As a pre-teen and teenager I devoured Science Fiction and Fantasy books in such quantities that only those that really stood out are remembered by author or title. The majority of this month’s list of Fantasy book recommendations are those I remember fondly and vividly, but may not have reread as an adult.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak may be the earliest fantasy book I experienced, and it remains a firm favorite. It was a surprise to me, as an adult, that some children might be frightened by this delightful and imaginative story of Max’s journey from his room to an island of fantastical monsters. Where I was transported away with Max as a child, my oldest nieces (now in their late twenties) found it disturbing. The oldest is grown up enough to handle it now, I hope, as I do plan to buy a copy for the baby she is expecting.
Note: Skip the movie version, especially for young viewers. While visually stunning, it takes the story in an unsettling direction.
M.M. Kaye’s The Ordinary Princess is one of those sweet, unexpected little tales that are a real “find.” It is the type of book you want to buy for every little princess in your life, even if they won’t properly appreciate how charming it is. Princess Amy is given an extraordinary gift from a fairy – she will be ordinary. Brown haired and freckled amongst her beautiful and talented sisters, Amy just wants to have an adventure. To escape an arranged marriage, she runs away and becomes a kitchen assistant in a neighboring kingdom’s castle and meets a very ordinary prince.
The Ink Drinker is the first in a series by Eric Sanvoisin, about a boy who doesn’t like to read. While working in his family’s bookshop, he meets a vampire who drinks the ink from books with a straw. These are fun and whimsical books that delighted my godson when he was in third grade (though I skipped getting him one or two of the volumes that were more concerned with a romance between Odilon, the boy, and Carmilla, a girl he meets in the second book).
Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler [Feiwel & Friends] begins the Mouseheart series that is my middle grade reading buddy/12 year old niece M.C. contribution to this list of recommendations. If you or your intermediate/middle grade reader enjoy adventure tales populated by mice, rats and cats, then this is a great series to try. There are three books out so far, and I have not found any indication of whether or not the series will continue beyond Hopper’s Destiny (book 2) and Return of the Forgotten (book 3).
Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series remains one of my main memories of reading in 6th grade. Consisting of five books (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King), it begins by introducing Taran, an assistant pig keeper, and a magical pig. More characters are slowly introduced until we have a motley little group adventuring and fighting evil. There is also a collection of short tales, The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain (think small origin type stories and folk tales that Taran might have been told), that were written after the series. I plan to reread this series soon and hope that it lives up to my nostalgic love of it.
The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble was a Kindle First ebook early in 2015, and is the story of a young girl worrying over what she will become as she matures. While her sister is slowly turning into a mermaid, her own origin and future are unknown. My brief, spoiler free review is found here. This is another book that I plan to reread.
The Deryni Chronicles were the first series I wrote on a pink sticky note, that I subsequently misplaced, when I began thinking about which books I would recommend in the Fantasy genre. The first of several historical fantasy trilogies that Katherine Kurtz wrote beginning in the 1970’s, these books (Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, High Deryni) were very important to my reading life in the late 70’s and into the mid-80’s, and I’ve recently begun to reread them. In a bit of serendipity, there is a reread being blogged over on Tor.com, with a synopsis each monday of three consecutive chapters along with some interesting opinions and observations. This is a series that, so far, is definitely living up to my memories of it. While I am a more sophisticated reader than I was when I first read them, I still see the charm and excitement of these stories and highly recommend the series though I am not yet halfway through my reread of Deryni Rising. The edition pictured is the newest version published, with slight editing by the author for continuity through all the Deryni books. The most obvious change being that chapter 1 is now the prologue (which makes perfect sense when you read it).
Monthly Recommendations is a GoodReads group of bloggers and YouTube content creators started by Kayla Raines and Trina from Between Chapters.