Toothless Letter GYesterday we looked at Fantasy as a whole. Today I am going to talk about genres of fantasy.

Wait! I hear you cry. Isn’t fantasy a genre?

Why yes, yes it is, but there are a whole bunch of sub genres of fantasy, and that is what I am going to talk about today.

Because there are quite a lot of them, each one is getting a quick run down.

Alternate History A retelling of historic events where magic or other fantasy elements are involved. Often starts from a point in history that is familiar and established and then diverts events away from historical events.

Comic Fantasy Take fantasy, add humour, and this is what you get. This can either be a work in it’s own right, or a humorous/sarcastic re-telling of a classic fantasy tale.

subgenresContemporary Fantasy Also know as modern day fantasy, these stories are set in the real world, in the current time or recent history. Usually it is revealed that magic and magical creature secretly exist either in this world or leaking over from alternative world. Look at the Harry Potter or Neverwhere books for excellent examples of this.

Dark Fantasy Fantasy but with elements of horror. Or more likely, a horror story with elements of fantasy, such as setting or monsters you would expect from a fantasy book. Gothic elements feature heavily in these types of books.

Erotic Fantasy Similar to the previous, this is a blending of two genres where an erotice novel takes place in a fantasy setting. It can also be a conventional fantasy novel, but possesses far more graphic content and detail of that area than other books.

Fairytale Fantasy Fairytales come as their own sub genre due to the motifs that are borrowed from folklore. This can mean using a motif in an original plot, retellings of classical fairy tales, or fleshed out tales with characterisation, setting and plot from the original tale fleshed out to make a novel. Morals are often found, as are what we would consider cliches, because this is where they originated from.

Heroic Fantasy These stories focus on a hero or heroine and their conquests, exploits and adventures. There’s often a good versus evil conflict running strong through the middle of these books, as well as a large supporting cast and a huge imaginary land that they run rampant battle through.

High Fantasy High or Epic fantasy refers to a story that depicts an epic struggle between good and evil in a fantasy world (either independent or parallel) with a long and vivid histories, again with large casts of people. This is quite often what people immediately think of when the word fantasy is spoken, with Lord of the Rings the classic and dominating example.

Historical Fantasy Very similar to the Alternate History sub genre, these stories are set in a specific historical period but have elements of fantasy added to the world (magic, mythical creatures or characters). The difference between the two is in Historical Fantasy, the magic often retreats and the timeline is unaltered. If the timeline changes, then it is classed as Alternate History.

Juvenile Fantasy The works that are written for younger audiences, although considering a fair proportion of fantasy work ends up in the Young Adult section of bookstores, this can often be paired with other sub genres as well. Quite often a lot of coming of age stories are written in this sub genre, as the audience can better relate to the character and plot.

genresLow Fantasy Refers to stories that don’t emphasise the magic or supernatural elements of the story, although they are present. It could focus more on character or plot rather than setting, but magic takes a back seat. This is the opposite to the sweeping vistas and heroism of High Fantasy, and is often set in a more realistic setting, either historical or modern.

Magical Realism Presents fantastical and mundane elements side-by-side, magic is part of the system of the world. It has consequences and rules to it’s use, and indeed the rules form the main part of this sub genre, and the consequences often power the plot.

Mythic Fiction Refers to tales that are rooted in fables or mythology. Related to Fairytale Fantasy, these stories will draws from the tropes, themes and symbolism or myths and folklore. This can be pantheon based characterisations, or famous journey retellings in fantasy settings.

Paranormal Fantasy Include elements of the occult, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and other such creatures from modern folklore. Often takes place in an urban setting, so can be coupled with Urban Fantasy.

Romantic Fantasy Kind of obvious, this type of fantasy deals heavily with romance and love plots. Whilst the setting may be fantasy, as can the characters, the plot is going to be heavily influenced by the main relationship between protagonists.

Steampunk Fantasy Incorporating fantasy and steam powered technology, these books tend to be influenced by the industrial period of the victorian era, incorporating the values and ethics of the time, but including fantastical inventions and forward thinking characters.

Sword and Sorcery The bread and butter of the fantasy genre, these novels include sword play, magic, and medieval brand adventure. You never have to look far to find elements of this sub genre in most fantasy novels, although by no means all.

Urban Fantasy The important feature of this sub genre is place: an urban setting. Mostly set in contemporary times, or slightly futuristic, the fantasy elements are present in a sprawling urban city.

And there you have it, my list of sub genres of fantasy. Of course this list isn’t exhaustive, I am sure that there are some that I have missed. Feel free to point them out. How are other people’s A to Z challenges going?

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