallace Peach

Who am I?

During my childhood summers, my dad bought thrift-store paperbacks by the bagful, and fantastical stories filled my shady hammock days. Now as an author, writing and reading go hand in hand. There’s no better way to improve my prose and hone my personal style than to read books I love. My trusty highlighter immortalizes the lyrical passages that I swoon over, those luscious words that slip from the tongue, make music in my ears, and paint scenes behind my eyes. I’m swept away by gorgeous language despite the genre, though fantasy books usher in summer memories and a lovely time of idleness when there was nothing to do but read.


I wrote...

The Ferryman and the Sea Witch

By D. Wallace Peach,

Book cover of The Ferryman and the Sea Witch

What is my book about?

Slender creatures with the graceful tails of angelfish, the merrow rule the sea. When the sea witch’s daughter perishes in a galleon’s net, the queen of the waves cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and only his sails may cross the Deep. 

Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home. But the rulers have other designs. While the sea witch crafts her dark bargains with both sides, Callum is caught in the breach, hiding a long-held bargain of his own that, once discovered, will shatter his life.

The books I picked & why

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An Enchantment of Ravens

By Margaret Rogerson,

Book cover of An Enchantment of Ravens

Why this book?

This book is charming, charming, charming. Did I mention that it’s charming? But it’s not all sweetness and light. I love books that weave together beauty and danger, and dazzle me with imagery that paints vivid pictures in my head. The prose is extraordinary, full of deception, danger, romance and glamour, hard choices, and sinister forces. The fair folk are exquisitely described, but beneath their perfect exteriors, they are opportunists, decaying, hollow, and cruel. The writing is quite beautiful, the plot and characters entrancing. I wish this was a series because I had a serious book hangover upon closing the last page.

An Enchantment of Ravens

By Margaret Rogerson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times bestseller!
An Indie Next Top 10 Pick
A Parents' Choice Silver Honor Winner

"A funny, action-packed, and sweet romance." -School Library Journal (starred review)
"A phenomenal read." -RT Book Reviews

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts-even as she falls in love with a faerie prince-in this gorgeous bestseller that's "an ideal pick for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread…

The Bear and the Nightingale

By Katherine Arden,

Book cover of The Bear and the Nightingale

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for beautiful, lyrical writing, and this book brims with it. I was underlining the paperback like a mad woman, luxuriating in the eloquent prose that brought this Russian fairytale retelling to life. The details are richly rendered, a feast for a reader’s imagination, and all set against the beauty, magic, and deadly cold of winter. Aside from the exquisite writing, Arden’s storytelling shines with deeply drawn characters, complex emotions, and a riveting plot that had me flipping the pages deep into the night

The Bear and the Nightingale

By Katherine Arden,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Bear and the Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_____________________________
Beware the evil in the woods...

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods. . .

Atmospheric and enchanting,…


Dreams Lie Beneath

By Rebecca Ross,

Book cover of Dreams Lie Beneath

Why this book?

This fantasy had everything I love: intricate world-building, a twisted plot, great characters, and lyrical/atmospheric writing. And I was intrigued by the premise of a curse that brings nightmares to life on every new moon. The writing is beautiful, full of gorgeous metaphors, and if I’d read the book as a paperback, I would have employed a highlighter on every page, something I routinely do! Books like this one are master classes on the power and richness of language, and I soak them in. The story is also strong with emotion, action and intrigue, fantastical magic, and a sprinkling of romance.

Dreams Lie Beneath

By Rebecca Ross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Rebecca Ross, acclaimed author of The Queen's Rising duology, comes a story about magic, vengeance, and the captivating power of dreams. A must-read for fans of The Hazel Wood and The Night Circus.

The realm of Azenor has spent years plagued by a curse. Every new moon, magic flows from the nearby mountain and brings nightmares to life. Only magicians-who serve as territory wardens-stand between people and their worst dreams.

Clementine Madigan is ready to take over as the warden of her small town, but when two magicians arrive to challenge her, she is unknowingly drawn into a century-old…


The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price

By C.L. Schneider, Alan Dingman (illustrator),

Book cover of The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price

Why this book?

The Crown of Stone series is an undiscovered gem in grim-dark fantasy, and Magic-Price is the book that kicked it off. Grim-dark fantasy isn’t often associated with lyrical writing, which made this book a rare find. It’s violent, contains profanity and a few scenes of erotica, and has a great anti-hero, but it’s also beautifully written with rich imagery, vivid descriptions, and a wrenching emotional fullness that stuck with me for days after closing the last page. I loved the flow and how all this luscious writing contrasted with the brutality of the characters and story. All that and a fabulous ending to the series too.

The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price

By C.L. Schneider, Alan Dingman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born of a fallen race, forced into combat at an early age, Ian Troy knew little but the brutality of war. A hope for more was born when, on the brink of defeat, an instrument of victory fell into his hands. Unaware of its true nature, Ian wielded the Crown of Stones, an ancient relic of untold power. He cast, wanting only an end to the conflict tearing the lands apart. Fate had other plans.

A decade later, Ian is still haunted by that tragic day. Running from the blood in his veins and on his hands, he struggles to…


The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Why this book?

This book holds a special place in my heart. I didn’t enjoy reading as a kid. I associated books with classroom classics and the painful scrawling of book reports. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I picked up The Hobbit. Tolkien literally changed my life. The Lord of the Rings drew me deeply into the beauty of language. I lost myself in the trilogy and felt a deep sense of loss when I finished the last page. Fortunately, my foray into fantasy books had only begun. The Lord of the Rings opened a magical doorway that never closed and initiated a lifelong love of books.

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…

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