I hope you’re having an amazing day! Lately I’ve been thinking about my blog and how I should do different posts more often (other than reviews, wrap ups and TBR lists). I had the idea of sharing a few fantasy recommendations with you since it’s one of my favorite genres, but the focus being on standalones!
Let’s be real: sometimes we just don’t want to commit to a long
ass fantasy series! Sometimes a smaller, compact story does the trick, and that’s exactly what I’m sharing with you today! So here are five of my favorite fantasy standalones of all time (with the synopsis)!
- Heartless by Marissa Meyer
I’ve recommended this book many times before here on the blog, so finding it here may not be a surprise to you! Heartless is a fantasy retelling based on the life of the infamous Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. It’s a very creative take on her backstory and how she became so cruel. Catherine – who later became the Queen of Hearts – was not always cold and mean like everyone thinks. She was a sweet girl that loved to bake, until she met the king’s new court jester. Then she fell in love and her life changed forever.
This book is beautiful, complex (in a very good way), dark and heartbreaking. What really sold the book to me was the beautiful romance and the atmosphere. All the descriptions bring life to the book – especially the pastries.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, I would still recommend this book because there’s not a huge correlation with the original story. Sometimes you will laugh, and sometimes you will cry. But it’s completely worth it. If you’re into retellings and you never read it, you need to add this to your TBR list.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
- To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Another amazing book! “To Kill a Kingdom” is a fantasy book with a siren/pirate theme. What I liked so much about this book is how “realistic” it is. I know it’s fantasy, but it’s written with a more serious tone. When you read this book, you travel to a new world and are completely immersed in the experience. Supposedly this is a “Little Mermaid” retelling, but I honestly don’t think the stories are similar.
The story was very interesting and well put together. I personally didn’t love the romance, but the story makes up for it! As you can imagine, this particular book is on the darker side as well so if you like that in fantasy books I’m sure you’re going to love this one!
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
- The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
A great book from a great (but underrated) author! Tricia Levenseller writes the best, most fierce female main characters, and that is only one of the motives for why I love her books so much. I loved the main character Alessandra and how devious, unapologetic, strong and sure of herself she was. The story is fantastic and complex, and there is a small mystery with a plot twist in the end.
I would also say this is a subtle feminist book, which I wasn’t expecting and really enjoyed! Alessandra wants to be queen not only to rule and give orders, but also to give women the opportunity to have the same rights men have.
This book is amazing and if you can, you should definitely pick this up. If you like slow burning romances, this is a great one! I would also highly recommend her duology The Daughter of the Pirate King.
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
- Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
This book is very unique, and that’s the reason why I love it so much. This is another retelling, but I wouldn’t consider an actual retelling – this time a “Little Red Riding Hood” one! Red Hood has a bigger purpose, though. The main topics of this book are abuse, double standards and consent, but it’s all written in a metaphoric way using fantasy. Some men are wolves and they take women as prey. I love the way the author uses fairytales and recreates them to encourage important conversations. The book talks about toxic masculinity, rape culture and incels, by encouraging consensual relationships and gender equality.
Seems complex? Don’t worry about it, it’s actually easy to follow! It’s not a beat-around-the-bush kind of book because it will tell you everything as it is, whether you are comfortable or not! It’s feminist, it’s raw and it’s empowering. Highly recommend it if you’re craving a different kind of fantasy story!
You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.
And the wolf is angry.
Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.
- The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme
This book was sent to me to review and I ended up really liking it – it is a very unique book as well! The pacing is nice and even though the romance wasn’t my favorite, what made me like this book so much was the grapes/vines/wine element. I really liked that theme because it’s not something you see everyday in books. It was very unique and it paired very well with the setting. You can read my full review on this book here. Definitely worth checking out!
For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.
And that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe took some recommendations from it. If you have any book recommendations, please leave them in the comments so I can check them out… you know I’m always looking for new books to read! Also, let me know if you read any of these and if you liked them.
Thank you for reading, I appreciate you very much 🙂 see you in the next post!