The Book That Inspired My Love of YA Fantasy

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.

I think a lot of younger readers would say the Harry Potter series introduced them to young adult fantasy. Some might say it was Twilight. For my generation and for those older than I am, I think that introductory series would be The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the fantasy book I remember loving all the way back to when I read it in elementary school. C.S. Lewis’s book have influenced the kinds of books I enjoy reading today. I still love a book with dragons, giants, talking animals, shape-shifters, etc., and Lewis has all that and more in the Chronicles of Narnia. I also have a special love for allegory as a result of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I represent quite a few YA authors, and many of their projects are fantasy. I’m not sure if I would be interested in fantasy books/allegory if I wasn’t introduced to the genre through reading C.S. Lewis. It’s hard to say, but I’m so glad C.S. Lewis wrote those wonderful books. The Chronicles of Narnia can be enjoyed by readers of any age. Young adult fantasy seems to still be that way. The stories are often interesting enough that older readers and parents enjoy the books as well.

What was the first fantasy novel you read and loved? Do you still read young adult fantasy?

Factoid: The very first gift I ever gave to my husband (then boyfriend) was a complete volume of The Chronicles of Narnia. He had never read the books!

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15 Comments

  • I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I can remember snuggling in my mom’s bed with my brother while she read us a chapter a night. That’s one of my fondest memories. I picked up the torch and read them to my daughter when she was small. Now my daughter is old enough to read them on her own and when she’s feeling kind, she reads them to my son.

    Another one of my favorites is Watership Down. I had to read that in high school. I wasn’t sure I’d love it, but I did, so I read it twice!

  • Caroline says:

    I spoke of my love of C.S. Lewis on your Tuesday post. The way he crafts stories with such evident truth astounds me. And, now that you mention it, Narnia might have been my first exposure to fantasy, too! Either that or the Middle Earth realm through Lord of the Rings.

    Like you, I love both that fantasy realm (and played hours upon hours of imaginary Middle Earth games with my brother growing up) and the power of allegory.

    I’m loving this series on books this week, Rachel!

  • I didn’t read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” until I became a Christian and had children of my own. I loved experiencing it for the first time with my two boys. When I read the part where Aslan gives himself over to the White Witch in order to save Edmund, my oldest said, “That’s what Jesus did for us, right Mommy?”

    If a piece of fiction can help a five-year-old make that connection it truly is a beautiful, enduring gift.

    We haven’t gotten around to the rest of the series, but now I’m thinking that I wouldn’t mind spending my summer in Narnia with my children! :) Thanks for the post, Rachel!

  • How about Pilgrim’s Progress? I really enjoyed that book as a child, too.

    Chronicles of Narnia is my all time favorite. :)

  • Fantasy has never been a favorite genre of mine, but I can say that I enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Larkin has written two books in her Gates of Heaven series, and I like those. They are huge books, but they are worth reading.

  • I still read YA fantasy. I honestly don’t remember if Narnia was my first or The Hobbit. My current favorite is Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, but that could easily change. Jonathan Rogers’s The Charlatan’s Boy is excellent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he writes something of breakout quality in the near future.

    Becky

  • I’m so glad fantasy is being published in the CBA again. Brian Davis has written some great ones for the YA market.

  • I loved Narnia and it was probably my first fantasy. Another favorite was Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, which I suppose would be sci-fi, but it felt like fantasy to me. Probably The Dark is Rising series came next. And then I found The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books. I also loved Watership Down.

    My husband and I read the Narnia books aloud to one another before we were married. He had never read them, either, and how can you marry a man who has never been to Narnia?

    Yes, I still read YA fantasy. It’s my favorite genre, because you can deal with all kinds of evil and not have it feel too close to home. I hate horror, but I can read horrible things in fantasy. I think in an imaginary world, we can safely explore dangers and try out different responses to discover how we want to respond to dangers in our world.

    Maybe.

  • My father introduced me to The Hobbit which began my love for fantasy :)

  • Kariss Lynch says:

    I think Ella Enchanted was the first fantasy book I read and loved. Ella is quirky and strong and the fantasy characters have depth and break the mold.

  • I read a lot as a child and tween, but completely skipped the teen years as far as reading. So, I hadn’t read YA or fantasy books until I read (after much coaxing) the Twilight books. Once I finished that series, I starting combing the YA shelves in bookstores and libraries, hunting for my next great read.

  • Corrie says:

    Ha, the first book I gave my boyfriend (now husband) was C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy! I guess that’s how you know they’re keepers, right?
    There were two books that really got me into YA scifi/fantasy – The Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes, and The Farthest Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks. The first introduced dystopian literature, and the second was just a beautiful fantasy that lived in my imagination for years before I found the book again. I hadn’t thought of those in years – fun!

  • Katie Hart says:

    Catching up on my blog feed reading!

    The Chronicles of Narnia turned my enjoyment of fantasy into a lifelong passion. I discovered the books at age 11, and went on to read the series 7 times in the following year.

    Before that, though, I fell in love with Jeri Massi’s Bracken Trilogy in first grade. My mom would read them (and other BJUP books like The Runaway Princess) aloud to me in the evenings.

  • Ryan says:

    I loved Narnia as a kid, but I first got hooked on fantasy when my mom (a children’s librarian) read The Hobbit to me.

    Then I took a huge detour through Star Trek and D&D novels during middle and high school, before my mom politely handed me a copy of Harry Potter before I left for college.

  • Diana Dart says:

    Our grade eight teacher read the Hobbit out loud to the class. From that point on I was utterly hooked. (Thanks, Ms. King!)

    Now? Even decades later, YA fantasy is still near and dear to my heart. My diet tends to span across other media – movies and TV in the genre, as well as great fantasy books.

    Reading Harry Potter (as an adult… and all together in a few amazing weeks) recharged my thirst for incredible story mixed with quirky characters and a fantastic premise. Fantasy does that to me – it lights a fire in my gut, soul and mind.

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