What is Literary Fantasy? I define Literary Fantasy as Fantasy Genre stories which have beautiful prose, or a narrative voice which is gorgeous to read. This is not ‘invisible’ prose, or prose which is so subtle that it blends into the background as you read it.
I define this genre based upon it’s prose, and I judge prose based upon a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is stained-glass prose, and on the other end of the spectrum is windowpane prose. Ostentatiously stained-glass prose is what I would call Literary; as in such a well written book that you can’t help but enjoy it. This isn’t to say windowpane prose is bad; windowpane books often do a better job with plotting and characterization because the language they use is simpler.
Here is a list of some books you might check out if you want to read some in this subgenre. This list is in no way complete; I just wanted to provide a list of books I (mostly) have reviews for you to look at. You might disagree that some of these books to be on here, while others are missing; that’s fine. I just hope some of you stretch your boundaries and try something new.
Katherine Arden- The Bear and the Nightingale
Tolkein- The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, the Silmarillion
Patricia A. McKillip- Ombria in Shadow, Od Magic
Guy Gavriel Kay- Tigana
Susanna Clarke- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Patrick Rothfuss- Name of the Wind
Peter S. Beagle- The Last Unicorn
Helene Wecker- The Golem and the jinni
Ahmed Saadawi- Frankenstein in Baghdad
Jacquilne Cary- Kushiel
Samantha Shannon- The Priory of the Orange Tree
Madeline Miller- Circe
Lois McMaster Bujold- Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls
Ilana C. Myer – Last Song Before Night
China Mieville- The City and the City
Ken Liu- The Grace of Kings