Manga recommendations on Fantasy Book Review

Manga are Japanese comics conforming to a style developed in the late 19th century. In Japan, people of all ages read manga. The medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action-adventure, romance, sports and games, historical drama, comedy, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, suspense, detective, horror, sexuality, and business/commerce, among others. The term manga is a Japanese word referring both to comics and cartooning.

Recommended Reading

The fifth grade: the threshold to puberty and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a...

The Embalmer: Volume 1 by Mitsukazu Mihara
The Embalmer: Volume 1 cover image logo logo

Shinjyurou Mamiya, an embalmer in a nation where men of his profession are viewed as outcasts engaging in an unaccepted and unclean practice. For Shinjyurou, it's just a job. But in doing it, he's gained an understanding of death, and more important, what it truly means to live... 

"There is a lot of DOLL in this work as far as the art is concerned, as the style of the dresses creeps into the volume in general. The flow of the material, look, and use of ribbons and bows give the reader enough to be able to somehow link the two manga titles. Original, interesting, gothic and touching – an inspiring manga readers will find impressive."

The Star of Sorrow by Sunao Yoshida
The Star of Sorrow cover image logo logo

A mysterious terrorist organization is hell-bent on orchestrating a war between the New Human Empire and the Vatican. Special Ops AX Agent Abel Nightroad teams up with a spunky young novice named Esther to try and stop Gyula, the bloodthirsty Marquis of Hungary, from unleashing the legendary Star of Sorrow.

"So Gyula is not a normal textbook enemy by any means. The story is full of references to place names in the world of Trinity Blood, namely Istavan which gets mentioned mostly in this. Sunau has kept the book true to the graphic novels series, making the story interesting as well as shocking in places. Thores's artwork, mainly inked interior black and white plates in various intervals in the book are both illuminating and humorous, enhancing the overall look of the novel in a way that will be refreshing to the reader. Extras are at the end of the story in the form of a map of the world of Trinity Blood, complete with marked areas, place names, black and white plates of father Nightroad and Sister Esther, with poetry and mini posters of other manga novels. Trinity Blood: The Star of Sorrow is one hell of a book - deep, gripping and with art that defies belief."

Shojo Fashion Manga Art School by Irene Flores
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From 'dos to shoes, how you dress and style your characters says a lot about who they are, before they even utter a word. Whether your story calls for a flashy drama queen or a mousy bookworm, this guide contains everything you need to know to create fabulous shojo manga characters with personality.

"This wonderful book contains steps and instructions for how to draw the basic characters, then learn how to draw them in a typical manga style. This means that you have to perfect the basic poses which can be a bit difficult to start with, but before you take that leap, you need to know the basics first."

Shojo Fashion Manga Art School, Year 2: Draw Modern Looks by Irene Flores and Krisanne McSpadden
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Shojo Fashion Manga Art School Year 2 is a great accompaniment to the first book, and one of the nice touches to it is its age progression of characters from children to puberty, teens, young adults and older age characters. Irene and Krisanne give readers the know how to be able to draw all these characters using the basic structures, and tutorials on clothing. I found this to be a very useful book that can be for those who want to get into manga fashion. If you have ever wondered how to draw collars on men's shirts, there are open collars, straight, spread or button-down, and these two will show you how to get it onto paper, or Photoshop. All you have to do is follow the instructions, start with the basics and the rest will come to you naturally.

Mastering Manga with Mark Crilley by Mark Crilley
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Drawing isn't the easiest art out there, but with his step-by-step approach to drawing manga, Mark makes it seem easier than if you were trying to get there on your own. He creates a series of templates that are easy to build on, define and develop your own style from, and that is a valuable way to get drawing and potentially create your own portfolio.

Wandering Son: Volume 2 by Shimura Takako
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Shimura gives us yet another beautiful offering of emotional upheaval at school that we can take in on an emotional level, but I don't think such a book can really be enjoyed as it contains such sensitive issues many may find alarming.

How to Create Anthropomorphic Fantasy Creatures by Jared Hodges and Lindsay Cibos
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Jared and Lindsay originally brought us Draw Furries, the first in this series, and this one goes into more depth with various animals you can turn into composite people. They are an artistic duo who specializes in illustration and sequential art. They have previously created several graphic novels such as Peach Fuzz, and they have done several how-to books for IMPACTs art tutorial series. Having won the 2009 Ursa Major Award for Best Other Literary Work, their newest novel series is The Last of the Polar Bears for those who can't get enough of their art.

Vassalord: Volume 1 by Nanae Chrono
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Vassalord pulls you in with its witty dialogue and unique style - sensual and seductive it is one to keep a look out for.

Pixie: Volume 1 by Mariolle and Aurore
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Pixie is a beautiful vision of an enchanted fantasy land rich in detail and alive with colour. Mariolle and Aurore are a startlingly brilliant combination of Writer and Artist. In this volume is an added extra - there is an eight panel preview of the next volume of Pixie to whet the readers' appetite for more adventures. Pixie hooks the reader from the first page, the characters are bold, real and the art exceptional - I dare anyone to try and put this down!

Peacemaker Kurogane: Volume 1 by Nanae Chrono
Peacemaker Kurogane: Volume 1 cover image logo logo

Peacemaker Kurogane is bloody and violent and has a humanitarian edge to it about the ongoing wars. From the creator of Momo Tama and Vassalord, this is a new and interesting samurai warrior take with bloody fight scenes and characters who are believable and funny at times. Extras in the book include a post script about the artist and a special Bonus Manga excerpt of her new series Momo Tama Volume 1.

Death Note: Kindred Spirit by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
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The intrigue, suspense and sheer excitement shall give the reader enough to compel him or her to continue it through to the last volume to see who the victor will be. The penultimate volume is here, the battle is nearly over. Death Note is the ultimate in compelling suspense and tense drama.

EXOTIQUE 4 by Computer Graphics Society
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For those who like RPG art there are illustrations based on characters from Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, Propaganda Games, and Blitz Games. Many will be able to marvel at the familiar characters depicted there. Exotique 4 is an amalgamation of fantasy art that also includes sci-fi as well as some of the most in depth portrait art from both not known and well known artists at the moment; Fan Yang, Mario Wibisono, Joerg Warda, and Chris Ortega are just some of the best who have spared time to give people a good idea of what is inside their professional portfolio and from what can be seen, there is no room for disappointment.

EXOTIQUE 5 by Computer Graphics Society
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Exotique 5 proves itself as being just as good as the previous issue, if not better, and contains more than 200 illustrations that test the boundaries of what people view as art.

The Amalfie Bride by Ann Major and Marito Ai
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Known as Amalfie no Hanayome in the native Japanese, Marito Ai's artwork is a mix of Japanese style and European elegance. As a one-shot manga it has great appeal as Nico is one of the most handsome men a girl could ever want to meet. He oozes charm and sexuality, and it is right there on the page standing out at the reader, urging them to read on. Marito makes Regina look like a pretty young lady, as are most of the women in this manga. Ann Major's writing makes all the difference as the two make a great writer and artist team. It would be great to see more from them in the future.

Battle Royale Volume 6 by Masayuki Taguchi and Koushun Takami
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Having recovered from her fever, Noriko is now ready to travel, but her trip is cut short by the powerful Hiroki. Confronted by Shogo, the two come to blows until Shuuya intervenes. Inviting Hiroki to join them, the young martial artist briefly considers it, but ultimately goes his own way, revealing that he's searching for Kyoichi Motobuchi. Making plans to re-join the alliance as soon as he finds Kyoichi, Hiroki departs just as the alliance finds itself under attack. When it's discovered that the attacker is Kazuo, Shuuya agrees to distract him while Shogo and Noriko flee. It's a sacrifice that will cost him dearly. Shuuya survives, but just barely. Having caught several rounds from Kazuo's machine gun, it's only through the interference of Hiroki that Shuuya escapes with his life. Meanwhile, Shinji and Yutaka are on the verge of completing their plan to take out the "school," when the bumbling Yutaka loses an integral piece of equipment. With his temper slowly rising, how will the frustrated Shinji react?

"Takami and Taguchi hit all the bases with the martial arts angles, friendships and being under pressure, watching their friends die and the obligatory fan service for the boys. Battle Royale Volume 6 is just one of the shonen (boys category of series) that puts characters in a no win situation where they have to battle for their lives on a daily basis." Sandra Scholes

The Twelve Kingdoms Volume 1: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono
The Twelve Kingdoms Volume 1: Sea of Shadow cover image logo logo

This is a spectacular novel that mixes fantasy and reality in an ancient manga setting and a provocative and extremely satisfying read.

Case Closed: Volume 9 by Gosho Aoyama
Case Closed: Volume 9 cover image logo logo

The stories are gripping, have an element of humour that is endearing. As the novel states at the back, it does have realistic comic violence in it, but it is overshadowed by it being drawn in a very comical way.

Death Note: Finis by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Death Note: Finis cover image logo logo

The art is amazing and shows the tenseness of the circumstances Light, Teru, Near and their respective teams are in. The shadows and insanity of the characters give the series a new dimension not seen before and make this the best ever book in the entire anthology. The end is near, and as shocking as expected and truly satisfying. You'll be dying to reach the last page.

Luuna: Volume 1 by Didier Crisse and Nicolas Keramidas
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Luuna is an impressive first volume in a series that shows great promise, a great story and greater volumes to come.

Gakuen Alice: Volume 1 by Tachibana Higuchi
Gakuen Alice: Volume 1 cover image logo logo

Author of Swan Lake and A Portrait of M & N, Tachibana Higuchi has fashioned this manga rather different creatively to her normal, more serious work and made a young girl, Mican the focus. She is happy go lucky, funny and although she can get angsty at times, she quickly forgets what made her angry in the first place. As the reader explores this story, they will uncover the reality of the Academy as a place where special students go to expand their powers as each "Alice" subject has a unique power. Narami's ability is to use pheromones to attract both males and females, but what is Mikan's? And how will she fit into the Academy if she passes the test. Hilarious and fun characters, beautiful artwork and an original story make this a very special first volume.

Never Die by Rob J Hayes
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Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can't do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper's war.

"Without spoiling anything, I will say that a book that deals with the spiritual realm always allows for great potential to re-visit the world, and while it seems as though Rob intended Never Die to stand alone, the return of these engaging characters and well fleshed out setting would be extremely welcome. One of the best I’ve read in 2018 and I look forward to a great deal more from Mr. Hayes."

Speed Grapher Vol: 1 by Tomozo and Yusuke Kozaki
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Speed Grapher takes two people from different walks of life and throws them together. Saiga rescues Kagura from the Club, and takes her out of where she once called home with Shinzen and Choji and goes on the run. It is only a matter of time before Suitengu's men catch up with them, but while she has the freedom to come and go as she pleases, she enjoys it to the fullest as Saiga makes sure she is entertained. The story seems to revolve around Saiga and his friends, Choji and his nefarious associates and Kagura’s hurt at being used as a pawn in a very dangerous game. Rated 18, it's for mature adults to read, not younger teens as it contains some serious material which might not be suitable for all.

The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio
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The setting: a boys boarding school in Germany, sometime in the latter 20th Century. Fourteen year-old Thomas Werner falls from a lonely pedestrian overpass to his death immediately after sending a single, brief letter to a schoolmate: To Juli, one last time This is my love This is the sound of my heart Surely you must understand

"As far as manga goes, this was written way back in the seventies, and had an impact among the early shojo manga community due to its dark subject matter. Originally titled Thoma No Shinzou in its native Japanese, the story revolves around Thomas Werner and the impact his death will have on a fellow school student called Juli. Known for his pranks, it seems this time he went too far, at least according to his other school friends, but as the whole story goes on to mention how Thomas came to his end and what kind of life he had as a child, we get to know more about the kind of person he was and what drove him to such an end."

Fun to Draw Mini Mangas by T Beaudenon
Fun to Draw Mini Mangas cover image logo logo

Once the reader has got over that initial stage, there are pages of characters to go through and each one with a step-by-step way of drawing them in an easy way. From Cheerful Girl, Wind Dancer, Roller Skater, to Sled Rider, Boxer, Shy Girl and Cat Girl, there is something for everyone whether you're a girl or boy who wants to get into drawing in this style. From pencil sketch to final colour illustration, this book is ideal for either the beginner or budding artist as it contains easy to follow illustrations, and general looks that could persuade the reader to come up with styles of their own, and unlike many how to books, this one is anything but serious - it's amazingly funny and perfect to stave off those winter blues.

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Haigo
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories cover image logo logo

Forty years ago, the legendary manga artist Moto Hagio reinvented the shōjo (girl's comics) genre with an ongoing series of whip-smart, psychologically complex, and tenderly poetic stories. Here now, in English for the very first time, as the debut release in Fantagraphics Books' ambitious manga line of graphic novels, are ten of the very best of these tales.

"A Drunken Dream, the story that is named after the novel, has two boys who are resurrected and is one of many of Moto Hagio's early works. It can be seen with the general look of the artwork as well as the tone of the piece. It is as heart-warming as the rest of the stories, and the minimalist artwork fits in very well with the tender subject matter. The whole manga can be expressed using one word, compassion, as that is what the reader must feel for the characters displayed in here."

Manga Martial Arts by David Okum
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David Okum has taken all the knowledge he has acquired over the years and put it into this book that teaches teens or adults manga art who want to enjoy the feeling of creating your own work.

Lord Calthorpe's Promise Volume 1 by Sylvia Andrew and Rin Ogata
Lord Calthorpe\'s Promise Volume 1 cover image logo logo

Rin Ogata is the manga artist for this first in the series of novels and creates the look of the lord in the portrait on the cover of the book itself. He is full of self-importance, and oozes sensuality, some might call him a cad. She has a way of perfectly showing the various expressions on the faces of the characters that can create some of the most amazingly realized scenes in this manga recreation of a Harlequin novel of romance and sensuality.

The Sheik's Reluctant Bride by Teresa Southwick and Ayumu Asou
The Sheik\'s Reluctant Bride cover image logo logo

The artwork is striking and beautiful with the usual look of big eyes and kind smiles on almost every character. I found it highly appealing and would be surprised if others didn't take to it as it is a different way to take in Harlequin romance normally reserved for those who read text based stories from Mills and Boon. Adding a Japanese manga edge to the story was a great idea. It is interesting to note the sparkling eyes and doe eyed looks on the main characters face - it brings a whole new meaning to romantic art and fiction at its best. The way the hair flows and the general detail that has been put into this manga is amazing to look at and will thrill readers who like their manga exotic and intricate. This is an enthralling story that has rich artwork and bold characters.

Maximum Ride Volume 7 by James Patterson
Maximum Ride Volume 7 cover image logo logo

Fang's blog has brought ITEX and their cruel research to the world's attention, and his readers take a stand at the facility where Max and the girls are being held, shutting the organisation down. But Max isn't through saving the world yet! When the Flock is asked to aid a group of environmental scientists studying the effects of global warming, the expedition seems like a perfect combination of adventure and activism. But even in Antarctica, Max is an irresistible target with the eyes of the world upon her. For whoever controls her powers could also control the world...

"While Ari closely resembles Wolverine from the X-Men, Patterson goes onto parody the characters as having mutant-like traits from these comics. Max is a strong female role model while Ari tries desperately to change who he is and find Max. This manga shows that anyone can change, even the bad guys." Sandra Scholes, Fantasy Book Review

Yu-Gi-Oh! R Volume: 1 by Kazuki Takahashi and Akira Ito
Yu-Gi-Oh! R Volume: 1 cover image logo logo

Yugi's back for another duel, but this time, it's personal A Wicked Shadow! In order to draw Yugi out, Yakou kidnaps Tea Gardner. To rescue her, Yugi and his friends will have to battle their way to the top of the Kaiba Corp. building. Will Yugi have enough strength left to defeat Yakou? Yugi Muto defeated many opponents over the years and now one of the most skilled and driven of his enemies, Yakou Tenma, is looking for some payback. But Yakou has his reasons for wanting to take Yugi down, and he won't stop until he accomplishes his goal.

"What is fun to note is that all the enemy minions are cocky about their abilities, and they should be, as they have a leader in Yako Tenma. All the enemies are well drawn, but the best has to be Pete Coppermine who is nothing like his name." Sandra Scholes

Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play: Vol: 7 Castaway by Yuu Watase
Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play: Vol: 7 Castaway cover image logo logo

Written way back in 1992, much of Yuu Watase's art closely resembles that of the characters from Dragonball Z, though it is this style that shaped Western interest in all things manga and anime. Here Miaka is still on her quest to win her friend Yui back and she can only do this if she performs a summoning to ask Suzaku for her wish to be her friend again. After a summoning ceremony, Miaka is given another chance by the oracle Tai-Yi-Jun.

Rebirth: Volume: 3 by Woo
Rebirth: Volume: 3 cover image logo logo

This, unlike most of Tokyopop’s other titles, reads left to right, as does the majority of Western manga, but judging by the cover art I thought this series would be a good one. Rebirth is an action/fantasy manga that, like a great deal of manga around is made for the Japanese readership based on Buddhist myth.

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Volume 1 by Kou Sasakura
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Volume 1 cover image logo logo

For a first volume, Kou puts readers into the situation Hector is in, and also throws the Belmonts in as well. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is a tense, theatrical take on the Dracula theme and his art does justice to Ayami Kojima's original concepts of the characters.

Shojo Manga Colouring by Supittha Annie Bunyapen
Shojo Manga Colouring cover image logo logo

Supittha really knows her subject matter, makes the girls cute and the guys even cuter. This is perfect for any age, from young teens as it is different from the standard colouring in books available. There are 45 different characters that are just dying to be coloured in by bright young things, and for those who want to take it a bit further, they can take up free bonus activities that are available online.

Crown: Volume 1 by Shinji Wada and You Higuri
Crown: Volume 1 cover image logo logo

3Crown establishes itself from the moment it is read as a thriller thanks to Shinji Wada's weaving an extremely fun story full of thrills, chills and ranging emotions. The three main characters gel really well despite all the chaos surrounding them. This manga is wonderful, yet it could have been made more interesting as the boy's love in it was more suggested than seemingly real - some fans will not be satisfied with this hint at a romance. It is hoped in the next volume that the love blossoms more to keep the fans content. Shinji and You have created a great thriller between them that will appeal to both guys and girls alike. The artwork as usual is perfect and detailed.

Nana: Volume 19 by Ai Yazawa
Nana: Volume 19 cover image logo logo

The tabloid feeding frenzy has finally brought Blast down, but Nana is determined to keep hope alive. She's going to take a gig as a solo artist, and even accept acting jobs she has no interest in. As long as she keeps herself in the spotlight, she knows there's a chance Blast can make a comeback. But while all eyes are on Nana, what's happening to her friends in the background? Nana 'Hachi' Komatsu hopes that moving to Tokyo will help her make a clean start and leave her capricious love life behind her. Nana Osaki, who arrives in the city at the same time, has plans to score big in the world of rock'n'roll. Although these two young women come from different backgrounds, they quickly become best friends in a whirlwind world of sex, music, fashion, gossip and all-night parties.

"Ai Yazawa has succeeded in creating a manga that can appeal to those interested in the cute and punk side of everyday life and serves as a slice of life drama for both Nanas to be in. The artist intermixes drawn manga with actual photographs to bring out the realism of the manga." Sandra Scholes

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Recommended reads by sub-genre

Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.

High fantasy books
High fantasy

Fantasy set in an alternative, fictional world
Epic fantasy books
Epic fantasy

Fantasy with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery fantasy books
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery

Fantasy with heroic adventures
Contemporary / Urban fantasy books
Urban fantasy

Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
Historical fantasy / fiction

Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Parallel worlds.
Parallel universe

Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science fantasy / Speculative fiction books
Science / Speculative

Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Children's fantasy books
Children's Fantasy

Fantasy for ages up to 12
Young adult fantasy books
Young Adult

Fantasy for ages 12+
Adult fantasy books
Adult Fantasy

Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian fiction
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Image derived from Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns book cover
Monarchy / Empire

Fantasy books with empires at their core
Gothic fiction books
Gothic Fiction

Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Vampire fiction
Vampire Fiction

Fiction with vampiric characters
Werewolf fiction
Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
Steampunk books

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Dragon fiction
Dragon Fiction

Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Wizards / Magicians

Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Military Fantasy

Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Praetorian cover image
Roman historical fiction

Explore the ancient Roman Empire
An image of Darth Bane, taken from the cover of a Star Wars book
Star Wars

Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
An image taken from the front cover of The Wind in the Willows
Animal fantasy books

Fantasy with sentient animals
An image taken from the front cover of Giant Thief.
The Thief / Assassin

Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
An image taken from the front of hush, hush.

Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
An image portraying manga art.

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows

Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
An image portraying comic fantasy.
Comic Fantasy

For the reader who loves to laugh
An image of J. R. R. Tolkien
Inspired by Tolkien

Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The Time Traveller's Almanac

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies