1. What is your fantasy origin story? (The first fantasy novel you read)
Well, if we don’t count children’s books about talking animals as “fantasy”, I think it was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and I was around… eight? Seven? I don’t remember. I really liked it and was obsessed with the elves, which by the way are kind of antagonists in this book. I’ve always liked that about characters, apparently?
2. If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?
…can I decline? 😬 Being anywhere in the story of a fantasy novels sounds like a terrible time, and all my favorite authors are not nice to their characters, so I don’t really have an answer. As far as tropes go: friendly ghosts and animal companions sound nice, so maybe that?
3. What is a fantasy you’ve read this year, that you want more people to read?
Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney! I mostly haven’t had the best luck with fantasy novels so far this year, but I loved this novella so much, and I wish more people would reach for this hallucinatory rococo fae book with a deep love for weirdness.
4. What is your favourite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?
My favorite subgenres are sci-fantasy and contemporary fantasy, because I like fantasy more when it overlaps with other genres. Subgenres I rarely reach for are grimdark, because a lot of it has a weird set of priorities (there are a lot of people there who believe only trauma can shape people and so write accordingly) and historical fantasy, because the whole genre seems to have a pacing problem (though I do like it anyway sometimes; an example is Renée Ahdieh’s The Beautiful).
5. Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?
I think that not until a long time ago I would have said Leigh Bardugo, but I still haven’t bought Ninth House and I’m not sure I will, so I’m not sure if I have an auto-buy author who writes primarily fantasy? I will for sure say that if Leigh Bardugo, Aliette de Bodard, C.L. Polk, S.A. Chakraborty, Seanan McGuire, or JY Neon Yang write a book, it will very easily end up on my radar, and they’re all primarily fantasy authors, but I’m not sure I consider any of them auto-buy.
[Editing!Acqua comment: love how this asked for one auto-buy fantasy author and I gave six that aren’t.]
6. How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..)
Goodreads, twitter, other blogs, occasionally booktube (though I don’t watch it as often as I did once).
7. What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee is my most anticipated release of the year, so that! It’s a Korean-inspired fantasy with a non-binary main character and… mecha dragons? Maybe? I haven’t read the synopsis because I don’t want to know too much. I broke my “no ARCs of novels” ban for it, and I got it.
[Editing Acqua: as of today, I’m currently reading it! And yes, it has a steampunk mechanical dragon and it’s my favorite character]
For something I don’t own yet, I’m really anticipating Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, since I really liked Girls Made of Snow and Glass back in 2017.
8. What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?
That fantasy and science fiction have nothing in common. I thought that too until I started reading science fiction, and look, most of the sci-fi that gets a lot of attention right now is basically fantasy with a magical science hat. (That’s why I love it.)
9. If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?
I… don’t know? It really depends on the person and what they want, fantasy is an enormous genre. Some books that have a chance to work for this, however, are:
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin: this is my recommendation if they like romance. I remember that it was easy to get through, full of surprises, and had a romance that was kind of addicting.
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire: some people like to start with a challenge, and this is a book that is challenging and deceptively easy to get through despite that;
- It’s not my favorite but I think A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab has the potential to draw in a lot of fantasy skepticals, because it has a really interesting set up and it’s just fun. Maybe not for people who are mostly for character-driven stuff, though.
These are all adult books with crossover appeal in the YA age range, so they could work for both categories. I’m sure that if I thought about it more I could find some that are even better for this but this specifically asked not to think too much about it, so I won’t.
10. Who is the most recent fantasy reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?
…this is probably a sign I should blog-hop more, because I really can’t think of any newly-discovered bloggers for this. I semi-recently (I think it was February? Oh am I losing track of time) started following StarlahReads on youtube, and while she is far from a fantasy-only reviewer, she does talk about fantasy and I really like her channel.
Do you also never have any idea what to answer when people ask for recommendations despite having an entire blog dedicated to books?