Fantasy books are more popular nowadays, with the TV adaptations creating great hype, we are discovering wonderful worlds and characters. Although I read and fell in love with Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, I didn’t read many fantasy books after them, and I don’t know why. Of course, I read a few and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I want to read more of them whenever I want to escape real life or confront it.
So I created a list of beautiful standalone fantasy books, asking my friends who read fantasy novels with different tastes in fiction. There aren’t YA fantasy books on this list because I was done with YA a long time ago, I don’t enjoy reading the genre. But everyone can read and enjoy the standalone fantasy books on this list because they are hugely different in terms of their subject and subgenre. And because they are standalone books, you don’t have to worry about reading a series with loads of books. I hope you find a book to your liking. Enjoy!
Standalone Fantasy Books
The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
The Ice Queen – Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman is at her electrifying best in this fairy tale for grown-ups. The story begins with a little girl who makes a wish one snowy night and ruins her life. She grows up with a splinter of ice in her heart until one day, standing by her kitchen window, she is struck by lightning.
Instead of killing her, this cataclysmic event sparks off a new beginning. She seeks out Lazarus Jones, a fellow lightning survivor. He is her opposite, a burning man whose breath can boil water and whose touch scorches. As an obsessive love affair begins between them, both are forced to hide their most dangerous secrets – what turned one to ice and the other to fire.
The Ice Queen is a haunting story of passion, loss, second chances and the secrets that come to define us, if we’re not careful.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
The Changeling – Victor Lavalle
When Apollo Kagwa was just a child, his father disappeared, leaving him with recurring nightmares and a box labelled ‘Improbabilia’. Now a successful book dealer, Kagwa has a family of his own after meeting and falling in love with Emma, a librarian. The two marry and have a baby: so far so happy-ever-after.
However, as the pair settle into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Emma’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, until one day she commits an unthinkable act, setting Apollo on a wild and fantastical quest through a suddenly otherworldly New York, in search of a wife and child he no longer recognises.
An epic novel for our anxiety-ridden times, The Changeling is a tale of parenthood, love – in its most raw and brutal form – and, ultimately, humanity.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
One of the most popular fantasy books. The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Against the grey sky the towering tents are striped black and white. A sign hanging upon iron gates reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn
As dusk shifts to twilight, tiny lights begin to flicker all over the tents, as though the whole circus is covered in fireflies. When the tents are aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign lights up:
Le Cirque des Rêves
The Circus of Dreams
The gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition.
They swing outward, inviting the crowd inside.
Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.
All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths… When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world and live up to his reputation in near-future San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments. As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.
Gods of Jade and Shadow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Set in Mexico among fantasy books. The Jazz Age is in full swing, but it’s passing Casiopea Tun by. She’s too busy scrubbing floors in her wealthy grandfather’s house to do anything more than dream of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she could call her own.
This dream is impossible, distant as the stars – until the day Casiopea opens a curious chest in her grandfather’s room and accidentally frees an ancient Mayan god of death. He offers her a deal: if Casiopea helps him recover his throne from his treacherous brother, he will grant her whatever she desires. Success will make her every dream come true, but failure will see her lost, for ever.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed only with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City and deep into the darkness of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. One of the most popular among fantasy books.
D: A Tale of Two Worlds – Michel Faber
A children’s tale among fantasy books. It all starts on the morning the letter D disappears from the language.
First, it vanishes from her parents’ conversation at breakfast, then from the road signs outside. Soon the local dentist and the neighbour’s Dalmatian are missing, and even the Donkey Derby has been called off.
Though she doesn’t know why, Dhikilo is summoned to the home of her old history teacher Professor Dodderfield and his faithful Labrador, Nelly Robinson. And this is where our story really begins.
Set between England and the wintry land of Liminus, a world enslaved by the monstrous Gamp and populated by fearsome, enchanting creatures, D (Tale of Two Worlds) is a mesmerising tale of friendship and bravery in an uncertain world. Told with simple beauty and warmth, its celebration of moral courage and freethinking is a powerful reminder of our human capacity for strength, hope and justice. For the lovers of Faber among fantasy books.
The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins
A horror among fantasy books. Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.
After all, she was a normal American herself once.
That was a long time ago, of course. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father.
In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing―perhaps even dead―and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. For the ones looking for excitement among fantasy books.
The Ghost Bride – Yangsze Choo
An interesting one among fantasy books. Seventeen-year-old Li Lan lives in 1890s Malaya with her quietly-ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition – the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their son. The only problem is, he’s dead. After a fateful visit to the Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also her desire for the Lims’ handsome new heir.
At night she is drawn into the Chinese afterlife – a world of ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, monstrous bureaucracy and vengeful spirits. Enlisting the help of mysterious Er Lang (a dragon turned clerk) Li Lan must uncover the secrets of the ghost world – before she becomes trapped there forever. Set in China among fantasy books.
The Devourers – Indra Das
A Lambda winner among fantasy books. On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.
From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent. For the LGBTQ+ readers among fantasy books.
The House in the Cerulean Sea – TJ Klune
Linus Baker leads a quiet life. At forty, he has a tiny house with a devious cat and his beloved records for company. And at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, he’s spent many dull years monitoring their orphanages.
Then one day, Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a highly classified assignment. He must travel to an orphanage where six dangerous children reside, including the Antichrist. There, Linus must somehow determine if they could bring on the end of days. But their guardian, charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, will do anything to protect his wards. As Arthur and Linus grow ever closer, Linus must choose between duty and his dreams. A recent popular title among fantasy books.
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
A popular choice among fantasy books. Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.
Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes. A must-read among fantasy books.
Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay
A much-loved novel mong fantasy books. With this rich, masterfully written extravaganza of myth and magic, the internationally acclaimed author of THE FIONAVAR TAPESTRY trilogy has created an epic that will forever change the boundaries of fantasy fiction.
Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be free. A people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the tyrant King Brandin that even the very name of their once beautiful land cannot be spoken or remembered.
But not everyone has forgotten. A handful of men and women, driven by love, hope and pride, set in motion the dangerous quest for freedom and bring back to the world the lost brightness of an obliterated name: Tigana. This is a long one among fantasy books.
The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.
Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war among fantasy books.
Briefing for a Descent Into Hell – Doris Lessing
A fascinating look inside the mind of a man who is supposedly “mad.” Professor Charles Watkins of Cambridge University is a patient at a mental hospital where the doctors try with increasing drugs to bring his mind under control. But Watkins has embarked on a tremendous psychological adventure where, after spinning endlessly on a raft in the Atlantic, he lands on a tropical island inhabited by strange creatures with strange customs. Later, he is carried off on a cosmic journey into space… An interesting one from Lessing fantasy books.
The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
I know nothing. I am a tabula rasa, a blank sheet of paper, an unhatched egg. I have not yet become a woman, although I possess a woman’s shape. Not a woman, no: both more and less than a real woman. Now I am a being as mythic and monstrous as Mother herself . . . ‘
New York has become the City of Dreadful Night where dissolute Leilah performs a dance of chaos for Evelyn. But this young Englishman’s fate lies in the arid desert, where a many-breasted fertility goddess will wield her scalpel to transform him into the new Eve. For the lovers of Carter among fantasy books.
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
An exciting one among fantasy books. Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. An award-winning among fantasy books.
Circe – Madeline Miller
One of the most popular fantasy books. In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft.
When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.
So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss – the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man’s world.
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
What if, for once, the predictions are right, and the Apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?
It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon, now find themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.
And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist… One of the most popular fantasy books.
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Are there any other standalone fantasy books that should be on this list? Please share your favourite books with us in the comments section below.