After her mother remarries and relocates their family from California to Indiana, thirteen-year-old Max Mayfield resolves to keep to herself. However, this proves difficult when she attracts the attention of Lucas and Dustin at Hawkins Middle School. Reluctant to befriend them at first, Max is soon caught up in their incredible story — which this novel relays entirely from her perspective, digging into her home life and backstory before coming to Hawkins.
But reader beware: when the focus shifts to her abusive stepfamily, things get dark in a very real way. Speaking of dark and real, these next few books come from the extensive oeuvre of Stephen King — perhaps the single most obvious influence on Stranger Things seriously, look no further than that title card. Stranger Things lovers may already be familiar with It — the adaptation features none other than Finn Wolfhard, aka Mike from Stranger Things.
The titular firestarter is actually very similar to Eleven: Charlie McGee, a girl born with pyrokinetic abilities after her parents participated in a government experiment involving —you guessed it — LSD. Now Charlie and her father are on the run from the agency that created them — and wishes to eliminate them.
The suspense in this one is particularly acute, with Charlie and her dad desperate to stay one step ahead of their foes, plus the additional concern that Charlie could lose control of her powers and destroy everything in her path.
Naturally, they get way more than they bargained for, and are forced to confront their personal traumas in different ways. One boy mourns the loss of his older brother, who was killed in a car wreck; another strives to understand his abusive father, who has PTSD. This death-based mission culminates in a stand-off with some bullies who are very much alive, during which an unlikely hero takes charge… and a hidden weapon reveals itself. The films of John Carpenter are another major influence on Stranger Things , and if you want to experience the full impact of one of his most iconic works The Thing , you should definitely read this book first.
The result is a scintillating combination of physical and psychological terror, as the researchers realize that any one of them could be the creature — and that in order to prevent it from reaching the outside world, they must kill each person it becomes. The boys follow him out of the carnival, expecting an explanation — only to find their questions compounding exponentially. Besides the curious case of J. In other words, Something Wicked is most definitely the stuff of nightmares, best paired with a Wes Craven film. When Wade discovers the first key to this treasure, he realizes he has a damn good chance of winning.
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That is, if he can escape the career players who want him dead… and not just in the game. The thrill is palpable, the danger all too real, and the reward is greater than Wade can possibly imagine. Luckily, the pop cultural details of the game — included by its eighties-obsessed creator — add a dose of lighthearted fun to an otherwise suspenseful and complex story. Ever wished for more female characters in Stranger Things?
Paper Girls kicks off when the titular girls who meet on their paper routes — so quirky! They chase the attackers into a neighborhood construction site, where they discover a strange energy-emitting contraption… that turns out to be a time machine.
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The girls quickly realize that the other teenagers hail from the 71st century, and have traveled back to to change history, against the will of their predecessors. Our heroines are soon inexorably entwined in this supreme intergenerational conflict — and besides that, have to deal with the disorienting personal consequences of themselves randomly being transported back and forth in time.
Finally, we have Meddling Kids , an oft-featured favorite of ours on Reedsy Discovery and a quintessential read for Stranger Things and Scooby-Doo fans alike. What makes this book so great, you ask? Not unlike a certain Netflix series we know. Typically, these creatures are majestic, rarified, and have some ability to communicate with other individuals, either through speech or telepathy. Many fantasy books have dragons, but few feature dragons as something other than wild beasts to be ridden or slain. This list gives you some of the best out that contain dragons as major parts of the story or even major characters in the story itself.
Because I'll invariably receive comments asking about this: I've intentionally left off many books from this list which I don't consider 'the best' dragon fantasy. This includes Eragon and the Dragonlance novels. Her not-quite-a-direct-sequel series, Live Ship Traders, introduces more of her vision of dragons to the reader, and dragons do play a central role in the series though the book is not necessarily directly focused on them. However, her new trilogy, Dragon Keeper, is all about dragons and humans.
Hobb really makes dragons central characters even protagonists to the story. She knows how to write and how to create indelible characters and complex relationships and in this case, she really plays on the human-dragon relationship idea. One of the best series out there that creates well-drawn, realistic dragon characters who are real personalities. To get the full picture, you should read the prequel series first.
A Song of Ice and Fire. Dragons are a central part of the mythos of the story and become very important in some of the later books. However, they are not day-to-day characters, but rather a more abstract concept. Dragons start becoming more and more central to the story in the later books book 5, for example. This is a fantastic series, indeed, one of the best fantasy series in the genre. But the focus of this list is actually on Dragons and while Dragons are important to the central story in Martin's work, they are more of a back story for most of the series.
If you want a book with dragons that focus more heavily on dragons or sentient dragons who play a big role in the book, then skip this recommendation.
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Not a standard fantasy. This is one of those books that puts the onus on the readers to understand the story, characters, and setting.
But if you put in the work, you may find the whole thing enormously enjoyable. The prose is deliberately ponderous, slowly peeling away at the plot one onion skin at a time. Yes, there are dragons here in this novel, ruthless sentient creatures used as weapons of mass destructions by the elven lords that command them.
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Thus begins the complex relationship between Jane and the dragon — a relationship that underpins and directs much of what happens in the novel. Read this one for a good mix of steampunk and fantasy and a non-standard tale that with a bit of work, you will enjoy. With a Martin-esque plot and Jim Butcher pace, The Axe and the Throne is a definite "must read" for even the pickiest fantasy fans.
In his stunning debut, Ireman has built the type of world so vivid and engrossing that leaving it at the end is agony.
In spite of leaning toward grimdark, where authors often enshroud every scene in depressing darkness, there is no lack of cheerful moments or brilliant scenery. Yet the pangs of near-instant nostalgia that come after you put down a book like this have less to do with the inspired setting, and far more to do with those who inhabit it. From savage, unremorseful heroes, to deep, introspective villains, the cast of this story is comprised of believable characters capable of unthinkable actions.
And it is these characters -- the ones you wish you could share a drink with or end up wanting to kill -- that forge the connection between fantasy and reality. Keethro, Titon, Ethel, Annora. These are names you will never forget, and each belongs to a man or woman as unique as they are memorable. No book would be complete without a its fair share of intrigue, however, and there is no lack of it here. Each chapter leaves you wanting more, and Ireman's masterful use of misdirection leads to an abundance of "oh shit" moments.
Do not be fooled or do -- perhaps that's part of the fun by storylines that may appear trope-ish at first. This is no fairytale. Think Napoleonic Wars, but with talking dragons instead of ships for navel warfare. The first three books in the series are by far the best, after which the series declines in quality. However, the dragon concept portrayed in the books is very well done and the dragons are an integral part of the story and in fact, they are characters in their own right.
The unique setting and re-imagined period history makes the books all that much better. Unlike the other entries on this list, Age of Fire actually stars dragons as the characters. This carries on the popular animal-perspective fantasy Watership Down, Redwall series, etc , but one that features dragons, not moles or rabbits.
This is not a gentle fairy tale though, and there is plenty of violence and death in this story. The author renders both human and dragon characters in shades of grey. Knight E. Overall, a well done series. A must read if you are a dragon fan. This one throws a few interesting ideas into the mix: everyone in the book is a dragon. You see, the author reimagines a world where humans are, well, dragons. The narrative is well done in this one, with a similar style to say Jane Austen or even Lois Bujold.
The premise sounds a bit strange when you first start into the book, but you soon suspend all disbelief as the narrative skillfully leads you into the thick of things. A great read and if you are sick to death of all the overdone standard fantasy tropes, this very well written, fresh take on the dragon subgenre will delight you.