10 Best Low Fantasy Books That Avid Readers Will Love

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Within the fantasy genre, there are many different angles that authors can go down – with the low fantasy subgenre being one of the most popular interpretations within fiction.

But what exactly is low fantasy, and what are the best books on the market today?

10 Best Low Fantasy Books That Avid Readers Will Love

What Is Low Fantasy?

Within fiction, low fantasy refers to a narrative where supernatural or magical elements intrude on an otherwise normal world. This is the counterpart to high fantasy, which sees the story take place in a fictional, fantastical setting.

Low fantasy is a popular and well received subgenre within fantasy, with many people responding positively to the link to our own reality, and the introduction of magic, mystery, and supernaturalism into our otherwise humdrum world.

What Are The Tropes Of Low Fantasy?

Common tropes of the low fantasy subgenre tend to involve several things.

Firstly, it tends to focus on seemingly ordinary protagonists who are then saved from their unremarkable lives by some otherworldly being, energy source, creature, or destiny.

This is also combined with elements of secrecy within mainstream society, persecution from humans, the notion of double lives and worlds, and the conflict between the two – usually in the form of the protagonist, who often finds themselves torn between the world they come from, and the world they have been introduced to.

Why Is It So Popular?

The genre is so popular with so many people because it poses the possibility of the fantastical entering our own seemingly boring world.

The notion of low fantasy offers the escapism that this otherworldliness would bring, and makes us all feel that around every corner, on every boring street, there could be the start of a new adventure waiting to recruit us.

The 10 Best Low Fantasy Books

Now that we know a little more about the low fantasy subgenre, and what it tends to center around, it is now time for us to take a closer look at some of the best books on the market, and what makes them so special.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1. The ‘Harry Potter’ Series – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)

Perhaps the most notable series within the low fantasy subgenre is the Harry Potter series, created by J.K. Rowling, which as most people will know, has now gone on to become a multi-million dollar franchise that has legions of fans all around the world.

Centered around the titular boy wizard – who comes from humble, traumatic beginnings, and finds himself burdened with an overwhelming destiny to stop the second coming of the dark lord Voldemort, and protect mankind for good – the Harry Potter series is a prime example of how the ordinary world within which we live lives parallel with a world of magic, fantasy, the supernatural, and all manner of other peculiarities.

2. The ‘Hellboy’ Series – Multiple Authors

Hellboy Omnibus Boxed Set

Both a popular series of comic books, and a successful movie franchise starring Ron Pearlman, the character of Hellboy is a demon who is summoned to Earth by the Axis powers during WW2.

However, when things go awry, and he is subsequently rescued and recruited by the mysterious Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defence, the titular demon becomes mankind’s best hope at fighting back the hordes of ghosts, monsters, demons, and malevolent entities that seek to bring about its destruction.

Created by Mike Migdola, Hellboy has also become a popular novel franchise, with multiple writers having penned editions within the successful low fantasy series.

3. American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods: A Novel

Focused around ex-con Shadow Moon, whose meeting with the mysterious and enigmatic ‘Mr. Wednesday’ introduces him to a world of gods old and new, American Gods is a major player within the low fantasy subgenre, and the subject of a successful Amazon tv show.

Realizing that the world is not as he knew, and that life is much more complicated than right and wrong, Shadow finds himself at the center of a war between the new and old gods, the latter of which are at risk of being forgotten, ousted, and destroyed for good.

4. Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, (1))

Based in his native Ireland, Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant  series has become a popular franchise within the low fantasy genre, and one that has legions of young fans all around the world.

Focusing on newbie Valkyrie Cain, and the titular Skulduggery Pleasant – a magically imbued living skeleton detective who was reanimated after his untimely death – the series focuses on the conflict between secret societies of magic users who live within our world.

While some seek to live peacefully and in secret, others seek  to destroy the fabric of reality through the prophesied return of the Faceless Ones – old gods with unprecedented destructive power.

5. The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher

Dresden Files

Following the exploits of troubled detective (and wizard) Harry Dresden, The Dresden Files follows the titular hero as he fights all manner of supernatural threats that seek to destroy or disrupt the normal world.

Consulting for the Chicago police department, and solving paranormal crimes that fall into his lap, The Dresden Files sees a world where supernatural factions clandestinely control portions of the globe, and where vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, and demons all seek to have their fair share.

6. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere: A Novel

Another novel by fantasy author Neil Gaimon, Neverwhere focuses on Richard Mayhew – a Scottish man living a normal life in London – who, after helping a distressed and injured girl called ‘Door’, is erased from the real world, and transported to ‘London Below’, a mysterious and tormented world that resides both within and beneath the London sewer system.

Encountering Roman legionnaires, medieval monks, and countless other lost souls, Richard must save Door from dangerous assassins – all while trying to get back to his life with his mind and soul intact.

7. Lovecraft Country – Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country: A Novel

Based around the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country consists of 8 interconnected stories – all of which focus around Atticus Turner, as he travels across Jim Crow America in the 1950s to find his estranged father and learn more about his mysterious family.

Encountering friends along the way, Atticus must survive the harsh realities of segregated America – with all of its hatred and violence – as well as the unforeseen hordes of monsters and supernatural creatures that appear to be leaking into our world.

8. The ‘Percy Jackson’ Series – Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-3)

Following the exploits of the titular Percy Jackson, the Rick Riordan-penned series introduces to a seemingly ordinary world, and a seemingly ordinary protagonist in Percy – that is until he discovers that he is the biological son of the demigod Poseidon, and that the gods of the Greek pantheon are in fact 100% real.

However, this realization sees Percy flung into a world where monsters, gods, and supernatural beings all seek his downfall, and where the fate of reality hangs in the balance.

9. On A Pale Horse – Piers Anthony

On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, Book 1)

Written by Piers Anthony, On A Pale Horse is a low fantasy novel with a twist – in that it incorporates elements of science fiction and futurism to create something truly unique and gripping.

Following his accidental killing of Death (the grim reaper), whom he mistook as an intruder, unlikely protagonist Zane soon finds himself forced to assume the unappealing mantle for himself – destined to carry out the mortal duties as they arise.

However, when he discovers that it was all a trap by Satan – who has his own nefarious machinations for the mortal world, Zane must find a way to defeat the Father of Lies once and for all.

10. Five Children & It – E. Nesbit

Five Children and It (Puffin Classics)

Last but by no means least, we have Five Children & It by E. Nesbit.

Perhaps the oldest and most traditional novel on this list, Nesbit’s tale tells the story of a group of ordinary children, who after moving from London to the Kent countryside, discover a supernatural creature known as the Psammead in a local gravel pit.

Ugly, grumpy, and occasionally malevolent in his intentions, the Psammead – a sand fairy – agrees to grant the children one wish each day, with the condition that it will turn to stone at sunset.

Filled with moral lessons, and unfortunate outcomes, Five Children & It is an underrated staple of the genre.

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about the low fantasy subgenre, and the best books on the market today.

It is certainly true that fantasy has many facets as a genre, and there are many different ways that authors and readers interact with it. However, as this article shows, few are as popular as the low fantasy subgenre, with these books representing the cream of the crop.

So if you are looking for the best low fantasy books on the market, then be sure to give some of these a try. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!

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