Underrated Fantasy Novels // mostly MG books honestly

February 16, 2020

Happy Sunday!

So, seeing as this month is Fantasy Month (cue the wild celebrations in the blogging streets), I wanted to do a post specifically on fantasy novels. No better time than now, right?

We always talk about Lord of the Rings and Narnia and Keeper of the Lost Cities (okay, that one is just me XD), but what about the lesser-known fantasy books? Why do we always talk about the same popular books and overlook some gems?

That's why I'm shedding some light on my favorite, overlooked fantasy stories and shoving them onto your TBR pile telling you why you need to read them.

(I've never done one of these TBR-type posts before - we'll see how this goes, I guess. XD)
(also I didn't put any of the book covers in this post because my Wrap Text function hates me and it looks terrible. but I did link to the Goodreads pages on all the titles, so if I reference a book cover, you can view it)
(okay let's just do this already)


Basic Premise: After learning that she's the thought-dead Princess of the Castle, ten-year-old Jenna and a few unlikely companions flee their home and seek to put Jenna back on the throne.

This is by far the most underrated middle-grade series ever. No one talks about it, which is so sad, because I thoroughly enjoyed these when I was in fifth and sixth grade - and I still like them! At first glance, the plot seems very basic and overdone, but trust me, the plot Takes Some Turns.

And the CHARACTERS! *dies* My personal favorites are Nicko (Jenna's brother), Boy 412 (who is excellent and deserves all the attention), and a certain Apprentice that I really can't say much about because I would spoil everything. XD

In other words, you should read this if you like:
  • a healthy sense of humor and lots of Easter eggs in prose
  • a large cast of quirky characters
  • a unique (and mostly rhyming) magic system
  • rats (don't ask)
  • a super cool third-person omniscient POV that's done really well
  • a long series (there are seven books, and the sixth is the best ;) )


Basic Premise: In the 1950s, an American girl moves to England and becomes wrapped up in a plot to stop another atomic bomb, a plot that involves magic elixers and an apothecary's son.

This was the first historical fantasy book I ever picked up, and OH BOY was it good - I probably read it about seven or eight times in two weeks.

While I do love the characters (Janie, Ben, and Pip are such a fantastic trio <3), the most interesting part of this book was the world and the "magic system." I've never read another book featuring potions that turn people into birds, for instance. And there's also quintessence, which is super cool. (I have a thing for quintessence. XD)

So, you should read this book if you like:
  • references to Great Expectations and a lot of other British novels
  • cool elixers that do a lot of things
  • street urchins
  • Traumatized Characters
  • PAIN


Basic Premise: A girl is rescued from her fate to die at age eleven and goes to live in a whimsical city, where she competes for a place in the prestigious Wundrous Society.

So basically this is Keeper of the Lost Cities meets Alice in Wonderland. The world is so delightfully quirky, you just can't help but smile! You only need to look at the cover to get a glimpse at the world: on the first day of the year, some people jump off a hotel building with umbrellas. It's pretty great. XD

And the characters are just as quirky. Morrigan is an absolute sweetheart. <333 Her guardian Jupiter is the wackiest of the lot - you just gotta love him. And then there's Jack, who's a side character, but who I personally think deserves more page time. (#morrijack4life)

Try this book (and its sequels!) if you enjoy:
  • a whimsical world
  • an Angsty Boy
  • Secrets TM
  • adventures inside a crazy hotel
  • giant grumpy cats


Basic Premise: two siblings discover another world and are instantly thrown into a war between the elves and the rest of the world, who have lost their Stonekeeper guardians.

I've already talked about why you should read this book, and you should check out that post. My reasons for loving this graphic novel series have not changed one bit. The world is phenomenally built, with amazing illustrations accompanying it.

And, then, of course, the characters have stolen my heart. Especially Trellis. (but he needed more page time in book 8, just saying)

Basically, you should read this series if you like:
  • fantasy graphic novels
  • dark Narnia meets Lord of the Rings
  • Zuko-esque characters
  • beautiful artwork
  • cliffhangers XD


Basic Premise: a girl goes back to her magical childhood home to save it from destroying itself - except she gets way more than she bargained for.

I literally know no one who has read this book, so PLEASE READ IT. XD It seems to have gone under the radar in terms of release hype, which is sad, because this book is wonderfully creepy and mysterious!

I'm not going to lie, though - while I did love the aspect of the house as a character, my absolute favorite part of the story was Wyn. He's kind of a major character, but his PERSONALITY IS AMAZING and WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END IS AMAZING and READ IT FOR WYN. PLEASE.

In other words, try this standalone out if you like:
  • Angsty Sad Boys who do not deserve the amount of pain they have
  • (aka Wyn)
  • a really cool and creepy setting
  • an Intense Climax
  • did I mention Wyn
  • because seriously he's 99% of why this book is awesome


Basic Premise: a New York boy learns that he has the power to hypnotize people and becomes a pawn for a man wishing to influence the government.

Probably one of my favorite books of all time, seriously. I've lost track of how many times I've read this. Yes, it's technically "realistic fantasy" or whatever you call fantasy set in our world, but it hands-down NAILS this genre.

I love Jax so much - you can literally SEE how his mental state is faring as the book progresses. (You'll understand better if you read it. XD) The main villain is super scary and powerful and I sincerely hope that he does not exist in real life. Even though he is an inspiration to every single one of us.

yes that last sentence is a reference. no I don't actually mean it. I'm sorry.

Anyways, you should read this book if you like:
  • fantasy set in New York
  • hypnotism
  • secret societies
  • a series opener that also works as a standalone
  • middle-grade
  • stories in general

And those are all the books I'll shove in your face for today - I think six is enough, especially considering that most of them are beginnings to series.

(and while we're at this outro, I'm sorry - I still haven't responded to comments for last week's post! I promise, I WILL get to them - but this week has been really tiring, both physically and mentally)

-Nicole <3

Have you read any of these? (Please tell me you have - I never hear anyone talk about them!) What's a Zuko-esque character you've read recently? And on a completely unrelated note - who likes Newsies? Let's talk!

You Might Also Like


  1. I LOVED THIS POST. Even though my TBR is now threatening to explode from over indulgence. :P

    I've shamefully not read a single one of those. In fact, I haven't even HEARD of some of these. But they all sound soooooo good! A Treason of Thorns IS actually on my want-to-read list on GoodReads. It looks amazing. I definitely hope to get that one someday. And the Nevermoor books have also caught my eye before. I LOVE me some whimsical reads, so they totally look up my alley. But I'm shamefully not familiar with ANY of these others. I NEEDS THEM.

    1. THANK YOU, CHRISTINE! <3 Haha, whoops. (We all overindulge our TBRs though, so you’re not alone!)

      Aaahh, I remember seeing that! I think you’ll like it. :) but YES, you would LOVE the Nevermoor books - they’re definitely up your alley! I hope you get the chance to check the other books out! :D

  2. I don't think I've heard of ANY of these except Septimus Heap. BUT THEY ALL SOUND SO GOOD. *gulps* Get ready, TBR. xD

    MAY I RECOMMEND TO YOU A MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY THAT I ADORE: The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel. (At least I think it's middle grade.) I don't know anybody who's read it (other than my sister who I forced it on) and I need SOMEONE to reeaddd it because it was so unexpectedly good and made me feel all the feels. *cries*


    1. TBR, prepare to be OVERLOADED. ;)

      I JUST REQUESTED IT FROM THE LIBRARY. :) Thank you for the recommendation! It sounds super interesting and I can’t wait to read it. :D *hugs*

    2. YAAYYY! Let me know what you think!!

    3. I GOT IT YESTERDAY!!! And you will DEFINITELY be hearing alllll the thoughts. (I tried to open a Google Hangouts with you - there should be an invitation in your account!)

  3. These look interesting...
    I will bookmark this post for when I need book recommendations!(Which will be a while, seeing as I have oh, 100 or so books I'd like to read)

    1. Yay, I’m glad you liked it! :) (Haha, I feel your pain - there are too many books and too little time.)

  4. Did someone say Newsies? *starts screaming The World Will Know* Newsies is AMAZING.

    Oh, I loved The Apothecary!! Such a neat book, now I want to reread it! Pip is the best. <3 I read The Apprentices but never got around to The After Room. Did you read those two?

    Someone else has recommended the Septimus Heap series to me before, so I should check it out. Oh, and I remember reading your review of the Hypnotists on GR. I know that my library has that one, and I'll have to find these others! Thanks for the recs, Nicole!

    1. YOU LIKE NEWSIES TOO?? *begins screaming it with you* Do you prefer the movie or the musical? :)

      Aaahhh, you’ve read the Apothecary as well? *high-fives* Pip is amazing. <3 I did read those two! The Apprentices was decent. The After Room was . . . kind of forgettable, honestly. 😢 It’s worth it for Pip, obviously, but Benjamin is a little irritating.

      Yes, you should definitely try the Septimus Heap series! 👍 Thank YOU for reading! <3

  5. I've read The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Septimus Heap, and The Apothecary, and I really liked them. I feel like YA books generally get more attention than MG books, which is sad. Honestly, I think Wings of Fire is the most underrated fantasy book. I know it's well-known but I know two people who have read them.

    1. Yay, you’ve read those, too! :D (I’m curious, who was your favorite Septimus Heap character?) I agree - it seems a lot of MG books get shoved under the rug. :( Ooo, I’ve heard about that book! (I heard the later books get weird, though - is that rumor true?)

  6. References to Great Expectations? I am SOLD. Haha. But for real, literally EVERYTHING about that book sounds amazing. Magic that turns you into birds? Atomic bombs? Street urchins? Apothecaries? *hyperventilates* I WANT.

    A lot of these sound lovely, actually, and I can't believe I've never heard of a single one. Middle-grade is a really cool place; it has so many unique gems flying under the radar. Anyway,THANK YOU (*sarcasm*) for massively inflating my TBR in a single fell swoop.

    (Also, you have a lovely blog, by the way. ^.^)


      I agree completely - MG has lots of great books that never get talked about. And you are WELCOME for inflating your TBR. ;)

      (Aw, thank you so much! <3)

  7. Ooh I haven't read any of these but they all sound super intriguing! Definitely adding a few to my TBR list. :D

    1. Yay, I hope you like them! Thanks for reading, Kathryn! :)

  8. Yesss, I used to LOVE Septimus Heap!! It's honestly such a great series. *fangirls* And I haven't read any of the other books you mentioned, but they sound so good and definitely squeal worthy! Awesome post <333

    1. Aaaahhh, you were a fan too! *fangirls with you* Who was your favorite character?
      Thank you! <3333


    These sound honestly so great, Nicole! Thanks for sharing! :D


      Aw, thank you, Lilian! I hope you enjoy them if you ever pick them up!

  10. All of these sound amazing and I need them!

    1. Yesss, you should definitely give them a try! (I think you’d really like A Treason of Thorns in particular . . .)

  11. I've read all of these apart from The Hypnotists and A Treason of Thorns, and I absolutely love these recommendations! More people need to read these books because they are spectacular. I still remember falling in love with Septimus Heap, Morrigan Crow, and Emily Hayes. Great post! <3

    1. Yay, that’s awesome! And I agree 100% - these books need to become more popular. Thank you! <3 <3


Welcome to the comment section! I love hearing what you guys think and seeing you guys talk. Just remember to keep it clean, and as always, check back for my replies! <3