"Some children view books as medicine, prescribed by teachers and parents. Fantasy can make them realise books are chocolate" - Cornelia Funke
Studying genres is part of the discussion at the Wondrous Society of Reading Book Club. Sometimes a book doesn't fit neatly into one genre. This was evident with the book Wizards of Once. It was adventurous and humorous, however, after much debate, the final conclusion was, The Wizards of Once belonged to the Fantasy genre.
So what is Fantasy? Fantasy stories include elements that are not real, such as talking animals, magic powers and creatures or beings such as fairies, trolls and dragons.
Fantasy really came into its own in the early Twentieth Century with C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula K. Le Guin. The major advantage of Fantasy is that it can open up possibilities; it is not confined to the boundaries of the real world. Fantasy books are often a perfect, safe ground for exploring contemporary issues in other worldly settings.
There is always a quest or journey and events occur outside the ordinary laws that operate within the universe. Some fantasy books incorporate mythology. Tolkien borrowed a lot from mythology when he built the Middle-Earth, using Nordic, Germanic and ancient English myths and legends. It creates a bit of familiarity in the book, and also plays with some stereotypes, which makes for interesting reading.
Critics of the Fantasy genre argue that these books can make the reader evade real-life problems or situations. Yet, like most fiction books, Fantasy gives the reader a temporary break from the demands of reality. It is a form of escapism, which can lead to problem solving, whereby the reader can live through the life of the protagonist, without experiencing any risks. By imagining themselves in the different roles and scenarios, it could provide a fresh perspective on the real world. Whereas, realism can be confrontational in its observations of society, fantasy introduces magic, humour and mystery in its storytelling while conveying series issues relevant to many age groups.
Fantasy is an essential part of thinking. It allows us to stretch our imaginations to make something possible. All creativity has an element of imagination and dreaming is part of the human survival mechanism. Dreams allow us to cope with the demands of life. It can teach children and adults to notice things and deepen their interpretation of what they see, that imagination is a powerful tool, and that children can learn from this powerful tool, that Fantasy has its ability to mask or reveal the truth. Be wary of the greedy, the vengeful and the deceitful characters.
Fantasy is not only for children. Fantasy can release our unconscious needs, we cannot change this world unless we imagine another reality. "One could say all changes start with Fantasy." said Cornelia Funke.
Here are some other interesting blogs about Fantasy books and writing.
So if you think that realism is for serious adults and fantasy for children, try some of this adult Fantasy fiction for yourself.
Follow the series
You've read the first book of the Wizards of Once series? Now read the sequel. The library has the second book Twice Magic. Put it on hold to discover the answers to the questions left unanswered in the first book.