Fantasy fiction books can excite imaginations of all ages. They can be long or short, old or new. They bring fantastical worlds to readers of any generation. Therefore, we want to help you parse the thousands of options down to 6 classics. No matter your tastes or reading level, this list should include books that you’ll want to add to your bookshelf, both venerated classics of the fantasy genre and books that are just getting started, creating a new generation of readers.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The prequel to The Lord of the Rings may be a children’s classic. But anyone can get lost in the Shire and the backwaters of lower Middle Earth. The Hobbit has excited generations, who have followed the plight of Bilbo Baggins as though it was their own.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
While intended for children and young adults, The Last Unicorn remains a fantasy classic. Both a fairytale and incisive fairytale subversion, the story of the unicorn with an unknowable real name remains a fine example of gender and culture critique in fiction.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere takes Gaiman’s love of Lewis Carroll, Douglas Adams, and G.K. Chesterton and combines them into the ultimate English dark fable for the modern age. The interplay between gods, demons, and mundane human desire in the London underground provides scary thrills and hilarious hijinks at the same time.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Watership Down may not seem like fantasy as the young rabbits leave their burrow in search of a better life. However, Adams used real rabbits to craft a fantasy fable as out-there in linguistics and lore as any Tolkien story. The rabbits have their own myths, language, art, and culture. They are a fantasy race if there ever was one, under Adams’ watch.
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Stephen King may be best known for his horror novels, but The Dark Tower can only be considered a great fantasy epic. From the otherworldly wastes to the tower itself and the magical power it beckons, the world of this story has sucked readers in for a whole series’ worth of novels.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Lewis was friends with Tolkien in school and it shows. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe represents the first chapter of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and reflects his Christian beliefs as much as his fantasy inclinations. The characters – from Aslan the mythical lion to the terrifying White Witch – have become literary staples for good reason.
The Takeaway for Fantasy Lovers
Fantasy fiction books inspire, frighten, and delight. They bring us to fairytale lands, the deepest seas, the highest skies, and even face to face with the demons of our own spirits. From the rabbits thrashing against their futile struggle to the well-told story of a Hobbit that just wants to get back to his breakfast cakes, these books provide a range of inviting stories to satisfy your appetite for fantasy.