Hi guys, today I’m discussing fantasy reads for contemporary readers – and I’ve got a giveaway of a special early edition of Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (I KNOW)! Keep reading for more!
So last week, I was having dinner with a couple of book bloggers, all of whom love and read fantasy and speculative fiction much more than I do. And I, being the dissenter, said what I always say when confronted with this issue: “I’ve tried to love fantasy books, but I’ve failed.”
It’s true. Fantasy – mostly YA fantasy – doesn’t seem to work for me. As many of you know, I’m a mostly YA contemporary reader. I like real situations with real girls and guys, and I like to get to the heart of the character.
I get bored by all the description in fantasy. I get lost in the slow pacing because of the description. And I can’t seem to connect with the characters because I can’t find them in all of the description.
Which is ridiculous, because when it comes to fantasy on television or movies, I’m often all for it. (see: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Buffy, Lost, Battlestar Galactica).
But that’s not really why it doesn’t work for me.
My long-time friend and book blogger Ardo (Women Write About Comics and Panels) pinpointed it. She told me that it’s actually that I like my fantasy as a backdrop to the story, not as the story itself.
And as I ran through the speculative fiction that I do like, I realized that she’s right. I don’t delight in a fantasy for being a fantasy. For me, fantasy is a backdrop to tell stories that I really connect with: ones about people who are real and true and have emotions and learn something.
Basically, I want to connect with the human (or persona or whatever) story behind the character more than I want the sword fights, faeries, and magic.
But, you say, that’s what everyone wants in all stories! Including fantasy.
Well, maybe. But for me, fantasy literally has to be just the setting. I don’t want the setting to overtake the story I want to read. And sometimes, it does that.
But not always. Sometimes, a series or a book has enough character, theme, and presence that I can’t say no. And that’s when I become the shippiest, the fiercest of all fantasy readers (not really).
So, for today, I thought I’d list out a few fantasy/paranormal series that I do like, in case anyone else has the same issue as I do.
What to Read If You Don’t Like Fantasy
A few stipulations: if you’re a mostly contemporary reader, I suggest starting with light dystopian or sci-fi, like The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, The Selection series by Kiera Cass or The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – they all have a lot of work with character that will ease you into these worlds.
I also suggest trying time travel or parallel worlds series like The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Gray, or the Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone – they’re great ways to ease into the kind of world building you’ll see in fantasy.
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – this is one of the ONLY high fantasy series I’ve ever read where I’ve been so drawn in by the characters and ideas that I couldn’t put it down. It’s truly a literary gem. And is it any wonder that of all of the characters and storylines, the ones that drew me in the most were the initial Fellowship coming together, Frodo and Sam’s unbelievable hardship getting up Mount Doom, and Faramir and Eowyn?
- The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – Stiefvater has the distinct honor of being the only woman to really get me to read a series with very strong paranormal threads – almost to the point of it overtaking the story. But this is where her genius lies. She has the ability to make her series heavily magical and yet, heavily character based and not make me feel like I’m drowning. I just finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and of course, my favorite parts are the ones where Blue and Gansey are together, or Blue’s thinking about her future. But then again… I think she’s the real exception to my rule, and it’s simply because writing this good deserves to be read and savoured by everyone, even fantasy non-readers like me.
- The Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand – this is the series I continually recommend to other people who are like me and don’t actually really like fantasy or paranormal. If there’s a series that is pretty much a YA contemporary series with a few paranormal elements that don’t overwhelm the story, this is it.
- For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – I have always said that I will read anything Diana writes, and she’s taken me a lot of wacky places (college towns and unicorn hunters, etc), but these companion novels of post-apocalyptic, steampunky YA (one of which is a retelling of Persuasion) are still some of my faves. For people who love reunion stories Veronica Mars.
- The Griffin & Sabine series by Nick Bantock – if you loved The Jolly Postman as a child and always wanted an adult version of that epistolary story…this is it. With stunning illustrations and a weird, mythological and fantastical world, this series told through letters is as much art as it is fiction. There are six books right now, and I believe the auhor is releasing a new one in March – very worth your time!
Fantasy Series/Books I Haven’t Read But Think Might Be Good for Non-Fantasy Readers
- The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – from what I’ve heard, this is a fantasy para that goes fast, and is fairly unputdownable, so maybe good for me, since I can’t take slow pacing.
- The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood – I’ve just heard really great things about this series, and I think it might actually be more about the characters than the world? Someone tell me if that’s true!
- The Story of Owen series by E.K. Johnson – this book has been recc’ed to me by bloggers and non-YA reader friends alike, so I feel like that is a good sign.
- A Song of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin – this is a leap for me, but given how much I like the TV series…maybe I would like the book series? What do you guys think?
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – I’ve loved all of Rainbow’s other work, which is all contemporary, so I feel like I might be able to handle this?
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’m a fan of heist books like Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, and I feel like this would be, like, a fantasy version that I could get behind.
Help! What fantasy/paranormal series would you recommend for me next? I would like to be able to read all kind of genres and not be hampered by this issue.
Let me know and you could win this amazeballs Lady Midnight limited edition ARC box filled with exclusive stuff – check out my unboxing above, and the Rafflecopter below! Because obviously, I haven’t read the series yet, so I figured it was only fair to give it to one of you wonderful fans!
US/CAN mailing addresses only – this is a super short giveaway because I’m going to try to get it to the person within the next week!
And the winner is…Nicole Wetherington! How I got to this winner: because I had people reposting on Instagram and Facebook, I used Random.org and assigned numbers to each of the extra reposts. The number that came up was 179, which was one of Nicole’s entries.
Thank you to everyone for participating, and for all of your fantasy recs!
I came here to say OMG THE BOX! *insert heart eyes* S&S went all out with this one – I’m a bit surprised they even printed ARCs! Way cool. I love the keychain especially!
I love Peterfreund’s For Darkness duo! One of my favorite duos – and such lovely covers. I adored An Ember in the Ashes. <3
I'd highly recommend Kristin Cashore's Graceling/Fire/Bitterblue books. That series was one of the first YA fantasy series that I ever read (I was around 12 when I read Graceling, I think?), and I completely fell in love with the series. While I'd been an avid reader before reading Graceling (and the rest), I'm pretty sure that series (especially Fire) is what hooked me into fantasy. For life! It's been my favorite genre since and I cannot get enough. 🙂
Anyway! Thank you for the chance, Tiff! <3
Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!
“I get bored by all the description in fantasy. I get lost in the slow pacing because of the description. And I can’t seem to connect with the characters because I can’t find them in all of the description.” This is me to a T as well! And I’m the same – I enjoy TV shows that fall into the fantasy genre, but I struggle with books. The writing and all that descriptive language bogs everything down for me and it becomes a slog to read.
I loved the Unearthy series and you must check out Born Wicked! I read it years ago and it’s beautiful and lush and such a sweet, lovely story. I bet you’ll love it!
Red Queen because it’s fantasy and world building but has danger, betrayal and romance in it.
I like the Premonition series by Any Bartol – Angels!! I also just read The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins and enjoyed it. Normally I need to be in the right mood for fantasy but if it’s written well I really love it!
I have two series that I would recommend. The first being The Wrath and the Dawn By Renee Adheih. Even if you don’t enjoy fantasy, you will enjoy this book. Renee Adheih’s writing really pulls you in and the her writing is just absolutely beautiful. Definitely recommend to a non-fantasy lover. The other being the Lunar Chronicles series. It is extremely rare to see someone who doesn’t enjoy this series. It is absolutely fantastic and has a awesome spin to all the fairy tales (first one being a half robotic Cinderella).
Omg this box omg this box!! I am so obsessed with all things Shadowhunter so it would be the coolest thing. Anyway I really think a good rec would be The a Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas although they must make it till Crown of Midnight since we all know that is when things get awesome. I would also choose Six of crows cause it focuses more on the thieving, the fantasy elements are more background. And I have to agree whole heartedly with you in regards to The Raven Cycle. Also The Outlander series would be great but only if they liked historical fiction. That would be my pick as well. This was so hard for me since I am huge fantasy lover. It was also cool to try to see it from any other view point. Thanks so much for this chance Tiff!
I have all of those series on my TBR list! They are sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to have some time to read them.
I’d recommend any of Ursula LeGuin’s works.
Truthwitch!! I liked the fantasy in it but what sucked me in were the characters. I loved the kick-ass lady friendship from the very start and it interesting to see how everyone’s lives start to become entangled.
I agree with An Ember in the Ashes. Such a good book even if you’re not into fantasy. Can’t wait for book 2.
I would have to actually say that the Mortal Instruments series is one that is a good starter in my opinion. Or else maybe The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
I would suggest the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, especially for reluctant male readers. The story pulls you through and hooks you into the characters.
So true!! I got into fantasy with books like the hunger games and now I read so much fantasy I love it! Thanks for the post & giveaway! <3
**follow up** I’d recommend Red Queen or Delirium because they have some romance along with the action/excitement of a dystopian or fantasy series 🙂
Mmmm beautiful creatures I think it is so under rated or the iron fey. Both of them are one of my favorites and Puck is my book boyfriend.
I second the Beautiful Creatures and Iron Fey series. I was surprised by how much I really liked both of those. I would also recommend The Infernal Devices more than The Mortal Instruments. It’s shorter and seems more character driven to me. 🙂
Not entering, just shooting you a reply.
Personally, I think one of the easiest ways to ease someone who normally reads contemporary fiction into SF-F (which is a really fluid term now, imo) is to try out urban fantasy titles — or books that aren’t heavy in heavy duty learning curves and giant worlds. Sanderon’s Steelheart (YA X-Men revenge plot), Bardugo’s Six of Crows (YA Heist with nuanced relationships) Westerfeld’s Zeroes (YA X-Men Heist), Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic (Adult Avatar: The Last Airbender/parallel universe hist-fic) , Grossman’s The Magicians or Rothfuss’ Name of the Wing (Adult Harry Potter), Abercrombie’s Half A King (YA Fant., but the world reads effortlessly), surely anything written by Neil Gaiman — might make good starting points. Heck, as much as I didn’t enjoy Red Queen, I’d still say that it’s wildly accessible even if it leans more towards Sci-Fi than Fantasy.
I could be mistaken but I feel there’s a subset of YA Fantasy in particular that highlights the world but keenly makes the choice to focus on the romance plot as the driving force for ambition, intrigue, etc. and perhaps relationship (“character”) driven stories are those which you may find yourself gravitating towards more. So in that light, and from your list, I’d recommend you give Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows a try. Plus, you were totally convinced at Fierce Reads Toronto to read it, yeah?
this is an absolutely amazing giveaway. DEFINITELY agree with beautiful creatures
I also have trouble reading high fantasy novels (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings), due to the lengthy descriptions; however, I have been pushing myself to read more of it in order to break away from the genres that I usually read. I prefer reading urban fantasy novels, like Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, etc.
For readers who don’t like fantasy novels, I would recommend Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It is such an amazing series. My mother, who does not like fantasy at all, read that series and absolutely loved it… I think she inhaled the series in one week.
That’s so helpful – thanks! I’ve been meaning to try Miss Peregrine, I’ve heard good things about that series. Let me know if your mom ends up liking anything else fantasy.
I really should try out The Mortal Instruments, huh?
Yea for sure! 🙂
You definitely should, it’s one of my favourite series. Growing up with Harry Potter, it was the second lengthy book series that I had read, and it has still stuck with me. Give it a try 🙂 Let me know what you think of it!
I will recommend Seraphina because I see the magic and fantasy as the back drop of the story!!!
Winner’s Curse is dystopian but not fantasy and wrath and the dawn is also a good one
I would argue that Winner’s Curse is definitely fantasy-ish…it’s like a dystopian that reads like a fantasy? And I had to DNF it. =(
I’m way too scared that The Wrath and the Dawn is totally not my thing.
you never know til you try!
I really liked The Winner’s Curse and the next book. I think ultimately the father-daughter relationship was one of the things that kept me reading. It sort of resonated with me..
The Shatter Me Series would be one and The Dresden Files series would be another.
Hey, Tiff! I used to not like fantasy but started reading that a couple of years ago. Unlike you, I avoid reality contemporary like the plague because it feels so real and… I don’t know, I’m scared of the feels? It has been a while since I read any contemps and if I read somthing contemporary, it’s mostly a subgenre like Unearthly. I’m not a fan of angels as much but I loved that series so much! Definitely one of the good ones about angels that isn’t preachy.
O’m AMAZED that you finished LOTR! I started reading it back in college and I just made it up to the parf where the Hobbit celebrations were mentioned. XD I know, that’s only a few pages in!
I recommend that you try the Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I mean, this series is just AMAZING! I’m currently obsessed! Graceling by Kristin Cashore is another awesome book. I haven’t read the other 2 companion books yet. Then there’s Magonia by Maria Davanah Headley. I really like the BFF turned lovers trope here.
Can you recommend any contemporaries for me to try?
Okay Tiff! I’ve got some recommendations for you. Firstly, my all-time favourite, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This epic novel about the priestesses of Avalon and King Arthur’s court is fantastic! I first read it in high school & I do a re-read at least once a year. A beautiful fantasy.
Secondly, a trilogy that I love is Robin LaFever’s His Fair Assassin series. You won’t get lost in the world but you will love the kick-ass assassin nuns! Yes. I said it. ASSASSIN NUNS! Based on historical events surrounding a duchess who was betrothed to too many suitors, the nuns not only help to defend the land but serve their God, Mortain, by taking out the bad guys.
Check them out & let me know what you think! Everyone I have recommended this trilogy to has come back to tell me how awesome it was. A sure fire hit. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for the chance!! I would recommend The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. You don’t have to read The Mortal Instruments books to understand or connect to this prequel series. The writing is wonderful, the world easy to understand and everything about the story just pulls you in. I especially love the characters. They’re funny but serious when they need to be. And the romance! It makes you feel everything. I really do hope you give them a try! Thanks again for this lovely giveaway 😀
I would probably recommend the Mistborn trilogy or Warbreaker, both by Brandon Sanderson! Sanderson is absolutely a master of the fantasy genre, but hear me out on this one. Warbreaker is primarily character-driven– it centers around two sisters, Siri and Vivenna, who couldn’t be more different. Mistborn, on the other hand, is largely driven by the political drama– the power dynamic in the world is constantly shifting, and there are so many different people and groups with stakes in the game. So, while both series have awesome magic systems and fantasy elements, the magic and the setting provide sort of a backdrop for the other elements of the story.
I also 100% agree with your recommendation of The Raven Cycle!
I absolutely loved The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Because it is a stand alone novel, it is an easy way to start with fantasy. I also enjoyed the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor.
I probably wouldn’t suggest reading the ASOIAF books as they are VERY Fantasy: heavy and slow and draggy, especially if you don’t like that sort of stuff. The TV show takes the most exciting parts adn squishes them together and doesn’t include a love of the slow and draggy parts. I would suggest The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore. It is more “magical realism” than anything but it is a good collection of characters and still some fantasy parts. Grisha is good to get into Fantasy too because it is more of a Fantasy backdrop than an actual fantasy world!
I’ve always thought of myself as anti-fantasy, even though I used to read a LOT of it as a child! But I recently got back into it, thanks to Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books reading A Girl of Fire and Thorns with me a couple of of years ago. From there, I dove into Throne of Glass and haven’t looked back. I wouldn’t say that I’m the most gutsy fantasy reader (high fantasy still scares me a little) but I’m open to trying new things. Hence Mistborn being on my wish list — it’s scary, but I’m going to do it!
Six of crows is awesome! And the cover for crooked kingdom comes out today!
I’m a die-hard fantasy reader but I would really recommend Tamora Pierce for any contemporary readers looking to try some fantasy! Her books are totally set in a fantasy world but are very character driven! Especially her series set in Tortall, although her Emelan series is fantastic as well, it just has a bit more magic to it!
I love the idea of this list. I read so much fantasy, but have a hard time recommending it to my family, especially, because the moment they hear “fantasy” they immediate turn-off from it. I think I’ll try some of these series’ on them — just need to work on my ‘elevator pitch’ for them that’ll trick my family into thinking they’re not *that* fantastical 😉
Also, I usually try recommending RED RISING by Pierce Brown because even though it’s a “space opera” — often called “fantasy in science-fiction” clothing — it has so many things that can appeal to any reader. It’s one of the few books I have been able to successfullypitch to people who don’t like fantasy/science-fiction! 🙂
First, please don’t feel bad for not being able to get into fantasy books! There’s nothing wrong with liking what you like and while I understand your desire to be able to cover as many genres as possible, you shouldn’t stress yourself about not liking any certain one.
Second, I agree with your assertion that you should give the Lunar Chronicles and The Mortal Instruments a try! My recommendations are:
-The ‘Gone’ series by Michael Grant. It’s a 6 book series set in modern day times about a town where all the adults disappear and the teens & kids that have to now try to survive, have new magical abilities/powers.
-Alice in Zombieland series by AG Howard’s.A 4 book series set in modern day times where the MC Ali discovers she has the magical ability to separate from her body and in a sorry form, fight spirit-shell zombies that can kill you in both physical & spiritual form. Lots of magical& spiritual powers as well as action, heart-warming friendships and swoontastic romance!
-The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Also set in modern day times, the MC Kaylee discovered her panic attacks are premonitions and that SHE’S A BANSHEE, capable of prediction and sometimes, stopping death. Also has a swoonerific romance!
The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke. This takes place in both our world and in a book world. The MC Meggie and her father have the magic ability to pull characters/things out and into books they’re reading with their voice! There’s a lost mother, super wicked villains, lots of action, humor and just a bit of romance.
I loved ALL these books and hope you can find fantasy that you like! … But if you don’t, that’s OK too!!
Third, thank you for the awesome giveaway!
I used to read a lot of fantasy but I’ve kind of lost my taste for it. I loved Red Queen and A Court of Thorns and Roses. I agree that The Lunar Chronicles would be great for non-fantasy readers. Maybe also The Queen of the Tearling although I hear a lot of people hated it I thought it was awesome!
I agree with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It kept me very engaged and I’m not a huge fantasy fan. Love all the suggestions, I’ll have to try a lot of them! Thanks to everyone 🙂
I think Harry Potter is actually a really good “starter-fantasy”. I am NOT a fan of Lord of the Rings and all that stuff (DNF all day long) but I was convinced to read the first Harry Potter by my mum and sister and then I was hooked!
OMG I love the mortal instruments series. I like reading fantasy but it just depends on what the book is about.
For the non-fantasy reader, I’d recommend INK by Amanda Sun followed by the sequels RAIN and STORM. It’s urban fantasy, but the first book isn’t too heavy with fantasy elements so the contemporary reader shouldn’t be too overwhelmed. It’s also pretty focused on character development.
I do have to say, as a reader of mostly non fiction, the Hunger Games series really had me. I think because I could fathom it happening and the characters are well developed.
Would definitely recommend Chaos Walkjng trilogy by Patrick Ness, nothing has ever compared!
The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and definitely The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adheih
Why? Because both books focus more on the characters than the actual setting/world building/character backstory. The words will mesmerize and enchant you. I promise.
I’d recommend reading the Shatter Me series. It’s a light dystopian that sorta has the same idea as The Selection with lots of romance, so it should be pretty good with mainly contemporary/romance readers!
Definitely any of Leigh’s books! I feel as though they’re fantasy but still rooted in reality where people on both ends of the spectrum can enjoy. Plus, they’re masterfully written so there’s that!
THE ARCHIVED BY VICTORIA SCHWAB!! I recommend this book 100 times over and over! Victoria’s writing is phenomenal, and you’ll especially love it if you love Maggie! It’s a paranormal so it’s set in our world so it’s not too much fantasy, but has a very interesting fantasy elements. Honestly it’s worth reading it just for the writing. It’s definitely a book I would suggest as a gateway book into fantasy, or at least paranormal.
I’d also say Vampire Academy/Bloodlines! It’s quite similar to Unearthly in the way that a lot of it has to do with real life with some fantasy elements thrown in but it’s not the main focus.
I think retellings are a great way to go when suggesting fantasy to non-fantasy readers because everybody knows them and there are usually less fantasy elements in them. But I also like to suggest the Fire and Thorns trilogy and Graceling because while they have some fantasy elements to them, they’re more about the characters and learning about who they are and the relationships they develop throughout the story and I think contemporary readers are more interested in those aspects than the fantasy elements that may be present.
Thanks so much for the great giveaway!! As someone who loves fantasy, I’m DYING to read this book!! 🙂
Throne of Glass Series, Red Queen and the Orphan Queen because they are amazing at world building and great Fantasy Reads.
If I were to recommend a series to a non-fantasy lover, I would do any number of the retellings that are out there. I think this is because it bases the book in a fairy tale that many people already know. The Lunar Chronicles are a good example, but being that they are science fiction sort of makes me think it is easier to read then fantasy. I love anything written by Robin McKinley too, she is a fantastic author, and her books are easy to read. The Once Upon a Time series, with authors like Cameron Dokey are good ones to pick up as well
“Angelfall” was good. It was well-written and felt unique enough to me.
The Legion Series by Kami Garcia, Unearthly Series by Cynthia Hand and The Lynburn Legacy Series by Sarah Rees Brennan. These are the series that kept me interested and wanting more. They’re great fantasy reads.
some great fantasy series that I’ve read are the Throne Of Glass Series (Sarah J Maas) & The Grisha Trilogy (Leigh Bardugo)!
Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas are both so amazing! You should definitely check out their books.
I got into fantasy books because Throne of Glass series and the Mortal Instruments series, both books got me hooked and fascinated of Fae and Seelies. Please check TMI soon
I loved Walk on Earth a Stranger, which was more historical than fantasy, but it did have one fantasy element. I almost forgot it was fantasy while I was reading it. It is just such a great adventure book, I can’t wait for the sequel!
I would love to read this Lady Midnight, thanks for the chance to win it!
Thanks for the giveaway! If you don’t care for fantasy I would recommend maybe something with mythology like Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, or Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo because books with mythology aren’t usually in your face high fantasy. 🙂
Thanks, that’s really good advice. I kind of lump mythology with fantasy, but maybe I shouldn’t. I’ve been wanting to try Six of Crows!
I read a ton of fantasy and a bunch of my non-fantasy friends asked me to recommend some of them. I think the Throne of Glass series, Graceling, or Finnikin of the Rock are good ones to start out with. Also, The Winner’s Curse is another one (it’s not really fantasy in that it doesn’t have magic/strange creatures) but it’s written in a high fantasy tone. Thanks so much for the giveaway!
I will ALWAYS recommend Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. I find that the mix of fairytales and the sci-fi/fantasy twist will have them falling in love from the first page. Along with this, the Throne of Glass series is phenomenal for those who want to get into fantasy. Sarah J. Maas’ worlds are always so elaborate and easy to fall into!
Thank you so much for this awesome giveaway! 🙂
Harry Potter!!! Just because I don’t love fantasy and it’s the one book I loved!!!
I would recommend both the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling and the Seven Kingdoms trilogy by Kristin Cashore because though both are very fantasy series, they include so many real world ideas and other genres that it doesn’t feel like just fantasy.
The Wrath and the Dawn has only a few references to fantasy so it’s a good start for someone who doesn’t want a lot of explanation.
Outlander is also great because there isn’t a lot of heavy magic stuff, especially in the first books. Then you’ll be so hooked, you won’t mind when there’s a bit more.
I would recommend the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. They are both FANTASTIC fantasy reads that aren’t difficult to get into.
There are so many, it’s hard to decide. Let’s see, Stephen King’s Gunslinger series is a great series to read for those who don’t like traditional fantasy. If folks want monsters in their series, then try Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. It’s a great way to break into urban fantasy.
I always try to recommend the more “unknown” books/series. Not sure if you’ve already read it, but I would give Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes a chance. It gets better with each book 🙂
Oh and I forgot! For non-fantasy readers: none of the main characters are particularly knowledgeable of the magic in that world, so the fantasy-ness doesn’t overwhelm you too quickly. It’s more character-driven, with some dangerous magic involved, really.
For paranormal, I would recommend The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer series! I read the first book, and couldn’t continue on with the series because it was too scary for me. Thank you so much for the giveaway!
I’d recommend Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. , for more adult the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
Awesome blog post! Thanks for the giveaway!!
I would suggest Defy by Sara B. Larson. It is fantasy but written in a way that is easy to follow. I enjoyed this book very much.
I would recommend The Lunar Chronicles because it has a good amount of action, romance, and suspense. It was the first fantasy series I read and I’ve been hooked on this genre ever since!
I’d say Falling Kingdoms or Throne of Glass for some good fantasy books. I don’t read Paranormal so I can’t help ya there. Uprooted was a really good.magical standalone that was beautifully written.
I would recommend Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis! It’s a great fantasy novel which is being continued by the author. It’s not talked about a lot but it’s amaaaaazing!
I would definitely recommend the Mortal Instruments series! It’s such a fast paced read, the only time it’s slow is probably during the second book, but then again that might just be my opinion. Also, Throne of Glass is a really good read and it’s not too crazy high fantasy.
The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown. So good!
I’ve got to say that the series that I would reccomend to non-fantasy readers would be the Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore. Its absolutely wonderful and so enthralling. Thank you so much for the wonderful wonderful giveaway! <3
PS. I'm he one who tweeted you about posting later if I won 🙂
I would definitely recommend Maggie, Leigh, and Marissa’s books! I also think Stacey Jay’s fairytale retellings would be a good rec to someone who doesn’t read fantasy often. 🙂
I would recommend the “Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel” because it is a timeless series with engaging characters and ornate prose!
The Moonseed Trilogy by Judith Ingram. It was great. Thanks for the giveaway.
Definitely recommend the Lux Series by Jennifer Armentrout
I would recommend Finnikin of the Rock and the rest of the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta! They’re a bit more fantasy heavy with description then some of the ones recommended here BUT in my opinion the fantasy is definitely just a backdrop for a story about longing, love, and the search for a history and a home. The characters are all so vibrant and I still think about them a lot.
I would recommend The Splintered series by AG Howard. It’s one if my favorites. Since it’s a spin-off of Alice In Wonderland, the theme is familiar enough unlike high fantasy with such complex world building which can take more time and focus to immerse yourself in the story. It’s a fun, addictive, romantic YA fantasy.:)
I love that even though you’ve had fantasy books that you didn’t enjoy, you’re determined to find ones that you like, Tiff! 🙂
I think you’ve recc’d some great books for fantasy readers who aren’t big on the sweeping style that often accompanies fantasy series. I’d also recommend the SHADES OF MAGIC series by V.E. Schwab. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC was fantastic, but not overly descriptive, which is something that I even find to be a bit much in some fantasy series. 😛
I think the only books that you recommended that I might not rec to readers who aren’t big on overly descriptive fantasy is A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. I absolutely adore that book series (and the show!), but George R. R. Martin does tend to describe a lot and if you often get bogged down in descriptions, you might struggle with it. So, I think I’d suggest readers try out an excerpt with Overdrive or Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to see if they like the style before trying to tackle it. 🙂
Thanks for your suggestions, Tiff! And for the giveaway, too! 🙂
I’d probably recommend Rebel of the Sands by: Alwy Hamilton! It’s super fast-paced and the characters are TO DIE FOR ♡♡
Ah, it’s hard for me to rec one because I LOVE fantasy & read a lot of high fantasy!! Hmmmm, maybe try The Wrath & the Dawn? It was one of my fav reads of 2015. There are definitely fantasy aspects, but it’s a retelling of One Thousand & One Nights! I’m a huge Ally Carter fan, and I think Six of Crows is a great fantasy version that you should try! 😀 Happy reading!!
PS-Thanks for hosting such an amazing giveaway!
Great take on this whole thing. Thank you for the opportunity to win!
I would recommend Red Queen. I don’t think this really falls into “fantasy” as much as “sci-fi”? I like to say it’s Game of Thrones meets X-men – and I love both of those series, and I also loved Red Queen! I think that would be a good recommendations.
I’ve also recently started the Lunar Chronicles – and I agree, that is another good “non-fantasy” book that is like a sci-fi/contemporary put together. I think its an easy series to like – I’ve just finished with the 2nd book, Scarlet, so I look forward to the rest of the series and have already recommend it to friends!
I would recommend the Throne of Glass series to a non-reader! The Throne of Glass series is an amazing series that is action packed with a kickbutt female protagonist and filled with swoon worthy male characters. 😉
AHHH you definitely need to read The Mortal Instruments! So many ships! Also The Grisha Series and Red Queen series are sooo good!
I am totally in love with the box and the Lady Midnight (I would die for a copy of it, ah!!) I am a huge fan of the paranormal genre (if you haven’t already read the Mara Dyer trilology, it’s incredible) but I also love fantasy! I’m assuming you’ve tried Harry Potter and I love that series with all my heart. Another great fantasy series is Shadow Falls by C. C. Hunter. These books would be perfect for you because the fantasy side is sort of pushed to the background while the main parts of the story are mostly like contemporary books with a small fantasy twist. I think it would be a perfect balance for you! Plus the story is just fantastic I finished all five books in less than a week, I couldn’t put it down!
Thanks for the opportunity! I really hope you check out Shadowfalls ?
The “Seven Realms” series and the “Heir Chronicles” by Cinda Williams Chima. Both have characters you come to care for, great dialogue, and the worlds and background she created are imaginative.
I would definitely recommend the Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab. Or basically any book by VE Schwab. Maybe the Snow Like Ashes series by Sara Raasch , that’s a world that you can easily catch onto.
I really recommend Tamora Pierce. Her series are really great. The Circle of Magic series is my favorite but it might be a bit too young for you. The Song of Lioness is her first series but it’s still pretty good.
First of all, I’m LOVING that box! I’d recommend Game of Thrones. It’s a lot to read and can be daunting (it took me 3 tries to read book one), but it’s so amazing. There are so many wonderful characters, and quite a few horrible ones. They take you on a journey with the characters to so many crazy places.
Try some low fantasy or urban fantasy books. I’m not a huge fan of high fantasy but I am all for low fantasy especially when paranormal romance or historical fiction is involved. Check out Hex Hall trilogy, The Infernal Devices and The Worldwalker Trilogy for YA series. I thick you will like Carry On because it spins off from Fangirl. I enjoyed it because I am a fan of Harry Potter and Fangirl. For Adult fantasy, check out the All Souls Trilogy.
I would recommend A Court Of Thorns and Roses or The Mortal Instruments Series!
I’d probably be the one needing recommendations actually. But, I’d recommend the *Harry Potter* series. You can never go wrong with the HP series!
I love pretty much all fantasy and will recommend them to everyone!!
I’d recommend Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
I recommend The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman if you’re looking for something a little scary. It’s kind of a retelling of The Jungle book, at least it has the same concept. A baby is raised by ghost, not animals, in this version. It’s really good, but then again Mr. Gaiman is an excellent storyteller.
I also want to recommend Graceling by Kristin Cashore. It’s an epic stand alone book. It says that it’s a series but that’s not true. The other books follow different people in the same world. There’s adventure and treachery, sword fighting, dangerous quest, a swoon worthy love interest….it has everything.
I would recommend The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, mainly because of the intense world building and the great characters!
I would recommend Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson! Six of Crows is definitely good for non-fantasy reads too.
The throne of glass series, for sure. an absolute favorite!
Sabriel by Garth Nix and the other books in that series. They are so fun to read!
I really like The Dark is Rising series
The Grisha Trilogy because it’s Chosen One fantasy but written so engagingly that you don’t even realize it until it’s finished and you’re in love.
The Watersong series by Amanda Hocking is an amazing fantasy series that I recommend to all of my non-fantasy-lovers.
I have a few recommendations. I fell in love with fantasy and the idea of a strong female MC when I read Alanna by Tamora Pierce. I was in awe of how brave and determined Alanna was to become a knight. She broke so many rules and I remember wanted to be just like her. Since then I hadn’t found any book that captivated me until someone recommended the Graceling by Kristin Cashore when I worked at Borders. Again a strong bad-ass female MC who wants to break free and not let a man have power over her.
In addition I’d have to say start with the Grisha trilogy before diving into Six of Crows. You’ll understand a lot of the references that way and it’s one of my favorite series. Leigh does a great job developing her characters and the Grisha world. A strong female MC, a villain you’d love to hate, a guy who’s a best friend and would do anything for the MC, and a sarcastic, yet loveable privateer. Along with other great characters of course. =)
I TOTALLY get your reasons for not liking fantasy, Im the same way with contemporary! I crave the fantasy in those, real life is just too boring for me. A great series you might like is the Unearthly Series by Cynthia Hand, a lot more magical realism, and very light on the fantasy “lore” aspect 🙂
The series I am recommending to you is one that I have come to love greatly it is the Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore. The first book in the series is I am Number Four. It’s a Sci-fi fantasy book series. It’s about a group of young kids and their guardians (who are aliens) come to Earth to survive from an invasion of their home planet by another race of aliens called the Mogadorians. They are raised on Earth hiding from the Mogs and preparing themselves to fight against them. The first book revolves around John Smith’s life and the difficulties he has trying to be a normal high schooler and keeping his identity a secret from others. I love it because there is a ton of action and there is romance going on throughout the whole series. Also you get to see how all the characters grow. I read in your article that you like to have a backstory to a fantasy book and this has it. The series talks a lot about what happened on their home planet on the invasion day and the backstory of how the invasion came to be. Also the history and parents of the main characters. It’s like you are a part of the group figuring out the history of the Lorien home planet. Overall there is a lot of back story there are a total of 7 books in the series the 7th is the last book and it’s being published this year. There is also many side stories that interlock with the main series going more in depth about hardships/situations that the individual main characters went through. There’s just a ton of fight scenes, romance happening between the many main characters, and lots of history about the characters and their home planet.
I would recommend The mortal Instruments to anyone who either loves fantasy or maybe doesn’t love it so much. I think the series has such strong characters and such a great story that it would get anyone hooked whether or not they like fantasy! And to make it even better there are the Infernal Devices which are a Victorian era series that has whole different feel while still having great characters and storyline! I tell anyone and everyone to read these books because you will. Not be disappointed!
Fantasy is my favorite genre, but I guess if I had to rec to someone who doesn’t like it, then maybe the Lunar Chronicles, it was light on the fantasy, heavy on the relationships. Also the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, was so easy to read! Two of my favorites from last year were ACOTAR & Six of Crows, which i think are both light on the world building which can bore some non-fantasy readers.
I would recommend Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy. It is smart and compelling and hard to put down. It is not YA, so not for too young readers.
You should definitely try the Red Rising series. I’d classify it as fantasy/sci-fi. It’s really creative and the writing is incredible!
Hm. You might try another series by Sarah J. Maas – Throne of Glass. It is fantasy, but it’s an easy read – I’m breezing through the series because I can’t put it down – and the characters are interesting enough for me to take an interest in what happens to them (with some series, like the Mortal Instruments, I just didn’t connect with any characters). You might find it troubling that it is “barely” YA – the main characters are 18, 19, and 20 when the series begins. Still, it’s honestly a great read.
I’d recommend The Beautiful Creatures series and Truthwitch!
I love fantasy, it’s the contemporary that I don’t care for! =)
I’d always recommend Changeling!! It was one of the first fantasy books I’d read and love and I always tell everyone to read it too.
I would recommend the Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce! This was the first real fantasy series that I read and enjoyed. The story and the writing kept me interested all the way through!
I would definitely suggest the Dreamfire trilogy by Kit Alloway. It has some fantasy elements but it’s also kind of a contemporary and the writing is beautiful.
I would recommend the NA series by Krista & Becca Ritchie called Addicted. The first book is Addicted to You, and they’re about two best friends who help hide each other’s addictions. There are also spinoffs which are just as amazing, and were my first NA choices!
I was struggling to think of a great fantasy recommendation because, for a long time now, I’ve been a Contemporary Girl (with a dash of dystopian & spy stories!) too. But then I remembered: FANTASY is what got me into reading. I never understood why my best friend wanted to sit around at recess with a book until I picked up C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. Reading Bridge to Terabithia–and then watching the movie on a field trip–led to 6+ years of commitment (or what some people call a crush) on Josh Hutcherson. Later on I fell in love with the Inkheart series and around Gr.7 I finaaally had the courage to begin the Harry Potter series–even though his confrontation with He Who Must Not Be Named and the blood on his face near the end of the first film totally freaked me out. I remember my friends wondering what I was doing, sitting in the grass at the side of the field until the bell rang; a lot of them didn’t get my love of reading then. But what I didn’t get–and still don’t get now–is how they DIDN’T/DON’T want to spend time immersing themselves in other worlds–especially when places as cool as Hogwarts exist!
Apart from Cassandra Clare (aka QUEEN), I haven’t read much fantasy lately. I thought that was because I didn’t like it, but now that you’ve made me think about all the fantasy in my life (thanks Tiff), I realize that that’s not true. I think what happened is that, sometime during my early teenage years, I began to confuse fantasy and paranormal. There was SO much paranormal coming out and, at first, I was totally into it. I read a lot of it. But then I got tired of it. Because (did you notice??) it became such a trend that some stories included werewolves and vampires and *insert magic being* just for the sake of it. It wasn’t necessary to the story and that grated on my nerves because I could FEEL them saying, “I’m trendy. I’m mysterious and magical. Buy meeeee.” So I stopped reading them and, unfortunately (because the genres blurred in my head), stopped reading fantasy as well…..
So, yeah, this ended up being a long trip down memory lane via comment section for me… Ahaha. I better go wash off this face mask before I turn into a blueberry like Violet Beauregarde (is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fantasy?) I highly recommend checking out–or rechecking out–all of the above-mentioned series that shaped my childhood… 😛 If you haven’t read any of them before, please do and let me know what you think!!!
I can’t wait to get back into fantasy with some of your recommendations! Though I will probably have to leave Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings sitting on my To Be Read shelf till I have some more free time in the summer, I will for sure be devouring Lady Midnight as soon as I get my hands on it! Tiff, please go meet Will Herondale and Simon Lewis soon… We need to discuss their awesomeness. All the best and thanks for doing this giveaway! 🙂
That’s tough! Especially as someone who reads almost exclusively fantasy it’s hard to imagine someone not liking it also. Wow, let’s see…. I would recommend The Queen of the Tearling series.
i would start the Unearthly series because less books and easy to start.
The Mortal Instruments is a great series to start with for nonfantasy fans. My all time fav series is The Throne of Glass series and I think it has so much that even non fantasy fans could find to love!
Where to begin! I’ve always loved fantasy books so this is really difficult. I’ll pick two series that I know I will keep rereading. My first foray into fantasy was The Song of the Lioness (quartet of books starting with Alanna: The First Adventure) by Tamora Pierce. I read it first as a tween and still am absolutely in love with it today. Very strong female lead character, and a great story – plus there are related quartets that take place in the same universe. As someone else suggested, I recently read Sarah J. Maas series centered around Celaena Sardothien, which starts with Throne of Glass – that was a very fast moving fantasy and as the books progress you can see more points of view of all of the characters, plus there is a love triangle that is really well done. Hunger Games was great, Harry Potter (of course!). I also finished a series by Bruce Coville – the Unicorn Chronicles. I read the first two as a tween but then he didn’t publish the last two books until recently so I was able to jump right in and he incorporates a lot of fantasy creatures but also pops in some mythology. I could probably keep going, but I will spare you!
Thank you for doing this giveaway! Cassandra writes really well – I was sucked right into the Shadowhunter world so I suggest you read those too!
Ooh, this is hard because I LOVE fantasy, but I think maybe the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwa would be a good recommendation for those who don’t like fantasy? It doesn’t really bog you down with worldbuilding and whatnot and it’s super easy to get swept up into the plot! Plus lady pirate/thief.
I actually don’t read a lot of fantasy, so I’m having some trouble to find a series to recommend! I have heard great things about the Throne of Glass series, but I have not had a chance to read it. I suppose that The Lunar Chronicles could count as fantasy or sci-fi too, but it is completely “different” than books like Harry Potter because it’s more about the characters themselves than the world they are in, if that makes sense!
Thank you so much for the giveaway! 🙂 Wishing all of the best to you!
I have always loved fantasy, and although they aren’t really YA, I would suggest the Belgariad or the Mallorian series by David Eddigns. They are a great example of the genre.
Also, amazing giveway!!!
This is an awesome post! You have some really good recommendations. I think TMI is a great series to start with for readers wanting to get into fantasy. It’s funny, the characters are so easy to love, and the fantasy/worldbuilding aspects aren’t too overwhelming.
AHH LADY MIDNIGHT. It’s beautiful! A book I would reccomend to you is one that I am currently reading and LOVING! The title is “A Madness So Discreet” by Mindy McGinnins. It has a very intelligent main (and side) character(s), and I’m loving the plot. It’s kind of a historical fiction with a very dark theme. Mental Asylums, Murder, Secrets… I give it 5 stars and I’m barely halfway through it! (Thank you for this opportunity, by the way! It is very generous of you to give away something as precious as this!!) Happy reading:)
Great post! I can’t wait for Lady Midnight!
Ooh, that box is so pretty! I don’t read a ton of just strict fantasy (I’m more of a contemporary reader myself!) but I loved THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows last year. I’m also reading A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab right now and loving it. I would definitely recommend those two! Thanks for the giveaway, Tiff 🙂
I would definitely recommend Six of Crows! It focuses more on the heist and characters than the actual fantasy portion!
I would say the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas OR The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo!
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