Fantasy/Magical Realism Book Discussion

For February 2018 we will be reading Fantasy/Magical Realism books
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hsimone
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Fantasy/Magical Realism Book Discussion

Post by hsimone » 07 Feb 2018, 11:54

For this month, the genre of choice is Fantasy/Magical Realism, but what is the difference between these two? After some searching, this is what I've gathered:

Fantasy:
- Set in fictional universe
- Uses magic or other supernatural elements
- Magic and magical creatures are common in this genre
- Tends to be speculative (i.e. What if vampires were real?)

Magical Realism:
- Is a sub-genre of fantasy
- Magic or supernatural presented in a real world/mundane setting
- Shows the world through someone's eyes, and tends to not be speculative

When discussing this genre, please share:
  • What have you read?
  • Was it fantasy or magical realism? What elements demonstrated it was one genre versus the other?
  • Did you enjoy the book?
  • Would you recommend this read to others?
Also, feel free to share anything else from the book(s) you've read this month! Most importantly, let's all have fun! :D
"Love is patient, love is kind." -1 Corinthians 13:4

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hsimone
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Post by hsimone » 13 Feb 2018, 10:23

I recently finished Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. It's the first in a five-part children's series.

I would call this fantasy because the main characters are brought into another world where giant creepy crawlers (cockroaches, rats, bats, and spiders) interact with human-like creatures.

For the most part, I did enjoy the book. Overall, I gave it a 3/4 stars because there were parts that I thought were a bit slow and not to my liking. Also, when Gregor, an eleven-year-old boy, has internal thoughts, there were quotation marks placed around the words. Meaning, there were several times that I couldn't decipher if he was thinking or talking to someone. This disrupted the flow of the story.

I would definitely recommend this to upper-elementary and middle-school-aged children who enjoy fantasy and don't mind creepy crawlers in the books they read. Also, I feel adults who are kids at heart might enjoy this one, too!
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Post by SPasciuti » 15 Feb 2018, 16:15

It's funny because when I first came across this month's genre discussion, I recall wracking my brains for a book that would fit magical realism that wasn't Harry Potter because I just couldn't determine whether or not some of my books fit the genre. And I guess my ultimate conclusion is that the real world setting is simply the difference between whether or not the world with magic is set on Earth. And I still feel a little shaky on my understanding, to tell the truth, because Harry Potter has a much different feel to it than a book like one of The Lunar Chronicles.

But The Lunar Chronicles is set on Earth (in the future) and there's a magic that had been developed by a very specific subset of people, so I think it fits? I reread these books every year, I love them so much. I chose magical realism to discuss mainly because it's a genre that I feel I've found some exceptional books in that area.

The book I wanna talk about is one I read recently called The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown. It's set in the past in London and the magic comes in via Peter Pan and his lost boys. Peter Pan, by itself, kind of fits into both genres because it's set in London but also in Neverland, which would fall into fantasy. The Wendy doesn't get to Neverland just yet, but it was fascinating.

I definitely loved this book. It's probably my favorite book at this point and I would recommend it to almost everyone. I I know some people probably wouldn't be interested in reading it, but I think the authors have done such a fantastic job with the characters and the world and their writing is so supurb that I can't imagine loving a book more.

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Post by pinefamily » 15 Feb 2018, 16:48

There are so many great books and book series in fantasy. Tolkien obviously heads the list. Song of Ice and Fire, The Wheel of Time, The Riverworld series (which straddles fantasy and sci-fi), The Rift War series, The Wayfarer Redemption series, Fiona McIntosh's three excellent fantasy series (Trinity, The Quickening, and Percheron), and that's just off the top of my head. Robert E. Howard is another standout fantasy author, and not just his Conan stories.

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Post by hsimone » 16 Feb 2018, 11:39

SPasciuti wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 16:15
It's funny because when I first came across this month's genre discussion, I recall wracking my brains for a book that would fit magical realism that wasn't Harry Potter because I just couldn't determine whether or not some of my books fit the genre. And I guess my ultimate conclusion is that the real world setting is simply the difference between whether or not the world with magic is set on Earth. And I still feel a little shaky on my understanding, to tell the truth, because Harry Potter has a much different feel to it than a book like one of The Lunar Chronicles.

But The Lunar Chronicles is set on Earth (in the future) and there's a magic that had been developed by a very specific subset of people, so I think it fits? I reread these books every year, I love them so much. I chose magical realism to discuss mainly because it's a genre that I feel I've found some exceptional books in that area.

The book I wanna talk about is one I read recently called The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown. It's set in the past in London and the magic comes in via Peter Pan and his lost boys. Peter Pan, by itself, kind of fits into both genres because it's set in London but also in Neverland, which would fall into fantasy. The Wendy doesn't get to Neverland just yet, but it was fascinating.

I definitely loved this book. It's probably my favorite book at this point and I would recommend it to almost everyone. I I know some people probably wouldn't be interested in reading it, but I think the authors have done such a fantastic job with the characters and the world and their writing is so supurb that I can't imagine loving a book more.
Yeah, magical realism is a tough one since it is a subgenre of fantasy, it's hard to differentiate the two, but I like the way you think about it.

The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown does sound interesting. Thank you for sharing and I'm you enjoyed it!
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Post by hsimone » 16 Feb 2018, 11:41

pinefamily wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 16:48
There are so many great books and book series in fantasy. Tolkien obviously heads the list. Song of Ice and Fire, The Wheel of Time, The Riverworld series (which straddles fantasy and sci-fi), The Rift War series, The Wayfarer Redemption series, Fiona McIntosh's three excellent fantasy series (Trinity, The Quickening, and Percheron), and that's just off the top of my head. Robert E. Howard is another standout fantasy author, and not just his Conan stories.
You're right, there are so many good ones! For some reason, I haven't taken the leap and read Tolkien yet, but I did love A Song of Ice and Fire, for sure. My goal is to try Tolkien because I do hear a lot good things about his works.
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Post by hsimone » 16 Feb 2018, 11:47

On another note, I just finished Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic by the British Library and J.K. Rowling. There are definitely some non-fiction aspects of this book (some of the original scripts/scenes that Rowling wrote, talk about her future works, artifacts that have been found, etc.). However, there is a lot of mythology talk, magical creatures, and where Rowling got her inspiration for some of the things she came up with, so this is why I am including it here.

I really did enjoy this one and would recommend it to any Harry Potter fans and gave it a 4/4 stars. There is a lot of information here, but splitting it into a few sessions worked well for me, and the illustrations/pictures included supplemented the text well.
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Post by pinefamily » 16 Feb 2018, 17:04

I went for a wander through our bookshelves (a very distracting thing to do, I might add), and found I had forgotten Michael Moorcock. He has written several great series, his best in my opinion being the Elric of Melnibone series. There are some interlocking threads that tie them together, but each series is separate in itself. A very original author.

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Post by hsimone » 19 Feb 2018, 08:48

I was looking at Michael Moorcock, thank you for the suggestion! Have you read The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss by any chance? His work piqued my interest, too, and I was wondering what your opinion was on his work?
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Post by Mekkinism » 20 Feb 2018, 09:27

I'd tend to disagree with this definition of magical realism. Magical realism is when magical or fantastic elements exist in a book that is otherwise written in the style of literary realism. The fantastic events or characters that exist within the story are usually not commented on as being unusual. When something impossible happens, the characters do not react as if something impossible has happened, i.e. with disbelief or shock.

Magical realism has its roots in Latin American literature, where it originated as part of the postmodernist literary movement. Within this context, Latin American magical realism often served to critique or resist colonial narratives about Latin America, in particular the way that Western societies seek to divorce mythology from history, fact from story, and to define what constitutes reality.

Not every work that exists primarily in this world but contains magic is magical realism. Harry Potter is not, because the magical elements are treated by normal people (muggles) as aberrant, as not normal. Any story where the magic or fantastic elements are explained is probably not magical realism.

Another big distinction is that fantasy is considered more as genre work, while magical realism is considered more literary. This mostly just means that magical realism gets taken more "seriously" within literary circles, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the quality of the work.

The best way to explain it really is to read it, or read summaries of magical realist texts. Some famous examples of magical realism include 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, and arguably the works of Jose Luis Borges.

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Post by Jeyasivananth » 20 Feb 2018, 13:51

yes I have read quite a few books in magical realism and fantasy. My favorite magical realism books are Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and Chitra Banerjee's The Mistress of Spices.. While the former looks at the Indian subcontinents partition and the political turmoil ensued critically ; the later discusses the diasporic dilemmas.

The best fantasy book i have read would be Harry Potter series and The Song of Ice and Fire .

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Post by gali » 22 Feb 2018, 23:49

I love Harry Potter!

I read "The Ship of the Dead" (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3) and loved it. I have read all Rick Riordan's books and enjoyed them, though they are intended for YA.
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Post by hsimone » 24 Feb 2018, 13:31

Mekkinism wrote:
20 Feb 2018, 09:27
I'd tend to disagree with this definition of magical realism. Magical realism is when magical or fantastic elements exist in a book that is otherwise written in the style of literary realism. The fantastic events or characters that exist within the story are usually not commented on as being unusual. When something impossible happens, the characters do not react as if something impossible has happened, i.e. with disbelief or shock.

Magical realism has its roots in Latin American literature, where it originated as part of the postmodernist literary movement. Within this context, Latin American magical realism often served to critique or resist colonial narratives about Latin America, in particular the way that Western societies seek to divorce mythology from history, fact from story, and to define what constitutes reality.

Not every work that exists primarily in this world but contains magic is magical realism. Harry Potter is not, because the magical elements are treated by normal people (muggles) as aberrant, as not normal. Any story where the magic or fantastic elements are explained is probably not magical realism.

Another big distinction is that fantasy is considered more as genre work, while magical realism is considered more literary. This mostly just means that magical realism gets taken more "seriously" within literary circles, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the quality of the work.

The best way to explain it really is to read it, or read summaries of magical realist texts. Some famous examples of magical realism include 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, and arguably the works of Jose Luis Borges.
Thank you for sharing! Maybe I'll check out the books you mentioned to understand better what magical realism is. I've actually been meaning to Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel for a while now, so I'll have to put that toward the top of my TBR. Thanks again. :tiphat:
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Post by hsimone » 24 Feb 2018, 13:33

Jeyasivananth wrote:
20 Feb 2018, 13:51
yes I have read quite a few books in magical realism and fantasy. My favorite magical realism books are Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and Chitra Banerjee's The Mistress of Spices.. While the former looks at the Indian subcontinents partition and the political turmoil ensued critically ; the later discusses the diasporic dilemmas.

The best fantasy book i have read would be Harry Potter series and The Song of Ice and Fire .
Ooo...you're the second person to mention Midnight's Children. I think also needs to go on TBR list!

I definitely agree with Harry Potter series and The Song of Ice and Fire are the best fantasy I've read, too. :)
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Post by hsimone » 24 Feb 2018, 13:35

gali wrote:
22 Feb 2018, 23:49
I love Harry Potter!

I read "The Ship of the Dead" (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3) and loved it. I have read all Rick Riordan's books and enjoyed them, though they are intended for YA.
Yay Harry Potter!!

I haven't heard of The Ship of the Dead. I think check this one out, as well, as I do tend to like a lot the books you've read. Thank you for sharing and for a potential new read for me. :tiphat:
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