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Books you must read

For this post, I though I'd share a list of fantasy books that I consider stand-outs within the genre. Some are series, some are stand-alone books, but all have swept me away and into another world. With compelling characters and incredible worlds, magic systems and magical creatures, all of these books are immersive reads. I have reviewed most of these books on my Instagram page so check it out for more.

  • The Obernewtyn Chronicles, by Isobelle Carmody. This was the first fantasy series I ever read. I picked up the first book when I was fourteen, and the last, the seventh, came out when I was in my thirties. To say I was dedicated to this series and the characters is an understatement! The story follows Elspeth Gordie, a Misfit born with extra-sensory powers. Set in a post-nuclear apocalyptic world, this is wonderful speculative fiction that asks us to consider issues such as tolerance, corruption, power and friendship.

  • The Witches of Eileanan, by Kate Forsyth. Drawing heavily on Scottish mythology and faeries, this is an amazing series filled with intrigue and magic, and examines themes such as discrimination and intolerance, as well as power and corruption, love and loss and family and sacrifice. An amazing read that I totally recommend. There are six books, starting with Dragonclaw. The story predominantly follows the story of Isabeau and her sister, Iseult. The characters are simply amazing - they are multi-dimensional and as a reader, you are drawn into their lives and their stories easily. Forsyth's writing is glorious.

  • The Bitterbynde Triology, by Cecila Dart-Thornton. This is a glorious read. Dart-Thornton's writing is pure poetry. Her work has been an incredible inspiration for my own - her use of language just blows me away every time I re-read these books. The series draws heavily on Scottish folklore and folktales, which are woven seamlessly into the story. Another that deals with bigger issues - love and loss, duty, betrayal, sacrifice, trust and the influence of power, this series is simply stunning and one you must read.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J Maas. This was my reintroduction to the fantasy genre and I loved every moment of it. I'm not going to say too much because it is such a well-known series, only that I was completely swept away by the world, the characters (can I say Rhysand!) and the underlying issues the books deal with. A truly immersive read.

  • The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E Harrow. This is a simply glorious piece of work. This book is packed with magic, with power and folklore. It is the story of three sisters, but also a tale of women's suffrage and gender inequality, and a story of sisters and mothers and daughters bound together by their shared experience of simply being women in a world where women are looked on with suspicion. It blends history, mythology, folklore and fairy tale and is a beautiful story of adventure and the bravery of women. A must read.

  • The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I love Arthurian legend, and I love a retelling of the myths and this is simply amazing. It follows Morgaine Le Fay, who is my absolute favourite character from the stories. She is really brought to life in this version - she is given a wonderful backstory, humanity and more hubris than any other retelling of her tale. It's a dense read but the writing is just beautiful - it is richly detailed, and has that wonderful feeling you are reading historical fiction.

I'll stop now. These are my stand-outs but there is so much amazing work in the fantasy market at the moment I feel I could read forever and not get through everything. Reading is one of the best things you can do as a writer - whether consciously or subconsciously, good storytelling has an impact on how we choose to tell a story and how we use language.

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