Many authors of the 21st century take inspiration from some of the world’s favorite classic fantasy authors like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Some even credit older fantasy writers such as Mary Shelley or Lewis Carroll. Of course, we all love George R.R. Martin, Rick Riordan, and J.K. Rowling, but it is essential to read some of the more recently published and less famous fantasy genre authors. For books to continue to get published, it is the book community’s job to make sure to include authors outside the realm of well-known. In an effort to expand your knowledge of lesser-known, underappreciated fantasy authors of the 21st century, here are five whose works breathe fresh life into classic understandings of the fantasy genre:
American author Madeline Miller is notable for her two retellings of some of the most infamous stories in Greek mythology. Her first text, “The Song of Achilles,” published in 2011, follows the love story of Achilles and Patroclus from their adolescence to their time in Troy. Seven years later, in 2018, “Circe” was published. This second Greek retelling follows the epic of “The Odyssey” as told from the perspective of the witch Circe.
Miller graduated from Brown University with a BA and MA in Classics and even taught and tutored Greek and Latin. She spent nearly a decade writing “The Song of Achilles,” making sure what she wrote followed Homer’s writings closely. She is well worth the read if you are interested in Greek mythology, especially if you are looking for LGBTQ+ inclusive fantasy texts.
Roseanne A. Brown moved from Kumasi, Ghana, to central Maryland as a young girl. It was during this time when she began to write stories. Her books include fantasy and science fiction elements, and her 2020 debut novel, “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin,” quickly became a favorite among young adult fantasy readers. Like Miller, Brown drew inspiration from a story from the past, an old West and North African folktale.
When pitching her book to publishers, she stated, “What if Jasmine and Aladdin tried to kill each other?” The rest is history, and her book became wildly successful and loved enough to warrant a second addition to the series titled “A Psalm of Storms and Silence,” which was published in late 2021.
After the release of the “Shadow and Bone” Netflix series in the summer of 2021, it might be getting hard to consider Leigh Bardugo as a lesser-known author. However, much of her “Shadow and Bone” series does not receive the credit it deserves. The story follows a young mapmaker who discovers she has the power to change the world. Bardugo worked hard to establish her “Grishaverse.” She published a trilogy and two duologies, giving her fans plenty of content to enjoy within the fantasy world.
4. V.E. Schwab
American author Victoria Elizabeth Schwab has written 10 novels, most of which fall into the fantasy genre. Her first famous novel in 2013, titled “Vicious,” follows two college students who learn how to develop superhuman abilities. V.E. Schwab has most recently published “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” in 2020. The story follows a young woman in 1714 who makes a bargain to live forever. The rest of the story follows Addie LaRue as she crosses centuries and continents. The novel has become well-known for being a fantastic and tear-jerking fantasy tale.
American author Jennifer L. Armentrout had a hard time getting her career started. Many publishing companies rejected her before her first book, “Half-Blood,” was published in 2011. Since then, she has published 53 works, many of which follow fantasy stories of witches, vampires, and other aspects of science fiction and the paranormal.
Her most popular series, the “Blood and Ash” books, follows the romantic and curious relationship between a maiden and a prince. The series has four books, “From Blood and Ash” (2020), “A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire” (2020), “The Crown of Gilded Bones” (2021) and the most recent and well-received, “The War of Two Queens,” which came out in March.
Considering that Armentrout can write multiple series at once and more than one novel a year, it makes sense that her bibliography spans far and wide as of 2022. With authors such as Armentrout consistently putting out new fantasy novels for readers to enjoy, it only makes sense to ditch some of the classics in favor of new ones.
Help Keep Fantasy Alive
As the years go on, more and more fantasy authors will write stories they love — stories they have thought about for years and have dedicated a lot of time to create. Using online resources such as Goodreads gives avid readers an easy option to find new novels in the genres they love. Joining online buddy reading groups, such as Fantasy Buddy Reads, gives people the chance to read and discuss stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Suppose you are a fan of fantasy novels. In that case, it is essential to broaden your library to include modern fantasy — written by people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community and authors both new and old. After all, when you finally pick up a brand-new book, you never know what you might find.