Since last time I let you know what I look for in a YA contemporary, I thought I would do the same for me favorite genre! I would say my reading is 75% fantasy/SFF and 25% contemporary. I wouldn’t call myself a fantasy expert in the least, but I do know what I like when it comes to a fantasy novel!
Not all the fantasy novels I read must have all these requirements (I mean it would be nice, but life doesn’t work that way), but at least it should have 2 to 3 of them. So let’s just dive right in shall we?
Visual World Building
This is major and should be on any fantasy lovers list. What is a fantasy without VISUAL world building? Do you see that I bolded visual? I have read some fantasy novels that like to tell you what’s going on instead of showing you what’s going on. I need my imagination to run wild. Vivid colors, expansive scenery, grand architecture, deeply rooted traditions, luscious food descriptions, and larger than life clothing.
My mind needs to escape from reality and live among these characters and this world. I want to feel like I am apart of the world and that my imagination has no end. If an author can deliver this then I am going to be hooked from the start!
Large Cast of Characters
This can go either way to be honest. I have loved fantasies that have a few characters throughout, and some that have more characters than I can count on my fingers. I prefer the latter though. One of my favorite fantasy novels, Falling Kingdoms, has this. I need to whip out a pen and paper and keep track of all the characters as they pop up on the page.
I feel like I get more variety and more of the story when there are more people playing a part in it. Of course keep the main protagonists to a few, but make sure that all the other characters get a spotlight!
ACTION, ACTION, ACTION
I can not express enough how important action is in a fantasy. SERIOUSLY. Whether it’s a sword fight or a battle of magic and powers, I need it. How boring would it be if there was no conflict that lead to a war or battle? There is nothing better than a well choreographed battle going on in your head while you read.
It makes my imagination burn with passion. (Does this make me a bad person? HA.) I in no way condone violence in the real world but it most certainly belongs in a fantasy adventure!
Larger Than Life Story
I don’t believe in fantasies that only last one book. I need a duology, trilogy, SERIES! The more the merrier. But only as long as the story doesn’t drag on and on and on. Some authors just don’t know when to end it. (You know who you are SJM).
I love cliffhangers too. So with series I know I most likely going to get one. You can fit more into a series than you can cram it all into one book. One book that would have benefited from possibly a duology (or more) would have been Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. That book was just too grand for what it was. Let the story flow and breath authors, please please please.
This is a big one. More and more fantasies coming out feature a cast of diverse characters. No more cookie cutter white princes and princesses. Everyone deserves to pick up a book and find themselves in the characters they read. With diversity we have more room for bigger and better stories. There is so much lore in the world that stories could take from and I’m glad we’re seeing more and more of them getting published! Here are a few I think you should pick up:
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
- The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
- The Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
I don’t need all these boxes checked but I do look for a majority from this criteria. So if you have read any fantasies recently that you think fit in to any of these then please do recommend them to me. I’m always looking for amazing books to add to my TBR!
Until next time,