When most readers think of the classics, they think of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. They don’t think of fire-breathing monsters, powerful sorcerers, or the infamous “chosen one” trope. Yet fantasy has actually existed in literature for a long time, and although literary genres are constantly evolving, many of the classics have quite a bit in common with modern fantasy books.
In the list below, I’m recommending 5 books that I think would be perfect for lovers of modern fantasy (even if you don’t usually enjoy classics!):
1. THE ODYSSEY BY HOMER
What’s that? One of the oldest works of literature has strong connections to the fantasy genre? You bet! Homer’s The Odyssey is an action-filled story that features a dashing hero, hideous monsters, and a strong-willed “damsel in distress”. It’s an incredible story, and even if you don’t usually enjoy classics, I really recommend giving it a chance.
2. DRACULA BY BRAM STOKER
The gothic genre has a lot in common with what we call “fantasy”, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an excellent place to start. Like many classics, this book takes a little while to get going, but it’s definitely worth putting the effort in—the story is excellent, and the way in which it is written really emphasises the tension in the novel.
3. ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND BY LEWIS CARROLL
If you’re looking for a shorter read, I can thoroughly recommend Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Although it was originally intended to be a children’s novel, I really enjoyed reading it as an adult (plus, I finished it in one sitting)! Besides, this story is absolutely full of magic and adventure, making it perfect for fantasy-lovers.
4. THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO BY HORACE WALPOLE
Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto is often called “the first gothic novel”. Published in 1764, it can be a bit of a tricker read, but it’s very short, and the story is full of action, which sets it apart from many of the novels published in the Romantic Era. (Jane Austen fans, don’t panic: that isn’t intended as an insult!)
5. FRANKENSTEIN BY MARY SHELLEY
Finally, we have Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I’m not going to apologise for including yet another gothic novel in this list, because Frankenstein really is a fantastic read. Again, it’s filled with action, high-stakes, and flawed, believable characters, and, again, it’s a book that I can thoroughly recommend.
I hope you enjoyed reading this list of classics that are perfect for fantasy-lovers! Now I want to hear from you. Have you read many classics? If so, what’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!