BOOK TAG WEEK is back again!! 😀 Which means I’m posting nothing but book tags all week long!!
AND!! Since Wyrd & Wonder (a month-long celebration of all things fantasy) is taking place this month and I’m participating in it, all these book tags will be fantasy-themed. I will try to limit my answers to only fantasy books, comics, and shows, but I can’t guarantee that since I haven’t read THAT much fantasy. (I spend way too much time rereading.)
What is your fantasy origin story? (How you came to read your first fantasy novel)
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, illus. by Jan McCafferty
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
I think it started with the stories I was told as a kid. They helped to spark my love of fantasy. There were the ghost stories I was told that I always believed were true because the adults act as if they were true, the fairy tales that were often read to me, and even the Bible stories I was told, many of which were fantastic.
When I began reading on my own, I most often read fairy tales — Cinderella, to be specific, which was my favorite and reread so often that the book almost fell to pieces. The Swan Princess was another favorite I reread often. I then moved on to Enid Blyton’s books, but I can’t remember exactly which one it was I reread often. I just remember that there was a garden and a pixie in it. When I reread The Enchanted Wood two years ago, I got a strong feeling that it was the favorite fantasy book from my childhood that I’d been searching for for years, but there’s still part of me that thinks I haven’t yet found the exact book.
After dabbling in Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, I moved on to the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I can’t remember which one I read first, but I know I discovered both when my cousin and I started visiting the library to borrow books. They both quickly became my favorites (they still are), and I’ve reread them often since first picking them up. A reread of them is long overdue.
If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?
J.K. Rowling | chosen one
Everyone’s tired of the chosen one trope, but I love it. I think it’s something you can encounter in your own life; of course, not like how it is in fantasy novels, but it’s possible that you have hidden, unique skills that can be helpful to someone or for an event. You can surprise yourself.
Sometimes I prove to myself that I’m capable and adept at certain things and in certain situations that I assumed I would fail in. Succeeding at something that seems insurmountable, something you thought you would fail at, is very invigorating and inspiring. However, sometimes I push through it all and still fail, but I think learning how to deal with failure and picking yourself up after failing is just as important, and I think we often get all this — pushing on to succeed and dealing with failure — from a well-told chosen one story: Avatar the Last Airbender, Realm of the Elderling series by Robin Hobb.
I chose J.K. Rowling because if I’m to be in a fantasy story, I want to be in a Harry Potter one.
What is a fantasy you’ve read this year that you want more people to read?
Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner
It’s a slow-paced fantasy novel about a brilliant young woman named Onna who wants to become a magician and a troll named Tsira who meets a human man and starts to investigate a series of murders involving trolls. It’s a good read. The world and the magic system, which seems mathematical, are interesting and I’d like to learn more about them. I hope the author writes another novel set in this world. I believe this is Waggoner’s debut novel. Some readers on Goodreads have tagged it YA, but I think it’s more adult. However, it would work well as a crossover book for someone who typically reads YA fantasy.
What is your favorite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?
Favorite: sword and sorcery
Least Read: flintlock fantasy
My favorite subgenre is sword and sorcery. I do enjoy reading about sword fights although I sometimes have a hard time imagining it because I have no reference — I know nothing about fencing — and instead make up random stuff in my head. I think Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is one of the ultimate sword and sorcery fantasy novels. However, when it gets to the sword fights, Jordan uses certain phrases to illustrate the moves, like “parting the silk” or “hummingbird kisses the honeyrose.” What exactly are these moves? I have no idea, but they all sound cool and look funny as hell when I imagine them, so I always get a kick out of Rand and Lan’s fight scenes. (Here’s a handy list of all the fight moves.)
I consulted this list to find more subgenres. Flintlock fantasy is one I’ve never read, but I have an e-copy of Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood so I’ll resolve that lack one day. I’ve dabbled in steampunk fantasy and would love to read more of it, so if you have any recommendations, please share them below.
Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?
These days, I only have auto-buy series and it’s for comic books. Monstress, written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda, is on my auto-buy list. I love the story and the illustrations. It has an epic fantasy vibe and is about a young woman who has a monster trapped inside her. It’s amazing. If you haven’t yet tried it, certainly consider doing so.
How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..)
all the above
I get recommendations from all over: social media, newletters I subscribe to, movies and TV shows, friends, co-workers, and blogs especially. Most recently, I added Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon to my TBR because Lashaan’s review convinced me to do so. It sounds complex and has assassins and gods, so it’s my type of thing to read.
What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?
Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen
It’s the fourth book in Allen’s Steampunk Proper Romance series. It’ll be out on August 4. Each book is inspired by a fairy tale and a classic novel. So far, I can only tell that this one is inspired by Cinderella. I can’t wait to read it.
What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?
that it lacks strong writing
It really annoys me that many, including prominent media sources, downplay fantasy. Too many people assume that it’s simplistic with weak prose. I also find it annoying that if a fantasy novel can be considered literary fiction, it’s sometimes not placed in the fantasy section.
I chose these three fantasy novels because they are extremely well written and sometimes I find them stacked in the general fiction area rather than fantasy either because the book can be considered literary fiction or because the author is known for writing literary fiction. All are great reads.
The Book of Hidden Things is written by Italian author Francesco Dimitri, who translated it from Italian himself. It’s about four friends who made a pact after high school to meet up in their hometown once every year but this time one of them doesn’t show up so the others try to find out what happened to him.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf is by Jamaican author Marlon James, who won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. The story is heavily influenced by African mythology with some Lord of the Rings references sprinkled throughout. It’s about a guy called Tracker recounting his search for a boy who we are told at the beginning of the book is dead.
Dale Bailey’s In the Night Wood is about an American couple who move to a small English town after a fateful accident to live at the secluded manor of a children’s book author who the husband hopes to research and write about. But, while staying there, weird stuff start to happen in the woods that surround the house.
If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
I’d recommend the Hobbit because it’s a classic and easier to get through than the other Lord of the Rings books. Because the Harry Potter books are among my favorites, I’d recommend them if the person wants something light and fun (books 1-3; it starts getting dark by book 4). And I’d recommend A Game of Thrones as something to slowly ease the person into fantasy since there’s not much magic in it and is mostly about political intrigue.
Who is the most recent fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?
I really like her content and she mostly talks about and reviews sci-fi and fantasy novels.