The best fantasy fiction books can inspire readers to journey to new worlds and experience new cultures. They may have made-up plots, but they are often rooted in real mythology, language, lore, and culture. The likes of Tolkien and Martin may be household names in fantasy fiction storytelling, but there’s more to the story of the genre than just the heavy hitters.
Below, we’ll be looking at 5 of the lesser-known fantasy fiction books that you should add to your collection. We’re assuming that you already know how great The Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones are and want something new to read and explore. Hopefully, we’ll name some you’ve never even heard of.
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Greek gods never stray too far from the body of fantasy fiction available to each generation of readers. They’re just too captivating! Miller thought so too, which is why she wrote Circe.
This novel recasts the villainous witch character as a layered, sympathetic heroine. Born daughter of the Titan, Helios, banished to a lonely island, and hunted down by the world of men, Circe may not immediately seem like the likely choice for a hero. But that’s the whole point!
Nightfall by Will Elliott
Nightfall deals with death and the occult, assassins, dukes, and monsters. This is a deadly, grotesque, and yet bizarrely beautiful story about a man who has to confront the fact that he’s now in the afterlife as he battles against the ultimate enemy of the soul, even after death. Elliott calls it the Forgetting.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
You may have heard of this one due to the cartoon movie. However, The Last Unicorn is a fantasy classic in its own right. For children, the story opens up an immersive world of monsters and beauty. For adults, it provides an unparalleled subversion of the hero, princess, and fairytale tropes.
The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams
For those looking for a Martin-esque fantasy series to sink their teeth into, consider Williams’ The Witchwood Crown. This tale of elvish warriors and troubled lands is the first of a sequel trilogy in a fantasy epic series that has been going on for decades. There’s never been a better time to enter Williams’ conflicted but wondrous land.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune is by no means a hidden gem. However, it’s often recommended only to science fiction lovers and we think its core audience should include those clamoring for deep, engrossing fantasy fiction. The world of Arrakis is a dense cultural and sociopolitical landscape that fantasy fans have loved sinking their glossaries into for half a century. Thus, with the new film adaptation coming up, Dune can’t be missed.
Best Fantasy Fiction Books: The Takeaway
The best fantasy fiction books make an impact based on the worlds they build and the themes they explore. This list includes some genre-bending choices, as well as some hidden fantasy gems you should add to your collection for some wondrous rainy day reading.