Most of the time when we come across a fantasy novel, it will be part of some series. There are hardly any standalone fantasy novels written. I sometimes prefer standalone novels as these days I don’t have enough time to sit and finish 8-10 books of 1200 pages each. Life has gotten so busy that it is difficult for me to focus on any book which is longer than 500 pages these days.
Here are some standalone fantasy novels that I have read or would like to read in the near future.
Let me start by mentioning my favorite Standalone novels.
If you don’t mind reading a graphical novel, I would recommend Seconds by Bryan Lee O Malley. It’s about a person who tries to change her past. The book has plenty of fantasy elements and you should read it, even if you are in a reading slump as this book will get you out of a slump for sure.
If you like music and prefer magical realism over high fantasy, then I would recommend Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia in which few teenagers are able to do magic using music in Mexico City.
If you like mythology, then I would recommend that you try Circe by Madeline Miller. It is about a witch called Circe who is banished to a deserted island and overcomes challenges in life alone. I also want to try this author’s other book – “The song of Achilles” someday.
A book which is similar to Circe is The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip. It is about a witch who has spent her early life living alone with beasts and then one day, somebody drops off a baby at her doorstep. She involuntarily gets involved in the human world as a result and starts developing feelings for humans.
While we are talking about beasts, if you like unicorns, then you should try some standalones by Peter S Beagle. I loved “In Calabria” which is about a man who suddenly discovers that a unicorn has been visiting his farm. I would love to read The Last Unicorn by this author soon.
If you are a fan of mermaids, then you should read this book – Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (or Seanan McGuire) about deadly mermaids and a ship which is stranded in pacific ocean surrounded by these mermaids.
If you like retellings of fairy tales, then you should try Beauty by Robin McKinley which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Having grown up on a steady diet of Disney movies, this felt like a fresh new take on the fairy tale. I would like to read Sunshine by this author soon.
If you are a fan of Alice in Wonderland, you will enjoy the retelling about the Queen of Hearts which acts like a prequel – Heartless by Marissa Meyer. It’s probably the best retelling of any story that I have read so far.
Neil Gaiman has written many standalone fantasy novels. I like his middle grade fiction but am not a fan of his adult fiction like Neverwhere (which I DNFed) or American Gods (which was okay). I loved The Graveyard Book though, which is a Jungle Book retelling with ghosts. I liked the concept and story in American Gods but not the execution.
If you are a Tolkien fan like me, you might want to check out his other books. Even if you have not read Lord of the Rings, you can still read these books as they are mostly standalones. I will not add Silmarillion to this list as it is strictly for fans. It is very complex and should not be read as an introduction to Tolkien.
You can start your journey with The Hobbit which can be read as a standalone. You can also read Letters from Father Christmas, which is collection of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children. The letters have stories which are fantastical and they even have drawings from him. There is a book which has a collection of short stories that Tolkien wrote – “Tales from the perilous realm“. Bilbo’s Last Song has wonderful illustrations and is a must read for Tolkien fans. I also read a children’s book by Tolkien called “Mr. Bliss” and it is completely unrelated to Middle-Earth. So you can try that if you want to read something different from this author.
If you like vampires and novels like Dracula delight you, then you should try Fevre Dream by George R R Martin (of ASOIAF fame). I found this book to be scarier. It’s set in 1800s US slave states and has steamboats. GRRM also has a collection of short stories which can read as standalone stories in this book – “A knight of the seven kingdoms“.
If you like reading short story collections, then try Paper Menagerie and other stories by Ken Liu. The title story is amazing and has won Hugo award. Ken Liu has also translated many short stories from Chinese and I am yet to read those.
Coming to some standalone novels that I did not enjoy much.
- My most recent DNF was Priory of Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.
- Jo Walton writes some standalones like Tooth and Claw and Among Others, both of which I did not like.
- I tried listening to Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and found it boring. I should probably try the physical copy.
- I did not like The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I was not the right audience for that book I guess since I read it as an adult.
Now for the books that I have not read but are really popular.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark – I am not sure I would like this as I am not a fan of Jane Austen and other authors like her. So I have been putting this book off for now.
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – This book is on my immediate TBR. It will be the next book that I will pick up for reading.
- Uprooted and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – I am a big fan of Temeraire series by this author so I am sure I will love these two books too.
- The Lie tree by Frances Hardinge and To kill a kingdom by Alexandra Christo – These two books have been on every single TBR that I have made from last few years. I am not sure when I will read these.
Are there any standalones that you enjoyed reading and would like me to try? Please let me know in the comments.