I love reading fantasy literature in the winter. Maybe it’s the magic still lingering after a childhood of mysterious Santa visits, or the delicious escape of wrapping up in a blanket on a blustery winter’s night with a cup of hot chocolate and an adventurous tale. Or maybe it’s all the Baileys I load into said hot chocolate as an unhealthy but effective coping strategy for what has undoubtedly become a season of commercialism and unrealistic expectations complicated further by…
Sorry, where were we before I got all Bah Humbugh on you? Oh, yes. Winter. ‘Tis the season to indulge our literary fancies with a bit of fantasy literature. ‘Tis also the season to encourage gift-givers to buy books for the holidays. What better way to combine these two tis’ (I think that’s pronounced “tizzes”) than this handy gift guide for all the readers on your list? Culled from some of my favorites of 2009, these YA fantasy stories provide the perfect escape from a hectic holiday or blustery blizzard, with or without the Baileys.
Sarah’s Fantasy Book-Lovin’ Holiday Gift Guide
For an action-packed, post-Twilight, supernatural love triangle fix:
- The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, including CITY OF BONES, CITY OF GLASS, and CITY OF ASHES. In this fast paced, deftly written urban fantasy trilogy, Clare creates descriptive, intoxicating worlds, blending the grit and charm of New York City with a fantastic otherworld. Each book is packed with non-magical humans alongside your standard supernatural cast, including vampires, witches and warlocks, demons, werewolves, fairies, and other magical folk, but their rules and interactions are new and inventive. Packed with enough blood-and-guts gore to satisfy dark fantasy fans (and icky, bloodthirsty boys), the MI series also carries an intense, complicated love story with a bizarre twist that kept me reading for three consecutively sleepless nights. If all that’s not enough to tip your holiday wallet, There’s Jace. Clare’s deeply troubled demon hunter boy gives Edward Cullen a run for his money in the sexy, brooding, supernatural beau department. *drools*
From the publisher that brought you TWENTY BOY SUMMER (no, no bias here!) and TWILIGHT:
- BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I’m reading this now, and OMG wow. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is a beautifully told southern gothic fantasy with a male protagonist. I’m sure I’ll be gushing about it in more detail soon enough, but until I finish it, you’ll just have to take your chances. This book has already earned lots of awards and accolades, and Kami and Margie are fabulous, too. What’s not to love? Check. It. Out!
- ASH by Malinda Lo. You haven’t read a Cinderella story quite like this one. In Malinda Lo’s version, Cinderella’s famed Prince Charming… is a girl. Written in a haunting literary style with layers of love, loss, and adventure, ASH puts a fresh twist on an old favorite.
- PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS by Michelle Zink. Speaking of gothic… what happens when the forces of good and evil collide in an ancient, life-and-death prophecy that divides two sisters and all who love them? Set in 19th century upstate New York, PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS combines fantasy, mystery, friendship, romance, and horror in a chilling, lyrically written tale–the first of a planned trilogy. Fans of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy will love this one. Watch for the second book in the series, GUARDIAN OF THE GATE, in April 2010.
- THE DEVOURING by Simon Holt. Creepy, bone-chilling horror, old school style. A perfect blend of soul-snatching demons, frigid winter nights, and dark shadows lurking about. The perfect book to curl up and read under your Snuggie with a cup of hot cocoa (with or without Bailey’s). Just don’t read it when you’re home alone… especially not on December 21. Also check out SOULSTICE, book two in the series.
To get that Harry Potter Magic Lovin’ Feeling again:
- EYES LIKE STARS, by Lisa Mantchev. Okay, I can’t exactly describe what I mean by “Harry Potter Magic Lovin’ Feeling,” other than to say that the first time I read HP was around Thanksgiving several years ago, and I was just sucked into the whole magical wonderful world of Hogwarts and London and all the creative awesomeness that ensued. I’d been trying unsuccessfully to recreate that feeling with other books around the holidays — e.g. non-HP books. I’ve enjoyed lots of books since HP, but just not in the same way. Then along came EYES LIKE STARS, a clever mix of magic, theatre, and heart that brought me right up onstage, deep behind the scenes in a spectacular and wondrous new world where theatre really does come alive. I loved this book and can’t wait for the upcoming sequel, PERCHANCE TO DREAM.
For a can’t-go-wrong classic:
- THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy by JRR Tolkien, including THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, and THE RETURN OF THE KING. The ultimate epic fantasy. If you don’t know about this three-volume masterpiece (four if you count THE HOBBIT), then you are hereby banished until you’ve immersed yourself in this famed tale of adventure, friendship, good versus evil, and love. And no, it doesn’t count if you’ve only seen the movies. Read the books. Gift the books. Read and gift the books and discuss their rich literary majesty with everyone on your holiday list. Then go watch the movies again so you can drool over Viggo in his Aragorn gear. “You will suffer me.” *drool*
Check out the official Buy Books for the Holidays campaign site for more book lists, spotlight interviews with local independent bookstores, and information on literacy charities for year-end giving. Happy holidays and happy reading, all!