Not in the mood for starting a long fantasy series? Try one of these exceptional standalone fantasy books instead.
Do you love getting lost in fantasy books? The imaginative setting and fantastical characters lend an otherworldly aspect to the fantasy genre.
Most fantasy books tend to run as series, with epic adventures spanning multiple books. However, that can be a big commitment, and sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to start a fantasy series.
That’s where standalone fantasy books come in! You get to enjoy the world-building of a fantasy book, but the plot is self-contained in one book.
Yes, some series have standalone fantasy books that you can read independently, but I decided to skip those and opt for the true stand alone fantasy books.
From bestselling fantasy books to standalone fantasy books for ya, check out the best standalone fantasy books to read if you are tired of reading series.
Best Standalone Fantasy Books
Without warning, Le Cirque de Rêves arrives in town, a circus that only operates at night. Within its walls are two competing magicians, Celia and Marco, bound together in a high-stakes challenge. When they fall in love, a love so magical it affects the world around them, their dangerous game becomes even more precarious. From the first page to the last, Morgenstern will captivate you with her seductive and mysterious prose.
For those looking for fantasy books about magicians, try Susanna Clarke’s 800+ page epic. Reclusive Mr. Norrell has accumulated one of England’s largest book collections about magic. Working in forgotten magic, Mr. Norrell uses his abilities for England in the war with Napoleon. When he finds another practicing magician, he accepts the young man as his apprentice. But Jonathan Strange is the complete opposite of Mr. Norrell – handsome, charming, talkative, and attracted to the wildest forms of magic, including the shadowy figure of the Raven King.
Guy Gavriel Kay
What happens when you change history and destroy any memory of a people? When a dark sorcerer curses the land to not only destroy Tigana but prevent any record of it, a group fights back to preserve the memory and restore the country. In most ways, Tigana is well-written though most of the characters ended up a little flat. With some pointless tangents and cringy sex scenes, I found some weird aspects of the story to be confusing and distracting. Although the story drags in the middle, the ending tied everything up nicely. While diehard fantasy readers are likely to enjoy this one, if you only dabble in fantasy, I would skip it.
One of Amazon’s bestselling books of 2018, Circe got a ton of buzz last year. In this retelling of the Greek myth, Circe, the daughter of the sun god, feels out of place among the gods of Olympus. Yet, among the mortals, she has magical powers of witchcraft. Banished by Zeus, Circe must decide where she belongs – with the gods of her birth or the mortals she’s come to live among. An intriguing premise and the perfect book for anyone who loves stories that give a different take on classic tales.
A man returns home for a funeral and reflects upon his childhood forty years ago. A visit to the house at the end of the lane brings back a flood of memories that are hard to believe are true. When he was seven, he meets a girl named Lettie Hempstock who knows just what to do when strange things begin happening.
Standalone Fantasy Books 2022
R. F. Kuang
In 1828, Robin Swift, an orphan, is brought from Canton to London by the mysterious Dr. Lovell. For years he trains in different languages to be accepted to Oxford’s Royal Institute of Translation, known as Babel. Learning to translate, and the magic that comes with it, soon puts Swift on a collision course between loyalty to his homeland and his adopted company when Britain starts a war with China.
When Ann Stillwell gets a job working for The Cloisters, a gothic museum studying divination, she finds she enjoys discussing the researchers’ outlandish theories on the history of fortune-telling. Until Ann finds a 15th-century deck of tarot cards that may actually tell the future. As the past and future seem to blur, things quickly turn deadly and Ann is in a race to find answers.
Holly Black debuts her first adult fantasy book about a world of shadow magic. For a cost, shadows can be altered for beauty or power, but the alterations take hours or days off your life. In this magical world, Charlie Hall is a bartender with a side hustle as a low-level con artist. When a figure from her past returns, Charlie is dragged into the magical underground market for shadow trading in this new modern dark fantasy series.
Growing up in a girls’ school, Olivia’s only connection to her family is her mother’s journal, chronicling her mother’s descent into madness. When Olivia is invited to return to the extended family’s home at Gallant, she feels at home for the first time. Until she discovers a parallel realm of shadows where she must decide where her loyalties lie.
When a popular dark children’s author goes missing, Travis Wren is hired to find her, only to disappear himself. Years later, Theo finds Travis’s truck abandoned outside Pastoral, the reclusive community that has vanished from the modern world to which he belongs. As Travis investigates, the fear of outsiders causes cracks in the seemingly perfect community in this new magical realism novel.
In her imaginative new historical fantasy, Kelly Barnhill details the Mass Dragoning of 1955. In a shocking event, hundreds of thousands of ordinary mothers and wives transform into dragons and fly away. Was it by choice and where did they go? Alex can’t stop wondering after her beloved aunt is involved, but the subject is taboo though the consequences to her family are far-reaching.
Seventeen-year-old Charlie is used to being on his own until he befriends Howard, an old recluse, and his beloved dog Radar, who live in a large house on the hill. After Howard dies, he leaves Charlie a note about a magical portal to a parallel world where good and evil are at war. Now, it’s up to Charlie and Radar to save both worlds.
Ruth Emmie Lang
Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared leaving behind her two daughters, Zadie and Finn. Even though she’s a psychic, Zadie didn’t foresee her mother’s disappearance. When Finn seizes an echo of a memory of Nora, she believes their mother is still alive and convinces Zadie to accompany her on a journey into their mother’s past. But as Finn starts losing herself in Nora’s memories, Zadie must decide where to draw the line or risk losing them both.
Recent Standalone Fantasy Books
Linus Baker enjoys his solitary life working as a caseworker for magical youth in orphanages. When Linus is assigned to Marsyas Island Orphanage, he must investigate whether the six orphans there will bring about the end of the world. But as Linus befriends the mysterious caretaker of the orphanage, he struggles to decide whether he can protect the orphanage without destroying the rest of the world.
Piranesi lives in an extraordinary labyrinth of a house, which infinite rooms and endless corridors. An ocean lives within its walls, but Piranesi knows how to navigate its tides and waves. Searching for “A Great and Secret Knowledge,” Piranesi often consults with the house’s only other residents, The Other. As Piranesi continues to explore, he realizes there may be another presence in the house, one that will reveal terrible secrets.
The Montoyas have long ago learned not to question the mysterious things that happen at home – why the pantry never runs low or why their matriarch never leaves the house. When Orquídea is on her deathbed, they hope to get answers. Instead, they see her transform. As Orquídea’s mysterious powers disseminate into her daughters, a hidden figure starts to pick them off and they must return to Ecuador to understand how it all began. A quirky intergenerational fantasy about family ties and the power within.
With the strange ability to detect emotions left behind on objects, Ev has always kept herself apart from those around her worried she will fall to the same horrific end as her father. When she meets Harriet, an older woman with the same ability, Ev decides that might be able to help each other, Ev will help Harriet sort through her hoards of treasures and Harriet will help Ev learn to control her ability. When Ev’s sister returns pushing for answers to their past, Ev learns that Harriet suspects Harriet might have a connection to her family.
Dark Fantasy Standalone Books
Seeking to create a modern-day The Lord of the Rings, Stephen King penned what is often considered one of the best dystopian books ever written. After an influenza-like pandemic kills most of the world’s population, the remaining survivors must choose between good and evil. With a heavy dose of supernatural in typical Stephen King fashion, this dark fantasy is his longest standalone novel at over 800 pages.
In her first novel for adults, Leigh Bardugo jumps into dark academia books with a dark tale set among the Ivy League elite. After surviving a horrible multiple homicide, Alex Stern is offered a full-ride scholarship to Yale. There she is put in charge of watching the secret societies, who have been dabbling into dark and dangerous magic.
When Coraline’s family moves into a new flat, Coraline discovers a locked one. Behind it, she discovers another apartment in a different house that’s just like her house. Except there is another mother and another father who want Coraline to stay and be their little girl. As Coraline discovers the house holds the souls of other children, she must find a way to free them and return to her normal life.
After her parents’ death, Carolyn was taken in by a God-like being called Father. With her other adopted siblings, Father teaches them his ancient customs from the books in his Library. When Father disappears, the children battle over control of Father’s secrets. Yet, in the race to create a new God, Carolyn realizes she might be losing her humanity.
Bestseller Fantasy Books
In the Midnight Library, there are two books – one book for the life you’ve lived and one for the one you could have lived. After attempting suicide, Nora Seed finds herself there. Now she must decide which book to choose from. What if she had made different choices? Would her life have been any better? All of us have regrets, and by allowing Nora the possibility to redo her life, Haig does a brilliant job showing how we can never predict the outcomes of our choices. A thoroughly enjoyable read that intimately talks about the pain depression and second-guessing has on our life.
V. E. Schwab
To escape a forced marriage, Addie LaRue makes a bargain with the devil in 1714. She gets to live forever, but the catch is she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. After 300 years, Addie has become resigned to her fate until she meets a young man who remembers her name. An all-around joy of a read that is one of 2020’s must-reads.
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, whose prophecies have proven surprisingly accurate, the world is set to end next Saturday. As the forces of good and evil prepare for an ultimate war, a finicky angela and a pleasure-seeking demon aren’t too keen on the coming Rapture. They’ve come to enjoy living among mortals and decide maybe it’s time to mess with the Divine Plan.
Books on nature don’t always have to be serious; they can also be a ton of fun. When Fiver gets a premonition of danger, Hazel leads a group of bunnies to establish a new warren in the English countryside while facing predators, men, and neighboring rabbit tribes. You might be expecting a fantasy book, but Watership Down is just a book about bunnies. An extremely compelling story about bunnies that will hook you from the first chapter.
Fantasy Stand Alone Books to Read
Graduate student Zachary Rawlins stumbles upon a mysterious book full of fantastical tales, only to find himself in the narrative. He follows hints to a secret library, preserved by guardians intent on protecting it. From there he finds himself swept into a magical mystical world. With a story this complex, you might not be able to settle for just one reading.
Mourning his mother’s death, twelve-year-old David takes refuge in a world of books. When his books begin to whisper to him, David soon finds that reality and fantasy start to merge. After his family falls apart, David is thrust into a magical world of monsters and heroes, where a king keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.
In Arelon’s new capital, Princess Sarene arrives to marry Crown Prince Raoden, only to discover he’s dead. Now she must rule Arelon and stop the fanatical religious zealots from taking over the realm. However, Sarene doesn’t realize that Raoden isn’t dead but banished to Elantris, the once magical capital that suddenly lost its power and fell to ruin, where he begins to discover its secrets. Brandon Sanderson’s debut novel is one of the must-read standalone fantasy books, although it might not be a standalone for much longer when Sanderson’s planned sequels come out in the next few years.
In a post-Arthurian Britain, an elderly couple set out on a journey to find their son whom they haven’t seen in years. As Axl and Beatrice set off for the neighboring village, they struggle to remember why he ever left. But it’s not just Axl and Beatrice. Everyone seems to be struggling with their memories, the curse of a dragon whose breath of forgetfulness is affecting the entire kingdom.
Even though her estranged sister, Tabitha, is a magically gifted professor, Ivy Gamble is perfectly content with her non-magical life as a private investigator. When she is asked to investigate a horrifying murder at Tabitha’s private academy, Ivy finds herself drawn into the case and pondering the life that could have been.
Standalone Fantasy Books YA
One of the most intriguing recently published books set in the 1920s is Moreno-Garcia’s historical fantasy. In a small town in 1920s Mexico, Casiopea Tun is too busy working as a maid to enjoy the Jazz Age. When she accidentally unleashes the Mayan god of death, she must accompany him on a cross-country adventure to help him reclaim his throne.
Alice has never quite understood the obsessive nature of the superfans of her grandmother’s series of dark fairy tales. After her grandmother dies, Alice’s mother is stolen away by one such fan, claiming to be from the Hinterland, the supernatural world her grandmother created. Now Alice must explore her grandmother’s estate, The Hazel Wood, and discover the truth behind the fairy tales to bring her mother home.
Andromeda is a debtera, an exorcist who cleanses households of the Evil Eye. When her mentor abandons her before she receives her license, she is forced to only work for wealthy patrons. Desperate, she accepts a job from a wealthy young heir, Magnus Rochester, that ends up being far beyond her skill level and highly dangerous. Yet Andromeda won’t quit like all the other debtera, because even if she could die, she’s fallen in love with Magnus.
Every seven years, nine Greek gods are stripped of their powers and hunted as mortals. Whoever kills a god can claim their power and immortality. Lore Perseous had left that world behind after her family’s murder. When a childhood friend and the god Athena both approach her for help with the hunt, she decides it might be time to avenge her family.
Cursed with a poisonous touch, Princess Soraya has been hidden away for her entire life. With her brother’s wedding approaching, she is tempted to seek out the answers to her freedom. She must decide whether to come out of hiding and whether she wants to be a monster or a princess. The cover art alone would earn this young adult fantasy a spot on any to-read list.
J. R. R. Tolkien
Before The Lord of the Rings revolutionized the fantasy genre, Tolkien introduced the world to Middle Earth with his beloved children’s fantasy book, The Hobbit. In an epic adventure, the wizard Gandalf convinces the distinctly unadventurous hobbit Bilbo Baggins on a journey to help a group of dwarves defeat the powerful dragon Smaug.
Magical fantasy standalone books
In Agnieszka’s quiet village, life is peaceful though the shadow of the corrupt Wood surrounds the town. A powerful wizard known as the Dragon keeps the darkness at bay: for a price. Every ten years, the Dragon claims a young woman from the village as his servant. The next choosing is fast approaching and Agnieska is so terrified her beautiful best friend will be chosen that she is unprepared to be his selection in this imaginative fantasy ya book.
Besotted by the beautiful but cold Victoria, Christian Thorn will do anything to win her love. Even retrieve a star they saw fall from the sky. Christian’s quest sets him on an epic adventure into a magical world beyond the city’s wall, a whimsical world beyond anything in his imagination. Most of Neil Gaiman’s novels are standalone fantasy books, so you can’t go wrong with almost any of them.
R. A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis
With her newly discovered magical powers, Maggie must learn to control and use them. When Maggie befriends the king’s champion, Griffin, she hopes he can help her come into her own. Yet, Griffin’s obsessive hunting of dragons is at odds with Maggie’s affinity for them, which prompts Maggie to delve into the kingdom’s mysterious history with the hated creatures.
Ruth Emmie Lang
If you love books about nature and life, you don’t want to miss Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut novel. Raised by wolves, Weylyn Grey always knew he was different. But when he stops a tornado in Oklahoma, he realizes his powers are like none other. As strange events seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, he leaves each person he meets with a unique story to tell, and he worries he is putting the woman he loves in danger.
The daughter of the town moneylender, Miryem decides to take it upon herself to collect the debts owed to her family. When her reputation for turning silver pennies into gold starts to spread, Miryem finds herself in over her head when creatures who haunt the woods want to exploit her ability. This list of August’s best new books would not be complete without this intriguing spin on the Rumplestiltskin fairy tale.
Alix E. Harrow
Growing up in the early 1900s, January Scaller lives in an expansive mansion in Vermont, the home of her guardian Mr. Locke, who collects peculiar treasures from all over the world. January herself is one of those treasures, not quite white but also not quite black. Her father travels the world finding treasures for Mr. Locke, while January sits at home trying to be a good girl. When January discovers a book about doors – magical passageways between worlds – she begins a journey toward a fantastical future and an understanding of her past.
Do You Prefer Standalone Fantasy Books or Series?
What do you think? What standalone fantasy books to you love when you don’t want to commit to a long series? Or would you rather read an involved fantasy book series? As always, let me know in the comments!
More Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Lists: