Let’s just start by saying, these aren’t your mother’s fairytales! If you’re looking for sweet and saccharine, you surely won’t find that here. No, fairy romances are mystical and dramatic––poisoned daggers, scheming royalty, and powerful magic are the flavor of choice in this genre! So today, we’ll be taking a look through fairy romances and what makes them so special. Between fairy princes, politics, and tricks, we’re sure to have our hands full, so let’s get started!
Fairy History 101
Fairies (or faeries) and all their ilk are of decidedly Irish origins. But while the Celts were the precursors to what we understand as typical fey (or fae) folk: banshees, gnomes, brownies, etc. Other cultures have their own versions of these folk tales. Still, it’s the Irish who really set up the idea of fairies in literature.
The fairy romance isn’t a very old sub-genre. In fact, some people wouldn’t view it as a sub-genre at all, but rather as a more recent trend to capitalize on. However, if we look back… we can track some of the oldest fairy romances to more than several hundred years ago. If you think about it, one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, could be a very loose interpretation of the fairy romance.
Perhaps the reason that fairy romances weren’t quite as common as, say, the vampire romance, was because, for a very long time, fairies featured in folktales as cautionary stories. It’s only semi-recently that authors stopped to wonder: what if their danger and allure could be something tempting instead of threatening? Or heck, what if they were both?
A World of Magic and Courtship
There are a lot of reasons we may gravitate toward this genre! For one, it is the very definition of escapism! One of the must-haves of a fairy romance is a duality of setting. The often-times ‘normal’ protagonist usually tumbles into a world they never knew existed. Usually, this protagonist is female, but not always!
Other tropes and characteristics of the genre include a love interest that is a little different from the rest of the fey around them. In fairy romances, you can almost always expect plenty of fey bargains and deals too, and for our protagonist to be tested again and again with them! See, a big part of fairy romances is the political intrigue and court politics that tend to come with them––if Reign had a crossover with A Court of Thorns and Roses, that would be the fairy romance!
Narratively speaking, the prose within the genre is often just as immersive, with flowery language and dreamy metaphors. And the romances themself? Well, they’re typically a little steamy (or a lot!) and tend to include a lot of being pressed up against walls/trees/bookshelves. What’s not to love there?
Holly Black: Actual Fey Queen
If there’s anyone to keep an eye out for within this genre, it is the indomitable Holly Black herself! Known by many of her fans as the queen of fairy romances, Holly Black makes a killing within the genre––no one writes wicked boys, clever girls, and both sides of the surreal and wonderful world of fairies like her!
While she did not originate the genre by any means, its popularity (especially in the sphere of Young Adult literature) can be heavily attributed to her novels. Her most anticipated release within the genre is a spin-off of her Folk of the Air series, focusing on Jude Duarte’s younger brother, Oak. Titled The Stolen Heir: A Novel of Elfhame is expected to be published as a duology that will steal everyone’s breath away!
The Best Fairy Romances Out There
The fairy romance sub-genre is rich, thankfully, with new books to read. its popularity is higher than ever now, thanks to authors like Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The odds are that there is a novel out there for anyone, no matter their particular tastes! However, we’ve compiled together some of our favorites, so if this is your first foray into the world of fairies, it’s sure to be amazing!
An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson: Isobel, an artist, accidentally insults a noble fey prince by painting his sorrow. As a result, he takes her away to stand trial in his court, but along the way, they both find that all is not well in the world of fairies.
Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr: Aislinn has always been terrified of faeries. Unlike others her age, she can’t ignore them, because she has the Sight. Her world is turned upside down when Keenan, a faerie King, decides that he must have her as his Summer Queen… at all costs.
The Moonlit Woods, by Eliza Tilton: A young girl named Rosalie has to win a competition in order to secure a marriage with a fey prince that might allow her to save her farm––the only problem is that she’s more powerful than anyone expects. And it might just get her killed.
Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas: Celaena Sardothien has to fight twenty-three killers and assassins in order to win herself the chance to become the king’s champion and escape life in prison. But there’s an evil in the castle, and it’s out to get her too.
Hopefully, in reading this article, you’ve learned something new about this bewitching sub-genre! And whether you love ’em or hate ’em, let’s face it, fairy romances are here to stay!
To learn about the vampire romance subgenre, click here!