I don’t know about you, but this seems like the perfect time to curl up with a few stories of magic, mysticism and lands beyond our wildest dreams. These 9 fantasy books perfect for a little escapism might just be what you need – I know I’ve pulled them out again for a second (or third) read. Disclosure: post contains affiliate links – but is no extra cost to you.
I loved these 9 fantasy books so much, I’ve dusted off my book review series just for them. All of these novels are well written, have great character development, incredible multi-faceted female characters and all of them are page-turners that I found myself reading until 3am. And then compulsively ordering the next book in the series. I’m fairly sure I found a few of these 9 fantasy books through Amanda’s recommendations and Audrey Louise’s extensive library of recommendations. They’ve never steered me wrong.
For pure escapism:
Caraval (Caraval Series) – Stephanie Garber
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems… Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
If you loved by Erin Morgenstern, you will adore Caraval. It’s darker, twistier, painted with astonishing detail and razor sharp. Some people don’t love it, but I adored it – and it only gets better with each consecutive book. Buy it here on Amazon.
Nevermoor (The Trials of Morrigan Crow Series) – Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow is cursed, destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But, as the clock strikes midnight, she’s whisked away by a remarkable man called Jupiter North and taken to the secret city of Nevermoor. There she’s invited to join the Wundrous Society. Mystery, magic and protection are hers – if only she can pass four impossible trials, using an exceptional talent. Which she doesn’t have…
I am in love with Nevermoor. It’s forever going to be compared to Harry Potter, but has an Enid Blyton/Faraway Tree twist of surrealism. It’s actually children’s book – but perfection for escapism. Buy it here on Amazon.
For sharp humour and sass:
The Fairy’s Tale: A Novel For People Who Don’t Trust Fairy Tales (The Pathways Series) – F. D. Lee
Bea is a lowly cabbage fairy, but she dreams of being an official Fairy Godmother. So when she is finally given a chance to prove her worth, Bea is determined to make a success of it. Besides, how hard can a Happy Ever After story be? Every girl wants to be rescued by a handsome man, don’t they? Apparently not.
This is Terry Pratchett meets George Orwell and I adored it. With surprising plot twists and compelling characters, The Fairy’s Tale is a whirlwind, cynical adventure into the world behind classic folk tales and myths. Bea is sassy, crotchety, very reluctant and yet quite incredible. Well worthy on this list for 9 fantasy books. Buy it here on Amazon.
The Road to Farringale (Modern Magick Series) – Charlotte E. English
Imagine modern Britain without magick. No fae enclaves. No flying chairs. No magick wands. Giddy gods, no unicorns. Who wants to live in that world? Me neither. But with magick on the decline, that’s the world we’re ending up with. Meet the Society for Magickal Heritage. Our boss is a disembodied voice. Our headquarters is a sentient house. You could say we’ve a vested interest in keeping magick alive. Can a ragtag bunch of magicians, necromancers and fae prevail against inevitable ruin and decline? Hell yes. Try and stop us.
How do I even describe this series? It’s like a down and dirty Harry Potter with a dry sense of humour and a ball-busting female lead rather than a young orphan boy. I want to live in this Britain – but I know in my heart of hearts that I never will. Buy it here on Amazon.
To travel by page:
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) – S. A. Chakraborty
Among the bustling markets of eighteenth-century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike. But, alongside this new world, the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust. Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…
“An extravagant feast of a book – spicy and bloody, dizzyingly magical, and still, somehow, utterly believable/” Laini Taylor, Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author. This quote says it all a 1000x better than I ever could. Buy it here on Amazon.
Girls of Power and Fire (Two Book Series)- Natasha Ngan
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honour they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
It’s a raw read set in a mystical Malaysian continent – and I absolutely couldn’t put this down. It’s a slow burner to begin with, but well worth setting aside the time to sink into the luscious landscapes and palaces. It’s deep, the world-building is fantastical and will give you all of the emotions – and it tackles so many issues of abuse and power. The sequel was more of a damp squib, but I’m looking forward to a third. [Graphic Content Warning.] Buy it here on Amazon.
For zesty heroines not overshadowed by a touch of romance:
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series) – Brigid Kemmerer
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
It’s a fascination retelling of a classic (guess which one) with a modern twist. To my surprise, I was captivated – sorry for the unintended pun! Buy it here on Amazon.
The Palace of Lost Memories (After The Rift Series) – C. J. Archer
The king’s magnificent palace was built in a matter of weeks. No one saw the builders, no villagers are allowed beyond the gilded gate, and only one servant has ever left. The haunted look in her eyes as she was recaptured by the palace guards is something Josie, daughter of the village doctor, has never forgotten.
I have a real soft spot for anything by C.J. Archer – and I adore Josie as a character. She’s a woman with an insatiable curiosity and the knowledge to be a doctor in a society where it’s simply not allowed – and the fact that she talks her way into the most intriguing of adventures. Her dishy love interest is quite a hook too – a plot thread that I’m not normally that interested in. Buy it here on Amazon.
The Watchmaker’s Daughter (Glass and Steele Series) – C. J. Archer
India Steele is desperate. Her father is dead, her fiancé took her inheritance, and no one will employ her, despite years working for her watchmaker father. Indeed, the other London watchmakers seem frightened of her. Alone, poor, and at the end of her tether, India takes employment with the only person who’ll accept her – an enigmatic and mysterious man from America. A man who possesses a strange watch that rejuvenates him when he’s ill.
London is almost a character in the series itself – a steampunk Victorian moment in time that makes for the perfect character setting. I also love that India is a strong woman pushing against the tide of society… Buy it here on Amazon.
What book have you read lately that embodied escapism? I’d love a new recommendation to add to my bookshelf of these 9 fantasy books.
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