The joy of disappearing into an alternative universe of ingenious worldbuilding, snappy dialogue, and slow-burning relationships has always been the main draw for readers of romantic fantasy fiction.
Lovingly known as 'romantasy', after the genre had a TikTok glow-up, it is easy to be swept off your feet by otherwordly love stories and lose days discussing the classic ‘enemies to lovers’ trope it is known so well for.
Whether your preference is dragons, faeries, or magic in general, here’s our pick of the cultural touchstones and books publishing this year that are going to be the next must-read.
3. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (The Empyrean series)
Violet has trained her whole life to become a scribe at Basgiath War College until her mother orders her to switch to being a dragon rider – and you don’t ignore your mother when she’s also commanding general. Violet worries her body is too frail to succeed, but she doesn’t count on finding as many friends as she does enemies – and one giant supporter in particular. The sequel, Iron Flame, is also out now.
Read it if you like: Herorines with a competitive streak, stories about friendships, How to Train Your Dragon
5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (ACOTAR series)
Feyre is 19, human, and starving. When she kills a wolf for food, she gets more than she bargained for – including being removed to the Fae world to compensate for a life she didn’t realise she’d taken. This Beauty and the Beast retelling is the first in Maas’s ridiculously moreish series, and once you’ve joined Feyre among the Fae, you’d better have the other four books lined up. The second, A Court of Mist and Fury, really shakes things up.
Read it if you like: Wisecracking ancients, fated mates, intense spiciness
7. Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater (Faerie Regency series)
A curse at birth has left Dora Ettings with half a soul – which means a lack of awareness when it comes to potential scandal during the London Season. When the Lord Sorcier, handsome Elias Wilder, clocks her condition, Dora is brought into affairs in faerie politics that will affect her more than she imagined possible.
Read it if you like: Bridgerton, Sophie Irwin, reimagined worlds
9. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
Mika Moon is a witch hiding in plain sight through her YouTube channel. When she is summoned to a remote house to teach three young witches, her lonely self finds kindred spirits among the household – and a spark with the house’s sexy librarian, Jamie. But can they keep the outside world at bay for long enough to keep her young charges safe, and their nascent romance alive? This romantasy read is super cosy.
Read it if you like: Practical Magic, Ballet Shoes, golden retrievers
19. A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (The Last Binding trilogy)
In Edwardian-era England, the young aristo Robin Blyth realises a fairly clanging admin error has occurred when the minor governmental post he thinks he’s taking turns out to be parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society. He’ll need all the help he can get – but his magical counterpart, Edwin Courcey, is distinctly unfriendly, and with mysterious visions getting in the way, they’ll need to figure out how to work together, fast.
Read it if you like: Enemies to lovers, secret societies, Red, White & Royal Blue
20. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Folk of the Air trilogy)
Jude was only seven when she and her sisters were stolen away to the High Court of Faerie following their parents’ murder. Ten years on, Jude is desperate to belong there, despite some of the Fey loathing humans – and none more than Carden, the beautiful and wicked youngest son of its High King. If Jude is to win her place at Court, she will have to defy him and face the consequences.
Read it if you like: Young adult fiction, political intrigue, worldbuilding
21. Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (Emily Wilde series)
It’s 1909, and Cambridge professor Emily Wilde has travelled to the far north to research her life’s work on the fae. She’s great at the academic side, but less so at people, so when a university colleague appears and starts charming the whole town – including her – she is at a loss. In order to unlock the secret of the fae, Emily may have to work on her heart first.
Read it if you like: Cosy fantasy, slow-burn relationships, very large dogs
22. What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez (Secrets of the Nile series)
Inez Olivero is 19 when her parents die in mysterious circumstances, leaving her with a large fortune and a mysterious archaeologist guardian. She sets out from Argentina to Cairo, bringing a ring her father sent to her before his death. The ring soon awakens with magical powers that draw her down a strange path – one which neither her guardian nor his annoyingly handsome assistant seem to want her to explore.
Read it if you like: Ancient Egypt, rivals to lovers, 19th century setting