Among light novel genres, fantasy is definitely a fan favorite. I would even say it’s the most popular genre of light novels, especially thanks to the isekai sub-genre. But with so many stories to choose from, where do you even begin? That question is why I’ve compiled this list of 10 best fantasy light novels that you should definitely check out. Whether you’re newer to the genre or a well established reader, you’ll most likely find something new to read. But especially if you’re new, I think fantasy is a great place to start reading light novels.
As you’ll soon see, fantasy light novels really love two specific tropes. The first is portal fantasy (hello again, isekai sub-genre). The second veers a lot towards historical settings and romantic plots, and it involves being reborn as something or someone new. It’s not always like that though, and there’s a lot of room for creative and unique stories using those tropes.
One last thing before we start. It’s pretty common for authors of light novels to use pen names in order to publish their stories. They’re more private people too, and very little is known about most of them. So I’m not completely sure that this list doesn’t include a majority of cis male authors. Nevertheless, I tried to include as many female authors and main characters as I could because men aren’t the only ones who can save the world!
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best fantasy light novels you can read!
Best Fantasy Light Novels
A Tale of the Secret Saint by Touya
Fia is a young woman born from a family of knights. She’s eager to prove herself to her family. But everything changes when she has a brush with death, and memories of her past life resurface. Fia used to be a powerful Saint who could wield magic — until she died an untimely death. Now, Fia has access to that magic, but her past identity puts her in danger. She’ll have to keep this huge secret if she wants to become a knight, which is easier said than done since her new powers are irresistible.
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation by Rifujin na Magonote
Remember when I mentioned that fantasy light novels love the reincarnation trope? Well, this is probably one of the more popular examples of that! Jobless Reincarnation follows a 34-year-old man named Rudeus who suddenly dies. He’s reborn in a magical world with the memories of his past life intact. That life wasn’t going too great though, so now he’s determined to make the most of his second lifetime — even if he’s still a child in this world.
Free Life Fantasy Online: Immortal Princess by Akisuzu Nenohi (November 15)
This is the only light novel on this list that hasn’t been published yet. But in a few months, this adventurous video game fantasy story will hit the shelves! The story follows Tsukishiro Kotone, who just became obsessed with a new virtual reality game called “Free Life Fantasy Online.” In it, she chooses one of the most difficult characters: the zombie. Now undead and armed, she goes into the catacombs for her first quest. Little does she know that the game will soon become an important part of her non-virtual life.
Boogiepop by Kouhei Kadono
I had to include Boogiepop in this list because it is one of the first light novels that kick-started the popularity of the genre. The story is nonlinear, and it follows a shinigami named Boogiepop, AKA the Angel of Death. The first few volumes begin when several female students disappear from Shinyo Academy. Everyone thinks they just ran away. But Kirima Nagi suspects the Angel of Death may be involved.
Restaurant to Another World by Junpei Inuzuka
This is one of the best fantasy light novels for anyone who wants something light and fun to read! Think foodie slice-of-life combined with magical creatures. This light novel doesn’t have a specific cast of characters. Rather, each chapter follows a new guest of the Western Cuisine Nekoya restaurant and the food they order. Of course they are accompanied by their own stories and tons of illustrations that make each page an even tastier treat.
So I’m a Spider, So What? by Okina Baba
Of course when you’re reborn in light novels, you’re not always human! In this story, an entire classroom dies in the middle of a battle and all of them reincarnate in another world. While some of them may have become royalty, the main character finds herself in a dark dungeon — and she’s a tiny spider. The dungeon is full of other monsters, and our little spider has to learn how to survive in this new world full of dangers.
Berserk of Gluttony by Isshiki Ichika
Berserk of Gluttony is a dark fantasy light novel. The story follows a man named Fate Graphite. He is cursed with an ability called Gluttony, which gives him immense power at the cost of starvation. One day, Fate kills a dying thief and eats his soul. His true hunger is awakened and with the help of his sword — which enhances his powers — he can finally gain control over his own destiny. A path which leads him to Lady Roxy’s employment.
Slayers by Hajime Kanzaka
Slayers is such a fun and adventurous story, it’s definitely one of the best fantasy light novels you can read. The story follows Lina Inverse, a kick-ass young mage with a knack for getting into trouble. Lina is on an adventure to find treasure — and herself. But she steals from the wrong bandit, and now she and her companion Gourry are neck-deep in a world-ending fight to stop the demon lord from fully awakening.
Book Girl by Mizuki Nomura
I love stories about books as much as the next bookworm, which is why I can’t ignore the Book Girl series! Nomura’s light novel follows Tohko Amano. Not only does she run her school’s literary club — she’s also a literature-eating demon! Enter writer Konoha Inoue, a young man who pens new stories to satisfy Tohko’s appetite. Their lives change when a new student joins the literary club, asking for advice for writing love letters.
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent by Yuka Tachibana
There are isekai light novels with male leads aplenty, so I want to highlight one that has a female lead! The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent follows Sei, a 20-year-old office worker who is summoned to another world. She’s supposed to be the Saint, the savior who would banish the darkness that plagues the land. Except the spell that brought her here brought another person, too. Sei is all too happy to leave the palace and set up a magical shop. But it won’t be long before she’s needed for her supposed Sainthood.