Book Recs, Bookish

Hollie’s Fantasy Recommendations

Thanks to a comment on my post Books I’ll Hate If I Re-Read, I had an idea. Fantasy is my most favourite genre to read. I absolutely adore it, and I’m constantly finding new worlds to dive into. But my love for certain tropes and stories in fantasy have got to stem from something, and that’s my library full of fantasy favourites. I have a list of fantasy that I’ve read over the years on my Goodreads, but here are my absolute favourites. These are my fantasy recommendations.

The Grishaverse (Shadow & Bone and Six of Crows) by Leigh Bardugo

books by leigh bardugo

The Grishaverse is a world I never want to leave. Filled with magic, political intrigue and beautiful setting, you can dip into the world either right at the start with Shadow and Bone, or in the crooked streets of Ketterdam in Six of Crows, set a while after the events of Ruin and Rising with whole new characters. Regardless of where you start your adventure, I have never read a universe with such fleshed out, diverse, distinct characters.

There are quite a few perspectives in Six of Crows especially, but none of them sound the same and you could very easily find a random quote and know who said it because each voice is so different. I read The Grisha Trilogy a long time ago but I loved the world building and the complexities of the magic involved. I assumed most fantasy lovers have read at least one Leigh Bardugo book, but if you haven’t, get on it!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Of course, I recommend the whole trilogy, but we’re just gonna state the first titles in each series (if a series). A Darker Shade of Magic takes place in ‘Red’ London, where the main character can find doors into alternate Londons scattered throughout the city. The setting and the characters are both remarkable, and this series has become a beloved favourite. If you enjoy a well-developed magic system and intriguing magical cities/lands, then this is the book for you!

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

nevernight by jay kristoff on a bed with leaves

Now this book is for the ones who love a bit of grit; a lot of swearing, violence, sex, and an anti-heroine seeking revenge for her murdered family. Nevernight tells the story of Mia Corvere, who literally kills and stabs her way through people to get what she wants. You end up finding that you’re just as angry as her as she learns more and more about her family’s past. It’s honestly an excellent read, and definitely one for the ones who love fantasy YA but want to start something more adult and bloody.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Along the same vein as Nevernight is The Young Elites, a series firmly rooted as a fantasy YA classic in my opinion. It’s set in a fictional world where a blood fever has swept the nation, leaving some of who haven’t been killed as ‘malfettos’, with strange markings and scars, and even strange powers. There are a few narratives in this series but to me, the main is my home girl Adelina Amouteru, who grows darker and darker as the story goes on. But, as with any good anti-heroine story, you end up rooting for her the angrier she gets. The Young Elites is nowhere near as explicit as Nevernight, and I would recommend it if you want to ease your way into the angry and stabby anti-heroine sub-genre! (It’s also similar to Nevernight in that the world is heavily inspired by the Italian Renaissance, my favourite type of inspiration!)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

hand holding book in front of a backdrop of the bavarian countryside

For the lovers of re-told fairytales, the slaying of monsters and the fair maiden being in control of her own destiny, there’s Uprooted. I read this on an eight hour journey back from Bavaria and I didn’t stop even though I felt a little travel sick. I bought it purely for the cover, hearing only a few things about it and ultimately falling in love.

Uprooted tells the story of seventeen year old Agnieszka who lives in a quiet village near a magical forest. Every ten years, the dragon (the wizard in the tower) takes a girl from said village for her to return changed. You can guess what happens from that premise. It’s beautifully told, with a plot that spans years of Agnieszka’s life. It takes a lot from Eastern European mythology, history and folklore which I also love (see all my reviews from the And I Darken series). Pick this up if you’re looking for a dark standalone fairytale!

The City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty

One of my absolute favourites from 2017, you all know I’m a lover of middle-eastern inspired fantasy, and The City of Brass hit the nail on the head. Nahri, a con artist from Cairo, accidentally releases a djinn who takes her to the mythical city of Daevabad, where a civil war is on the horizon. There’s so much politics, with almost all of the characters having morally grey intentions. I wouldn’t trust any of them if I were you. It’s a debut novel, with the sequel coming out at the beginning of next year.

The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller

Oh my God. Ok. Here we go. I read The Song of Achilles a while ago now, and I only decided to because it’s an LGBTQ+ story. If it wasn’t, I might not have even bothered. Ancient Greece didn’t really interest me, plus it sounded super sad. However. I’m so glad I did because it’s absolutely beautiful. This book is one of my favourites, and I knew I had to read more.

And I did, by the name of Circe. Circe’s story spans from before the events of The Song of Achilles as well as after it. They are intertwined only slightly, and you can enjoy those little easter eggs in Circe. But it’s also a novel that stands on it’s own too. The Song of Achilles is a tragic story between lovers Achilles and Patroclus. From their time meeting as children to the events of the trojan war. Circe is an epic of the first ever ‘witch’, who is banished to an island by her father, the god Helios.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

the book carry on by rainbow rowell with a tartan scarf some leaves and a candle

I often forget about Carry On when people want fantasy recommendations. But despite Rainbow Rowell being a prolific contemporary writer, Carry On is very much a top notch fantasy that makes you feel nostalgic about Harry Potter, but a lot gayer. Carry On is based on the fanfiction that the character Cath writes in Fangirl. Rowell has claimed that it’s not the exact fanfiction, nor is it the story by the in-universe author that Cath writes fic about. It’s an all new story – and it’s beautiful. While there are elements of it that are a bit cheesy and whimsical, I feel like it is something that was missing in the HP novels. I would have loved to have read about a same-sex couple in HP. Oh my God, can you imagine??

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

And finally, the cream of the crop.

Growing up, I loved reading. However, after finishing Harry Potter when I was 14 and flipping through Twilight in the same year, I suddenly stopped. Reading wasn’t cool (according to people at my school) and I lost my love for it. At university, it got worse. I had no time for reading for fun. I was working, at a job and on my coursework, going out, figuring my own independence out. Reading fell by the wayside yet again.

It’s only after uni, when I got a job and was doing nothing else, that I found a hardback of The Night Circus for a penny on Amazon. It sounded a bit like Moulin Rouge (Victorian and about two people falling in love) and so I gave it a shot. And WOW. Just WOW. After it, I became insatiable; I wanted to read as much fantasy as I could, and here we are today! The Night Circus truly changed my life, and I’m so thankful for it.

The Night Circus tells the story of two warring magicians who create a challenge that spans a lifetime. Their contestants? Two novices who (in a very Romeo and Juliet way) fall in love. It’s perfect for fans of ….Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge, maybe even in Caraval? (But worlds better, trust me).

And those are my fantasy recommendations! I love so many more, and continue to read and fall in love with new books. But if you’re new to fantasy or just fancy a bit of a fantasy binge, these are the books I would beg you to read! Which fantasies would you recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

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13 Comments

    1. Hollie

      August 1, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you so much!

  1. bookswithbex

    August 2, 2018 at 12:49 am

    I loved this post so much – I am definitely going to be referring back to it when I need a new fantasy recommendation! I also bought Uprooted based on the cover (oops) and I haven’t read it yet but feel like I’m going to love it. It’s so rare to get a standalone fantasy! The Night Circus has been on my TBR for a ridiculously long amount of time but I have such high expectations of it that I’m afraid I’ll read it at the ‘wrong’ time and it won’t be the same. One day soon!

    1. Hollie

      August 2, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      Honestly that’s the reason why I picked up Uprooted too 😂 I hope you enjoy both Uprooted and The Night Circus!

  2. Kelly | Kelly's Rambles

    August 2, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Okay so when I started reading this post I was like ‘Hollie can see my fantasy shelf…’ because it is literally the top of my bookshelf! I adore everything Leigh Bardugo and V.E.Schwab write and I adore Nevernight/Godsgrave (still bitter that we have to wait until 2019 for Darkdawn…). I still have a few such as Circe and Uprooted on my TBR but I am definitely looking forward to reading them after seeing them on your list and all your general loving of them on social media. Fab post!

    1. Hollie

      August 2, 2018 at 8:53 pm

      Kelly 😂😂 this is just a post about your fantasy shelf 😉 YES ME TOO I NEED DARKDAWN! Thank you!

  3. Christina Reid

    August 5, 2018 at 12:01 am

    Great recommendations here!

  4. Marta

    August 8, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Lovely recommendations! ❤
    I still haven’t read The Night Circus and I’m feeling a bit ashamed about it because everyone seems to love it a lot. I adored ADSOM, SoC, I need to read the next books in the series/duology though.
    Also, Uprooted sounds great, I have to put it higher on my TBR.
    Great post, thank you for this post! 💕

    1. Hollie

      August 11, 2018 at 12:21 am

      The Night Circus is indeed very special to me, and tbh I haven’t heard a bad word about it yet!

  5. Bridget

    August 13, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    Yessss I just recently got the entire boxset of the Grisha Verse trilogy after reading Six of Crows and am so pumped to read it!
    I’m really interested in reading Godsgrave, but I absolutely HATED Illuminae/Gemina so I’m not sure if I’ll like any of his other books…
    I’ve got Uprooted on my TBR – all the cover designs I’ve seen for this novel are all so pretty???!!

    1. Hollie

      August 13, 2018 at 10:51 pm

      Ooh that’s interesting about Illuminae! I’ve never read those books, and I haven’t seen people comparing them at all. (But also start with Nevernight as Godsgrave is the second book!) Also Nevernight isn’t a collab so maybe it’s a little different?

      1. Bridget

        August 13, 2018 at 11:52 pm

        Very true, I won’t knock it til I try it! 😜

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