Friday, January 29, 2021

My Favorite Stand Alone Fantasy Novels

Fantasy is by far the best fictional genre. Who does not love a story involving wizards, magic, dragons, and the like? As much as I adore expansive series that thoroughly explore the depths of their detailed worlds, stand alone novels really speak to me. Inside their pages is a compact, singular tale that starts and ends in one volume. You do not have to wait for years on end to discover the secrets and dramatic finales. So I decided to compile a list of my favorite stand alone fantasy novels for everyone to enjoy. Pick one up and read it cover to cover. 


circe by madeline miller

Circe explores the immortal life of mythological sorceress, Circe, who appeared in many Greek tales such as The Odyssey. Despite her prominence in other heroes' stories, she never had her own point of view--until now. Madeline Miller weaves a tale that is both powerful and tragic, brimming with wonder, individuality, and one powerful woman's search for identity in a dangerous world. Those who love Greek mythology, as well as those who do not, will find themselves enraptured by Circe's life. I would also recommend The Song of Achilles by her if you want more of a love story that will make you cry.

the ocean at the end of the lane by neil gaiman

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors because of his unique, alluring writing style and magical realism stories. While The Ocean at the End of the Lane is his shortest novel, it is his best. Small stories can pack a real punch. Set in England, and unnamed man returns to his childhood home for a funeral. There, he recalls the strange events from long ago that altered his life forever. As a boy, he had befriended a girl named Lettie Hempstock, who lived at the end of the lane with her strange mother and grandmother. She vows to protect her new friend from the darkness released by a sudden death. When people ask me what my favorite book is, I tell them it is this one. Ocean gets as close to fictional perfection as one can get and everyone should witness its magic.

the starless sea by erin morgenstern

Years ago, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus wowed the book community. In 2020, her long awaited release wowed me even more than its predecessor. Not everyone will love the strange and beautiful aura of The Starless Sea. Erin Morgenstern writes a love letter to the art of story telling using her lyrical, purple prose and symbolic themes. The story left me breathless and overwhelmed with my adoration for such intricate, confusing plots. Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a book containing a scene from his own life, and this discovery leads him down a rabbit hole. He stumbles into a labyrinthine, everchanging underground library called The Starless Sea. Soon, he finds himself in the middle of a war for the survival or decimation of the library. The Night Circus will also always be another favorite stand alone of mine.

the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde

Everyone has heard of this timeless classic about a man who sells his soul in return for immortality and beauty. While he does not appear to age, his hidden portrait turns more and more ghoulish with every sin and crime he commits. The writing style has the power to steal your breath away and set your heart pounding. Oscar Wilde is daring and unwavering in his exploration of morality, immortality, and human desperation. This novel is very revealing of the human psyche and bares all in an artful yet brutally honest depiction of humanity. I am not typically one for classics, but The Picture of Dorian Gray has aged beautifully and can be enjoyed by readers from all ages and walks of life. 

once upon a river by diane setterfield

Odd, whimsical stories filled with mystery and dynamic characters always draw me in. This is exactly what occurred when I stumbled upon Once Upon a River in the bookstore a couple years ago. Diane Setterfield's novel is set in a town upon the Thames River where an inn specializing in storytelling stands. One midwinter's night, a wounded man holding a small girl bursts into the inn. The girl, initially pronounced dead, soon returns to life. However, no one knows where the girl came from or who her parents are since she will not or cannot speak. A myriad of paths cross, from strangers and neighbors alike, as the rumors of the girl's identity and resurrection spread. Once Upon a River is such a whimsical, enchanting story intertwining the complicated lives of so many different characters. It is particularly suited to the chillier winter months. 

What are your favorite fantasy stand alone books?


  1. Yay for The Starless Sea and Circe! I am so happy I gave The Starless Sea a shot last summer. It was flawless.

    1. Flawless is just the word for it. I cannot wait to see what Erin Morgenstern and Madeline Miller do next.

  2. I've been wanting to read The Ocean's At The End of the Lane since forever! I also keep saving Picture of Dorian Gray and Once Upon A River for ~gloomy~ weather, but keep missing the timing sigh.

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

    1. It is AMAZING. And it is so short that you could easily read it in a day. I would say saving Dorian Gray and Once Upon a River are both perfect for a rainy day, so maybe try to catch the next one!

  3. I might be the only one who still has't picked up anything by Erin Morgenstern but I am hoping to change that one soon with The Starless Sea.

    Poulami @ Daydreaming Books