It’s clear to see that I’m a HUGE fantasy lover. I absolutely adore the genre, and most of the bookish content I post is related to fantasy in one way or another. So, I know for certain that a fantasy recommendation post is long overdue! I thought I’d make two separate posts, one for standalones, and one for series. Obviously, this post is for the former!
I really enjoy standalones. Series are great, of course, but they can be difficult to commit to. They’re super long, and it’s awful when you have to wait up to a year for the next installment to come out if the series has not yet been finished. Let’s be real: sometimes we don’t have the time to dedicate to finishing an entire series. And that’s okay! Because we have standalones! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s amazing when an author creates and completes a whole story within a single book… Come on, like, how cool is that? It’s also great that I don’t feel any pressure to have to continue on with the story after book one… no commitment whatsoever!
In this post, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite fantasy standalones to read when you just don’t feel like tackling a series. I definitely recommend adding some of these to your TBR if you haven’t read them yet!
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
Why I Recommend it:
To Kill a Kingdom might just be one of my favorite books ever. Of course, since I’m a huge mermaid lover, my opinion might be a *bit* biased, but who doesn’t love an action-packed siren adventure that has a thrilling hint of romance? 😉 This book is dark, seductive, and simply devourable. I remember flying through it in just one day, never stopping to check the page numbers, which is something I tend to do very often when reading books. This book is so close to my heart, and it’s actually the inspiration behind my blog name, Mermaid Reads! I definitely recommend giving this book a try if you’re looking for a fun Little Mermaid retelling that is full of thrills!
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
Why I Recommend it:
If you’re into dark, sinister fantasies with morally grey characters, this is the book for you. I actually just read The Shadows Between Us a few weeks ago, but I’m already dying to reread it. It’s a quick read (about 300 pages), and it’s so fast-paced that you can basically read it in one sitting. The romance in this book is dark and steamy, and I couldn’t get enough of it! Tricia Levenseller’s books are all really amazing, and I highly encourage picking up any of them.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone―has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do―and who to be―to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything―unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
Why I Recommend it:
I read this book quite a while ago, but I remember really loving it. It’s an interesting retelling of Snow White and the Evil Queen’s tale, and I love how it further explores the complex relationship between the two women. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has never been my favorite fairy tale, as the plot relies on women being pitted against each other over vanity, and it doesn’t exactly push the boundaries of what female characters can achieve. Girls Made of Snow and Glass does exactly the opposite, and that’s why I enjoyed it so much. It still sticks to the elements of the original fairy tale, but it does so in a far more deep and empowering way.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart.
Why I Recommend it:
There are so many Beauty and the Beast retellings out there, but Cruel Beauty might just be my favorite. The story it utterly transportive. Just flip the book open to any page, and you’ll instantly be swept away into a dark and mysterious fantasy realm. The writing is lush and enchanting, so trust me when I say that you’ll be entranced from start to finish!
The Siren by Kiera Cass
Kahlen is a Siren—bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to their watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger… but will Kahlen risk everything to follow her heart?
Why I Recommend it:
I initially picked The Siren up because it’s written by Kiera Cass, author of The Selection, but honestly, the two books couldn’t be more different. I absolutely loved The Selection, but I found that The Siren was a much more atmospherical read, with stunning imagery and wonderful little hints of mermaid magic. Because of this, it could sometimes be rather slow, but if you’re in the right mood for that kind of story, I think you’ll love it!
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Why I Recommend it:
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Marissa Meyer. She’s literally the queen of fairy tale retellings, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Heartless is one of my favorite books of hers, and it’s easily my all-time favorite Alice retelling out there! It’s dark, eerie, and foreboding, as it tells the tale of Cath, the girl who eventually becomes the infamous Queen of Hearts. If you enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles, particularly the spooky aspect of it, you’ll love Heartless. Queen Levana, the main villain of the Lunar Chronicles, and Cath are actually quite similar, and I think if you’re a LC fan, you’ll be interested to see the two characters compared!
Have you read any of these wonderful books?
Or better yet, have you read any amazing fantasy standalones that you’re just dying to share with other readers? If you have, drop those recommendations down below! I loveeeeee fantasy, and I love receiving fantasy book recommendations even more!
Thanks for reading!