Literary Fantasy- A beginner’s guide

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


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