I noticed while writing about each of these settings that they all lend pretty well to mystery and not being able to tell what is around you. I’m not quite sure why that air of mystery works so well for creating an intriguing fantasy setting.
Creepy forests are pretty much my top tier favorite! I just love the vibes they give off. You never know what could be lurking in the darkness or which way is the way out. Extra points it the trees themselves are sentient and watching.
Some books featuring a creepy forest:
- Shadow Frost (Shadow Frost #1) by Coco Ma
- The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik
- An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
- Blackveil (Green Rider #4) by Kristen Britain
- Black Water (Pendragon #5) by D.J. MacHale
Deserts actually used to be my least favorite setting, but I’ve read some fantastic books set in deserts lately, so I’ve changed my mind about them! They feel similarly disorienting to forests, but they are vast rather than confined.
Some books featuring magical deserts:
- The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
- Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
- The Rebel of the Sands Trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton
- Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Winter itself is not necessarily a setting, but more of a way to describe a setting, though it’s still a big enough category that it works. Winter to me is very dark and quiet, so I think it can add an unsettling atmosphere.
Some book featuring winter:
- House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
- Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
- Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
- Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix
- Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve never really considered myself an urban fantasy fan, and I do have some preferences regarding it, but in general, I do like it! I love when urban fantasy makes you feel that the fantasy elements could actually be real, but you’re just out of the loop.
Some urban fantasy books:
- Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho
- Ninth House (Ninth House #1) by Leigh Bardugo
- The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
- House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas
- Borderline (The Arcadia Project #1) by Mishell Baker
I have a degree in Marine Sciences, so one would hope that the ocean is one of my favorite settings! I haven’t found a mermaid book I absolutely love, but again, I like how dark and mysterious the ocean can be.
Some ocean books:
- To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
- Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
- The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neil
- The Lost City of Faar (Pendragon #2) by D.J. MacHale
An absolute classic! Once again, I love things that could be hidden in castles, you never know what you are going to find in an abandoned wing or hidden passage…
Some castle books:
- Alanna: The Fist Adventure (The Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
- The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White
- Ash Princess (Ash Princess #1) by Laura Sebastian
What are some of your favorite fantasy settings?