Myths, legends, and fantasy stories – these have always captivated my mind, ever since I was a little girl. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what my first fantasy novel was, but I’m not sure I’ll ever know. What I can say is that when I was around ten or eleven years old, I was given roughly 40 books for Christmas that year – all thin ones, the kind that are perfect for that age, bought half-price or less at the local used bookshop – and thanks to a snowstorm we had a couple weeks later I finished reading all of the books by the end of February. I’m fairly certain that it was somewhere in that bundle that I read my first fantasy novel.
There are a few standouts from my pre-teen and teenage days, of course: Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness Quartet”, C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”, Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, and in particular – Weis and Hickman’s “Dragonlance” novels. These books all helped to develop my love of fantasy stories, the kind that couldn’t be contained to one single book. These authors built magnificent worlds that captivated my young imagination, full of magic and beauty, good and evil, and all that goes with it. Fairies, elves, dragons and more – I couldn’t help but fall in love with these kinds of stories.
Eventually, I began to incorporate other, slightly more historical tales – such as those of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and various Greek myths. When I hit high school, I can still remember my English teacher Chris Tharp introducing us to the concept of “the Hero’s Journey”, which he compared to Star Wars before then having us read Homer’s epic tale, “The Odyssey”. Throughout the next few years, my obsession with fantasy seemed to cement further, with games like Magic: The Gathering, the continuation of the Dragonlance novels, and films like “The Princess Bride” making their way into my absorption of pop culture. In fact, I don’t think that my love for fantasy tales has ever faded: I still enjoy a good sword and sorcery type of novel or series, and I enjoy rewatching favorites like “The Last Unicorn” and finding new loves, “Loki” and “What If”.
Why do we love fantasy so much, and why is it still such a strong factor in our consumption of pop culture? Could it be because of the fantastically beautiful landscapes, creatures, and costumes? Or is it because we all crave a touch of escapism, and share a longing for magic to be real? It could even be a little of all of it, and that could be why I’ve become absorbed in Vonnie Winslow Crist’s series “Dragon Rain”. If you haven’t picked it up yet and you love fantasy, I highly recommend purchasing your copy today, and it’s only $4.99. With this book, you won’t just get one magical story, but 18, each one destined to reach out to that kernel of hope within you and leave you thinking that just maybe – magic really does exist.