If you are familiar with the fantasy genre, you know that there are countless sub-genres out there that help us categorize and keep track of all of the amazing novels in this niche. Some of the most popular and well-known subgenres are urban fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy, and so on. Within each of these larger sub-genres are even smaller and more specific sub-genres.
One of these very small little sub-genres is rural fantasy. This may or may not be a genre you have heard of before. It is not the most popular, but it has some amazing novels and authors that are well worth a read. This article will help you gain an understanding of rural fantasy and offer suggestions for novels and series that might get you hooked on this unique genre.
What is Rural Fantasy?
Rural fantasy is simple. It is any fantasy novel that takes place in a rural setting. This setting could be based on a real place or entirely fictional. That said it is fairly common for rural fantasies to take place in real locations.
It is also fairly common for rural fantasies to take place in the present day or the recent past. Many times they are historical fantasy, but not always. Many authors will take elements of history and incorporate them into their novels, but this is not always the case.
The fantastic elements of a rural fantasy vary greatly, just like in any other genre of fantasy. For some rural fantasies, there are elaborate magic systems, mythical creatures, and supernatural beings. Some rural fantasies, on the other hand, only have one or two smaller elements of magic. No matter what the case is, there is always some kind of magic involved.
Rural fantasy is a great genre to get into if you are looking for a break from the typical medieval or high fantasy novels that are so popular. There is something about a good rural fantasy that will transport you to a new world with so much to offer.
Urban Fantasy vs Rural Fantasy
If you are a fan of fantasy novels, you are most likely familiar with the genre of urban fantasy. To put it simply, urban fantasy is a fantasy that takes place in an urban setting and usually within the last 100 years or so. Urban fantasy often has a lot to do with the modernity of the story and its characters.
Examples of Rural Fantasy
As we know, rural fantasy largely has to do with the setting. In most cases, the bulk of the story takes place in a rural setting. Each of the novels or series below has its primary storyline in a rural setting. You will find that each of these settings is different, bringing something unique to the story. Just because it is a rural setting does not mean it is boring or mundane. There is so much to explore in each of the novels below that many get hooked on this genre.
The magic and supernatural elements of these novels also bring new aspects to the story that are not always seen in fantasy novels. Because they are not your typical medieval fantasy novels, the authors sometimes need more creativity working magic into their worlds.
Faerie Tale is a 1988 novel by Raymond E. Feist. It was originally published in Dutch but has since been translated into many languages across the world. This novel takes place in rural upstate New York. It follows Phil Hastings and his two sons as they discover creatures in the woods near their home. This novel is full of magic, occult and supernatural beings, and ancient rituals and traditions.
Because this novel takes place in rural New York, and it contains many different elements of magic, most would classify it as rural fantasy. It can also be categorized as a thriller, low fantasy, or urban fantasy. There are many genres that this novel falls into, so it is a great choice for many readers, regardless of what their interests might be.
Rivers of London
The Rivers of London series is a massive series by author Ben Aaronovitch. Included in this series are novels, novellas, and graphic novels. There is so much content to enjoy that it is a great series for someone wanting to lose themselves in a fantasy world. As indicated by the title of the series, many of the novels in this series take place in London. There are, however, a couple of novels that move away from the city and into the rural villages of the UK.
Foxglove Summer and The Furthest Station are a novel and novella, respectively, that both take place in small villages outside of London. Foxglove Summer follows the main character (a wizard) to Henfordshire where he investigates the disappearance of two girls. In The Furthest Station, Peter deals with ghosts around the country and encounters many fantastic beings.
This entire series is well worth a read, but these two novels specifically give the reader the rural fantasy vibe they’re likely expecting. Each novel in the series contains different elements of fantasy as well as mystery and suspense.
Slow Funeral is a 1995 novel by Rebecca Ore. This novel follows a young girl who is attempting to escape her destiny as a witch. The town she is fleeing has unethical magic practices that she does not want any part of. Unfortunately, she is forced to return to the town upon the death of her grandmother.
This novel has everything a rural fantasy should have like a small town, rural setting, elements of magic and mystery, and compelling characters. This novel also takes many of the tropes and stereotypes of the fantasy genre and gives them an interesting twist. The characters in this novel are not ones you will soon forget, and the magic is just as unforgettable.
I hope this article has helped clarify what this genre is all about and given you some ideas of books to read in this subgenre.
And if you want to read more about unique fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:
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