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I am a lover of all things fantasy (and young adult!). I get a deep sense of joy from escaping into a world completely different to my own. My love of reading as a child, was fuelled by the books listed below. They captivated and inspired me and I hold them close to my heart. These are books I have read and reread countless times, and always return to when I need a place to escape.
His Dark Materials
- Author: Philip Pullman
- Total books in the series: 3
- Published: 1995-2000
I am not afraid to say that these books had a profound impact on teenage me and they may well be my favourite books of all time. They definitely had an effect on my worldview and they still resonate with me to this day. They raise a plethora of philosophical questions and intertwine some of the more complex notions of physics into the narrative in a captivating way. Pullman definitely draws on ideas from quantum mechanics and the multiverse theory and weaves them subtly into a compelling and exciting story. The characters are rich and believable and I was fully invested in all of them. These books made me feel very deeply along with the characters, like I really knew them and shared in their pain and triumphs. I would definitely class the trilogy as a masterpiece and a must read for anyone who loves fiction as a whole.
Pick up a copy of Northern Lights here, or the box set here.
The Old Kingdom Series
- Author: Garth Nix
- Total books in series: 5 (and some short stories)
These books hold a special place in my heart. For one thing, unlike many fantasy novels I have read, they have predominantly female protagonists, and they are believable characters. The women in these books are strong, intelligent and quite frankly, don’t need no man! I found it refreshing to read a series of novels I could fully relate to. The books are dark with an element of humour and romance. I am a sucker for a strong female lead because you just don’t see it enough. The system of magic in this world is fascinating, particularly the necromancy. The story throughout the books is exciting and contains quite a few twists and turns, keeping the reader on their toes.
Pick up a copy of Sabriel here, or a copy of the first three books here.
The Inheritance Cycle
- Author: Christopher Paolini
- Total books in series: 4 (and some short stories)
- Published: 2002-2011
I adore this series. As fantasy goes, this is about as fantastical as it gets. The stories are set in an entirely fictional world full of mythical beings. Paolini adheres to almost all the fantasy tropes, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. The books are well written and captivating, if a little heavy at times. He uses several different fictional languages throughout the novels, which can make them a little difficult to read in places, but I think it is well worth it. The story is complex and intricate and I have reread all the books several times. I think Paolini uses description to good effect in the books, and even now, having not read them for while, I can picture the landscape in my mind. If you are looking for epic journeys and complex battles, these books are for you.
Pick up a copy of Eragon here, or the box set here.
The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
- Author: Michelle Paver
- Total books in the series: 7 (so far)
- Published: 2006-2020
These are aimed at the same age group (or maybe even younger) as Harry Potter, but stay with me here. They are a compelling read. The books are short and written simply, as you would expect for books aimed at this age group, but that does not detract from the beauty of the story. The amount of research that has gone into these novels is astounding, and I learnt a lot about indigenous tribes and early humans from them. They really capture my imagination and inspire me to be more in touch with nature. Definitely a worthy read for an adult and a good series to share with your children. Paver is currently writing the next book in the series, and I am eagerly anticipating it!
Pick up a copy of Wolf Brother, the first book, here.
The Harry Potter Series
- Author: J K Rowling
- Total books in series: 7
- Published: 1997-2007
The Philosophers Stone was the first “proper” book I remember reading as a child. My Dad, from whom I inherited my love of books, and I read the series together and saw all the films as they came out. Much like other Potter fans, I grew up with Harry and his friends and attach may of my warm and happy memories of my own childhood to these books. My Dad would pre-order the new books and we would eagerly await their release together. Sharing Harry Potter with him are memories I cherish to this day.
Aside from the warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia I get from these books, I think they are more than worthy of their status. They tackle many complex issues in ways children can understand. They are full of adventure and mystery and emotion, and a pure joy to read. I find them to be extremely well written and am enchanted all over again when I revisit them. I must have read all of them well over 10 times and each time I find some new magic in them. It amazes me how Rowling managed to link all these books together given the time period from the first to the last. There are so many layers of meaning to the names and places in her world that you are bound to spot something new each time you read them.
I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts!
*I just want to add in here that I wrote this before JK aired her incorrect opinions on trans people. I want this blog to be inclusive of all readers and I do not support her views. That being said, the books hold a special place in my heart and childhood. It’s upsetting that she has sullied that for so many people. I will keep them included here because they meant so much to me, but I have removed the link to purchase them. If you want to buy them you’ll have to go the long way round I’m afraid.