Wednesday, February 6, 2019

February is Fantasy Month: Week 1// Genres

Hello, everyone, welcome to February and in case you didn't know, February is Fantasy month! Which of course, I'm super excited about because I love fantasy. So every Wednesday this month (I'm thinking Wednesday will be my set day for posting on this blog since it seems to be the day I get off the most, but I suppose we shall see in this trial run if it works out), I'm going to talk about fantasy themes. Today I'm going to be discussing the different genres counted in fantasy!

There is much more to fantasy than meets the eye, it's such a vast genre and it has so many subgenres that I can't even keep track of them. Because of this, I'm only going to list the genres that I know/am familiar with/ actually count as fantasy.

The thing about genres is that, at least in my extremely humble opinion, it's all about the setting. Sure each of these subgenres come with their long lists of tropes, but tropes can be mixed up and even abandoned and these stories can still be counted in that genre as long as it has the right setting/aesthetic/feel.

So now, without any further ado I'll move onto the genres/subgenres/ whatever you want to call it...

Urban Fantasy

Not my favorite genre under that fantasy umbrella, but still a fun one! This genre basically counts as a book that has all of the extraordinary magical elements, but still takes place in the modern setting of a bustling metropolis. I don't have any Urban Fantasy stories that I've written yet. But I'm sure that won't last considering that it's my goal to write in all of the fantasy genres.

Magical Realism

This genre is probably the reason that I don't care too much for Urban Fantasy. With Magical Realism we are able to have magic and the modern world entwined. But, it doesn't have to be in a city. It could take place in an elite boarding school in Britain, or in a small Midwestern town. The possibilities are endless. I would say that one of my favorite movies of all time The Mummy (the one from 1999 with Brendan Fraiser, I never saw the new one with Tom Cruise) is magical realism because the magical elements are blended into the real world. And that's a historical story! Like I said, the possibilities really are endless.

Portal Fantasy

As a writer, I would say that I have the most experience with Portal Fantasy (though as a reader, that title would have to go to High Fantasy). The classification I use for this genre is that it features any characters from one world being able to travel to a world completely different than their own.

Not to be confused with other dimensions, portal fantasy is not about parallel worlds, but actually different worlds. Think Narnia. Imagine being able to actually travel to Middle Earth. Both are realms existing outside of our own, and Portal Fantasy bridges the gap between our two worlds.

My Amar books would fall under this genre, as would my faerie story Of Gold and Iron, and my WIP Here is There though that one does straddle the line between Portal Fantasy and parallel worlds, but I think at the end of the day it is really more Portal Fantasy than anything.

High Fantasy

Some people might call this "Kingdom Fantasy" but I think that High Fantasy is bigger than that. Kingdom Fantasy is really just a sub-sub-genre that falls under the High Fantasy classification.

After listing all of the fantasies that are tied into the real world, High Fantasy is basically where the fantasy world is all there is. There is no earth to tie in with. These worlds have extreme world building, often including a magical and political system and even a religion. High Fantasy books can be inspired off of the different cultures of the world, but they are still, in the end, their own worlds.

It doesn't matter what setting you use, like it would for Kingdom Fantasy where it would be knights and castles and dragons and usually a European themed culture. High Fantasy can be any world, whether it is inspired by Russia, or Japan, or Germany.

In fact, the only High Fantasy book that I've written at this moment is League of Thieves. And that takes place in a Middle Eastern themed world.

Dark Fantasy

And now we get into the murky waters of Dark Fantasy. I don't really know if there is a defining feature of Dark Fantasy, if there is, I've never come across it. This subgenre deals with the darker, more frightening themes of fantasy. There isn't really a key dividing factor between High Fantasy and Dark Fantasy. Nothing says how dark a  High Fantasy book has to be before it is grouped under this subgenre. It really depends on the reader/writer of the story.

For instance, I count my Winter Cursed series as a dark fantasy. Not because it is super gruesome or evil or anything. But more because of once again, the setting. Dark forests, snowy dead trees, shadowy corridors.Characters are cursed, the magic isn't always good in fact even when used for good it sometimes has disastrous consequences.  My characters are more morally grey, making it harder to distinguish a good and a bad. My hero is a dark lord, for goodness's sake.

And my villainess... well, one of the books in that series is actually from her perspective.


Like I said, when we get into dark fantasy, we are treading murky waters.

Retellings/Fairy Tales/Faeries/Myths/Legends and Lore

These aren't always fantasy and that is mainly because, as I mentioned previously I feel like genres are more defined by their setting than anything and the thing that makes these types of stories so unique is the change in setting. However, since there are so many stories like this that are counted as fantasy out there, I fell like it would be remiss to not to at least mention them.

In my personal experience these genres are often combined with another genre to get the setting. Winter Cursed is a retelling of the tale of Snow White, it's also a dark fantasy. My faerie story Of Gold and Iron is a faerie story, but it also counts as a portal fantasy.

There are, even, some stories that can be a combination of the things that I listed above. I hope to someday write a retelling of the legend of King Arthur only with faeries.

Science Fantasy

This is a thing. No, I am not pulling your leg. Science Fantasy is actually a genre. Actually the beloved (at least by me), Star Wars is considered a space fantasy (please don't tell my childhood, it would be scandalized).


From my understanding, Space Fantasy is basically stories that take place in outer space, but have major fantasy elements and cliches. So the story of Princess Leia, and a cocky smuggler, and a naive farm boy fighting against an evil empire is counted as a type of fantasy... even though it takes place in a galaxy far, far away...

So these are the genres that I can think of, what do you guys think? Have I missed anything? Which is your favorite of these genres to read or to write?

Haha, you thought I was done talking, but I still have a few more things to say.
You can find the schedule for the rest of the blog tour. You can find some of the other participants in the blog tour here, here, and here.

Also... there's a prize which is super awesome because well... dragons. So be sure to comment guys to increase your chances of winning this awesome crystallized dragon fire... *cough* um, I mean letter opener.

Stay tuned next week where I'm planning on talking about characters. AND as it will be my birthday, I will also be hosting the cover reveal for A Winter Dark and Deadly. So be sure not to miss it.

Also, since we were just discussing all of the genres (and A Winter Dark and Deadly for that matter) I just wanted to take a moment to state that I am looking for beta readers for two of my stories. A Winter Dark and Deadly an Of Gold and Iron. Dark fantasy and faeries. You take your pick. You can sign up here!


  1. Ahhh, all these genres! I think the biggest distinction between kingdom fantasy/kingdom adventure and high fantasy is that high fantasy usually has magic, while kingdom adventure is specifically stories that take place in a fantasy world WITHOUT magic. So...the kind of story that I can't/don't write. Lol.

    I have what I guess is an urban fantasy in the works? It's going to be super complicated and have like forty different elements (high school contemporary, mafia, dragons, portal fantasy, high fantasy, magic, prophecies, SOMEONE HELP ME HERE). So it's super duper ambitious, probably one of the most ambitious stories I've ever tried to write...but we'll see. I have NO CLUE when that's getting written.

    I also have an idea for a seven-book high fantasy, Game of Thrones-style series? So...someone save me from all the books I have to write. xD (Or give me time so I can write them all...)

    Awesome post! All your definitions are GREAT!

    1. Really? I didn't really know that Kingdom Fantasy was counted as not having magic, lol but yeah, those are the kind of books that I DO NOT write either.

      Sounds awesome to me, I have so many half baked urban fantasy/paranormal ideas in the works that I'm not even going to list them (NO HELP FOR YOU! YOU MUST WRITE IT!!). Ahh, the ambitious stories are always so fun. But they also tend to be hard because I put too much pressure on myself to try to make it perfect to fit the awesome theme I have.

      Lol, that's awesome and I would love to read that! An Apprentice of Death is my oldest high fantasy series (I started it the year after I first wrote A Week of Werewolves, Faeries, and Fancy Dresses) and it's like thirteen books long and there's a second series so ah... HAHAHAHA *don't mind me, I'm just laughing at myself* I never started it because of how daunting it seems, but it does feature my favorite character I have ever written (can I have some of that time please?)

      Thank you! :D

  2. Such a lovely delineation of many of the sub-genres in the fantasy realm! I love it!

    It was also interesting to hear how your own works fit inside these sub-genres!

    Another thing that tends to set High Fantasy apart is that it usually incorporates a multi-humanoid-race system (the most common being humans/elves/dwarves... but other variants/combos are plentiful). And like Florid Sword mentioned, "Kingdom Fantasy" has become the moniker specifically for stories that are definitely FANTASY but don't have any hints of magic at all... but they are fantasy, not historical fiction... sometimes taking place in different worlds and whatnot.

    My favorite is one you didn't mention, but it often gets overlooked as being its own genre: Epic Fantasy. This is usually the high-stakes, important quest, dark lord, fate of the world hanging in the balance brand of fantasy... and usually takes place in its own world, though it can be combined with any of the subgenres as well. :)

    1. Thanks, Jenelle!

      I'm glad you do, I love classifying my works so much because they blend genres slightly ;P

      This is true, though not all high fantasy books do feature multiple species. My high fantasy that I've written so far only has two races, humans and djinn, and the djinn are almost extinct. You know, now I'm learning something from my own blog post because I didn't know that Kingdom Fantasy had started to be considered non magical *has been classifying it wrong all these years*

      I love epic fantasy! I feel bad for not mentioning it now :/ I've always kind of considered it a branch in High Fantasy though... you are right, it is usually combined with other genres. My Time in Amar is a portal fantasy, but it could definitely be considered an Epic Fantasy because it has all of those things that you mentioned, high stakes, dark lords, fate of the world, quests and the whatnot ;P

  3. Ooo, this was so interesting! (Don’t mind me freaking out over here that February is Fantasy Month. *dies*)

    And yes, I agree with you that Star Wars is space fantasy! I know that a lot of people say it’s science fiction, but to me, it’s set in a different world, or at least, so far away that it isn’t really "science fiction." I don’t know, that’s just my take on it. :)

    Great post, Nicki!

    1. Thank you! (no problem, I didn't even notice, I'm too busy freaking out myself because I love fantasy too much and February has always been special to me because well... it's my birth month so yeah, I'm freaking out pretty hard myself)

      *coughs* I am actually one of those people who wants to call Star Wars Sci-Fi myself. I grew up considering it such, but yeah, it is a space fantasy... though I can't promise that I'll always be so specific because I still partly consider it science fiction.

      Thank you!

  4. Interesting post! I write retellings, but I think a lot of the other fantasy genres fall into that category at times. Borrowing themes from old stories, giving them a face lift, and calling the new work "original" has been going on for a long time--both Lewis and Tolkien borrowed heavily from mythologies and legends. The originality lies in how an element is used by an author.

    My own (totally fluffy) stories are "inspired by" classic fairy tales--the source-material possibilities are nearly limitless. I'm currently reading a wonderful book by Nina Clare that takes elements from many fairy tales and turns them into something marvelously new!

    Now I need to pick up one of your books! I love discovering new (to me) fantasy authors! :-)

    1. Thank you! Oh, I definitely agree, in fact many of my own world building is gotten from borrowing from old stories and mythologies (I actually got my world building process from Tolkein).

      I really need to read your retellings one of these days. I love retellings, and honestly I write so many, I can't help myself even if I write a fairy tale retelling I want to write a retelling of the exact same tale because I want to tell it in a completely different way than the original way I first wrote it. There are so many things that you can change and add.

      Oh, I hope that you do. That would mean so much to me especially since I actually wrote Winter Cursed for your daughter's Rooglewood Press contest :)

  5. Good list! I can think of a few other subgenres that you missed, but you certainly hit the most significant ones.

    I, personally, tend to write epic fantasy and fairy tale retellings most often. I do want to do some urban fantasy and science fantasy, though.

    1. Thank you! Oh yes, there are so many sub-genres and sub-sub-genres that I can't even keep track of all of them so these are basically the ones that I use when categorizing the books I read and write.

      Both those genres are awesome, and I have so many story ideas for them. Same, same ;P

  6. Fun post! Fantasy is my favorite genre. I write portal fantasy, fairytale retellings set in a high fantasy world, and dystopian fantasy. My reading preferences are a bit broader than that, though. :)
    I wish I'd known sooner about February's being fantasy month... I can't believe I didn't know that. Well anyway, I enjoyed this post! :D

    1. There's still plenty of time to join in the fun! There's a hashtag game going on over on fb/twitter/instagram, and I just posted the game of Blog Tag on my own site that anyone with a blog is welcome to jump in and use! Head over to for more info and details!

    2. Thank you! Fantasy is definitely my favorite genre by a long shot. Oh, all of those sound so good. I'm curious, what is your portal fantasy about? Yes, I'm exactly the same.

      What Jenelle said ;P

  7. And here I was thinking that your "Time in Amar" and "Return to Amar" series were urban fantasy, but really all along I was getting mixed up with urban fantasy and portal fantasy. *Slaps hand on forehead* I always seem to get genres all mixed up. No bother, those series are some of my favorites. ;)

    This is such a fun post! I haven't written any fantasy before (yet, I'm thinking about a fantasy series, but I'm trying to stay focus on one series at a time XD)But I have been loving some of the fantasy that I have been reading lately. =) Especially books in the Portal Fantasy genre ;)

    1. Haha, really? I would have grouped them more with magical realism than urban fantasy. Honestly, I do too which is why I have this classification system for myself. I'm glad to hear that ;P

      Thank you! Lol, I haven't written (finished at least) any sci-fi books myself even though I still love that genre (obviously I am far past the point of no return with how many series I am working on XD). I'm glad! Fantasy books are my favorites XD

  8. This post was SO fun to read! It's so cool how fantasy has so many subgenres!!

    Lila @ The Red-Hooded Writer

    1. Thank you, I'm glad that you enjoyed it! It is because it gives me a lot of options when I start a fantasy series ;P