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Young Adult Books

Award winning and recommended young adult books available in the CMC

About Fantasy

Fantasy novels, by their simplest definition, include at least one unrealistic element. Common examples of these elements include magic, ghosts, talking animals, and mythical creatures. These books can take place in the real or imaginary world and in any time period (contemporary, futuristic, or historical). We have broken down the fantasy genre into the following subgenres and categories:

  • High Fantasy (Epic Fantasy): What you might consider a "traditional" fantasy. High fantasies take place in a secondary world (think Middle Earth or Westeros—a world created by the author), which is usually less technologically advanced than our world, and often features magic and mythical creatures such as dragons or trolls. The plot is typically broad in scope—a quest to save the world or a battle between kingdoms—but this isn't a requirement.
  • Paranormal: These stories feature paranormal or supernatural beings, such as vampires, werewolves, witches, or ghosts. They typically take place in our world.
  • Low Fantasy (Urban Fantasy/Contemporary Fantasy): Stories that take place in the real world, but revolve around elements of magic or fantasy. Often magic exists in secret, unrecognized by normal humans (Harry Potter is a perfect example of this subgenre). Paranormal creatures may exist in these stories, but they aren't the focus.
  • Fairytales: A retelling of a classic fairytale or legend, from any culture, fleshed out into a full novel. Some retellings remain quite close to the original story while others twist and spin the tale in surprising ways. These stories often contain elements such as royalty, curses, romance, and adventure.
  • Portal Fantasy: Involves a character who travels between the real world and another world through some sort of magical "doorway". Usually, this portal leads to a secondary world (like Narnia) but could also magically transport the character to another time (like Outlander).
  • Historical Fantasy: A genre mashup between historical fiction and fantasy. Takes place in some past time period in our world and typically involves a historical figure or event, but also incorporates fantastical elements. For example, a novel where dragons fight alongside the American troops in the Revolutionary War.
  • Magical Realism: Features a realistic setting and explores the magic of everyday life. Unlike contemporary fantasy, where magic is secret or hidden, the magical aspects of these stories are usually treated with easy acceptance by the characters. The plots of magical realism novels are often different from other fantasy novels as well, as they focus more on intimate, personal stories. Typically associated with Latin American authors, famous examples include One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, and Beloved by Toni Morrison.

Examples of YA Fantasy Books