Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Top Ten Standalone Fantasy Books

Today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is actually supposed to be about books we wish there was a sequel to. Well... I just couldn't think of enough.

The trouble is that I read more fantasy than anything, and it's actually more common for those to have sequels. In fact, so common that it's hard enough to think of standalones I've read, never mind ones that I wish there was a sequel to. In fact, sometimes reading a standalone is a bit of a relief, and in most cases they are just the one book because that's how the story is best told. I wouldn't want sequels, because I wouldn't want to drag them out or spoil the effect.

As tempting as it was to list books that are actually meant to have a sequel but the sequel still isn't out yet (*cough*A Dance with Dragons*cough*), I decided to do something a bit different...

...and list (in no particular order) some amazing standalone fantasy books that I've read.

Top Ten Standalone Fantasy Books

1)  Sharps, by K.J. Parker. A fencing competition that turns out to be so much more. Politics and the threat of war in a very low fantasy (no magic) secondary world.

2) Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie. An intelligent revenge novel with fantastic characters. Another low fantasy secondary world. This has some of the same characters as his first series, and is set in the same world, but it's not a sequel and, as far as I'm aware, doesn't have a sequel.

3) The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. A beautiful book about magic and the circus in the Victorian world.

4) Poison, by Chris Wooding. A half-fantasy, half-fairytale world with some excellent writing and mind-bending twists.

5) The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Set in our world, a man mysteriously travels through time with little control. A love story, but with some very siniter notes too.

6) Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones. Our world meets the fairy world and a girl battles to save the one she loves. This sounds like quite a standard plot nowadays, but I guarantee you this book is nothing like what you might expect. Another sort-of-love story that's just a bit sinister under the surface.

7) The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. I don't think this has a sequel. A boy in our world is adopted by the dead.

8) Hollow Pike, by James Dawson. I'm not sure if this is intended to have a sequel one day, but it works very well as a standalone, which is a rare find amongst young adult paranormal books. A very subtle supernatural element, realistic characters and some well-written horror.

9) Holes, by Louis Sachar. Well, I suppose this is technically not fantasy at all, but I actually think it is. There's a really strong element of fate guiding everything, it feels a bit folklorish, and things are far too neat for there to be no magic involved. Plus, it's a wonderful book.

10) Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes. People's guilt/sins/emotional-baggage/whatever-you-think-it-is manifest as animals, granting the humans they are connected to some kind of extra power. Quite gritty urban fantasy set in Johannesburg.

What about you? Do you have any favourite fantasy standalones that you could recommend me? :-)


  1. I felt like you. I like to read fantasy too and it most always comes in a series. I like your list and would especially love to read "holes" That was a good movie. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

  2. Great list, I've added lots of these titles to my wishlist.

  3. I have yet to read The Night Circus - but you know even though I made a list too I'm really thankful that they were stand alones...because I get so tired of series fiction sometimes!

  4. I ran into a similar problem, even though I read a lot of mysteries, romances, and romantic suspense in addition to the F&SF. I managed to come up with 10 titles, but a lot of them were more than 10 years old, which makes me think there are more series being written now than there used to be.

    Anyway, I like your list, and several of these are on my TBR list(s): The Night Circus, Fire and Hemlock, and probably The Graveyard Book and Holes.

  5. I love Holes. I haven't read The Night Circus yet, but it's sitting on my shelf waiting to be enjoyed.

    New GFC follower

    My TTT.