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March 22, 2019 at 07:19 AM UTC

1. Chanda Hahn – An Unfortunate Fairy Tale series
2. Brenda Hiatt – Starstruck series
3. RJ Larson – Books of the Infinite series

Sara Eves

March 18, 2019 at 10:54 AM UTC

I’m loving Melanie Cellier’s fairy tale lands.
Septimus Heap by Angie Sage has another of my favorite worlds.

I can’t say that I appreciate Mercedes Lackey’s world. I still can’t scrub my brain clean enough from reading one of her fairytales and inadvertently getting some unwanted sex ed.

Kim Gregory

March 15, 2019 at 04:32 PM UTC

Jeff Wheeler’s worlds that run through each of his series.


March 15, 2019 at 06:54 AM UTC

the false prince series is amazing


March 15, 2019 at 06:16 AM UTC

Fablehaven and Gregor the over lander are two of my faves besides narnia


April 04, 2019 at 01:58 PM UTC

Fablehaven is super cool! I loved reading that series.


March 15, 2019 at 02:10 AM UTC

REDWALL!!!! By Brian Jaques. The whole world. While the series centers around the brave & peaceful creatures of Redwall Abbey, and their near-constant quest to stay free from evil bad-guys, the history, naming, storytelling of the world are amazing…and don’t even get me started on the songs & the food!!!
The map tends to morph depending on the story in question, but locations, characters, & events carry over, even though each book is stand alone.


March 14, 2019 at 11:56 PM UTC

Pretty much any series by Brandon Sanderson, but especially his Stormlight Archives. And of course, Robert Jordan 🙂


March 14, 2019 at 09:06 PM UTC

My other favorite fantasy universes:
-InCryptid/Ghost Roads by Seanan McGuire. Urban fantasy, with an endless variety of supernatural creatures (cryptids) and types of magic. The afterlife alone is a realm unto itself, with its own set of rules.
-The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Another urban fantasy with endless permutations of magic and creatures, but one of my favorite features is the power given to faith. Religion for once isn’t the bad guy, nor is it something people only give lip service to. “God works in mysterious ways” is akin to a superpower that a few characters with sincere beliefs can employ to work for good.
-The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. Hundreds of alternate universes, connected by an invisible magical library whose connections to the worlds are strengthened by the books inside it. Chaos and order are represented by Fae and Dragons, respectively. What’s not to love?
-The World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold. The way religion works in this universe is also incredibly crafted. It’s not really based on any real-world religion, which is rare; Bujold has impressively crafted her own from scratch.
-Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal. Jane Austen with illusion magic.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Tortall and Young Wizards mentioned by others are some of my favorite YA fantasy universes that I have loved for many years, as is the Ella Enchanted universe by Gail Carson Levine and the Percy Jackson universe by Rick Riordan. (Ignore the less-than-impressive movies for both of those)

Klint Walker Golden

March 14, 2019 at 07:14 PM UTC

I don’t know really, I like most off the the fantasy books I have read. I know I enjoyed Enchanted Forest Chronicles a lot. I think that is one of the ones I have re-read the most. I have not read The Chronicles of Narnia in years. The Disc World novels are also a hoot and I love to re-read them. I think the ones where I feel I could excel at if I were to portal to are the ones I enjoy the most. This is probably why I enjoy game lit so much as well.


March 14, 2019 at 06:00 PM UTC

The Bitterbynde Trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton has me immersed and enthralled with her world building and characters. I’m reading it slowly to savor. The Ill Made Mute is the first volume.

Merie Shen

March 14, 2019 at 01:03 PM UTC

The Foxcraft Trilogy by Inbali Iserles– it’s amazing and so rich and vivid and ANIMAL FANTASY with foxes. *sigh* Also wolves. Also the romance is so sweet and the characters so lovable… And Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland is an awesome dragon fantasy series!!


March 14, 2019 at 10:31 AM UTC

The “Young Wizards” series by Diane Duane. A cross between urban fantasy and light sci-fi… and they just keep getting better. There’s also a “Feline Wizards” spin-off trilogy, but it’s a good idea to get a handle on the Young Wizards world first. They have everything. Wizardry. Aliens. The Sidhe. Autism. Artificial intelligence. Intercultural miscommunication. Time travel. EVERYTHING.

If you like Harry Potter, give these a shot. They’re also about a hidden world of wizardry (although wizardry isn’t like the magic you know from Harry Potter; one of the MANY differences is that it gives you what you NEED, so when one of the main characters casts a wizardry to get her special pen back from the bully who stole, she ends up with a sentient white hole with hiccups. Named Fred. This is the answer to her problem. As she said: “If he’s the answer, I don’t know that I understood the question…”). The villain… oh, the villain. He makes Lord Voldemort look like a fluffy pink baby bunny with the word “boo” painted on its little twitching nose (for example, one of the things he’s called is “Starsnuffer”… because if he decides you’re being more than usually bothersome, he’ll come to your planet AND PUT OUT THE SUN to get rid of you). As the series goes on, the moral dilemmas become more and more grey – with stakes that cut to the heart. The “Muggle”-equilvalent characters – those without wizardry – are FAR from helpless (one of them prevented interplanetary war with a chocolate bar. And an atom destabiliser, but the chocolate was the deciding factor).

And don’t ever watch alien cooking shows, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Klint Walker Golden

March 14, 2019 at 07:18 PM UTC

Oh I havent re-read these in such a long time.


March 14, 2019 at 10:27 AM UTC

Pern— Anne McCaffrey, The Deed of Paksenarrion—Elizabeth Moon These two also blew my mind when I read them. Some of these series you all have mentioned I haven’t read…I can’t wait!


March 14, 2019 at 08:06 AM UTC

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this right away: The Blue Sword and The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley…Brilliant! My paperback copies are falling apart, I’ve read them so much.

TJ Swalm

March 14, 2019 at 07:49 AM UTC

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles will always hold a special place in my heart those were the books that actually got me into reading and theyre still great even reading them years later. I also love the world Patricia C Wrede created in her Frontier Magic series the alternate America with magic being a subject you learn in school while expanding into the western unexplored part of the country I’m always fascinated by how well put together the world is


March 14, 2019 at 12:56 AM UTC

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Andrea M Wallace

March 14, 2019 at 12:42 AM UTC

I loved seeing the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and the Prydain Chronicles on your post, you don’t hear about them often enough! As far as hilarity with retelling, My Fair Godmother and the succeeding books by Lanette Allison are a hoot. She does a great job mixing and matching several fairy tales within each story.

Andrea M Wallace

March 14, 2019 at 01:39 AM UTC

Stupid autocorrect, the author is Janette Rallison.


March 13, 2019 at 10:41 PM UTC

Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series is absolutely fabulous. It is a must if you are in love with the written word.


March 15, 2019 at 06:12 AM UTC

i agree the Inkheart trilogy is amazing


March 13, 2019 at 10:30 PM UTC

The Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson. He’s such a great storyteller and the humor in it is fantastic!


March 13, 2019 at 09:41 PM UTC

The destined series by kaylin lee
Creepy hollow series by Rachel morgan
Iron fae series and talon saga by Julie kagawa
The lunar chronicles by Marissa meyer


March 13, 2019 at 09:06 PM UTC

You already mentioned Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patrica Wrede, but I also love her Frontier Magic world.


March 13, 2019 at 08:55 PM UTC

The Iron Fae series by Julie Kagawa, and her new series Shadow of the Fox.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.


March 13, 2019 at 10:45 PM UTC

Love these

Kim Gregory

March 13, 2019 at 08:50 PM UTC

Melanie Cellier’s Fairy Tale Re-tellings series The Four Kingdoms and Beyond the Four Kingdoms.


March 18, 2019 at 11:09 PM UTC

Love Melanie Cellier’s books. 🙂

Kim Gregory

March 13, 2019 at 09:11 PM UTC

Oh my, I was just reading something from a past post and saw Shari Tapscott’s name there. I loved her world in The Eldertimber Series. I could see it so clearly!


March 13, 2019 at 09:00 PM UTC

I second that too! The kingdoms are awesome.


March 13, 2019 at 08:52 PM UTC



March 13, 2019 at 08:33 PM UTC

John Flanagan’s Ranger’ Apprentice. This is the one series that EVERYONE in my family agrees is good. From my mom to my grandpa and everyone inbetween. We all love this series. His Brother Band series is pretty good too.

Hannah Hill

March 13, 2019 at 08:25 PM UTC

I’ve completely fallen in love with the Fairytales of Folkshore series by Lucy Tempest (discovered through y’all’s fairy tale event last month – thank you!). She’s only done the first tale, but it’s a trilogy so there’s a good bit of world-building in it. Can’t wait for the next book to come out!


March 13, 2019 at 08:15 PM UTC

An Unfortunate Fairy Tale by Chanda Hahn!


March 14, 2019 at 12:55 AM UTC

this is such a good series


March 13, 2019 at 10:28 PM UTC



March 13, 2019 at 07:54 PM UTC

Tortall series- Tamora Pierce
Dragonriders of Pern, Acorna, Rowan, and Petaybee series – Anne McCaffrey


March 13, 2019 at 07:34 PM UTC

Adding to the Mercedes Lackey love: Heralds of Valdemar. Especially jumps between centuries and tech advancements/cultural shifts, and changes in clothing and language


March 13, 2019 at 07:32 PM UTC

Keeper of the Lost Cities- Shannon Messenger

Best Fantasy Worlds

Best Fantasy Worlds

In the past we’ve had great fun discussing some of our favorite fairy tale retellings, so I thought in celebration of my Fairy Tale Enchantress series–which essentially pulls my entire fairy tale world together, we could list some of the best fantasy worlds we’ve read! The following books vary in terms of violence and romance, but the reviews should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Important note, in the interest of keeping my “Best of” booklists varied, I’m going to try to not include the same authors/books over and over, so if I haven’t included a particularly famous book, chances are its because I’m planning to include it in another booklist, but please feel free to call out your favorites in the comment section! But for now, we’re covering the kings of fantasy world building.

Middle Earth: By J R R Tolkien Of course, we start with the strongest, Middle Earth! Tolkien breathed life into his world, not only giving it individual races but complex languages, different cultures, and eons and eons of history. Middle Earth continues to inspire the entertainment industry today, and has forever changed the fantasy genre. If you’re looking for sprawling landscapes and endless adventures, this is your world.

Narnia: By C. S. Lewis It’s difficult to describe what makes Narnia so special. I think it’s because it perfectly captures the wonder of childhood with its talking animals, deep magic, and–of course–Aslan. Narnia is the fairy-tale world every child wants to live in. It has everything from adventure on the high seas to horse stories, fauns, and more. If you’re looking for a story of comfort and brightness, Narnia is yours for the taking.

Hogwarts: J. K. Rowling No fantasy world list could be complete without a nod to J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world, but I specifically chose Hogwarts because to me that’s where much of the magic and incredible settings occur. But really, Rowling creates a spellbinding world with extraordinary attention to detail–from food and drinks to stores and cafes and beyond! If you want to laugh at the shenanigans of magic and get lost in a world, Hogwarts is the one for you.

Innkeeper World: Iona Andrews The Innkeeper world is a perfect blend of fantasy, paranormal, and a dash of sci fi. It possesses all the fun and fantastical elements of Hogwarts, with the vast universe of magic like Middle Earth, with a dash of Men In Black thrown in. The books in this series are fun, fast paced, and have all kinds of amazing plot twists, plus it has some of the most unique world lore/magic mash up I have ever seen. (Let’s just say werewolves and vampires are real…but they don’t usually live on earth.) The basic premise of the series is this: Innkeepers (as our heroine is) are responsible for running safehouses where magical, alien races can stay at, or meet in to discuss political talks, on neutral territory. If you want to see the modern day world through new eyes, or perhaps a more adult version of Rowling’s wizarding world, I cannot recommend the Innkeeper Chronicles enough to you!

Aileen Travers: by TA White If paranormal/urban fantasy is more your speed, than the Aileen Tavers series is all for you! Filled with all kinds of fantastical creatures and races, the Aileen Tavers series is essentially our world with the secret of vampires, fairies, pixies, and more hidden in the shadows. In this series TA White spins some of the most incredible plotlines using different kinds of magic and races, and she puts everything in a whole new spin. (The vampire politics in this series are honestly probably the most refreshing and unique I’ve seen in ages.) Aileen is the title character who was (unwillingly) turned into a vampire. The vampire who did so dropped her and ran, abandoning her to a new life in the fantastical world she previously didn’t know existed. The series has humor, amazing world building, and is loads of fun!

The Five Hundred Kingdoms: By Mercedes Lackey In the Tales of Five Hundred Kingdoms, Lackey takes common fairy tales stories and tropes, weaves them together, and then turns them on their head. The books are stand alone, but filled with hilarious and witty banter, lots of twists, and original takes on fairy tale elements. In the first book we meet Cinderella–whom tradition dictates would normally go to a ball and wed a prince. There’s just one problem, the prince of her country is a child. So instead she becomes a Fairy Godmother, and watches/protects multiple countries. If you love fairy tales and laughter, this is a series you need to dive into!

Of course there are dozens more series that I would love to include on the list, so I’m going to add in a few honorable mentions here, and what better way to start the honorable mentions than with a self-promo plug? (Ahaha thank goodness this is my own website, or this might be awkward.)

Other honorable mentions:

  1. Fairy Tale Enchantress by K. M. Shea

  2. Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

  3. the Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore

  4. Damar, which appears in two of Robin McKinley’s works

  5. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy,

  6. Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede

What series do you think have the best fantasy world building in them? List them in the comments down below, and share this post with a friend! (Because who doesn’t need more book recommendations??)

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