12 Best Standalone Fantasy Books Update 05/2022

Best Standalone Fantasy Books

If you’re looking for a new fantasy novel but don’t have the time or don’t want to commit to a series, fear not: we’ve compiled a list of the greatest standalone fantasy books. There’s enough magic, demons, dragons, goblins, witches, and other pleasures to please any fantasy reader, from classic works to recent releases! Check out our list of the best solo fantasy books, along with our reasons for recommending them.

The Goblin Emperor by Katharine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katharine Addison

This tale follows half-goblin prince Maia, an unwilling heir trying to keep his head above water — and linked to his shoulders. It is filled with courtly intrigue and beautiful, sophisticated worldbuilding. If you appreciate political intrigue but don’t have the time or energy to read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy, Katharine Addison’s debut novel may be for you.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This beloved fantasy author Neil Gaiman’s classic standalone is a rollicking adventure that is equal parts fairy tale, fable, and swashbuckling adventure. Other standalones by Gaiman are available, but we recommend this one since it manages to evoke classic Grimm fairy tales while remaining distinctly Gaiman. It’s also quite short, which is great if you’re looking for a quick read!

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

This New York Times bestseller caught the young adult fantasy world by storm, with nods to ancient fairy tales, folklore, and Lewis Carroll. Albert’s debut is a gripping coming-of-age novel that merges the urban jungle of New York City with the cruel supernatural realm of the Hinterland, making it suitable for readers of all ages.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

We have a soft spot for fairy tales, especially fairy tale retellings, as if that wasn’t apparent. This Nebula and Hugo Award finalist is an engrossing retelling of the Rumplestiltskin legend. Her heroines are bold, brazen, and tough, and Novik’s writing and character development are superb. It’s also worth noting that Novik’s Uprooted is a stand-alone novel!

Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others by Jo Walton

This Hugo and Nebula Award–winning work will appeal to everyone who grew up with a love of libraries or who grew up reading science fiction and fantasy as a kind of escape and coping. Mori, the protagonist, is young and well-intentioned, but never to the point of being a Mary Sue, and the novel does an amazing job of blending whimsy and enchantment with sorrow and loss.

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Oyeyemi has written a few standalone fairy tale retellings, but her most recent novel reworks the Hansel and Gretel story, adding a dreamlike logic and a sense of humour to the story’s strangeness. The plot isn’t easy to follow, but Oyeyemi’s writing is so deliciously engaging that we stayed with it all the way to the end. And, yes, when you’re done, you’ll want to eat gingerbread.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

In Sarah Gailey’s stunning and widely anticipated debut, murder, magic, and mystery converge. P.I. Ivy is irritated that she’s been assigned to investigate infidelities while her sister, Tabitha, is a professor at a famous magic school. However, when their lives collide due to a mysterious death, the consequences are deadly. The premise of the book may appear adorable at first, but trust us when we say that this is a terrifying ride that will hit close to home for anybody who has ever experienced sibling rivalry.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Baba Yaga’s mythology is already packed with rich, strange imagery (a house built on chicken’s legs? (How about a witch who rides a mortar?) — now imagine that story being set in a Brooklyn neighborhood! That’s exactly what Sarah Porter does in this book, and she does it brilliantly. Porter keeps everything followers of the original myth remember while adding her own recognizable dose of grit, and her Vassa isn’t the timid child of the original narrative — she has a piercing wit and a straightforward courage that will have readers rooting for her. This one is a must-read, with endorsements from Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns) and Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone).

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

This standalone by Nnedi Okorafor, which was recently optioned as an HBO TV series, portrays the compelling, gut-wrenching narrative of Onyesonwu, a woman seeking to discover her origins and magical power – before her adversaries finish her off. Proceed with caution because the subject matter can be tough. However, we strongly suggest this book because it is unlike any other fantasy novel we’ve ever read, and the writing is superb and vivid.

The Devourers by Indra Das

Do you have a thing for unreliable narrators? We feel the same way. Werewolves, perhaps? That’s what we thought. This is a beautiful, complex, and memorable book. Das manages to conjure the timeless quality of myth while still addressing current loneliness. We were completely drawn in by the weird and frightening writing. This narrative enthralled us, and we hope it will enthral you as well.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

Sybel is a powerful sorceress who loves to live alone, surrounded solely by her magical beasts: Cyrin the boar, Gyld the dragon, Gules the Lyon, Ter the hawk, and Moriah, the big feline. When a child is left on her doorstep, however, her isolation is shattered, and she is forced to confront the world outside her walls, whether she wants to or not. McKillip skillfully weaves a tale of love, ownership, deception, retribution, and loss. This book will hold your attention if you enjoy historical fantasy and Arthurian legend.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

We’re always on the hunt for good, stand-alone graphic novels because reading comics can be an investment. Nimona, a National Book Award nominee, was first published as a Tumblr webcomic. The story follows shapeshifter sidekick Nimona and her boss, the wicked Lord Ballister Blackheart, and Stevenson’s warm and brilliantly detailed paintings perfectly match her plot. It begins cutesy and whimsical, but manages to maintain those characteristics while also being a story about justice, love, and what it means to be a hero – or a monster. For fans of The Princess Bride and Adventure Time, this is a must-read.

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