Since there are so many talented authors and works of literature out there, it makes it easy for even the pickiest of readers to find something to their taste. But it also means that talented authors can fly under the radar, and that book lovers might miss out on some truly fantastic writing.
Guess what? Frostbeard to the rescue! We’ve read widely inside and outside of our favorite genres, and we want to help you find your way to these fabulous writers. Here are, in our opinion, some of the authors that you’ve just gotta check out.
Fantasy fans may already be well ahead of the game with this author. But if you haven’t already heard of Neil Gaiman through his short stories and novels, you might recognize him through the numerous film and television adaptations of his works: “Stardust,” “Coraline,” “American Gods,” and the recent Hulu hit “Good Omens.” Or maybe you’ve read his 90s comic book series, The Sandman.
Clearly, Gaiman is a man of many talents, stretching himself across genre and medium. But we love him best for his imaginative novels. To get a taste of his writing, we recommend starting with Neverwhere, an urban fantasy about a young businessman who stumbles upon a seedy, mysterious city beneath London – and into an adventure.
Haruki Murakami made our list of authors we’d love to have dinner with because he’s so dang interesting. But he makes our list of favorite authors because his writing is a sheer joy to read. This man does it all: memoir, fantasy, magical realism, thrillers, short stories – he’s written something for just about every type of reader you can think of. And everything he writes, he writes well, populating his worlds with remarkable characters, moving imagery, and almost unbearable amounts of heartfelt emotion. Love magical realism? Pick up Kafka on the Shore. More in the mood for a good dystopia? Crack open 1Q84. Need some bittersweet romance in your life? Norwegian Wood can provide.
We firmly expect to see Naomi Novik on future lists of famous female authors, both for her brilliant plots and her dazzling prose. While Uprooted recently brought her quite a bit of fame and several awards, her other works are not to be missed. She also penned the Temeraire series, beginning with His Majesty’s Dragon in 2007. Think the Napoleonic Wars reimagined with dragons as an aerial force, and a hapless sea captain pressed into service to become a dragon rider. We know, you’re already hooked. But if you’d prefer even less historical fiction with your fantasy, Uprooted is the way to go, filled to the brim as it is with magic, romance, and grumpy wizards.
Eowyn Ivey (named for JRR Tolkein’s Éowyn!) was raised and still lives in Alaska, and her gorgeous prose will have you seeing this strange world through her eyes. Ivey is also adept at cutting to the quiet heart of grief and showing how her characters come to terms with events outside of their control. The Snow Child, her debut novel, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and took home a number of awards. In this study of human resilience, we’re treated to a reimagining of an old Russian fairy tale in which a childless couple is visited by a mysterious child. And in her second novel, Ivey takes us right back to the Alaskan wilderness with To the Bright Edge of the World, in which a colonel must leave his pregnant wife to embark on a dangerous mission in the wilderness.
If you haven’t heard of Brandon Sanderson, now is as good a time as any to dive into his Mistborn series. It’s got everything a fantasy fan could want: heists, a complex magic system, plucky heroes, and a sprawling world we love to get lost in. Sanderson is also known for finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which is being developed for television by Amazon. It’s no surprise that he was selected for this honor – Sanderson consistently delivers effortless action scenes, intricate world building, and plots that suck a reader in and keep them there for the entire novel. Just make sure you’ve got some time set aside to blaze through his novels, because you’ll probably find it hard to avoid diving into the next one, and the next one, and the next one.
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas came out in 2004, and we’re honestly still thinking about it. A unique blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and historical fiction, this novel takes you on a mind-bending journey through the ages and across humanity. Six interconnected novellas might sound like a needlessly confusing read, but Mitchell delivers his masterpiece smoothly and with a perfect amount of explanation. After you’ve devoured this award-winning tour de force, you’ll still have several other genre-bending novels to check out from this masterful author, like The Bone Clocks and Number9Dream.
A self-described author of “weird fiction,” China Miéville both delights and confounds us in equal measure. His novels are at once absorbing and disconcerting, awe-inspiring and off-putting. And we love every single page for his endless creativity. Check out his New Crobuzon series for a strange adventure through a fantastical, filthy world. Is it steampunk? Cyberpunk? Urban fantasy? If you figure it out, let us know.
This middle-grade author just so happens to hail from right here in Minneapolis! But Barnhill’s novels – alternately dreamy and creepy in tone – will take you to other worlds. We recommend starting with The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which won a Newbery Medal. When a witch who rescues children accidentally feeds a baby moonlight, she decides to raise her to help her manage her accidental magic. But when Luna’s magic finally starts to show itself, the witch is nowhere to be found. Once you or your young reader finish this adventure, pick up the darker novella The Unlicensed Magician, which won the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction!