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      As a genre, fantasy frequently uses forms of magic and the supernatural to establish the plot, theme, or setting. One of the most important traits in fantasy is the use of fantastic elements in a coherent and consistent setting.  In any given work, there must be rules and limits set on these elements that allow the heroes and villains to fight. If there were no limits, then the story would become unchecked. 

     Does anybody know where the word fantasy comes from? It comes from a Greek word meaning "a making visible". Fantasy makes up the rules, but then you've got to follow them.[2] There are several sub genres of fantasy. Some are: High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Alternative History Fantasy, Steampunk Fantasy, and Sword and Sorcery. High Fantasy is also called epic fantasy and usually takes place in a"quasimedieval or Renaissance world." Urban takes place in a world possibly in our time. The supernatural elements or magical creatures exist openly in our world or are hidden to all but a few. Contemporary Fantasy, just like urban fantasy, takes place in a modern setting and contains magical creatures that live here or exist in another realm. Alternative History Fantasy changes history by incorporating elements of fantasy into real historical events. Steampunk is Alternative History with a twist. And Sword and Sorcery is dragons and swords. It always has a quest involved.  [3]

      So how do these authors get their ideas for fantasy? Most authors start by asking themselves the question “What if?” What if vampires lived among us? What if a princess got sent to our world? Others, like Tolkien, gain their ideas from myths, fables, legends etc. Some authors, like Terry Brooks, tie current events into their stories. No matter where they get their ideas, it usually stems from normal everyday things. [4]

     The struggle of good vs. evil is one of the most commonly used themes in fantasy.  Generally the forces of evil rise from their place of origin to invade the lands of the "good" characters. The hero is a mainstay element of fantasy.  Heroes are most often capable of more than a normal being, either physically, morally, or both.  Oftentimes, the character is not ready for the role, but by the end of the story has grown into it. [1]  The characters in a fantasy operate in a world upside down.  Fantasy heroes must be worthy of the quest they partake in, even though they are unsure of themselves and the quest in the beginning. [2]

    Although good usually triumphs over evil, that’s not always the case. In fantasy we like seeing good win, because it gives us hope for our personal fights against “evil”. [5] In dark fantasy, good doesn’t always win. Dark fantasy usually takes place in a world where evil has already won, and the usual fantasy rules don’t apply.  It’s survival of the fittest, not the most heroic, but the most powerful. An example of dark fantasy would be Steven King’s The Dark Tower series. [4] 

     Some say a fantasy is childish, but to others it is often labeled escapist literature.  It allows the reader to wander off into their own adventure and escape the real world. 






Writers of fantasy                         

Gaiman, N. Stardust. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.


Welcome to the land of Faerie. Here, there are unicorns, pixies and enchanted forests. Here, stars that fall from the sky become beautiful young women. Witches cast spells. Brothers search for the magical stone that will make them king. So what happens when Tristran Thorn, who is half human and half fairy, leaves his home on a quest to find a fallen star in Faerie? Join his adventure by reading Stardust.


Recommended by Mrs. Simons

Lowry, L. The Giver. New York: Laurel-Leaf, 1993.


What would your perfect world be like? Would there be no war?  No pain?  Everyone would be equal? No one would go hungry? ….

In The Giver by Lois Lowry, Jonas lives in a world of the future where everything is ordered and controlled. No one is sick, hungry, poor, or depressed. But there’s a payoff of course for such a “perfect” world. Jonas can’t see that until he is given a special assignment – to receive the memories that have been wiped from everyone’s conscience.  Is his world really perfect after all?


Recommended by Mrs. Simons

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings:The Fellowship of the Ring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.


"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them l and in the darkness bind them." The one ring was created by the evil Sauron to control the other rings of power, but in battle, the ring was lost to him. Sauron searched for his ring to little prevail, but a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins from the Shire found it. He then passed it on to his young cousin Frodo Baggins. But little did Frodo know that the ring would change his life forever. Frodo is sent by the elves on a quest to destroy the ring. But in order to destroy the ring he has to go deep into Sauron's territory and cast the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. Can he do it?


Recommended by: A.J. Higginbotham


Westerfeld, Scott. Peeps. New York: Penguin Group, 2005.


Cal Thompson narrates this amazing story with a different twist to the idea of vampires.  In this novel, being a Vampire is considered a disease - not like the common turning-into-bats-and-flying-around vampires.  Cal is infected with this disease, but is only a carrier and isn't affected by the worst symptoms.  Cal has infected all of his former girlfriends, so he has become a hunter and is hunting down all of his ex-girlfriends before they hurt anyone or create more Peeps (vampires.)  Also Cal teaches the reader that parasites aren't all bad... they keep everything in balance.


Recommended Strongly by: J. Stewart

Vampire Kisses is about a 16 year-old girl named Raven who wishes she was a vampire. She lives in a town called Dullsville. Raven is a girl who always wanted to be a vampire and will pretend to be one, but everybody would always make fun of her for it. One day someone moved into the scary mansion on top of a hill right down the street from her. She found out there was a boy her age that lived there. His name was Alexander. They met, and Raven fell in love immediately. However, there was something strange about him. She had an idea but I'm not going to say anything until you read the book.


Recommended by T. Brooke

1. "Fantasy" Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 2008. 3 Dec 2008. <http://ok.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_781533578/fantasy.html>


2. Donelson, Kenneth L. & Allen Pace Nilsen. 7th Edition Literature for Todays Young Adults. Boston: Pearson Education, 2005.


3. Sanchez, Matt. "Fantasy." Genre Fiction as Literature. N.p., 2005. Web. 3 May 2010. <http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring05/sanchez/index.htm>


4. Athans, Philip. Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. Avon: Adams Media, 2010. EBSCOhost. Web. 4 May 2015. 


5. Donelson, Kenneth L., and Alleen Pace Nilsen. "Fantasy, Science Fiction, Utopias, and Dystopias." Literature for Today's Young Adults. 7th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2005. 199-200. Print




Comments (6)

JessicaHathaway said

at 1:47 pm on Nov 29, 2011

I enjoy fantasy books because some of the stories i can relate to everyday life:)

Valarie Sykes said

at 2:22 pm on Nov 21, 2013

I love Fantasy books, because it expands your imagination! It gives your mind so many ideas & possibilities for the characters. My favorite Fantasy series is House of Night.

Katie said

at 9:00 am on Apr 28, 2015

Fantasy books are always wonderful. You get to create a world of your own from the descriptions that the author gives you. They are always creative, fun, and very interesting. There are endless possibilities that you could do. You come up with your own names, lands, worlds, races, species, creatures, languages, etc.! My all time favorite fantasy is The Hobbit. I love how Tolkien was able to create a new language, a whole new world, and its got action and adventure in it. It takes a powerful and creative mind to be able to come up with things from a timeline, history of the world you created, languages, etc. Tolkien is a genius and anybody who writes fantasy has those same wonderful opportunities.

R. Wartian said

at 2:25 pm on Apr 28, 2015

I am almost finished with City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, and I am pleasantly surprised with this book. I've been very skeptical of this series, but I highly recommend you reading it if you like fantasy. It has some major plot twists in it so I hope you enjoy.

CarleyLawson said

at 9:10 am on Apr 18, 2016

I like Fantasy because its like an escape from the real life.

Michelle Edwards said

at 11:29 am on Dec 8, 2016

Fantasy is one of my favorite books genres! It's much easier for me to get caught up in imagining the worlds described in fantasy novels. Also, seeing The Giver on this list reminded me of how much I loved reading the book! It's been a while, but it's definitely one of my favorite fantasy books.

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