100 Must-Read Books Featuring Fantastical Creatures

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Brandi Bailey

Staff Writer

Brandi can be found writing about books and dreaming up outfits on her blog, Book Style. She'll probably be reading something with mythology, Brits, unicorns, a feisty heroine, or (ideally) all of the above. She has lived in too many cities, but has settled down in Portland with her awesome husband and almost-as-awesome cat. Follow her on Instagram @PinkBBWhiskey.

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What is a fantastical creature? I choose to define it as any creature that does not exist in reality, only in the minds of the imaginative and on the pages of fantasy novels everywhere. For the purposes of this list, I chose to avoid titles that are geared towards sci-fi or horror and tried to stick with supernatural and fantasy titles. These are tales and bestiaries featuring creatures like unicorns (WHY IS THIS CATEGORY SO VERY WHITE?!?), fairies, genies, gnomes, dragons, vampires, shapeshifters, and other not-quite-humans. Some of these fantastical creatures are unique to their specific books; others have been present in the lore of the world for centuries, millennia even. Some, like fae and dragons, have personalities and characteristics that vary drastically depending on the region of origin and target audience. And before you go and tell me I forgot Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or The Silmarillion, I made an effort to avoid some of the most obvious and more mainstream titles in favor of books you may not have picked up without a little nudge.

  1. lThe Legend Begins by Isobelle CarmodyThe Legend Begins by Isobelle Carmody
  2. Red Hot Fury by Kasey MacKenzie
  3. Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  4. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant
  5.  Fae edited by Rhonda Parrish
  6. Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
  7. Pegasus by Robin McKinley
  8. Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey & Margaret Ball
  9. Troll Fell by Katherine LangrishTroll Fell by Katherine Langrish
  10. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
  11. The Taken by Vicki Pettersson
  12. The Subtle Beauty by Ann Hunter
  13.  Tides by Betsy Cornwell
  14. The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix by Kate Saunders
  15. The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland
  16. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
  17. Huntress by Malinda LoHuntress by Malinda Lo
  18. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  19.  The Unicorn Girl by M.L. LeGette
  20. Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
  21. Into the Fire by Kelly Hashway
  22.  The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Peter Ferguson
  23.  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  24. The Devourers by Indra Das
  25. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  26. The Divine by Boaz LavieThe Divine by Boaz Lavie, illustrated by Asaf Hanuka & Tomer Hanuka
  27. The Visitors by Simon Sylvester
  28. Unnatural Creatures edited by Maria Dahvana Headley & Neil Gaiman
  29. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  30. The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu
  31. Wildfire by Mina Khan
  32. Heart of Stone by Christine Warren
  33. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
  34. Unico by Osamu TezukaUnico by Osamu Tezuka
  35. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden
  36. Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  37. Silvertongue by Charlie Fletcher
  38. Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill
  39. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
  40. Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep
  41. Promise of Shadows by Justina IrelandPromise of Shadows by Justina Ireland
  42. Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac
  43. Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
  44. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
  45. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  46. Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
  47. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  48. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  49. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  50. Monstress by Marjorie LiuMonstress by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda
  51. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
  52. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
  53. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  54. The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
  55. Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier
  56. Ingo by Helen Dunmore
  57. Kynship by Daniel Heath Justice
  58. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy FarmerThe Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
  59. The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor
  60. Coal by Constance Burris
  61. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  62. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  63. Song of the Summer King by Jess E. Owen
  64. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
  65. Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  66. Eon by Alison Goodman
  67. The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin AhmedThrone of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
  68. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
  69. Ico: Castle in the Mist by Miyuki Miyabe, translated by Alexander O. Smith
  70. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  71. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
  72. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  73. Soulless by Gail Carriger
  74. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  75. Bad Unicorn by Platte F ClarkBad Unicorn by Platte F. Clark
  76. The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
  77. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  78. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
  79. Zombies Vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black
  80. Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
  81. Brian Froud’s Goblins! by Ari Berk, illustrated by Brian Froud
  82. Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler
  83. Asteroid Made of Dragons by G Derek AdamsAsteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams
  84. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
  85. Tales from an Israeli Storyteller by Uri Kurlianchik
  86. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
  87. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
  88. Jackaby by William Ritter
  89. The Little Book of Magical Creatures by Elizabeth Pepper & Barbara Stacy
  90. The Flame of Olympus by Kate O’Hearn
  91. The Unofficial Middle-earth Monster's Guide by The Mordor CollectiveThe Unofficial Middle-Earth Monster’s Guide: Hunt Hobbits, Hoard Treasure, and Embrace Your Villainous Nature by The Mordor Collective
  92. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
  93. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  94. Isle of Winds by James Fahy
  95. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
  96. Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Claire Simpson
  97. The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E B HudspethThe Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth
  98. Gnomes by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet
  99. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
  100. The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John Matthews & Caitlin Matthews