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The fantasy genre is so hard to define because it covers a wide array of books. Sci fi, romance, YA, historical fiction, and hundreds of other sub genres fall under the definition of fantasy. Almost every type of fiction falls in this genre and it can be very difficult – impossible even – to find the next great read. However, worry not! There are authors for every interest and type of reader. I have rounded up some of my favorites and why you should read them in today’s article!

If you love the rivals to lovers trope…

Veronica Roth

Anyone who knows me knows I went through an obsessive Divergent phase that lasted all of middle school and most of high school. I thought the Divergent series was the best book series anyone could produce. Then, on the 13th day of January 2017, a book arrived. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. For about a year, I let it collect dust and I stared at it apprehensively. I was terrified that I wouldn’t like it. Then, in early 2018, I finally got started reading it. Veronica introduced Akos and his backstory; after that, I had fallen helplessly and hopelessly in love with the story. Carve the Mark is expertly paced and there aren’t more than ten slow pages in a row. In all of her books, Roth expertly pits extreme external conflicts, like politics, exploration, religion, and relationships, into a complex book that will leave you begging for more. 

“There was a hunger inside me, and there always had been. That hunger was stronger than pain, stronger than horror. It gnawed even after everything else inside me had given up. It was not hope; it did not soar; it slithered, clawed, and dragged, and it would not let me stop.

And when I finally named it, I found it was something very simple: the desire to live.” 

-Veronica Roth, Carve the Mark

If you love fairy tales and are truly a princess at heart…

Kiera Cass

Kiera Cass has been a favorite author of mine since 2013. Her first three books of the Selection trilogy completely stole my heart and reminded me that you can still be feminine, yet strong. America Singer, the protagonist of the Selection series, is one of my absolute favorite female leads of all time (#Maxerica4ever). When I heard about Cass continuing the series by telling the story of America’s daughter, Eadlyn, I didn’t hold my breath for anything spectacular. However, I was proven so wrong. The continuation of the series took my breath away with Eadlyn’s quest for her independence (and eventually happily ever after). All of her mini series’ and novels are relatively light, enthralling stories that will keep you up until 3 am. 

“Maybe it’s not the first kisses that are supposed to be special. Maybe it’s the last ones.”

-Kiera Cass, The Crown

If historical fiction with romantic twists sounds intriguing… 

Lisa See

Lisa See draws inspiration from her Chinese heritage. Her novels look at Chinese life throughout its history. However, the focus of her works is on the strength of women and how cultural differences aren’t as divisive as we think. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan at an unprecedented rate and then Peony in Love. After reading See’s books, I was awestruck by her authenticity and how real her stories felt despite having elements of fantasy. All of her stories explore the common human emotions of greed, jealousy, love, and hate that tie us together. 

“I am old enough to know only too well my good and bad qualities, which were often one in the same.” 

-Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

If classic sci-fi is what you crave…

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card wrote the only book of my youth that didn’t rely solely on romance to secure its readership. I was a HUGE fan of Ender’s Game (and later an even bigger fan of the actor that played Ender in the movie). I am by no means an expert on Orson Scott Card. However, what I did notice is that he focuses on intense individual character development and building beautifully complex worlds. I highly recommend his work if you are into a high stakes novel with little to no distraction from romantic character interaction.

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”

-Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

If you are looking for humor and ancient mythology in the same book…

Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan has always had a special place in my heart. When I was a Freshman in high school, this book was recommended to me a couple weeks before winter break and I spent the night before my midterm reading his books instead of studying. All was not lost though. Rick Riordan’s books covered the same greek mythology content we were tested on. Although you really shouldn’t read his books instead of studying like I did, I honestly credit Riordan with saving my grade. I burned through two of his series’ in under a month. Rick is an expert at bringing you into the middle of the action and causing you to feel the emotions his characters do. He also has a wicked sense of humor that gives you a brief break from worrying about his characters.

“Let us find the dam snack bar,” Zoe said. “We should eat while we can.”

Grover cracked a smile. “The dam snack bar?”

Zoe blinked. “Yes. What is funny?”

“Nothing,” Grover said, trying to keep a straight face. “I could use some dam french fries.”

Even Thalia smiled at that. “And I need to use the dam restroom.”

I started cracking up, and Thalia and Grover joined in, while Zoe just looked at me. “I do not understand.”

“I want to use the dam water fountain,” Grover said.

“And…” Thalia tried to catch her breath. “I want to buy a dam t-shirt.” 

-Rick Riordan, The Titan’s Curse

If you need an angsty, yet hopeful, novel about a corrupt government…

Sabaa Tahir

Words cannot properly describe how much I adore Sabaa Tahir’s work. If you want a full review, you will have to contact me separately. In all seriousness, I fell deeply in love with Tahir’s debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes, in 2015, and have never read a book that balances fantasy and reality THAT well since. Tahir weaves in mythology from her own upbringing without it feeling cheesy or out of place. Her books can appeal to both sexes because her love square (maybe love pentagon could sum it up better) doesn’t overwhelm the story, but rather, gives her characters a sense of being real. Everyone has loved someone deeply and felt the pain of their loss. Additionally, Sabaa Tahir also provided the best roast of a toxic ex I will ever say (“Loving you is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me” – probably my most dramatic exit of a conversation to this day) and I will always love her for that.

“Where there is life, Nan used to say, there is hope.” 

Sabaa Tahir,  An Ember in the Ashes

If scary is more your speed…

Stephen King

I don’t really need to explain why people love Stephen King. If you haven’t heard of Stephen King, where have you been? Between his box office hits and best seller books, he is everywhere. King is an expert at manipulating expectations and making readers’ skin crawl. If you are in the market for some good old fashioned clown nightmares or existential crises about what happens when you die, Stephen King is the author for you!

“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.” 

-Stephen King, Pet Sematary

If romance, curses, and magic pique your interest…

Renee Ahdieh

Renee Ahdieh is an expert at weaving magic into already infuriatingly gorgeous worlds. All of her characters are stubborn, strong willed, and cunning. She draws most inspiration from her own experiences growing up as a person of color and the fairy tales she was raised on. Ahdieh and her characters do not shy away from femininity, which is something unique. The only advisory I have on her work is that she will make you sob for days over some of her characters. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.” 

-Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

If you live and breathe politics…

George Orwell

For years, I have been recommended 1984. For years, I have put it on the back burner. I decided to go with Animal Farm instead because it was required reading. However, I was so glad that was the case. The book was fascinating and helped spark my political awakening. It reminded me of how important free speech and democracy is to preserve. I am yet to read his other books, but judging by how many people have recommended his books, I am going to make the rather safe assumption they’re amazing.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 

-George Orwell, Animal Farm

I hope you have found a book of interest from this article! All of these authors have written books that are so special to me and I am grateful to be able to share them with you all. Have a wonderful day!

My name is Lillie Baxter. I was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. One of my dreams has always been to leave the Florida heat behind and go somewhere vastly different which is why I decided on the University of Denver. I am an undergraduate of the DU 2022 class with hopes of becoming an event planner one day.
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