First and foremost, I have to dedicate this reccommendation to the faerie queen Holly Black. It was hard for me to not reccommend only her books, because she’s talented in the area of introducing faerie to urban/contemporary fantasy. So, I only included two.
Whereas vampires and werewolves were popular in the early 2000s, it appears that faeries/fae have been gaining more popularity in the past few years. I’ve always been fascinated by the fairies and have been since I was a child. Many authors thrive at incorporating Celtic folklore into their works, while others prefer to concentrate on their own. Nonetheless, we all have to start somewhere, and the fantasy genre can be daunting and overwhelming initially.
Here are some books that do a good job of not throwing you in at the deep end of the faerie realm but let you slowly ease in.
1. ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest‘ by Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary Fantasy
The storey follows twins Hazel and Ben, who dwell in Fairfold, a peculiar town where Fae reside directly next door in the forest. The twins have been aware of the fae’s existence from being little, and they adored the boy who has spent generations asleep in a glass coffin in the woods.
Until he awakens one day, and Hazel’s journey starts where she discovers that fairies are far more dangerous than everyone believed. Her entire world alters, and she must keep her wits about her if she is to keep those she loves safe in a world where innocent play of knights in shining armour saving the sleeping prince turns into real life.
Although not Holly Black’s first faerie novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest was the first I read, and it’s what got me hooked on her writing and all things faerie. Black is a gifted and efficient writer, and this book brilliantly demonstrates this. It’s first in the list because it was my first faerie book and I think it did a wonderful job introducing me to the world of fae and urban fantasy.
In this novel, the sibling interaction is depicted wonderfully, with a hint of romance thrown in the mix. Whereas many YA books largely revolve around romance, this one does not, which is refreshing and intoxicating. After just a taste of the faerie realm, we’re left with a want for more of the twisted, sardonic, and intoxicating decadence.
2. ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses‘ by Sarah J Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA, NA, Retellings, Fae
The theme of this book is survival. Feyre is dragged to the dangerous yet magical faerie kingdom following slaying a wolf while out hunting in the depths of winter to feed her starving family to survive. Feyre must keep her wits about her to simply stay alive as a plain human girl surrounded by fairies. However, as she learns the truth about her captor, passion blooms between them, and Feyre must once again rely on her survival skills to survive the perilous faerie realm.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first installment of the series, with it containing 4 novels and 1 novella. Sarah J Maas has created an incredible Beauty and the Beast retelling that yet manages to astound us with all of the shocking revelations.
My favourite fairytale retelling, and it does a wonderful job of presenting you to the faerie world through Feyre’s perspective. Despite the fact that it is labelled as a Young Adult novel, many individuals believe it is too mature for the younger end of the audience, and that older teens are better suited to reading it.
3. ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone‘ by Laini Taylor
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Karou, a seventeen-year-old Prague art student, isn’t your usual teenager. She possesses bright blue hair that grows straight out of her head, hamsa tattoos on her palms, and the ability to grant wishes. Her classmates like the wickedly gorgeous creature she depicts in her artwork, but they have no idea they’re authentic.
Karou isn’t your typical adolescent; she explores the globe in search of teeth for the chimaera who raised her. A hauntingly beautiful angel assists her in discovering the truth about herself, as she has no memory of who she is other than the chimaera. Learning her true identity and unveiling secrets of a violent past ignites an unearthly war. With Karou at the centre.
When I was sixteen, I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone for the first time, and it made me fall in love with reading all over again. Laini Taylor published the book in 2011 and since then has developed and explored her universe with two other series. Taylor’s writing and storytelling are engrossing for adolescent girls, and she writes excellently for YA.
Despite not being in the faerie genre, I included this one because it does a fantastic job of introducing you to non human characters and worlds. Through the viewpoint of Karou, we discover all of the truths alongside her, and it compels us to keep reading to uncover them faster.
4. ‘The Iron King‘ by Juilia Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance, Faerie, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Megan has felt out of place ever since her father disappeared ten years ago. Megan’s home and school lives are both bleak and miserable, leaving her feeling as if no one besides her one friend, Robby, and younger brother, Ethan, are conscious of her existence.
This all changes on her sixteenth birthday, when everything she’s ever known completely changes. From a mysterious stranger watching her from afar, Megan learns of her true heritage and what the cost is.
The Iron King was released a few years after Twilight by Stephanie Meyer was published and just a year after the film debuted and it seemed to fill the paranormal romance hole in many readers hearts. Although it isn’t on my ultimate top ten list, I believe it does a wonderful job of introducing you to the world of the Fair Folk, and with nine books in the series, it also explores it thoroughly. The writing is appropriate for younger readers, so I’d encourage it if you’re not already an avid reader.
5. ‘Tithe‘ by Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Faeries, Romance
Sixteen year old Kaye goes from a chaotic, nomad way of life to an insanely dangerous one. Usually, her mother relocates from city to city with Kaye towing along behind. But a trip back to her childhood home leads to her discover a mysterious, white haired young man bleeding to death in the woods. After saving his life, Kaye is plundged into an inhumane world containing two faerie kingdoms, that could ultimatley lead to her death as well as her true identity.
Tithe is book one of three in Modern Fairy Tales and leaves us craving more. A wonderfully written, darkly engrossing work that perfectly immerses us in urban fantasy. Everything is flipped upside down rapidly, and just like Kaye, all we can do is take in everything as it goes on.
The Modern Fairy Tale Series is a phenomenal and remarkable introduction to the world of fairies without unloading too much too fast. Everything is thoroughly explained, allowing readers to better comprehend and appreciate the tale in each book. The best part about this amazing series is that it’s in the same universe as The Folk of the Air, Holly Black’s most successful series to date.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
Celeana Sardothien, an eighteen yea old assassin, is taken from the salt mines where she’s been laboring in order to compete in a competition to select a new royal assassin. The first book in the series, Throne of Glass, is the first in a series of seven novels. From the first to the last book in the series, there has been a clear, consistent evolution that takes it from a novice to an advanced read.
Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Deirdre is a painfully timid sixteen-year-old who is nevertheless an exponentially talented musician. She becomes the Faerie Queens’ target for her musical ability after discovering she is a cloverhand, an individual who can see faeries. Maggie Stiefvater manages to develop a dark faerie tale that is rich in Celtic lore, leaving readers fulfilled.
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