By Rowan Jackson, Zoe Doyle, Ana Matute and Amy Wright
Fantasy is seeing a surge in popularity, particularly in visual media, with recent releases including House of the Dragon, The Sandman and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Following the successful debut of the highly anticipated House of the Dragon fantasy drama television series, we have decided to recommend books from the fantasy and magical realism genres.
The Binding by Bridget Collins
The Binding centres around Emmett Farmer. Emmett grew up working on his parents’ farm but one day comes down with a peculiar illness and is sent to a Binder named Seredith, who is often referred to by the village folk as the witch that lives by the marshes.
In this world, which resembles Victorian England, Binders are keepers of memories and secrets that people do not want told or to remember. Emmett discovers he is destined to be a Binder. Written in three parts, the book begins with Emmett discovering his talent and working with Seredith. The second part focuses on the contents of the book he finds with his name on and the final part is focused on a different, but equally important character and his own book. Bridget Collins writes in a way that encapsulates the magic and atmosphere of a stark, bitter winter in both the Victorian gothic and medieval eras simultaneously. The Binding is an atmospheric and spellbinding gothic fantasy, soaked in magic and literary symbolism with an underlying love story. A perfect read as we approach autumn.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
In keeping with the epic dragon theme, I present to you the Temeraire series. Although it is not a new release, this series has not had a substantial amount of hype and is perfect for fantasy novices. It is set in an alternate historical world during the Napoleonic wars, where the air force is made up of dragons! The novel follows the adventures of Laurence, a tight laced captain in the Royal Navy who discovers a dragon egg stowed in the cargo of a captured French ship. He is horrified to find that the hatched dragonet takes a liking to him and, now bonded to the dragon named Temeraire, they are sent for training while the ever increasing threat of Bonaparte looms over them.
Novik has created an entirely convincing world where dragons fit realistically as part of the air force. There are dragons of all shapes and sizes: from speedy messenger carriers to giant behemoths that fight in battle. Perhaps the best part of this book however, is the sweet relationship that develops between Laurence and Temeraire. Although initially reluctant to embrace his new role due to society’s attitudes towards the air force, the caring and close bond that blossoms between the two is heartwarming. Future instalments in the series see Laurence and Temeraire embark on many escapades across continents with an abundance of different dragon species. Those who love historical fantasy should definitely add this series to your list!
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind is a fantastic book that you have probably seen before, as its popularity is enormous on the internet because of its distinctive fantasy harmonious world and story. This book is part of the trilogy called The Kingkiller Chronicle, where we learn about the life of talented Kvothe, which is full of luck and misfortune, and a medieval world. One of the most incredible things in this book is the music, as it is beautifully descriptive and will make you feel like you are listening to it.
I particularly like Patrick Rothfuss' narrative for its meticulous and poetic style. The development of the world and all magical creatures are uniquely created, making them stand out from other fantasy novels. Also, the mystery around the novel’s story will make you read it all night long.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is the story of Nora Seed who, after making the decision to end her life, is transported to a magical library consisting of what seems like an endless amount of books. However, these books are actually other versions of her life and in this library she is given the chance to try out other lives, which are all unique in how every choice that the protagonist could have made leads to entirely different outcomes. Some of the lives that Nora tries are more extraordinary than others; in one she is transported to the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard and is faced with a polar bear with little knowledge of how to survive in the world she has been placed in. Other lives that seemed more promising turn out to be more disappointing than expected, which is perhaps the moral of the story. The magic of the library alongside the real life locations makes this a thought provoking read that makes you look at the choices you’ve made in your own life with a different perspective.