Recommended Children's Fantasy Books

Children's fantasy has always been a strength of the genre and today it is fortunate to play host to the world's most gifted storytellers. Classics include The Wind in the Willows, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And in recent times Harry Potter, The Edge Chronicles, The Bartimaeus Trilogy and the Spook's series have ensured that children have some wonderful books to fire their imagination.

Recommended Reading

"A true genius ... Roald Dahl is my hero" David Walliams

"Terror, wonder, love of language and hints at a wide and fantastic world, The BFG has it all. I can only echo the BFG's words about his own favourite book, Nicholas Nickleby by Darlse Chickens: "I is reading it hundreds of times and I is still reading it and teaching new words to myself and how to write them. It's the most scrumdiddlyumptious story"." Fantasy Book Review

On a dark, silvery moonlit night, Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant. Luckily it is the Big Friendly Giant, the BFG, who only eats snozzcumbers and glugs frobscottle. But there are other giants in Giant Country. Fifty foot brutes who gallop far and wide every night to find human beans to eat. Can Sophie and her friend the BFG stop them? Let's hope so - otherwise the next child a gruesome giant guzzles could be YOU.

First published in 1937, The Hobbit is one of the few real classics of English children's literature. A story to stand beside Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down. And while the book recently voted the most popular of the 20th Century might need no introduction, The Hobbit nevertheless is one to The Lord of the Rings, for that novel is the epic sequel to this, smaller, simpler, but no less enjoyable tale. Here are the first steps where "roads go ever ever on", until one day we come to journey's end, changed forever by JRR Tolkien's enchanted way with words. Really, every child, of every age, should own one.

"A flawless masterpiece ... One of the most influential books of our generation." The Times

"The Hobbit is quite simply a must read, a real delight." Fantasy Book Review

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell are the creators of the hugely successful Edge Chronicles, which have sold over two million copies and have been translated into over thirty languages worldwide.

"A richly inventive fantasy . . . one of the most exciting collaborations between a writer and illustrator for a long time." The Literary Review

"One of the most original fantasy series available today. So don your crushed funnel hat, comb your neck beard, lick your eyes and prepare yourself for the experience of a lifetime." Fantasy Book Review

Fourteen-year-old Quint Verginix is the only remaining son of famous sky-pirate Wind Jackal. He and his father have journeyed to the city of Sanctaphrax – a great floating rock, bound to the ground below by a chain, its inhabitants living with their heads literally in the clouds. But the city hides a dangerous secret: deep inside the great rock, something horrible lurks. With his father away, Quint may be the only one who can save Sanctaphrax from the dreaded curse of the gloamglozer...

This is the story of the last unicorn on earth. She has lived contentedly alone for hundreds of years, and would have continued to do so, believing that there were others of her kind somewhere in the world, had she not heard a huntsman say that she was the last of her kind. Afterwards she could have no peace of mind until she left the safety of the enchanted wood and searched for another unicorn. Once she leaves the wood she is exposed to the covetous gaze of men and there is danger at every turn.

"The plot is a classic quest structure-an impossible goal, a motley company, heroes, villains, monsters, magic, desperate chances, bittersweet success. The last unicorn in the world sets out from her enchanted wood to discover the fate of her kin… In the process she becomes, briefly and agonizingly, human… What makes The Last Unicorn unique is the way Mr. Beagle transcends the ordinary fantasy quest trope with his incomparable storytelling skill. The book is a triumph… The writing is as precise and beautiful as mosaic tiles, as coloured glass backed by gold, sharp and glittering. Part of the wonder is the effortless way Mr. Beagle combines fairy-tale imagery with matter-of-fact modernity. He slides easily from a heroic fantasy to laugh-out-loud funny: a sorcerer confronts an enemy with ‘demons, metamorphoses, paralysing ailments and secret judo holds’; a prince rides home singing in harmony with the severed ogre’s head lashed to his saddle. The story has an intimacy and immediacy that captivates the reader. You don’t read this with the futile wish that such things would happen to you-you read it and believe, at once, that they could.”" The Green Man Review

Listen then, and I'll tell you again of the Battle of the Rock. But none of your usual wriggling, or I'll stop before I've begun . . .

Halli loves the old stories from when the valley was a wild and dangerous place - when the twelve legendary heroes stood together to defeat the ancient enemy, the bloodthirsty Trows.

Halli longs for adventure but these days the most dangerous thing in the valley is boredom. He tries to liven things up by playing practical jokes. But when one of his jokes goes too far, he reawakens an old blood feud and finds himself on a hero's quest after all. Along the way he meets a ruthless thief, a murderous rival, and a girl who may just be as fearless as he is . . .

"Written out of a deeply felt world, and with a taut, disciplined voice that knows its Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as its Harry Potter, Jonathan Stroud's new book is, quite simply, stunning." The Guardian

"It has been quite a long time since I have enjoyed a book this much. Although this may be my first encounter with Stroud'’s work it will certainly not be the last. An enthralling tale told by a master storyteller." Fantasy Book Review

"Without this child, we shall all die." Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequnces far beyond her own world...

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is one of the great imaginative works in the English language. It creates a universe so atmospheric and tangible that I am convinced it exists, somewhere. It is a gripping epic, set in a wonderfully intruiging world (or rather worlds). It sets out on a soaring arc of imagination that sustains and pays off in a most masterful way - and yet all the way through it touches on human truths and insight. Oh! And it contains one of the best villains in literature.

"Wonderfully engrossing and so packed full of of explosive plot lines that you'll find it difficult to put down." Fantasy Book Review

"The best children's novel to be published in 2004" Amanda Craig

"Well researched and beautifully written... a winner with boys and girls alike" Child Education Magazine

"A remarkable novel, but in many ways the story behind it is even more phantasmagoric" The Times

Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world. Only one boy can stop it - 12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak's father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit's help to overcome it. Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human. Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life.

"With their evocative gothic-style pencil drawings and color illustrations, rhyming riddles, supernatural lore, and well-drawn characters, these books read like old-fashioned ripping yarns" New York Times Book Review

"Appealing characters, well-measured suspense and an inviting package will lure readers...Youngsters may well find themselves glancing over their shoulders" Publishers Weekly

Follow Jared, Simon and Mallory Grace into a world filled with elves, goblins, trolls in the Spiderwick Chronicles. It all starts when Jared Grace find their great uncle's book, Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastic World Around You and realises that are not alone in their new house. Now the Grace kids want to tell their story but the faeries will do everything to stop them...

Dorothy Gale and her little dog Toto are in for the ride of their lives when a tornado drops them off in the Land of Oz. Can Dorothy and her new friends survive the perils of Oz to reach the Wizard and find a way home?

"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." Fantasy Book Review

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts.

But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins...

"Chilling, memorable, full of wonderful characters and written in a fluid style that makes the narrative accessible to all ages." Fantasy Book Review

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the very few sets of books that should be read three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope.

Alice in Wonderland was Lewis Carroll’s first novel and its fantasy plot, humorous rhymes and brilliant use of nonsense was revolutionary. Nineteenth-century children’s writing usually served moral or educational purpose, but Alice was written firmly and purely for the amusement of children. Critical response was lukewarm, but the book was still a great success, and remains a hugely influential classic of children’s literature.

"Alice appeals to adults as well as children and over the years readers and critics have found within it all manner of riddles, puzzles, mathematical concepts and references to Carroll’s famous and not-so-famous friends." Fantasy Book Review

In a German town, long ago, lives a tooth-puller’s boy called Klaus. It isn’t Klaus’s fault that he sees his master steal a diamond from the mouth of a dead man in Frau Drecht’s lodging house, or that Frau Drecht and her murderous son want it for themselves. He has nothing to do with the Jesuit priest and his Aztec companion who turn up out of the blue looking for it, or the Professor of Anatomy who takes such a strange interest in it. No, Klaus doesn’t want any trouble. But when he finds himself with the diamond in his pocket, things really can’t get much worse – that is, until the feathered man appears. Then they become a matter of life… and death.

"The story is both terrifying and tender, it looks and the very best and worst of human nature and shows another plane of reality that is so frightening. There is so much plot crammed into this book and yet is flows so wonderfully that you don’t at anytime feel overloaded or like you’re being left behind, it just all works so beautifully. As for the characters, well there just isn’t a weak one amongst them. You look at the book in your hand, not a tome by any stretch of the imagination, just a nice hand sized book and think “how on earth does all that fit in there?” but it does and perfectly so." Fantasy Book Review

A boy is put on a train by his stepmother to make his first journey on his own. But soon that journey turns out to be more of a challenge than anyone could have imagined as the train stalls at the mouth of a tunnel and a mysterious woman in white helps the boy while away the hours by telling him stories - stories with a difference.

"Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth will chill and thrill in equal measure and is the perfect kind of scary for children in that it will make the hairs on the back of their necks rise and send shivers down their spine but will not give them nightmares. Delectably dark, and with a beautiful gothic style (perfectly captured by David Robert’s illustrations), this is a book that will appeal to all ages." Fantasy Book Review

Quenelda has always had a magical bond with dragons, and her greatest wish is to fly one and fight alongside her father in the war against the hobgoblins. Root, on the other hand, wishes only to avoid the fearsome creatures, so the role of Quenelda's esquire is the last thing he needs.

"Regardless of gender, readers will root for the underdog (a young gnome named Root) and wish they had their very own dragon. Verdict? A battle-dragon of a book!" Fantasy Book Review

Imagine that a few years from now England is covered by water, and Norwich is an island. Zoe, left behind in the confusion when her parents escaped, survives there as best she can. Alone and desperate among marauding gangs, she manages to dig a derelict boat out of the mud and gets away to Eels Island. But Eels Island, whose raggle-taggle inhabitants are dominated by the strange boy Dooby, is full of danger too.

"Floodland is a challenging novel for older readers who will be captivated by a vision of the future that is not so unbelievable." Fantasy Book Review

What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could put a heart in one? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn't stop. What couldn't you do if you could make a toy like that? From the moment Mathias becomes the owner of a mysterious piece of paper, he is in terrible danger. Entangled in devious plots and pursued by the sinister Doctor Leiter and his devilish toys, Mathias finds himself on a quest to uncover a deadly secret.

"The Toymaker is an excellent book, one of very few that I wish were longer, and the book’s ending is as chilling as it is unexpected. A superb debut in which everything fits together like a jigsaw." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review

Ninja: Death Touch is a fun, dangerous adventure where Lord Oda could be victorious in battle if Taka and his friends can't fend off his ruthless army. I liked the death touch aspects of the story at the beginning that the Grandmaster of the ninja clan teaches them. The story is short, but sweet and full of excitement that runs all the way through. Chris Bradford writes books that can grip readers worldwide. He has won several awards such as the Northern Ireland Book Award, enjoys Martial Arts and has trained in samurai swordsmanship, earning a black belt in Kyo Shin Tai-Jutsu, the art of the ninja. Chris knows that his passion for fighting keeps his writing sharp and thrilling, and his art can be seen on the Ninja: Death Touch photo-shoot.

The rumours are true – Christopher Robin is back in the Hundred Acre Wood. From the excitement of Christopher Robin’s return to the curious business of learning to play cricket, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood allows readers to spend a few more treasured hours with the Best Bear in All the World.

"I think that David Benedictus has done a sterling job in taking on such a difficult task and has created a book that will be as much a companion of today’s generation as its predecessor was for those who are now parents and grandparents. Mark Burgess’s decorations, in the style of E.H. Shepard, are the ideal accompaniment to this charming and delightfully entertaining book. Highly recommended." Floresiensis, Fantasy Book Review

For the first time in a decade, Willy Wonka, the reclusive and eccentric chocolate maker, is opening his doors to the public--well, five members of the public, actually. The lucky five who find a Golden Ticket in their Wonka bars will receive a private tour of the factory, given by Mr Wonka himself. For young Charlie Bucket, this a dream come true. So when he finds a dollar bill in the street, he can't help but buy two Wonka's Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights--even though his impoverished family could certainly use the extra dollar for food. But as Charlie unwraps the second chocolate bar, he sees the glimmer of gold just under the wrapper. The very next day, Charlie, along with his unworthy fellow winners Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Augustus Gloop, steps through the factory gates to discover whether or not the rumours surrounding the Chocolate Factory and its mysterious owner are true. What they find is that the gossip can't compare to the extraordinary truth, and for Charlie, life will never be the same again.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has had a lot of attention over the years, and has at turns been called imperialistic, racist, patronising and disturbing. There have been countless merchandising deals (a shame the rights were bought by such a rotten chocolate maker as Nestlé), two film adaptations, various computer games, rides, and a Broadway musical. Behind all of that however is a very amazing book that was written fifty years ago, which is still just as fantastic and delightful today as it was back in the sixties. Great ideas, well crafted prose, and an understatement of its morality make Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a modern fairy tale that will likely be popular for years to come, among children and any adults who aren't entirely devoid of any sense of magic."

Latest reviews

Recommended reads by sub-genre

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

High / Epic fantasy books
High / Epic fantasy

Secondary world 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
Grimdark fantasy fiction
Grimdark

Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
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
Steampunk

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.
Supernatural

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

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows
Horror

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
Anthologies

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies