Escaping our own reality by diving into a fantastical world can be an exciting adventure and a therapeutic release.
Could there be a better time for slipping away to a fantasy world? Even a few hours away from current affairs in the real world seems like a most welcome respite. And the best news is that a good series can go on for book after book after book.
THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY
Fantasy by N. K. Jemisin
In a world called Stillness, every few centuries a Fifth Season (the title of the first book in the series) occurs. Cataclysmic climate change interrupts all life and has shaped the structure of society. Individuals who can control the quaking of the earth with their own bodies are both feared and hunted. All three books in this trilogy won the Hugo Award for best science fiction/fantasy story, which means you will likely be rushing to read The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky immediately after finishing the last page of Book One.
THE SHADOWSHAPER CYPHER SERIES
Fantasy by Daniel José Older
Sierra Santiago thought she’d just be spending the summer graffitiing a mural in Brooklyn. Soon, however, she discovers she is a shadowshaper—someone who is able to infuse art with ancestral magic. As her family’s past is uncovered, Sierra finds herself in more and more danger. With the help of her fellow shadowshapers, she may be able to stop the evil beings hunting her kind and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.
CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE SERIES
Fantasy by Tomi Adeyemi
In a world where magic is forbidden, Zélie Adebola dedicates herself to the restoration of these powers for her people, the maji. As N. K. Jemisin has done in her trilogy, Tomi Adeymi has created an entire world, in this case drawing from Yoruba cultural traditions and language, and at the same time reflecting upon many issues we grapple with in the real world today. The second book in the series is called Children of Virtue and Vengeance. The third volume is scheduled to be published in 2021.
As you read these titles, consider:
- What fantastical elements are present in each book? How do they add to your enjoyment of the text?
- Why do we read fantasy when we know it’s not real? What do these books teach us?
Try out one of these activities to take your reading to the next level:
- Listen to this National Public Radio (NPR) interview where the author of The Broken Earth trilogy, N. K. Jemisin, discusses what inspired her to write the books.
- Check out these discussion guides and creative extension activities for two of the books in The Shadowshaper Cypher series.
- Take a quiz to discover which Maji clan you are in, and watch exclusive author videos on the Children of Blood and Bone website.
- Want to build your own fictional world? Watch Kate Kessner’s TED-Ed video where she describes what to consider and how to get started.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
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Photo of Carol Jago provided by ©Andrew Collings