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Fantasy At Any Age

February 6, 2008

I started reading fantasy at a young age, due to my mom’s love of it. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through various ‘phases,’ so here I’ve decided to list some of the books that meant to the most to me at various phases of my life. (If I’ve reviewed these books on my blog, the title is hyperlinked)

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
When I was four, we took a family vacation to Wales and this book was in the B&B that we stayed at. I hadn’t finished it by the time our vacation was over, and the owner was kind enough to let me keep it! This is actually the only Blyton I ever read, but I absolutely adored reading the adventures of the children and their friends who lived in the tree that saw a new, different world appear with every cloud!

The Children of Green KnoweThe Green Knowe series by L.M. Boston
These were my favourite books when I was in elementary school, and I still love them! They all center around various childrens’ experiences at Green Knowe, an old English estate with many magical properties. The writing is superb, and I love all of the characters as well.

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
I received these as a boxed set for Christmas when I was in sixth grade, and I read them all in two days! No need to tell anyone what they’re about, but I loved them to death (although I always felt bad for Susan).

On a Pale HorseThe Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony
This is a seven part series (a combination of sci-fi and fantasy) that each focuses on a different ‘archetype’: Death, Time, War, Fate, Nature, Satan, and God. I haven’t revisited these in years, so I’m not sure how they hold up, but I absolutely loved the entire series in middle school (I even did a book report on On a Pale Horse!). The plotlines are complicated (all interwoven) and span centuries, and I still remember the characters, they were all so vivid.

The Belgariad by David Eddings
David Eddings was my absolute favourite fantasy author in high school-he creates epic worlds that always have a lot of focus on (made-up) mythology and various societies. The Belgariad was my favourite series of his (oh! all those awesome characters), but I really enjoyed all of his works. If you’re looking for something a bit shorter, try The Redemption of Althalus-it has the same feel, if not as much detail.

American GodsAmerican Gods, Stardust, and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
I read Good Omens towards the end of my senior year of high school, and I got really into Neil Gaiman in the early years of college. I love all of his books, but it’s impossible for me to pick a favourite of the three I listed. Gaiman works a lot with world mythology and tends to focus on the blending between the real world and the Other world (either gods or faeries). He’s incredibly versatile, with a wide range of styles, but somehow his voice always remains his own.

Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I read this two years ago, and I was just blown away by this historical, academic approach to fantasy. It reminded me a little of what A.S. Byatt did for romance novels in Possession! I loved all of the footnotes, and just the sheer believability of this alternative history, where magic still exists (though barely) in Napoleonic Europe.

The Little CountryThe Little Country by Charles de Lint
I only read this about a month ago, but if a book could be perfect, this one is. It combines a love of music and reading with fairies and magic, as well as sympathetic characters who feel like they could walk off the page at any moment. Charles de Lint was my introduction into ‘urban fantasy,’ and a great one it was.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Another one I only read last year, this is significant since it marks my new interest in YA fantasy novels. Of the urban persuasion, this story about the intersection of faerie and one luckless high schooler was compelling all of the way through, with an ending that was perfectly satisfactory. Once again, the characters all stay with me, and I can’t wait to read more by Marr.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2008 6:54 am

    I just started reading Anansi Boys and I love it so far! I think I’ve found a new favorite fantasy author.

  2. musingsfromthesofa permalink
    February 7, 2008 7:28 am

    There is more than one ‘Faraway Tree’ book you know, should you feel like revisiting Blyton. In fact, there may be 3 of them. Somehow, the Green Knowe series slipped through my fingers but is clearly right up my street. I recommend ‘The Little White Horse’ by Elizabeth Goudge, and also ‘Linnets and Valerians’ by the same author. Both, well, magical.
    I read everything by David Eddings that I could get my hands on when I was in my teens/early 20s, to the point that I was buying the Mallorean in hb.
    Shall now look up Charles Lint and Melissa Marr!

  3. February 7, 2008 8:06 am

    Here goes that old wish list growing and growing again! Can you believe I’ve never read the Chronicles of Narnia?!! I know, I know, shame on me! We bought Annie the set for her 8th birthday, and like you, she absolutely devoured them. But I have yet to read them…though I did make a commitment to this year.

  4. February 7, 2008 11:28 am

    The only Enid Blyton you’ve ever read? You need to fix that. When I was eleven, my one rich cousin lent me her set of the Adventure books, and I always thought her name was ‘Gnid’ because of the way the ‘E’ was written on the page. Anyways, I read those books over and over, and never actually gave them back to my cousin.
    The ‘Incarnations’ series sounds interesting…maybe I’ll take a peak.

  5. February 7, 2008 2:00 pm

    I loved this post, Eva! Good Omens was my first Gaiman too. I forgot when I read it, but it was sometime in high school and I loved it. I had read his Sandman books, but didn’t pick up his novels again until American Gods came out and that has remained my favorite…one of my favorite books by any author actually.

    Jonathan Strange is another amazing book. I can’t wait until she publishes another novel. I just got lost in her words. She writes so beautifully. I enjoyed taking my time with that novel and just letting it slowly unfold.

    I have the Little Country sitting on my shelf and I can’t wait to read it! I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about it and it’s sure to be another favorite de Lint.

  6. February 7, 2008 4:51 pm

    Kim, if your library has the audio version of Anansi Boys, I highly recommend it! The guy is spot-on w/ his accents and he’s just hilarious. :D

    MusingsfromtheSofa, I’m almost afraid to revisit the Faraway Tree. But I recently reread The Childre of Green Knowe, and I still love it! Glad to see another Eddings fan. :D I’ll look up Elizabeth Goudge!

    Debi, I hope you enjoy them! I haven’t read them for awhile, but I know that they were magical when I was younger.

    Raych, isn’t it funny how things work out? Did you think it was a silent ‘g’ like gnostic? Just to let you know, Piers Anthony isn’t afraid of s*x, so if explicit scenes bother you, you might want to avoid Incarnations. ;)

    Chris, thanks! I figured I needed to get a move on for that carnival. I can’t wait for Clarke’s next novel either-her short stories were fun, but not as entrancing. I hope you enjoy The Little Country!

  7. February 10, 2008 3:11 pm

    The Little Country sounds so good. I am currently a little bit obsessed with the six Celtic nations, and the other day I was compiling this reading list of books about them/set on them…The Little Country is definitely on the list for Cornwall!

  8. February 13, 2008 2:46 am

    I don’t know how I missed this post! I loved the Magic Faraway Tree and recently started reading it to my son. I also loved the Wishing Chair books as well. I was really into escapism when I was a kid!

  9. Claire permalink
    November 16, 2008 11:37 pm

    So I love The Magic Faraway tree but what really weird was that when I was on vacation with my family in third grade we stayed at a B&B and I had the same exact thing happen to me. I picked the book up, fell in love with and they lady let me keep it. She ran out to our car just as we were leaving to give it to me. So creepy that the same thing happened to both of us!

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