The Fae in Fantasy: What Are They? (2024 Edition)

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The fae may be a creature that you have heard of, but do you really know what they are? Though they have existed in literature and lore for many years, they have had a sharp rise in popularity in the last few years. If you are curious about the fae in fantasy, you are not alone. Keep reading to find out more about these supernatural beings and their place in the fantasy genre. 

The Fae in Fantasy 

The fae in fantasy is a huge subject matter with endless amounts of lore and mythology to sort through. This brief article will not be able to discuss all of the intricacies of the fae but will be a good starting point if you are reading a book including fae or simply want to learn more about them. 

Fae is a term that is interchangeable with faerie. You may see both terms used within the same novel, but they mean the same thing. A fae is a mythical creature with great powers. They are often portrayed as human-like, but they are much stronger and more powerful than humans. In many cases, the fae in fantasy play tricks on humans. 

The fae in fantasy are not necessarily good or evil. They simply exist. Though there are both good and evil faeries, many of them are much like humans in that they are not one hundred percent good or evil. They exist somewhere in the middle. They make both good and bad choices. 

Faeries take various forms, and these forms are often changeable. They can exist as spirits, as animal-like creatures, or they can take a human form. Many of the fae in fantasy can take all of these forms depending on their needs at the time. The fae exist in their own world that is typically on the edge of the human world. Though they may enter the human world, they tend to stay within the “walls” of their own world. 

The fae in fantasy have many different powers. Shapeshifting is a common fae power in the fantasy genre, but otherwise, there are no agreed-upon powers that faeries have. They are typically portrayed as stronger and wiser than humans, and they are often not to be trusted by humans. 

Examples of the Fae in Fantasy 

Fantasy Fae Fanart
Fanart of a Fae

The fae in fantasy novels and series are portrayed in slightly different ways based on the author, but they usually have a few things in common. Each of the novels and series below incorporates much of the classical elements of the fae, but the authors have changed them to fit their narrative. Though the general “rules” of the fae remain the same across literature, there are various specifics that come into play. 

As is apparent in each of the novels and series below, there are many things that an author can do with the fae in fantasy. No matter if you are looking for nothing but action or a bit of romance, you will be able to find it here. And don’t worry; there is plenty of magic to go around. 

Because of the recent spike in the popularity of novels about the fae in fantasy, there are many novels I could discuss. It seems that fae may be the newest trend in the fantasy genre, especially with the young adult audience. That does not mean that they aren’t worth reading; just the opposite. There are so many great novels to choose from, and these are just a small sample of them. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses fanart

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a series of high fantasy novels by Sarah J. Maas. There are currently four novels in this series, with at least two more still to come. This series is incredibly popular, and it has quite a passionate fan base. This is not without good reason, though. This series contains action, adventure, mystery, and romance all wrapped up in a bit of magic. It is a great choice if you are looking for a series that is all about the fae in fantasy. 

This series follows a young girl named Feyre, who is a human, but she starts the action of the series by killing a faerie. This leads to her capture and her forced relocation to the faerie world of Pyrithian. Feyre learns that just about everything she knows about the fae is false, and she begins to relearn and understand the truth. She interacts with countless fae throughout the series and faces many dangers. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a series that heavily features the fae. Just about every main character is a fae, and it is part of what makes this series so compelling. Their powers, strength, and abilities are so interesting to read about, and they make for fascinating elements of the story. This series is great as an introduction to the fae as it gives a bit of background on the lore and myths that surround them, but the author also adds her own twist to it. If you are looking for the fae in fantasy, you have found it with this series. 

Fortuna Sworn

Fortuna Sworn is a fantasy series by K. J. Sutton. There are currently four novels in this series, and at least two more to come over the next two years. This series is definitely dark fantasy, and it contains many mature themes and elements. There is a fair amount of sexual violence and depictions of toxic relationships, so use your best judgment if you decide to pick up this series. It is a series for mature adult readers. 

Fortuna Sworn follows the titular character as she lives among the humans. She is the last of her species and she disguises herself in order to stay safe. A powerful fae takes notice of her and offers her information in exchange for her hand in marriage. She is lured into the realm of the faeries and soon finds that she may have to fight for her life. 

As previously mentioned, this is a series for mature readers and certainly not one for children. With that said, there is still much to enjoy that is not dark or horrifying. The characters in this series are interesting and compelling. The world in which the series takes place is beautifully built and the magic system and powers that we see are creative. Sutton has done a fantastic job of creating a world that you won’t want to leave. The fae that exist in this world are among the most powerful and frightening that I know of. The various elements of this series all working together will likely leave you at the edge of your seat. It can be a hard series to put down once you get started. 

The Iron King

The Iron King is a series of high fantasy novels by Julie Kagawa. Officially there are nine novels in the main series, but there are many spin-offs, sequels, and prequels that add depth to the world and the characters within. This is an excellent series that uses the fae in fantasy to tell a unique story while also incorporating many other genres such as romance, high fantasy, and medieval fantasy. 

This series follows Meghan Chase, a highly flawed protagonist that the reader can’t help but root for. She finds out a secret about her past in the first novel and spends the rest of the series coming to terms with that information and figuring out how to use it to her advantage. There is, of course, romance along the way, and plenty of magic. 

This series is a great young adult fantasy. The protagonist is young and flawed, but she is also strong and powerful. The characters in this series have depth and growth, something that young adult novels often lack. The world built by Kagawa adds even more magic to the series, and it is one you won’t be able to put down. 


I hope this article has helped clarify what the fae are exactly and given you some ideas of books to read in featuring faeries.

And if you want to read more fantasy articles on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another fiction-literature-related topic!

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