Top 10 Contemporary / Urban fantasy books
A definition of contemporary fantasy and urban fantasy might be that the story must contain magical elements within the real world but these magical elements must remain unknown to the majority of the world’s population.
- Ryhope Wood by Robert Holdstock
Deep within the wildwood lies a place of myth and mystery, from which few return, and none remain unchanged. Ryhope Wood may look like a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in rural Herefordshire on the outside, but inside, it is a primeval, intricate labyrinth of trees, impossibly huge, unforgettable... and stronger than time itself. Stephen Huxley has already lost his father to the mysteries of Ryhope Wood. On his return from the Second World War, he finds his brother, Christopher, is also in thrall to the mysterious wood, wherein lies a realm where mythic archetypes grow flesh and blood, where love and beauty haunt your dreams, and in promises of freedom lies the sanctuary of insanity...
Robert Holdstock was a famed fantasist during his lifetime and created a whole cycle of stories around Ryhope Wood, with this being the first book. The book is well written and draws you in so that, although you may not always understand what is happening to Steven as he is drawn further into his quest, by the end of the book, for all its savagery, you are hoping that there is, somewhere in this world, a wood like this in existence.
"Mythago Wood is a fantasy masterpiece." Fantasy Book Review
- Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend. There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave’s MR Big. Acheron Hades has been kidnapping certain characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing. Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn’t easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Perhaps today just isn’t going to be Thursday’s day. Join her on a truly breathtaking adventure, and find out for yourself. Fiction will never be the same again...
A blend of alternate history and comic fantasy it is grand reading material, combining excellent writing and great inventiveness with more great jokes and groan-worthy puns than you could shake a stick at." Fantasy Book Review
- The Stand by Stephen King
First came the days of the plague. Then came the dreams. Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil. His time is at hand. His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms. For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are listening to The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
"I first read The Stand in 1989 and I was completely blown away by it. The story, the characters, the tension - I had never read a book of its size so quickly. So, 23 years later I decided to read it again, finding that although I was able to remember certain parts, almost everything other than the memory of loving it had been forgotten. I found it interesting that King himself said, in the forward, that he doesn't think The Stand is amongst his best books, but the one he is asked most questions about. I would agree with the author here as books like It, SalemÂ’s Lot and The Shining are better-written books but there is just something about The Stand, and if the reader connects with it they are in for a thrilling ride." Fantasy Book Review
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Winner of the Newbery Medal. When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him - after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod's life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?
"If asked to put The Graveyard Book into a genre, I'd have to say: this is a Neil Gaiman book. It's in the Genre of Excellence" Fortean Times
"So, the advice is to read this book, unless you are Neil Gaiman, in which case you should really be writing more and more and..." Fantasy Book Review
- The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood
Duncton Wood is the moving love story of Bracken and Rebecca and the trials they must face and overcome to be as one. It is unfortunate that this work must be compared to Watership Down but that is the only book with which I can really compare it to in terms of story-line and excellence. This book is about moles and unlike anything you have ever read before. The animal kingdom is savage and survival of the fittest is a fact of life (or death). This is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting. The book was first published in 1980 and has since become a best-selling novel. A story of courage, loyalty and the power of love... inspired by the shadows and light of England's most beautiful countryside.
"An absolute spell-binder, by Lord of the Rings out of Watership Down. I found it enchanting, compulsive reading... I am still haunted by its beauty." Magnus Magnusson
"Duncton Wood is a truly breathtaking and enchanting read that reminds us how savage yet full of love the animal kingdom truly is." Fantasy Book Review
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who's parents have been killed in a 'car crash'. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher's Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?
"JK Rowling's tales of the boy wizard have become a phenomenon. The series has so far sold a staggering 400,000,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into over sixty-five different languages. There will always be debate over how good an author Rowling is but few can deny that she deserves the utmost acclaim for bringing the joy of reading to a new generation." Fantasy Book Review
- The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.
In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.
"King's magnificent uberstory is finally complete... King's achievement is startling; his characters fresh... his plot sharply drawn... It is magic." Daily Express
- John Cleaver series by Dan Wells
I Am Not A Serial Killer is the story of John Cleaver, a 15-year-old sociopath who works in a mortuary, dreams about death, and thinks he might be turning into a serial killer. He sets strict rules to keep himself Â“goodÂ” and Â“normal,Â” but when a real monster shows up in his town he has to let his dark side out in order to stop itÂ–but without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster heÂ’s trying to kill. John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. Obsessed with serial killers, he never wants to be one. Yet terrible impulses constantly tempt him. Having grown up helping his mom at the family mortuary, dead bodies are no big deal to John. He likes them, actually. They donÂ’t ask for the empathy heÂ’s unable to offer. Perhaps thatÂ’s what gives him the clarity to recognize that something is frighteningly different about the freshest body on the slab. For the first time, John must confront a danger outside his own mind, a threat he cannot control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.
- Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
I found this book really throws you into the deep end, leaving you guessing at the full extent of the how the world Lauren Beukes creates is different from our own. Zoo City, set in Johannesburg, invites us into the lives of the undesirables that the majority of the population like to pretend do not exist. But if they have to acknowledge them they will do so to blame them for all the world’s problems. At the same time, although you are thrown into the deep end it doesn’t mean that you’re frustrated as you’re given just enough information to keep you intrigued. Which gives you enough time to connect with the lead character Zinzi December, the so-called heroine of the novel. Zinzi is a survivor who has a talent for finding lost items for people and she ends up getting dragged into a hunt for a missing person, and that’s where her troubles begin…
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is as much loved today as it has ever been and the advent of the ebook has led to the book being free to those who able to read them. First published in 1900 when it became an international bestseller it is a relevant today as it was then. Amongst the most-read and most-influential children's books of all time. And you can read it for free.
- Without Warning by John Birmingham
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
- The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean
- Ryhope Wood by Robert Holdstock
- Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve
- Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde
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