September 16, 2014

Fantasy 101 - Level One (of Three)

"Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element, theme, or setting".
A while back, I saw this video by BookYuber Christine that made me want to make my own list of book recommendations for the Fantasy Newbies.

I've been reading Fantasy, or a form of it, for most of my life. In fact, from the moment I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone at the age of seven, to my 18th birthday, I refused to read anything but Fantasy. And still, Fantasy can be... hard. Especially the advanced forms of it.

You see, Christine is right. Reading Fantasy is a commitment. It's a form of art. You can't go to it like you do a contemporary novel because when you decide to read Fantasy, you decide to send yourself into a new world - and follow a completely new set of rules. It's a process. You might get confused. You might feel lost. It's that commitment that allows you to carry on and break through these barriers.

But for those of you who've never (or barely) dived into fantasy, I'd recommend not to start there. In fact, I believe you should start your fantasy career by reading books set in our reality, only with a twist. That way, you're already familiar with the ground rules. You know most of the layers of the world, and just have to acquaint yourself with the new ones, with the things that makes it unlike your reality.

It's much easier, and makes for a much smoother entrance into the world of Fantasy.

"The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting, where inspiration from mythology and folklore remains a consistent theme. Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world. Essentially, fantasy follows rules of its own making, allowing magic and other fantastic devices to be used and still be internally cohesive."

So, here is a list of books I think you should consider as your first Fantasies. These are fantasies with few fantastical elements, usually focused on one specific "theme" or phenomena, and don't require too much from you as a reader to follow 

Small Side Note: Making this list I realized my level one books are not the best for the male audience, or girls who are not fans of romances. This probably stems from the fact level one books are very similar to contemporaries, only with a twist, and most contemporaries I read are romances. So for guys (and girls who don't like romance that much), it's not the perfect list.

But the advice stands - find a book set in our world, with a fantastical element that interests you. That would be the best introduction to the Fantasy genre.

7 Fantasy series set in our world - with a twist
*in no particular order*

1. Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram
#Romance #Super Powers
This one is one of my favorites. For those of you who love contemporary romance - start with this one. This is a love story, where the main female protagonist just happens to have... well, super powers.
It's funny, it's fun, it's super easy to get into, and it's easy to follow. The new elements revealed in this one are centered around Jamie's powers, and you really can enter this one just looking for fun. There's no epic wars, sword-fights and heavenly beings in this one. Just a girl, a guy, and learning to deal with being unique.

2. The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
#Ghosts #High-School #Mean-Girls #Lite-Romance
From the name alone you probably already know what the fantastical element in this one, but if you haven't figured out - it's Ghosts. This is a world just like ours, where most of the people are just like you and me - but a few special ones can actually see the souls who linger behind, and are kind of forced to help them. Such is our hero, Will - outcast, loner, "ghost whisperer", who has to help Alona Dare - mean girl, school queen, dead. The two have the most hilarious and fun conversations, and their relationship changes one another throughout the course of the series. And, yes, there is romance, for those like me who kind of need it.

3. Finding Sky by Joss Stirling 
#Soul-Finders #Savants #Romance #Family #Creepy-Villain
Finding Sky introduces Savants to our reality - which are basically humans with special abilities. Each Savant has a soulfinder - his or her perfect match, born on the same day and time as they are. That's the gist of it, but even the rest of it is not very difficult to follow, which is why I think this is a perfect place to start.
Finding Sky is the first in the series, which brings to the center Sky Bright - a girl who was found on the side of the road when she was little, and as she moves into a new city with her adoptive parents, might find more than she bargained for. Like, that she's a savant.

4. Destiny Binds by Tammy Blackwell
#Werewolves #Romance 
This is yet another underrated book. I loved this series and consider it one of my favorite werewolves novels--that's right, the fantastical element introduced in this one is Werewolves. Or more precisely - shape shifters. And yes, there is a slight different.
But fear not! This is not Twilight (and I say this with the utmost love and respect, as I do love Twilight. But I also acknowledge its faults).
Destiny Binds has some of the best characters, the best humor, the most unique romance (series wise. It seems standard enough most of the first book), and a heroine you can stand behind 100%.

5. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
#Romance #Aliens 
Obsidian is the first book in a five book series. I have not read beyond this book (though I plan to) so I can't guarantee it stays this easy to follow throughout the series, but the first book is model Level One book, and I love it. It's funny, it's well written, and HOLLY HOT CHEMISTRY, BATMAN!
The fantastical element does not take up all the plot, and did I mention the MC is a bookaholic with a blog? Yeah, she's pretty awesome.
Also, I find the fantastical element here unusual for Young Adult (and honestly, I wouldn't have ruined what it is if the summary itself hasn't reveled that...) and it I think it can also be appealing to sci-fi fans - even though, as mentioned before, the whole Alien thing is not all (if most) of the plot. I hear that changes throughout the series, though.

6. Ruby Red by Keristin Gier
#Time Travel #Romance #Mystery
Ruby Red is a trilogy of books dealing with Time Travel. I think, among all the books on this list, this one is the most complex. It's the hardest to understand. But it's not written in big scientific words that will make your head hurt. It's just a hard concept, time travel, but I thought it portrayed it really clearly and cleanly.
I've loved Gwen, the MC, who was a normal girl with a silently unusual family until she turns out to be the most unusual thing about it. I enjoyed her romance with Gideon, even if it was a bit insta love. I loved the writing.
These books, like the rest on this list, are fun, and provide a great introduction to the genre.

Buy now: The Book Depository, Amazon

7. Spark by Brigid Kemmerer 
#Elemental Super Powers #Romance #Different MCs #Brothers
Okay, this might be cheating because this is actually the second book in this series dealing with supernatural boys and their lady loves, but this is the one I feel comfortable recommending to you guys, as the first didn't actually impress me all that much.
However, I do acknowledge you should start with the first to properly understand the world and the the general arc of the series, even though each book deals with a different brother as a MC.
The whole series is pretty fun though (only read the first two, planning on binge reading the rest soon),  and I loved the MCs in Spark, and their story. They got me all emotional, I admit!

For the Fantasy lovers - which books would YOU suggest as Level One books for Newbies? 

(at the end of the three levels, there will be a post compiled of all your recommendations, so don't be shy about it! Say all you have to say and spread the love!)

Nebies - how goes it? Do you think you might just start your Fantasy career with one of these?



  1. Thanks for this list! Fantasy can definitely be hard to get into if you haven't ever read much before, so this is a great starting point.

  2. You're very welcomed and I'm glad you think so <3