Best Books on Magical Realism with Fantasy, Fairy Tales, and Folklore

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Discover a World of Magic and Wonder with the Best Books on Magical Realism.

If you’re a fan of magical realism or looking to explore the genre, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of the best books on magical realism that are sure to transport you to a world of magic and wonder. These books combine elements of fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore to create stories that are both captivating and thought-provoking. So, grab a cup of tea, settle in, and get ready to merge the mundane with the mystical.

We’ve put together a list of the best books on magical realism with fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore.

Bird Life

by Anna Smaill

isbn: 9781957363547,template: listThe second novel by Booker Prize-longlisted author Anna Smaill. A lyrical and ambitious exploration of madness and what it is like to experience the world differently.

In Ueno Park, Tokyo, as workers and tourists gather for lunch, the pollen blows, a fountain erupts, pigeons scatter, and two women meet, changing the course of one another’s lives.

Dinah has come to Japan from New Zealand to teach English and grieve the death of her brother, Michael, a troubled genius who was able to channel his problems into music as a classical pianist–until he wasn’t. In the seemingly empty, eerie apartment block where Dinah has been housed, she sees Michael everywhere, even as she feels his absence sharply.

Yasuko is polished, precise, and keenly observant–of her students and colleagues at the language school, and of the natural world. When she was thirteen, animals began to speak to her, to tell her things she did not always want to hear. She has suppressed these powers for many years, but sometimes she allows them to resurface, to the dismay of her adult son, Jun. One day, she returns home, and Jun has gone. Even her special gifts cannot bring him back.

The Family Izquierdo

by Rubén Degollado

isbn: 9780393866827,template: listThe tight-knit Izquierdo family is grappling with misfortunes none of them can explain. Their beloved patriarch has suffered from an emotional collapse and is dying; eldest son Gonzalo’s marriage is falling apart; daughter Dina, beleaguered by the fear that her nightmares are real, is a shut-in.

When Gonzalo digs up a strange object in the backyard of the family home, the Izquierdos take it as proof that a jealous neighbor has cursed them–could this be the reason for all their troubles? As the Izquierdos face a distressing present and an uncertain future, they are sustained by the blood that binds them, a divine presence, and an abiding love for one another. Told in a series of soulful voices brimming with warmth and humor, The Family Izquierdo is a tender narrative of a family at a turning point.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

by Kim Fu

isbn: 9781951142995,template: listIn the twelve unforgettable tales of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the strange is made familiar and the familiar strange, such that a girl growing wings on her legs feels like an ordinary rite of passage, while a bug-infested house becomes an impossible, Kafkaesque nightmare. Each story builds a new world all its own: a group of children steal a haunted doll; a runaway bride encounters a sea monster; a vendor sells toy boxes that seemingly control the passage of time; an insomniac is seduced by the Sandman. These visions of modern life wrestle with themes of death and technological consequence, guilt and sexuality, and unmask the contradictions that exist within all of us.

Mesmerizing, electric, and wholly original, Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century blurs the boundaries of the real and fantastic, offering intricate and surprising insights into human nature.

The Maenad’s God

by Karen Michalson

isbn: 9780985352264,template: listBoston 1992. Pete Morrow is an alienated FBI agent whose only escape from the colleagues and society he despises is through reading literary classics. When his boss sends him to warn away a drug dealer on an obscure army base, he discovers a murder and becomes obsessed with Jade McClellan, a mysterious man from Toronto whose rock band just performed at the crime scene. Tough-guy Morrow has never been in love before-but Jade is almost magical, an embodiment of myth and literature who creates living fantasies that rapidly become the only thing Morrow values in his otherwise miserable life.

But there’s a problem. Morrow is investigating a mafia family that is investing in Jade’s musical career. Being open about their relationship could get both of them killed.

The Museum of Human History

by Rebekah Bergman

isbn: 9781953534910,template: listAfter nearly drowning, eight-year-old Maeve Wilhelm falls into a strange comatose state. As years pass, it becomes clear that Maeve is not physically aging. A wide cast of characters finds themselves pulled toward Maeve, each believing that her mysterious “sleep” holds the answers to their life’s most pressing questions: Kevin Marks, a museum owner obsessed with preservation; Monique Gray, a refugee and performance artist; Lionel Wilhelm, an entomologist who dreamed of being an astrophysicist; and Evangeline Wilhelm, Maeve’s identical twin. As Maeve remains asleep, the characters grapple with a mysterious new technology and medical advances that promise to ease anxiety and end pain, but instead cause devastating side effects.

Weaving together speculative elements and classic fables, and exploring urgent issues from the opioid epidemic to the hazards of biotech to the obsession with self-improvement and remaining forever young, Rebekah Bergman’s The Museum of Human History is a brilliant and fascinating novel about how time shapes us, asking what–if anything–we would be without it.

Numamushi: A Fairy Tale

by Mina Ikemoto Ghosh

isbn: 9781941360774,template: listBurned by napalm as an infant and adopted by the guardian spirit of a river, Numamushi spends the first years of his life catching frogs to eat and learning to shed his skin like his serpentine father. Then one day, a lonely man moves into the abandoned house next to the river, and curiosity for all things human awakens in Numamushi.

This mysterious man shares Numamushi’s penchant for eating frogs but also carries the scars of war. A love of the written word, and knowledge of the secret history of the house and its river. When he begins teaching Numamushi to read and write, the growing friendship. Between them opens an unexpected path to metamorphosis-and healing-for them both.

Organ Meats

by K-Ming Chang

isbn: 9780593447345,template: listBest friends Anita and Rainie find refuge by an old sycamore tree. With its neighboring lot of stray dogs who have a mysterious ability to communicate with humans. The girls learn that they are preceded by generations of dog-headed women and woman-headed dogs whose bloodlines bind them together. Anita convinces Rainie to become a dog with her. Tying a collar of red string around each of their necks to preserve their kinship forever. But when the two girls are separated. Anita sinks into a dreamworld that only Rainie knows how to rescue her from. As Anita’s body begins to rot, it is up to Rainie to rebuild Anita’s body. And keep her friend from being lost forever.

Filled with ghosts and bodily entrails, this is a story about the horror and beauty of intimacy. Written in K-Ming Chang’s signature poetic and visceral lore.

Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club

by Roselle Lim

isbn: 9780593335611,template: listNewly minted professional matchmaker Sophie Go has returned to Toronto, her hometown, after spending three years in Shanghai. Her job is made quite difficult, however, when she is revealed as a fraud–she never actually graduated from matchmaking school. In a competitive market like Toronto, no one wants to take a chance. On an inexperienced and unaccredited matchmaker, and soon Sophie becomes an outcast.

In dire search of clients, Sophie stumbles upon a secret club within her condo complex. The Old Ducks, seven septuagenarian Chinese bachelors who never found love. Somehow, she convinces them to hire her, but her matchmaking skills are put to the test. As she learns the depths of loneliness, heartbreak, and love. By attempting to make the hardest matches of her life.

The Storyteller’s Death

by Ann Dávila Cardinal

isbn: 9781728250779,template: listThere was always an old woman dying in the back room of her family’s house when Isla was a child…

Isla Larsen Sanchez’s life begins to unravel when her father passes away. Instead of being comforted at home in New Jersey. Her mother starts leaving her in Puerto Rico with her grandmother and great-aunt. Each summer like a piece of forgotten luggage.

When Isla turns eighteen, her grandmother, a great storyteller, dies. It is then that Isla discovers she has a gift passed down through her family’s cuentistas. The tales of dead family storytellers are brought back to life, replaying themselves over and over in front of her. At first, Isla is enchanted by this connection to the Sanchez cuentistas.


Want more features? Check out more here!