If you had of asked me what my favourite genre was when I was growing up I would have said ‘fantasy.’ But now that I’m older and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve learnt just why some certain fantasy books were my favourite. They all had something in common, and thanks to my hours getting lost on Goodreads, I’ve realised what it is. They all had a fantastical twist to them but were all grounded in reality. Harry Potter is a prime example. The idea that an entire magical community was hidden in in plain sight was more exciting to me than an alternate universe that comes with its own new set of vocab.
So if you are looking for a little magic in everyday life then you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of my recent finds of fantastical fiction with a twist…
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – Leslye Walton
I was drawn to this book straight away purely because of its beautiful cover and I’m so glad I read it because I absolutely LOVED it. Not only was it beautifully written, but it was such an intriguing story. This is the story of Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird (note: she has wings like an angel, not wings instead of arms as I originally thought – can you imagine how awkward that would be?). Ava struggles with people’s perceptions of her – is she a fairy tale, a monster or an angel? The truth is she is just a girl. There’s lots of quirky elements to this book, like the woman who starts eating sweets from the bakery to the point that she outgrows her house…I could go on but it’s best to read it.
While this book is amazing, it does go to a dark place, so be prepared. But it’s one of those stories that will stay with you long after you read the last page.
Bitter Greens – Kate Forsyth
I’m usually reading historical fiction so when Sam recommended this book to me and she had me at Versailles, Venice and Rapunzel. When Charlotte-Rose de la Force is banished from the Court of Versailles by the Sun King, she is sent to a convent where she meets Soeur Seraphina, a nun who tells her (and us) the story of a young girl called Margherita. A hundred years earlier, Margherita’s father stole a handful of bitter greens from the garden of a courtesan Selena Leonelli, and as punishment, has to give away his little girl. Margherita is basically Rapunzel, she’s trapped in a tower for years, hoping that one day someone will come for her.
Charlotte-Rose, Selena Leonelli and Margherita’s lives are intertwined and we get to see all their stories. There’s also a bit of mystery in this one – it really has it all!
The Wild Girl – Kate Forsyth
After I devoured Bitter Greens I decided to give another one by Kate Forsyth a try and not only is this book about fairy tales, but it’s set in Germany in the early 19th century so it’s right up my alley! The Wild Girl refers to Dortchen Wild, a young girl who grew up next door to Wilhelm Grimm. In a time of war, as their small town of Hessel-Cassel was one the first to fall to Napoleon, Wilhelm and his brother collected old fables and stories in the hope they could get them published and support their family. It’s based on the true story of Dortchen and Wilhelm so we get to see their romance blossoming as Dortchen tells Wilhelm some of the most famous stories for the first time.
I do love a good historical fiction novel so I would have eagerly read this book even without the fairy tale element. But I loved reading the original stories.
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
This recent release is the first in a new series so I’m now going to have to wait for the next two books – don’t you just hate that?! Here we have three parallel Londons – and Kell is one of the last people alive who has the ability to travel between them. Grey London is basically the real London and is a land without magic, Red London is alive and thriving and is a place where magic is revered, and then there’s White London which is ruled by whoever has schemed, plotted and destroyed their way to the top. But long ago there also used to be a Black London too. It’s an exciting adventure across the three worlds and I think we can all guess where the destination is.
This one probably has a little more fantasy than reality but I still really enjoyed it. Bring on book two.
So which book takes your fancy? How do you like your fantastical fiction? Full of fantasy or a bit of reality?
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