Yesterday, I listed the 5 fantasy books I plan to read for the five book challenge. Here are 5 fantasy books I really liked. One thing that I hunted for as a child and into my teen years was “real” magic and not whimsy or heightened imagination. There is a lot more of that kind of thing available now but some of it misses the intensity and danger of magic that some of my favorite books had.
1. NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende
An imaginative boy is the only one who can save a magical kingdom.
Although I think there’s no harm in the book for children, adults will probably appreciate the themes of regret, and longing for new beginnings and unfettered imagination more.
It is a kind of paean to imagination plus an exciting story. I liked the movie version but I’m glad I didn’t miss the book.
2. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Princess Aerin practices swordfighting and magic which comes in handy she has to claim her birthright.
Way back in the day when I was young, I had read few stories of action girls and none that I could find in fantasy books. (They existed but I didn’t know about them.)
I remember my excitement when I found Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. I just wished there were more. Now action girls tumble off bookshelves and jump out of TV screens and magazine covers. It’s very satisfying.
3. Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold by Terry Brooks
A man buys a magic kingdom and discovers it’s a fixer-upper. I like the comedic fantasy sub-genre and this one is especially light-hearted.
4. Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit
Children on summer vacation discover a wishing ring in a castle. The secrets of the ring and the castle turn out to be more than just a game.
I loved this one so much as a kid that I read it aloud to each of my siblings as soon they became old enough to understand it. There is real magic in it and the magic is dangerous and sometimes scary.
5. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
A teenage boy and a unicorn travel through time to save the world.
This adventure was more satisfying than A Wrinkle in Time for me. Though not nearly as gritty as most YA books today, it did have a sense of incalculable human loss that cannot be molified.