The 10 Best Fantasy Books of 2018

It was a good year for fairies, witches, and dragons.

Fantasy fiction can be a welcome escape from reality even in the best of times, but 2018 was a particularly exhausting season in the TV melodrama that is America. Thank goodness for these ten books, my favorite novels and short story collections that could conceivably be shelved as fantasy, though all genre is a spectrum.

How Long ’til Black Future Month?
By N. K. Jemisin

A masterful short story collection from the author of the Inheritance and Broken Earth trilogies, featuring dragons in New Orleans and fairies in the Jim Crow South.

Once and Forever
The Tales of Kenji Miyazawa

By Kenji Miyazawa
Translated by John Bester
NYRB Classics

A lyrical translation of the best fabulist stories from Miyazawa, the Hans Christian Anderson of Japan.

Spinning Silver
By Naomi Novik
Del Rey

If you loved Uprooted, you’ll love Novik’s epic fantasy spin on the Rumpelstiltskin myth.

By Robert Jackson Bennett

The author of the Divine Cities trilogy is back with another series, cementing his status as one of our very best worldbuilders (the good kind of worldbuilder, that is).

Children of Blood and Bone
By Tomi Adeyemi
Henry Holt

The propulsive beginning of a new trilogy that draws on West African mythology.

Ahab’s Return
By Jeffrey Ford
William Morrow

A fantastic standalone novel from my favorite fantasy writer, Ahab’s Return imagines what might have happened to Ishmael and Captain Ahab in America after their encounter with Moby-Dick.

By C.L. Polk

In Polk’s stunning, secondary-world debut, noble families control the world through magic. 

What Should Be Wild
Julia Fine

“Without hyperbole, it’s one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read, and the first page made me gasp out loud on the Halsted bus.” —Adam Morgan in Chicago magazine

A Winter’s Promise
By Christelle Dabos
Translated by Hildegarde Serle
Europa Editions

The first-ever YA published by Europa Editions is endlessly fascinating and addictive.

By Sarah Perry
Custom House

I didn’t think Perry could top The Essex Serpent, but somehow, she did.

Adam Morgan is the editor-in-chief of the Southern Review of Books, the founding editor of the Chicago Review of Books, and a culture critic for The Paris Review, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, AV Club, Chicago magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Charlotte, NC.

1 comment on “The 10 Best Fantasy Books of 2018

  1. Cherrie Croyle

    It was a fantastic year for this genre. I am so glad it has come so far! My fav genre if you couldn’t tell. I am ending my year with Mythicals by Dennis Meredith, dennismeredith.com for his info. He is quickly becoming my fav author. This book I just started is so good, it’s a great mix of fantasy and Sci-Fi with fairy tales mixed in. So fun!


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