My Favorite Fantasy Reads as a Non-Fantasy Reader

If you’re new here to Authoring Arrowheads, you may not know that I struggle with reading most fantasy books.

Several years back, I stopped reading The Fellowship of the Ring around 75% because I couldn’t take it any longer (I feel like 90% of y’all exited out of this post after reading that XD). There have been several clean and/or Christian fantasy books friends of mine on Instagram and Goodreads have raved over, that I absolutely could not get into. Now, is that the books’ fault, or mine?

I blame myself. All these books are beloved by thousands of readers, so I really think my issue is that fantasy is not my genre, and that’s okay.

That being said, today I have a fun little experiment: I’m revealing my favorite fantasy books I’ve read as a non-fantasy reader. 😛

Note: These are listed in no particular order.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

This is the first book in Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers trilogy, which is loosely based on “Beauty and the Beast”, and I’ve read it twice so far. Though I enjoyed it more on the first read back in 2021, my second read in 2022, in preparation for reading the sequels, reminded me why I liked the first book so much: the characters.

I think my main beef with a lot of fantasy books is that there are often SO MANY characters (often with crazy names I can’t pronounce) who are all written similarly. They’re so difficult to tell apart, which causes me to lose interest. This is not the case in A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I love Harper, Rhen, and Grey–Grey being my absolute fave. This book had me rooting for their success, and empathizing with them through their struggles.

If you’re a non-fantasy reader who loves character-driven stories, I highly recommend picking this one up. I’m reading the sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, at the time of writing this, and I’m loving it even more! ❤

Dagger’s Sleep and Midnight’s Curse by Tricia Mingerink

It’s been a while since I read these clean fairy tale retellings that include fantasy elements, but the author did such an incredible job with both the characters, and the world-building, that still I think of the books often. Mingerink’s fantasy world in this series is complex and parallels aspects of Christianity, which makes for an interesting and faith-filled reading experience. I realize that fairy tale retellings, due to their popularity, have basically become a full genre outside of fantasy, but I still think these books fit into the fantasy genre. I need to read book three, Poison’s Dance, this year.

Fable by Adrienne Young

This is another one of the rare instances where I’m craving to reread a fantasy book so I can continue on with the series. Last year, I read Fable by Adrienne Young and loved the book’s immersive setting and focus on family issues. While I can’t remember a ton about it (I was also going through a lot of personal stress at the time, so that may have affected my memory of the book), it’s one I really want to revisit this year in preparation for reading the sequel, Namesake.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

One thing that turns me off from a lot of fantasy books is when the magic system makes zero sense. The main thing I loved about My Lady Jane, besides the lovable characters and the incredible humor interwoven throughout the book, was how the Edian magic is portrayed. Everything about it is explained in simple detail, and it’s easy to follow, especially for someone who struggles reading fantasy. If you’re a fan of historical fiction who struggles reading fantasy, I recommend trying this book.

Autumn Eternal by Kyle Bagsby

As someone who tends to not enjoy fantasy as much when it’s set in the modern world (I just find it less believable for some reason), Autumn Eternal is the exception. In this adorable middle grade book, a witch curses the small town of Arno so that autumn exists year-round and animals develop uncharacteristic behaviors, such as birds mooing like cows. The world in this book is incredibly creative and immersive, which kept me hooked while reading. I look forward to reading the second book soon.

Talk to Me, Arrowheads!

There you have it, my friend! As a self-proclaimed non-fantasy reader, my favorite fantasy books include mostly YA books that: 1) Are character-driven, 2) Have creative and immersive settings, 3) Have unique yet easy to comprehend magic systems.

If you’re a fantasy lover, feel free to drop some book recommendations you think I’d enjoy! If you’re a non-fantasy reader, which fantasy books have you enjoyed?

Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.

-Allyson 😀

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As an author and blogger, my goal is to teach writers that there is a way to write realistic, thought-provoking, redemptive Christian fiction that honors God while not sugarcoating the realities of the world. 

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