As lame as it is, whenever I’m scrambling for a fun fact to share about myself, the first thing that comes to mind is “I like reading” (so dumb, I know). But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: before 2022, I was stuck in a years-long reading slump that saw me finish maybe two or three books total—not very “reader” of me at all. However, after my friend pestered me for months and TikTok harassed me with several dozens of A Court of Thorns and Roses videos, I finally caved and picked up book one of the series.
Reader, I was hooked from page one. I soon entered a frenzied state akin to my addiction to Animal Crossing in March 2020, where I read every single Sarah J. Maas book I could get my hands on. Every other hobby and responsibility fell way down my personal priority list—I was in the zone. And I didn’t stop there, I soon read fantasy book after fantasy book as if my life depended on it. When I say I read fantasy books like it’s my full-time job, I mean it.
Granted, my love of the fantasy genre started young, so it was easy for me to fall back into the habits I’ve had since my aunt gifted me my first Harry Potter box set way back when. For others, and maybe for you, fantasy might not be your first choice. I’m here to tell you that the genre has a little something for literally everyone. Ahead: the fantasy books I would recommend to every single person I know.
If you’re a sucker for romance…
The series that reignited my love of reading did so for one reason: the high stakes, star-crossed, swoon-worthy romance. Yes, the story is set in a complex fantasy world, but the romantic elements will have readers hooked from the very beginning.
When Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, she doesn’t realize she has actually taken down a shape-shifting Fae. A mysterious figure soon hunts her down and takes her captive as retribution for the Fae life she took. She’s then whisked away to Prythian, the Fae realm she’s only heard about in legends. As she spends more time in this beautiful, magical world—and with her captor, Tamlin—she learns those legends didn’t tell the whole story. But not everything is rosy in Prythian. As Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship blooms, Feyre learns she holds the key that could save—or doom—Prythian forever.
The Ex Hex is romance first, fantasy second (if at all, really, the only thing that puts this book in the fantasy category is that the characters are witches).
9 years ago, Vivi and Rhys’ relationship ended on terrible terms, and Vivi nursed her broken heart in the most relatable way: with a bottle of vodka and an attempt to curse Rhys. The curse was meant to be a joke, a way to lighten the mood after a devastating breakup, but when Rhys returns to Graves Glen years later, it becomes clear Vivi’s silly little hex worked. What was supposed to be a quick trip turns into so much more as Rhys and Vivi work together to undo the damage of Vivi’s curse.
Calling all Bridgerton fans! This one's for you. If you can’t stop thinking about Daphne and Simon’s steamy dance or Anthony and Kate’s stolen glances, Half A Soul is the book you should read next.
Theodora Ettings lost half her soul to a faerie when she was young, and has since lacked the ability to feel any sense of shame or embarrassment. In short, she’s a magnet for scandal and has been widely viewed as unmarriable in Regency London. When she meets Elias Wilder, the least-liked man in High Society, she begins to wonder if it’s possible to fall in love with only half a soul.
If you need a happy ending…
After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv, a battle-weary orc, is ready to hang up her sword for good. Her retirement plan? Opening up Thune’s very first coffee shop. What follows is all of the trials and tribulations Viv must traverse in this new chapter, the biggest of which is the fact that no one in Thune has ever heard of coffee.
Legends & Lattes is light, silly, and full of heart. My husband and I listened to the audiobook on a long drive and said “Aww” out loud to each other multiple times. If you’re looking for something short and fun for your next read, you’ll be glad you picked up this one—I promise.
There’s no denying it: Linus Baker’s life is boring, and he likes it that way. As a case worker at the Department for Magical Youth, Linus is tasked with ensuring magical children in orphanages are well taken care of. He’s comfortable in the routine of his life, but when Extremely Upper Management summons him for a highly risky and classified assignment, he accepts.
His primary mission? Determine whether Arthur Parnassus’ six dangerous children, including the literal Antichrist, will bring about the end of the world. What he finds instead is the family he never had but always wanted.
This was my favorite read of 2022. I’m big into cozy fantasy stories these days, and this one checked everything off my wishlist. Laugh-out-loud moments? Check. Characters I consider my actual friends? You got it. Moments that make me feel like I’ve just been hugged? Oh yeah. To top it all off, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches gives us a romance you can’t help but root for.
As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she must live in secret, but that doesn’t stop her from “pretending” to have magical powers all over the internet. Unfortunately for Mika, her ruse is uncovered and she is asked to travel to a remote part of England to teach three young witches how to control their magic. When she gets there, she slowly finds her place in the home, and in the family. Well, to everyone except Jamie, the grumpy librarian who doesn’t trust this newcomer.
If thrillers are your jam…
When Emery Blackwood’s best friend Lily was found dead, the love of her life, August Salt, became the primary suspect. Years later, Emery is living the life she thought she’d one day leave behind: running her family’s old shop on Saoirse Island. When she wakes one morning to find that all of Saoirse’s trees have changed color overnight, she knows something big is coming. That’s the day August returns to Saoirse for the first time since he ran away all those years ago. Spells for Forgetting is a thriller with magical elements, and one that fans of the genre won’t be able to put down.
Less of a true thriller than Spells For Forgetting, but The Foxglove King, at its core, is a mystery to be solved. When entire villages on the outskirts of Dellaire begin dying overnight, Lore, with her ability to raise the dead, is thrust into the Sainted King’s court and tasked with figuring out what the hell is going on. Helping her along the way are Gabriel, a duke-turned-monk Lore is inexplicably drawn to, and Bastian, the young prince who is seemingly more interested in debauchery than discovering the truth about what’s happening in the villages.
When young girls start disappearing on the Isle of Cadence, Jack Tamerlaine, who hasn't stepped foot on his homeland in 1o years, is summoned back to help find them. Once home, Jack, a bard whose music has the power to summon the spirits of the island, must work alongside Adaira, heiress of the East and his childhood rival, to figure out what the spirits know about the missing girls.
With romance, mystery, and a bit of whimsy, A River Enchanted is true to its name from the first page to the last—enchanting.
In a kingdom where she's forced to hide her affliction, the monster inside Elspeth's head, called the Nightmare, is both her fiercest protector and her deadliest secret.
When Elspeth is confronted by a group of highwaymen on her way home, she's forced to leave the comfort of her quiet existence behind and instead finds herself embroiled in a treasonous plot to undermine the King and save her kingdom—and hopefully, herself.
But if high treason wasn't enough, with each passing day, the Nightmare grows stronger in Elspeth's mind. Will she be able to stop him or will he succeed in taking complete control?
If you’re in it for the adventure…
The Bone Season doesn’t get the attention it deserves as Samantha Shannon’s other series, The Roots of Chaos, has become a cult-favorite among fantasy readers. While I love that series too, The Bone Season is action-packed and just plain fun to read. Paige Mahoney is a clairvoyant with a rare ability. In Scion-led London, this power makes her one of the city’s most-wanted criminals. When Paige is captured and imprisoned, she finds herself in the hands of the Rephaim, a group somehow worse than Scion. As Paige works to regain her freedom, she finds herself with an unlikely ally: her Rephaite keeper, Warden.
If it wouldn’t be the weirdest thing I’ve ever done, I would climb on top of my roof and shout at everyone who comes within earshot to read this book. It singlehandedly made me rethink every 5-star review I’ve ever given and I need everyone to experience it. In Fourth Wing, Violet Sorrengail is forced into the deadly Basgiath War College Riders Quadrant, despite the fact that she is small, frail, and has trained her entire life to be a scribe. It’s Divergent meets The Hunger Games and has dragons. I really shouldn’t have to say more. If you’re looking for a good time, this is it.
Keera is the King's favored assassin and her current target, the mysterious figure known as The Shadow, keeps evading her. On her quest to find him and return peace to the kingdom, Keera uncovers a shocking truth that has her questioning everything she knows about her mission—and herself.
A Broken Blade was fun from the very first page and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, but especially to those who've already read A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass and want more. Plus, its follow-up, A Shadow Crown, is just as fun.
If you want a bit of everything…
So you want romance, adventure, and a mystery to solve? Throne of Glass has all of that in droves. I recommend reading A Court of Thorns and Roses first, as it’s a better introduction to Sarah J. Maas’s writing style, but if you find yourself wanting more after—and you will—this is where you should start. In Throne of Glass, renowned assassin Celaena Sardothien is given one chance to earn her freedom. All she has to do is defeat 23 deadly killers just like her. Sounds simple enough, but soon Celaena is thrust into an ages-long conflict that is so much more than she signed up for.
I won’t lie: reading The Priory of the Orange Tree is not for the faint of heart. This book is a brick, but it has become a quintessential fantasy novel for a reason. It has everything you could ever want in a story and sucks you in from the very first page. In it, we follow Queen Sabran the Ninth, whose hold on the Queendom of Inys hinges on whether or not she’ll finally have a daughter of her own; Ead, the mage who’s woven her way into Sabran’s inner-circle and secretly keeps the queen safe with forbidden magic; and Tané, who makes a choice that threatens her lifelong dream of becoming a dragonrider right as it’s within reach.
If you want a story that has just as much adventure as it has romance, The Serpent and The Wings of Night is the book for you.
In a Hunger Games-esque tournament, vampires fight to the death to win a favor from the goddess Nyaxia. This year, Oraya, a human, enters the deadly fray for her one and only chance at becoming an immortal just like the vampires she was raised with. In the midst of the games, she allies herself with the mysterious and dangerous vampire Raihn against her better judgement. Though everything about him should set her on edge, Oraya can't help but be drawn to her new ally—and he to her.
When the time comes, will they be able to turn on each other for the prize they risked their lives for?