The Best Fantasy Books Of 2022

There's no shortage of great books in the world, and every year, more titles get published, making it hard for even the most prolific readers to whittle down their to-be-read piles. Don't worry. The List is here to highlight some of the best of every genre, including fantasy — one of the most popular sections in bookstores, according to Forbes

With print and digital book sales in science fiction and fantasy doubling since 2010, SF&F — often grouped together as one category by publishers — has seen a massive resurgence on bookshelves in recent years. This is partly thanks to many self-published authors finding an audience eager to dive into worlds where witches and elves roam freely, alternate realities exist, and sword-wielding superheroes work to overthrow authoritarian regimes. If you love tales with clever world-building, iconic characters, and mystical creatures, you'll want to add these titles from 2022 to your must-read list.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Most readers associate Stephen King with horror, but the best-selling author of the macabre proves he's just as talented at fantasy writing here. In "Fairy Tale," he weaves a fantastic adventure centered around 17-year-old Charlie Reade, who befriends the town recluse, only to discover a portal to another world called Empis beneath his eccentric new friend's backyard shed. Traveling to Empis with a dog at his side, Charlie discovers a kingdom and a fairytale princess in need of a savior. If you enjoy genre-bending adventures, you'll want to add this page-turner to your book pile.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

USA Today calls "She Who Became the Sun" by debut author Shelley Parker-Chan "an important entry in the LGBTQ fantasy canon," and for good reason. The story follows the nameless sister of Zhu Chongba after he dies and she assumes his identity and gender in 1345 in China, working her way into positions of power as she ages. Meanwhile, General Ouyang is driven by revenge for being forcibly castrated, putting him on a collision course with Zhu Chongba. With both main characters experiencing romantic feelings for the same sex, they provide a rare perspective on what queer lives were probably like in 14th century China.

Cold as Hell by Rhett C. Bruno and Jaime Castle

If you like imaginative urban fantasy adventures, "Cold as Hell" by Rhett C Bruno and Jaime Castle more than delivers. Set in the wild west where werewolves and demons are only two of the many supernatural threats to new settlers, this wild tale isn't short on fascinating characters, starting with monster hunter James Crowley. Killed many years ago in a gunfight, he now follows the commands of the White Throne in tracking down creatures. If you're a fan of shows such as "The Witcher," you'll probably enjoy a foray into this world, too.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

"The Daughter of Doctor Moreau" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a reimagining of the classic novel by H.G. Wells, this time set in 19th century Mexico and focused on the daughter of the mad scientist at the heart of Wells' original tale. Carlota Moreau has grown up alongside the hybrid creatures made by her father in his lab, but when the son of Doctor Moreau's patron visits their estate, everything she has known or loved is threatened. This is a page-turner for fans of historical or science fiction.

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

For fans of young adult fantasy, "Bloodmarked" by Tracy Deonn is the second book in this author's bestselling "Legendborn Cycle" series. Sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews has embraced her magical powers as a member of Legendborn Order — descendants of King Arthur's knights who hunt down demons using special abilities. This time, the boy Bree loves has been kidnapped, and she and her friends must defy the Order to rescue him. Filled with complex world-building and characters and exploring racial politics through fantasy, this series should come with a warning: addictive!

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

"This Rebel Heart" by Katherine Locke is another young adult entry readers have fallen in love with for its mix of historical relevance, magical realism, and queer Jewish representation. During World War II, Csilla and her family were kept safe from the Holocaust by the magical river in the middle of Budapest near their home. However, when the Communists seize power, that changes, and Csilla is left alone to decide if the magic she still believes in is enough to save the country she's ready to escape.

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnwell's "No Gods, No Monsters" is a book layered with magic, monsters, and complex social issues, including race, sexuality, and class divisions. When an unarmed Black man is shot and killed by police, his sister receives police body cam footage that shows her brother transforming into a werewolf and attacking an officer. Soon after, a pack of werewolves show up on a busy street to transform in front of the public and their phone cameras, proving that monsters and magic are real. What follows is a harsh reflection on modern society and the choices people make when confronted with problems they don't want to deal with.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

"Daughter of the Moon Goddess" is the debut novel of Sue Lynn Tan, and it's an entertaining reimagining of a Chinese legend — Chang'e, who stole her husband's elixir of immortality, only to find refuge on the moon. In this version, Chang'e and her secret daughter, Xingyin, have lived on the moon for years when Xingyin's magical powers begin to manifest, bringing dangerous attention their way. Encouraged to flee, Xingyin shares her experiences growing from a naive young girl to a strong, independent woman, thanks to encounters with celestial princes, three-headed serpents, and dragons. It's a wonderful mix of fantasy, romance, and coming-of-age that will captivate your imagination.

Babel by R.F. Kuang

"Babel" by R.F. Kuang has shown up on numerous best of book lists for 2022, and it's not hard to understand why. Set in 1828, an orphan is brought to London by a mysterious professor, who prepares him for entry into Babel, the world's center for translation and magic. This 500-plus page book is an ambitious story about the magic of language and a scathing examination of colonialism and racism using real history as its basis. If you enjoy scholarly depth to your reading, this one is for you. 

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

"The Book Eaters" by Sunyi Dean is a dark urban fantasy for people who love stories. Devon Fairweather is a book eater, a supernatural creature who must consume books to survive. She also absorbs the knowledge found in each book she eats. Because female book eaters are rare, she's raised only on fairy tales and similar stories appropriate for her gender, but when her son is born, her entire viewpoint changes. Cai is a mind eater who must consume brains rather than books, and his kind is feared in their society. Devon flees into the human world in search of a cure for her son, only to discover the lengths mothers will go to for their children.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

If you're on BookTok, chances are you're familiar with "Legends & Lattes" by Travis Baldree. This social media hit is a fun, wholesome novel filled with characters you're eager to become friends with on a cold, wintry day. Viv, an orc barbarian, decides to leave the warrior's life behind and open the first coffee shop in Thune, only for old frenemies and new threats to emerge. Enter new partners, both business and romantic, and you'll have a fun frolic through the pages.

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

"Other Birds" by Sarah Addison Allen is a tale inhabited by magical secrecy. Set off the coast of South Carolina, The Dellawisp houses both human and bird tenants. When Zoey moves into her deceased mother's apartment, she befriends her quirky and mysterious neighbors, including three ghosts. By combining the fantastic with a touch of romance, myserty, and found families, Allen weaves an enchanting tale of second chances that will have you thinking about these characters long after you read "the end."

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

"The Kaiju Preservation Society" by John Scalzi follows a food-truck delivery driver at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. When Jamie Gray makes a delivery to an old friend, he's offered a chance at grunt work for "an animal rights organization." Needing the money, he agrees, only to discover the animals aren't ordinary — they're massive creatures known as kaiju — think Godzilla — who live in an alternate dimension. This is a fun, thought-provoking adventure that will have you laughing out loud as you turn the pages.

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May

"Wild and Wicked Things" by Francesca May takes our view of World War I and puts an imaginative spin on it. The Lost Generation wants to forget about the magical trauma they endured at war, so they escape to Crow Island, but magic has seeped into the blood of its residents and places. Annie has no desire to become involved with magic when she comes to the island to settle her absent father's estate, but she quickly becomes ensnared by Emmeline Delacroix and her wicked witchcraft. The author describes it as a "slowburn sapphic historical fantasy novel loosely inspired by 'The Great Gatsby.'"

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Adrienne Young is known as a young adult author, but "Spells for Forgetting" is her debut adult novel. Set in the isolated community of Saoirse in the Pacific Northwest, the story follows Emery Blackwood, whose world is turned upside down when her first love, August Salt, returns 14 years after being accused of murdering their friend, Lily. All women on the island are witches, and August's return threatens to expose all of their magical secrets. Young does a great job blending magical realism with romance to create a haunting atmosphere.

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

The first book in a planned series, "The City of Dusk" by Tara Sim follows the heirs of The Four Realms: Life, Death, Light, and Darkness. The god of each realm has withdrawn their favor from the city of dusk, putting each realm in jeopardy, too. Rather than allow total destruction, the four heirs put aside their differences to intervene, even thought it means they'll each have a steep price to pay. This story has queer representation, complex world-building, and political intrigue. 

The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin

Another book showing up on multiple best-of book lists is "The World We Make" by N.K. Jemisin, but be warned, it's the second book in a series. Set in New York City in a world where physical avatars embody and represent cities, "The World We Make" is a captivating tale of people coming together to defeat a common threat — in this case, an alien known as The Woman in White. The Washington Post says it "offers a hopeful — if fantastical — message of tolerance." Isn't that reason enough to start reading?