Hello everyone! Over here we LOVE stories all about misfits and outcasts journeying to reach home, tales with high adventure, epic quests, hair-raising battles, impenetrable brotherhood, snarky banter, and found family (whether by blood or by bond). If these stories are kindred to YOUR heart, I dare say you’re in the right place!
Over in the Library tab on this site, you’ll find an (in progress!) collection of both books and movies carrying such themes that I, myself have fallen in love with, connected to, and am thrilled to share with this amazing community. But here today I’d like to highlight a handful of them, because they’re just that awesome! Have you read any of these titles? Do any of them pique your interest? Do you have any favorites of your own you’d like to share with everyone in the comments? Let’s chat!
Of Fire and Ash — Author: Gillian Bronte Adams • Format: Novel (hardback, ebook, audiobook) • Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
In a country where magical horses can breathe fire, stalk the shadows, and summon lightning, Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of one day ruling the kingdom like her father. The only problem being that she’s been exiled to serve her people autonomously on the land’s outskirts—until a hunt for poachers uncovers a plot to murder the king. Elsewhere, Rafi tries to live quietly in a fishing village while muffling his dark and dangerous past, but invaders from his old home show up and threaten the new life and family he so desperately wants. And Jakim, a remnant of a desolated people, lies his way out of the Sanctuary to make a pilgrimage back to his old home—except the ship he’s on is attacked by invaders, who take him captive.
Each of these characters struggle with false identity, misfits in a world that want to use and abuse them, and each journey into both the wider world and their own hearts to fight against what the world says they are. To be free.
The world that Adams built for this story is rich and vast in scope and culture, and the characters themselves, while facing similar trials, are diverse in background, personality, and response to the battles before them. The books is a plunge into the deep end of epic YA fantasy, and the best news? Book 2 in the series, The Fireborn Epic, is releasing later this year!
Greywolf’s Heart — Author: C.M. Banschback • Format: Novel (paperback, ebook) • Genre: Adventure/ Fantasy/Prehistoric/ Adult
In a wild land where warring tribes ride giant wolves and sabertoothed cats, a pair of estranged half-brothers must learn to work together if they want to save their village from being slaughtered. Comran is the legitimate heir to the throne, but the chief chooses his illegitimate son, Etran, to succeed him. Etran offers Comran the role of battlechief, a position second only to chiefhood, but while they lead by law, they struggle to trust each other and hold the tribe together. While at their weakest, their enemy strikes, plunging them into a drawn-out war that tests not only the brothers’ skills and resolve, but their hearts, forcing them to address the hurt of their upbringing and realize what they truly wanted—what they needed—all along.
This story is as rugged and time-tested as the untamed country it’s set in, a tale of broken relationships and brotherhood, grim war and hidden light, hurtful miscommunication and the road to healing. To restoration and redemption. Banschbach is a master at crafting deep worlds and deeper characters with top-class snark. And guess what? Book two in the Spirits’ Valley Duology, Saber’s Pride, is releasing this summer!
Treasure Planet — Directors: John Muskers & Ron Clements • Format: DVD, streaming video • Genre: PG/ Science Fantasy
Regardless of how you agree with Disney’s current production, their animation studio released a beautiful film in 2002. A reimagination of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Planet follows a brilliant but headstrong youth named Jim Hawkins. Constantly running afoul with the authorities and causing trouble for his single mother, he dreams of going out into the wider world on adventure, to prove that he’s not the worthless troublemaker everyone thinks he is. Then it happens. After pirates burn his home down while chasing an old sailor with a treasure map, Jim embarks on a quest to follow that map. Along the way he’s challenged to learn humility and perseverance, suffers betrayal, and overcomes selfish pride as he uses his talents to do what’s right.
This story has an incredible dynamic between Jim and the cyborg John Silver, who becomes a father figure to Jim, and has his own journey to make. The relationship between these two characters is a beautiful image of broken souls learning to heal and grow and become greater for having been in each others’ lives—all wrapped up in a wacky space-punk world with airship adventure, space whales, and amnesic robots. If you haven’t seen this movie yet (or want to again) . . . come over and let’s watch it! I’ll make popcorn.
Seventh City — Author: Emily Hayse • Format: Novel (paperback, ebook) • Genre: YA/Fantasy/ Adventure/ Survival
Set in a fictional world much like the Alaskan frontier, Maki sets out on a desperate quest for the legendary City of Gold when invaders burn her village and take her brother captive. Surviving in a harsh environment with untrained foreigners, facing ancient dangers that embody childhood nightmares, and testing her strength to the limit against land, man, and beast, Maki is determined to save her brother and bring him back home. But along the way she comes to learn that not all strangers are evil and that some costs might be too steep to pay.
Hayse creates vivid and hauntingly beautiful world with a cast of colorful and endearing characters. This tale of family, courage, and growing up is a wild ride of part fantasy adventure, part wilderness survival, fraught with threats inside and out, and enemies that may not actually be as bad as they seemed. It tells of loyalty, sacrifice, love, and the gumption to keep stepping forward.
Natsume’s Book of Friends — Author: Yuki Midorikawa • Format: Manga (graphic novel), Animated TV series • Genre: YA Japanese fiction/ Supernatural/Paranormal/ Urban fantasy
After his parents’ deaths, Natsume Takashi spends his childhood shuffled around the homes of his extended family, never fitting in and always accused of lying and causing trouble. But he isn’t a liar. He has a special ability inherited from his mysterious grandmother: the power to see spirits called Yokai, invisible creatures that are supposed to be myth and legend. By high school, Natsume comes to live in a small town with distant relatives, where he discovers that he’s also inherited from his late grandmother a strange book called the Book of Friends, which is filled with names she had taken from various Yokai. Now, Natusme’s days are filled with misadventures as he endeavors to return these names to their owners, escape malicious spirits who want the book for themselves, and help others with the aid of his self-proclaimed body guard and mentor, Madara.
Having been outcast by people his entire life, Natsume struggles to connect with others and inadvertently makes friends with some local Yokai, even though he tries to avoid them, too, because of all the trouble they’ve caused him. But then he does begin to make connections with several people who learn his ostracizing secret and not only believe him, but accept him, and as the story progresses he’s challenged with how to navigate these relationships. How to protect those he cares about from the dangers of his Yokai-involved world. How to accept their help. It’s a beautiful and fun (and sometimes rather spooky!) story of a lost and lonely soul learning to trust and open up others, learning to value his gifts rather than curse them, and fight for the place and people he so desperately wants to call home.
These are only a few of a much larger list of absolutely amazing titles, and I hope you can find more stories to love! Are you familiar with any of these? What did you like (or even not like!) about them? Which ones pique your interest? Are there any titles you would add to this list? What are they, and why? I’m always up for more recommendations!