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What Makes a Book "Fantasy"

When is a Book Considered “Fantasy”?

The fantasy genre is a form of fiction that typically involves elements of magic, supernatural phenomena, mythical creatures, imaginary worlds, or some combination thereof.  Fantasy allows authors to create intricate and immersive narratives that often depart from the constraints of reality, physics, and so on. Fantasy novels often transport readers to extraordinary realms filled with adventure, mystery, and wonder, (Middle Earth anyone?). Some bring those elements into our, more familiar world.


Some Key Features of the Fantasy Genre:


1. World-Building: Fantasy novels often revolve around the creation of intricate and detailed imaginary worlds. Authors meticulously construct these realms, including their geography, history, cultures, types of inhabitants (elves, dwarves, and so on), and magical systems. These settings play a crucial role in shaping the story and providing a sense of escapism for readers.

fantasy landscape

2. Magical and/or Supernatural Elements: Magic is often a fundamental element in fantasy novels. Characters possess magical abilities, artifacts with extraordinary powers exist, and supernatural creatures like dragons, elves, wizards, or mythical beasts roam the realms. These elements often serve as the driving force behind the plot.


3. The Hero's Journey: Fantasy novels frequently feature a hero or a group of protagonists embarking on epic quests or journeys. These heroes, who are often underdogs, invariably face challenges, confront evil forces, and undergo personal growth and transformation throughout their adventures.

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4. Epic Scale and High Stakes: Fantasy novels often have sprawling narratives with complex storylines and multiple subplots. They usually encompass a grand conflict or battle between opposing forces. The stakes are always high, and the fate of entire realms or civilizations may hang in the balance.

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5. Themes of Good vs. Evil are a recurring theme in fantasy novels. The light against the dark. These stories explore moral dilemmas, the nature of power, redemption, and the triumph of good over evil.

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6. Character Diversity: Fantasy novels feature a wide array of characters, brave warriors, cunning wizards, resourceful thieves, wise mentors, and strong-willed heroines. These characters often defy traditional roles and can challenge societal norms, fostering inclusivity and representation.

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7. Immersion and Escapism: The fantasy genre allows readers to escape the bounds of reality and immerse themselves in enchanting worlds. It provides a sense of wonder, allowing readers to experience adventures, magical encounters, and explore new possibilities beyond the limitations of the real world.

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Some well-known examples of fantasy novels include J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, and C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia." However, the genre encompasses a vast range of works, spanning from classic high fantasy to urban fantasy, steampunk, and more, catering to various subgenres and readers' preferences. Nowonderland, my first middle grade novel, was heavily influenced by fantasy.

It's little wonder the fantasy genre is incredibly popular and here to stay.

Read a Book! Have an Adventure!

M. C. Gladd

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