The best fantasy books that don’t require the enlisting of a genealogy chart to track the story

Why am I passionate about this?

As a bullied teenager I wanted to escape and fantasy was my drug of choice. (My parents may have grounded me from the library, which by the way—not cool.) I love working within fantasy worlds and magic systems but my true passion lies in the story itself. I write character based books focusing on the inner workings of all of us. Occasionally when writing a battle scene in a gladiator arena with three levels, multiple characters with magical abilitiesm and a secondary magical system in the background, I wonder why I can’t just tell a story in freaking Chicago for goodness sake! But fantasy is where it's at for this girl! 


I wrote...

Magic Unleashed

By Devri Walls,

Book cover of Magic Unleashed

What is my book about?

When their college dorm is infiltrated by creatures from another realm, Rune Jenkins, her twin brother Ryker, and their friend Gray Malteer face otherworldly dangers beyond imagining. While Rune and Gray are able to escape, Ryker is kidnapped and taken to Eon—an alternate world where monsters and magic thrive.

With the help of a supernatural guide, Rune and Gray must now travel to Eon to save Ryker—and discover the surprising truth about their own ancestry. They are Venators: genetically enhanced protectors between Earth and this new world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards. But as Rune and Grey attempt to find their way through Eon, and learn to accept the responsibility of their inherited powers, they are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Devri Walls Why did I love this book?

This book… This book! As an author I always learn from what I read and often feel inspired. This book made me curl up in a corner and cry about my own inadequacy. VE Schwab has a magic about her words and stories that’s hard to put a finger on—which is exactly how magic should be. Her stories are always rife with wonder without making you feel overwhelmed. Her sentences are beautiful yet powerful and her characters flawed and relatable. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to Victoria’s work but A Darker Shade of Magic remains my favorite. 

By V. E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked A Darker Shade of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning collector's edition of the acclaimed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab.

With an exclusive metallic ink cover, this edition will feature:

* End papers of London
* Fan art
* A glossary of Arnesian and Antari terms
* An interview between author and editor
* Original (never before seen!) tales from within the Shades of Magic world

Kell is one of the last Antari-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered, Grey London, without magic and ruled by mad King…


Book cover of Revelator

Devri Walls Why did I love this book?

This book took me by surprise. I thought I might like it—thus why I bought it—but from the first sentence I was hooked and in awe of the writing. Revelator is rich and dark and feels so real you can almost taste the food they're eating. But then, just when you’re feeling comfortable, you realize what this story is actually about. Revelator will blow your mind in the best way possible. 

By Daryl Gregory,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • The dark, gripping tale of a 1930’s family in the remote hills of the Smoky Mountains, their secret religion, and the daughter who turns her back on their mysterious god—from the acclaimed author of Spoonbenders.
 
“Gods and moonshine in the Great Depression, written with a tenderness and brutality … this is as good as novels get.” —Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians

In 1933, nine-year-old Stella is left in the care of her grandmother, Motty, in the backwoods of Tennessee. The mountains are home to dangerous…


Book cover of Aurora Rising

Devri Walls Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for good dialogue and this is about as good as it gets. This book nails sarcasm, wit, and humor. You can hear every quip and see every facial expression as you spend the entire book wishing you could have a seat in that spaceship—even if they are facing certain doom. I basically wanted to be best friends with every character… and the authors. (So umm *clears throat* if anyone has Amie or Jay’s number…hook a girl up.)

By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Aurora Rising 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?

'Aurora Rising is to sci-fi what Stranger Things is to the cinema of the eighties - a fusion of everything you love about the genre that adds up into something completely fresh.' Samantha Shannon

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of The Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic...

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would…


Book cover of The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Devri Walls Why did I love this book?

This book is an effortless blending of fantasy with the modern world. Frankly, a lot of urban fantasies fall flat for me. ( I know, I know, unpopular opinion) I think it probably comes from my desire to escape the modern world completely when I read fantasy. But Garth Nix manages to create characters that are both living in the modern world while being so ridiculously fantastical themselves you can’t help but love it. And did I mention it has a handsome, young, cross-dressing wizard? What’s not to like?

By Garth Nix,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Left-Handed Booksellers of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A girl's quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of fantasy, Garth Nix.

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn't get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive…


Book cover of The Demon King

Devri Walls Why did I love this book?

Why do I recommend this book? Han Alistair. Listen, the whole book is amazing. The world Cinda created is top-notch, rich, and in-depth. The play between the two main characters is a great mismatch that works perfectly. The twists and turns are delightful. The magic system is one of my favorites. But Han Alistair is my OG book boyfriend. This character is just the perfect blend of sweet, dark, brilliant, kind, misunderstood, broken… I could go on but I think you get it. This is an oldie but a goodie, pick it up! 

By Cinda Williams Chima,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Demon King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima presents the first installment in a thrilling new fantasy series, in which the lives of Han Alister and the brave Princess Raisa collide in a magical and dangerous adventure.
One day Han Alister catches three young wizard setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet away from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against him. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, Han…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of For Fukui’s Sake: Two years In Rural Japan

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Author Snow lover Fish out of water Traveller

Sam's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who teaches him the meaning of being 'priden'.

Struggling with Slovene, a language with grammar so complex it can cause brain damage, and battling bureaucracy, he explores the culture and characters of this underappreciated ex-Yugoslav republic, its wild beauty, and its wild animals.

A love letter to Slovenia, this rare, adventurous account follows a foreigner trying to build a new life — and rebuild an old house — in a young country still finding its own place in the world.

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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