Books are our escape from reality. Many people resort to books to when they are bored or, in cases like mine, just because they feel like it. They provide solace and comfort and they are a sure form of entertainment to keep us busy. Books are of various genre like drama, non-fiction, mystery, thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, neo-noir and what-nots to suit our needs and tastes.
Many people read fantasy novels for their imaginary and fantastic worlds which one cannot experience in reality. They introduce us to people with abilities we’ll never meet and creature we never see. The author, with their words, transport us to their reality, which sometimes makes us yearn for those worlds than ours.
There are many novels which we haven’t read. Some because we couldn’t get hold of, some because of its bad reviews. Here is a list of few most underrated fantasy novels you either never heard of, or decided not to read.
1. Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke
Based on a fantasy novel itself, this series is one of its kind. Funke’s imagination is at it fullest when she describes the Inkworld, with cities like Ombra, Argenta and such. The vivid description and the rich storytelling is extremely captivating. For a young-adult novel series, this book deals with serious issues, and the author writes about people’s emotions in a way that you can relate to. This series is about love, betrayal, loyalty, trust, friendship, unity, in addition to the elements of fantasy. It makes us ponder on the repercussions of our interference in important matters and in a world where we don’t belong to, and how we end up being highly entangled in a web of conspiracy and politics.
2. The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan
The saga is a vampire-fantasy series, based in the US. One’s mind automatically thinks of Twilight when they hear the word vampire. But this is nothing like Twilight. This 12-book series, with an average of 100 pages per each book, is extremely practical, believable and a bit on the dark side. This book is about friendship, fate, sacrifices, pain, love, loyalty, sadness and death. The novel begins with the author telling that this is supposed to be a real story, and the way the author narrates it, you actually end up believing it to be a real thing. The simple narration adds to the emotions which the author tries to exhibit. One important lesson is taught in the end: Being a vampire isn’t as awesome as it sounds and, in fact, is the most painful and saddest thing that could ever happen.
3. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
An ongoing fantasy series, it is believed to be like The Harry Potter for the grown-ups. But except for the fact that is there is magic involved and there is a school that teaches magic, there are not much things that the two series share. In The Magicians, the author explains that magic just doesn’t involve swishing of the wand, but involves more skill, knowledge, power and stamina. Like the Inkheart, this book involves a magical land, Fillory, based on another fantasy book, which is the crux of the story. Again, it is said that Fillory is based on Narnia. In an interview, Lev Grossman admitted to the fact, saying that he wanted Fillory to be more consistent and real, unlike Narnia. Despite these infusions of two fantasy novel series, Grossman’s take on them in a more adult-like manner, with cold and stark feelings and emotions, makes it worth a read.
4. GameWorld Trilogy by Samit Basu
From an Indian author and one of the best example to prove that one can create fantastic stories using words, and that imagination has no limits. We are all pawns being played by ‘someone higher than us’, and when ‘they’ get bored, they destroy the world and create a new one. This is the essence of the series, and according to the author, this is why we fight wars, to satisfy those higher beings. In addition to these ideas, there stone bodyguards, shape shifters, demons and unwaba. The author takes us through the panoramic world, after-world, the non-existent world and justifies the actions of each character in the novel series. With an overwhelming plot twists, confusions, comedic melodrama, love, friendship and the transition of a person in search of his roots, this is a must-read, just to ponder upon the narrator’s ideas about our existence.
5. King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
Unlike other books in the list, this is a stand-alone book. Categorized under children’s fantasy, this is a wonderful novel involving time-travel. It focuses on the works of Shakespeare, with Shakespeare himself sharing the spotlight with the protagonist. The inception of A Midsummer’s Night Dream according to the author, and the relationship of Shakespeare and the protagonist in the book is the theme involved. Their bonding is that of a father-son, since both of them have lost a significant family member. The beautiful and touching explanation of Sonnet No. 116, which in the book is given by Shakespeare himself to the boy, is endearing and brings one to tears. It is an absolute must-read for children for its refreshing plot and wonderful storytelling.
This is not an exhaustive list of underrated fantasy novels. There are so much many more out there, which must be read just to experience and awe at the beauty of those imagined worlds we would never live in.