Ever since I was little I’ve had a weird relationship with fantasy books. When I was young I never read fantasy. I thought wizards were boring and unrealistic (yeah seriously, who could say that about Harry Potter??), and magical creatures were just… idk, made up? I guess. (Like all those contemporaries weren’t???).
So one day my friend borrowed me a few books, they were her a few of her favourites, so of course, I think I might as well try them. The first book I tried was a fantasy book, but I gave it a chance, because that’s what you do when your best friend tells you that it’s their favourite book. I have to tell you, it was very boring. Exactly the way I expected it to be. I don’t even remember what the book was or what it was about, I just know it was about a man and a dragon, and they were friends? (
No it was not Eragon).
I believe that after that I just quit reading fantasy altogether. I had this picture in my head that fantasy was long, dull, and complicated, and the only experience I had with this genre completely fitted with that picture. When I was about 15, I learned of YA, this genre I had never heard of and exactly fitted my needs, I still read a lot of contemporary, but dystopia and fantasy made its way in my bookish obsession. Still, I was, and still am, very hesitant when I pick up any fantasy.
I think you can clearly see this in my dislike for maps (shocking I know), I really don’t like maps in books. It makes me feel dread. For me, the only reason why you would put a map in a book, is when it is actually necessary and you wouldn’t be able to follow the story without it. So seeing a map in a book feels like a warning: this is going to get complex!
I have absolutely nothing with magical creatures; elves, fae, dragons (yes even unicorns). Now I feel bad because I once recommended a book highly because of the dragons and I usually don’t even like them. I have nothing with mythical creatures, and basically myths altogether. And witches: no thanks. Demons, maybe? Talking animals, great! But people with magical abilities, hell yeah, give them all!
(that’s quite strange, I don’t like witches but I love magic, I’m a very contradictory person it seems)
The strange thing is, while I have a dislike for many of these things, I really do enjoy reading some books with these aspects. If you look at the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor, which is one of my favourite series of all time, but at the same time, it has angels, demon-like creatures (aka chimaera), flying creatures that remind me a little of dragons, magical powers and much more. So where is the border between things I like and things I dislike? I really don’t know.
I really don’t know if my opinions are just based on some fantasy books I didn’t enjoy, or because I just don’t like these aspects. I feel like I haven’t read enough fantasy to make this decision, but I’ve been putting off reading a lot of fantasy for these reasons.
Overall I have grown to like fantasy to a certain level, I like light fantasy (contemporary, urban, etc), but the heavy kind… It’s really just a grey area for me, some stories I highly enjoy and some not at all, and I just don’t know why. Books like Lord of the Rings, I think are boring (sorry, I just don’t like it. At all.), while I loved The Wrath and The Dawn and An Ember in the Ashes (and some more). Made up languages and fantastical creatures just don’t really add anything to the story for me.
A factor is, that sometimes I have a hard time picturing things in my head while I’m reading, especially fight scenes, and because often fantasy books are action packed, this can cause some confusion and often leads to distraction. Now that I think some more of it, I think that maybe, just maybe, that in fantasy books the story is often built upon this world, and not on the characters. While I think if done well, worldbuilding can be done amazingly, I still think that characters need to lead the story. For me, that is very important. While I will always read my fair share of fantasy books, I don’t think this genre will ever become my favourite, there is just too much grey between the black and white.
I am not saying that fantasy is bad in any way or that whoever reads fantasy and loves it is a bad person, I’m just saying that it’s not my favourite thing.
What is your relationship with fantasy? Do you love it? Hate it? Or is your relationship just as complex as mine?
If you have any suggestions to topics you’d like to see discussed, please let me know! I have a long list of topics I’d like to talk about but some fresh input is appreciated!