best christian fantasy books

The 5 Best Christian Fantasy Books

Last Updated: July 17, 2021

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best Christian Fantasy books are, then I’d recommend The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set by C.S. Lewis as the best one.

Is there really such a thing as Christian fantasy literature? What do Christianity and fantasy have to do with each other? These are thoughts some of you may have right now, and understandably so. Let’s answer these questions and find out how Christian Fantasy books can help us in our walk with Christ.

Here are the Best Christian Fantasy Books we will be reviewing:

What are Christian Fantasy Books?

Christian fantasy books are stories that have two major elements – a Christian worldview and a supernatural world of make-believe. Christian fantasy is unique compared to Bible storybooks.  The latter aims to simply retell in a language children can better understand. The former focuses on creating brand new worlds with interesting new characters.

Some Christians argue that reading these types of books is not right. Consequently, they recommend avoiding it. But is this true?

In 1856, renowned author C.S. Lewis published an essay sharing his insights on fantasy stories. It was during this time when his works particularly The Chronicles of Narnia have gained much fame and following. He believed that it is possible to communicate the truth in fresh, enchanting ways. Lewis brilliantly thought that when deemed monotonous Bible concepts are cast into a world of make-believe, people’s inner brings are stirred up and they see the real power of these truths for the first time.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy author J.R.R. Tolkien also expressed his thoughts on fantasy stories. He knew it was about creating secondary worlds that are still somehow consistent with reality.

Both of them make a point that these stories are not meant to be the doctrines that we anchor our lives to. These are creations meant to stimulate the imagination. Hopefully, to see truths with fresh eyes.

That being said, Christian fantasy books may be something that you can enjoy if you are willing to distinguish between reality and art.

What are the Benefits of Reading Christian Fantasy Books?

There are many benefits to reading Christian fantasy but I would like to zoom in on three things. Biblical Allusions, Recovery from Overfamiliarity and Literature Appreciation.

Biblical Allusions

Christian fantasy books are filled with biblical allusions. These are parallelisms between the written stories and Biblical truths. Hard to grasp concepts that are more tangible when told in another context. 

The well-loved book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe beautifully illustrates this. There is a part where Aslan volunteers to be taken captive by the White Witch in place of Edmund. Shortly after, Aslan dies but comes back to life to save the people of Narnia. This is a perfect allusion to the sacrifice Jesus made for His people. Children and adults alike can see the same sacrificial love in both Jesus and Aslan. It becomes a ‘wow’ moment!

These Christian fantasy books have the potential to develop two things in our hearts. Awe for God’s greatness and a reverence for His infinite goodness. How is that? When we read about these heroes in the stories, we see that they are good and they are great, but they are also limited. They fail and they lose at some point. They are never infinitely good nor infinitely great. 

But God is different in this sense. God is always good and always great. Who would have thought we can glean this from reading about elves, goblins, and centaurs?

Recovery from Overfamiliarity

Tolkien perfectly captures this thought in his essay “On Fairy Stories”. He felt that fantasy stories provide readers with the rare opportunity of “regaining a clear view” of the things we already know. For those who have been in church for a long time or those who grew up in Sunday school, things can become too familiar. When we reach this state, what used to keep us in awe becomes normal. 

Tolkien likens this to anything we have long set our hearts and eyes on, doing all we can to possess them but when we finally do, we stop looking at them. We lose interest. We lose our awe. Tolkien explains that the things we are most familiar with are the ones we find hard to see with new eyes. 

And so reading these fantastical stories is compared to cleaning our glass windows, removing grub and dirt, so we can perceive things – inside or outside – clearly once again. 

Literature Appreciation

The best Christian fantasy books for young adults and adults are excellently written by distinguished authors. Art and beauty are not lost and quality is not compromised. Themes and plots are rich and sometimes unexpected. Some of these books are classics and are creative successes in the world of literature.

Best Christian Fantasy Authors

There are a lot of great Christian fantasy authors but these are on top of our list: John Bunyan, George MacDonald, C.S Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and S.D. Smith.

John Bunyan was an English Puritan preacher and writer in the 17th century. He is most famous for writing the Christian allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. It is an interesting fact that Bunyan wrote this book during his 12-year imprisonment due to the Conventicle Act of 1593. This law prohibited anyone to attend any “unlawful religious assemblies”.

George MacDonald was a Scottish minister and writer who pioneered modern fantasy. He is famous for this works like Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, and At The Back of The North Wind. He has become a catalyst in the literary world, with authors like Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis citing him as a mentor.

C.S. Lewis, born and raised in Ireland, was a lay theologian. His most popular work is The Chronicles of Narnia series. He also wrote The Screwtape Letters and the non-fiction Mere Christianity, among others. Fun fact: his complete name is Clive Staples Lewis.

J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Africa and his family moved back to England when he was 3 years old. His bestseller, The Lord of the Rings trilogy,  was published more than a decade after his first fantasy book, The Hobbit.

S.D. Smith is a more modern author, who wrote The Green Ember series written for middle-aged children but can definitely be enjoyed by anyone. He is passionate about writing “new stories with an old soul”.

Types of Christian Fantasy

The fantasy genre has expanded over the years and continues to grow today. For Christian fantasy, there are generally 4 types:

  • Epic Fantasy – stories set in magical worlds that do not abide by the laws of reality
  • Dark Fantasy – has elements of horror and fright, like monsters and devils
  • Magical Realism – set in a realistic environment but with supernatural elements accepted as normal
  • Fables – has enchanted and supernatural animals as the main characters

What to Expect In Christian Fantasy Books

Christian fantasy may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some love it, some don’t. That’s why it is good to know what to expect when reading these kinds of books and decide for yourself if this is something that would be beneficial to you.

Theme

Most Christian fantasy narratives explore main theological ideas like an eternity, creation, heaven, and hell, good and evil, life and death. Be prepared to encounter stories revolving around these. There can be scenes of battles and wars which can be quite violent. Magic and the supernatural are also almost always present in fantastical stories. 

Transformation

Transformation is also a normal story arc for characters in Christian fantasy. To tell these kinds of stories, there is a need to show a before, an ‘old’ kind of life that does not honor God. This may include cursing, sensuality, idolatry, and addiction among others. 

Truth

Elements from the Christian worldview are interlaced with the stories, which is the most crucial point of these fantasy books.

Below are some of the best Christian Fantasy books that we recommend for you.

The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set by C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia is beautifully written by the brilliant British author C.S. Lewis. Filled with enchanted creatures living in a magical land full of surprises, this series is not your ordinary children’s story. All of the seven books of the series will challenge your imagination and perception of the world. 

Be ready to be amazed by the journey of four siblings, namely: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. More importantly, you will see a glimpse of Jesus Christ in the main character of Aslan, the lion who is present in all seven books. 

Since its publication, it has attracted the attention of radio and television all over the world. This best-selling work sold millions of copies in several languages. If you like adventure, thrill, and victory over almost impossible odds, then enter the world of Narnia. If you are a believer or just someone who appreciates the animation of a fantasy world that reflects the reality of our world, then you will benefit much from reading The Chronicles of Narnia.

Pros:

  • Clean, wholesome storyline and language
  • Available in different languages
  • Some books have been turned into movies, the most famous of which is The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
  • The books can be read as stand-alone stories

Cons:

  • The books have different levels of interest

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is a fantasy novel created by the award-winning English author J. R. R. Tolkien. 

This story focuses on protagonist Bilbo Baggins as he tries to overcome all the challenges that come with his mission. He represents how the small can indeed be terrible but in a good way. With the help of his wizard, elf, and dwarf friends, he was able to take part in winning battles, stopping wars, and saving the world. His journey made him wiser and more courageous than anyone from his small village called the Shire. 

This book is for you if you like immersing yourself in a quest for treasures while battling against dragons and flesh-eating minions. It is an encouraging book to find courage in an otherwise scary world. If a little guy like him can go beyond expectations and dream big dreams of travel and glory, who says we can’t? 

Through the rich story of adventures and impossible odds, the value of life and friendships are highlighted. J. R. R. Tolkien poured out his real-life experiences and translated them into this fantasy world where you can relate and find yourself as Bilbo Baggins, searching for his purpose in this big and dark world.

Pros:

  • Countless biblical allusions
  • It has a captivating storyline of other-worldly elements
  • Already has blockbuster movies that can be enjoyed after reading the entire series

Cons:

  • It’s about 1500 pages and may take time to finish

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters is a satirical fantasy novel written by bestselling author C. S. Lewis. It tells about the letters an older Demon named Screwtype wrote to Wormwood, his protege, and nephew. The senior demon is found teaching Wormwood how to turn his “patient” (Man) from God. 

The book accurately paints the ways of the devil in luring humans. They are subtle and deceptive rather than grand and obvious. Unfortunately for us, our inability to recognize these subtle attacks makes them successful in their undertaking. 

This book is the work of a genius. Very few authors can pinpoint the very ways of the enemy, the devil, and present it in a way that is strikingly clear and true. It is worth reading again and again.

Pros:

  • Written by a theologian and has rich, sound doctrine
  • Unexpectedly witty

Cons:

  • The story’s main characters are demons, which may be uncomfortable for some readers.
  • Contains some difficult to swallow truth bombs

The Circle Series by Ted Dekker

The well-loved series by Ted Dekker has been famous among readers of all ages. The 4 books in this series – Black, Red, White, and Green – centers on an ordinary guy who finds himself living two very different lives in two separate spheres. And interestingly, he traverses these two worlds through dreams. 

This particular line in the book excerpt is very striking: “The fates of both worlds now rest on his ability to shift realities through his dreams while trying to find a way to change history.” I feel like that is a perfect description of what we, as humans and as believers, try to accomplish with our limited time on this earth. The series will give hope to those who dream of making a difference in their own, small ways.

Pros:

  • Riveting premise
  • Timely storyline to encourage in these difficult times

Cons:

  • More on the thriller-type of story. It‘s a con if you are not so much into these kinds of books

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

Popular among middle-school children, The Green Ember is a fantasy story about two rabbits bound to discover their fate as calamity arises in their land. 

I highly recommend this book because of the transformation arc that develops in the main characters. They live comfortably, minding their little lives until faced with unexpected trouble. Tested and shaken, they are awoken, humbled, and are somehow reborn. 

The author, Virginia-based S.D. Smith, stays true to his words when he says it is a “new story with an old soul”. It hits very close to home as it depicts how our Christian lives really look like. From places of comfort and complacency to distress and tragedy, and eventually to raised hands and bent knees. 

Although written for middle-school children, it can definitely be enjoyed and add value to anyone who reads it. 

Pros:

  • Very realistic in the sense that it shows good characters are sometimes defeated and still fail
  • The story ends in a way that gives room for a good sequel
  • A fitting read-aloud for children below 6 years old
  • An enthralling and thought-provoking plot that provides an opportunity for discussion
  • Well-written, richly worded

Cons:

  • The beginning can be a drag as the author tries to paint a picture and introduce the characters and their land
  • Because it presents character development, the first part of the book illustrates unpleasant behavior by some characters. If you are bothered by this kind of content, it may not be the right fit for you

Conclusion

Certainly, there is value in reading Christian fantasy books. They are not empty and shallow. Much wisdom can be gained from these profound stories, if only we give it a chance to speak to us. It can bring transformation and clarity into our minds, hearts, and lives especially when analyzed in line with theological ideas and biblical truths. 

I’d recommend The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set by C.S. Lewis as the best one. It is an easy read and can be definitely relished by children and adults alike. It is a bonus that some of the books have been adapted into movies, bringing the story and the characters to life in full color. 

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