Subject Guides » Books » Reading Lists » Fantasy
Forbes Library has a wide selection of fantasy novels ranging from all-time classics to brand new titles, in a number of sub-types including heroic epics, urban fantasy, science fantasy, occult fantasy, and others. The titles below are a sampling for you to try. Ask at the Reference Desk for other suggestions or to get booklists.
The following booklists feature fantasy fiction:
- Classic Fantasy Novels - selected fantasy classics, most written before 1950 - July 2011
- Dark Fantasy - selected titles from the darker side of fantasy fiction - Updated July 2011
- Science Fantasy - selected science fiction that feels like fantasy and fantasy that feels like science fiction - July 2011
- Urban Fantasy - selected novels in which the a nitty-gritty modern world intersect with the fantastic - July 2011
- Young Adult Fantasy Classics - although marketed as "Young Adult", these classic fantasies are great for adults as well - July 2011
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle (1968)
Hard to characterize due to its postmodern mix of myth, pop psychology, sly cultural references, and satire, this somehow retains the true magic of great fantasy. The title character goes on a quest (of course, with helpers!) for her lost species.
Grendel by John Gardner (1971)
This retells the Beowulf epic from the monster's viewpoint; we see how, cynical and sophisticated, he feels forced into his role as humanity's enemy. Fantasy lovers also will appreciate one of the best-ever depictions of a hoard-guarding dragon.
The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams (1932)
English author Williams wrote a series of great "supernatural thrillers" with elements of Christian belief, occult practices, and adventure, which have remained cult classics. In this book, the characters discover the original Tarot cards and associated figurines, which can be used in magical operations. Williams is especially good in depicting individuals of great sanctity or enlightenment who save the day.
Little, Big by John Crowley (1981)
The complex tale of an extended family who have dealings with the Faerie realm, this book moves through layers of seeming realities searching for the truth. Crowley's vision is highly original and sometimes hard to follow, but powerfully magical, conveyed in beautiful writing and imagery.
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock (1984)
Ryhope Wood, larger on the inside than the outside, is populated with mythagoes -- incarnations of heroes and archetypes. The human characters who venture within never know what will happen, or how they might be changed.
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (2001)
This acclaimed debut novel is set in an alternate Europe with a Renaissance culture but different religious beliefs, where some magic works and where intrigue abounds. The main character, courtesan and spy Phedre, is richly imagined.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)
Another alternate-world story, this one takes place in a Victorian England where magic used to work, but stopped until rediscovered by the title characters. Teeming with Dickensian characters and plot devices, and written in a mannered style, this was a crossover success with many non-fantasy readers.