Top 5 Fantasy Books // 5 Fall Favorites 2022 Day 2

Welcome to day two of the Five Fall Favorites blog party!

In case you haven’t caught yesterdays posts yet, Five Fall Favorites is an annual blog party and a time for the bookish community to come together and celebrate fall and good books. Each day has a genre theme, around which participants share five book recommendations. There is a fall-themed giveaway that you can earn entries toward throughout the week, and several authors offer freebies or deals on their ebooks during this event. If you are looking for a good book or want to revel in the autumnal aesthetic, I hope you will stick around! More details and the giveaway can be found on the host’s site/landing page, Once Upon an Ordinary.

Today’s theme is Fantasy Books. While this is undoubtedly a wildly popular genre, it isn’t one of my favorites. Even I have found a few fantasy books that I enjoy though! The books on my list are mostly light fantasy (the opposite end of the spectrum from things like Lord of the Rings which is considered high fantasy). They are exciting, plot-driven stories with unique settings and one-of-a-kind characters. These are the kinds of stories that I would have wanted to build upon with my imagination and an afternoon spent outside in the cool fall air as a child, or under a fuzzy blanket with a notebook and epic soundtrack as a teen. Now, they may be the stories I turn to less frequently, but with no less enjoyment.

Five books really isn’t too much to carry at one time…I can just imagine filling a backpack or tote with a few of my favorites and trekking out to a pondside pavilion to tell you about each one. Did you bring a thermos of warm apple cider in case the wind picks up? Water bottle? Light jacket (yeah, we’re clearly not in Oklahoma in October in this scenario 😅)? Good, let’s jump in!

Top 5 Fantasy Books

The first book I want to recommend came to mind instantly, and I never reconsidered its place on this list. Once I Knew by Victoria Lynn (2022) is a beautiful recent light fantasy release which I read and adored a few months ago. This honestly reads almost like historical fiction a fair amount of the time. The author was very intentional about writing a fantasy book that did not include magic, which is something I appreciate and did not expect. Once I Knew tells the story of a girl who puts her livelihood at risk in order to help someone who could rightly be considered her enemy. The stakes are high – there is emotional drama, trouble at every turn, and eventually a hint of romance – but she perseveres in doing what is right no matter the cost. This is supposed to be the first book in a new series, and I am excited to see how the rest of the books go! You can read my full review of Once I Knew here.

The next book I want to talk about bounces between the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history. The Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger (2012-ongoing) is an amazing middle-grade series! If this book series had been around while I was in late elementary and middle school, I probably would have been completely obsessed. Instead, I came to this series during 2020. Somehow, while looking for an audiobook I chose Keeper, and soon I was hooked! Keeper of the Lost Cities is both an exploration of societal struggles such as classism and, at the same time, a contemporary story about a tween-to-young-teen girl dealing with being adopted, making new friends, and all the drama that comes along. There are nonsense words and superpowers and conspiracies, but there are also difficult science tests and feuding friends. This series is almost everything I could ask for in a middle-grade adventure. I previously shared more thoughts on this series here.

My third book for today is one that I reviewed several years ago when I was still pretty new to book blogging. The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West (2017) is such an exciting read! Set on a magical island that grants some people special abilities, this book is fast-paced and full of twists. It is also one of the reasons that I did not give up on the fantasy genre entirely a few years ago. As long as new books like this are still being written, I cannot write it off entirely, even if I do struggle with the dark nature of much modern fantasy (among other things). You can find my original review here.

Next is a book from my childhood that I still love to this day: The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop (1985). I’m not much of rereader, except for a few comfort books, but every once in a while I pull this one out again as well. As a child, I loved the idea of Narnia, but I did not get into the books themselves until a bit later than I think most people did. The Castle in the Attic has a similar feel, and is probably best suited to a middle-grade audience, although discussion on Goodreads is full of families enjoying it with their younger children. Like Narnia, the main character discovers a way into another world from within his own house. While there, he meets a host of interesting characters, becomes part of a quest, and must fight to save the castle. It’s simply good fun, and the sequel, The Battle for the Castle, is almost as wonderful as the first book.

Apparently I’m drawn to middle-grade fantasy more than “regular” fantasy, because my final recommendation is also written at that level! Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry (2004) begins a series which I unfortunately started to outgrow while it was still being published. The first book was one of my favorites as a late-elementary student, and it fueled so many games and imaginary scenarios! This version of Peter Pan is gritty but still acceptable for the target age range. If the humor were more nuanced, I probably would have stuck with the series as it continued to be published through my time in high school. Peter and the Starcatchers is definitely the best book in the series, and I almost recommend reading it as a standalone. If you enjoy mysteries set on boats, brilliant dolphin characters, adventures that are almost believable, and retellings of the legend of Peter Pan, this book is right up your alley!

More Blog Party Fun

And don’t forget there is a giveaway to be earning entries for:

Full details of the giveaway can be found on the host’s page.

Do you read fantasy books? If so, what is your favorite?

Random fall-themed question of the day: Would you rather spend a crisp fall day outside, perhaps doing something like decorating pumpkins or going on an adventure with friends, or inside with a cozy blanket and good book or movie? (I’m really torn on this one personally!)

Until the next chapter,


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