A Guide to Fantasy Literature

A Guide to Fantasy Literature, by Philip Martin

A Guide to Fantasy Literature:
Thoughts on Stories of Wonder & Enchantment
by Philip Martin

Crickhollow Books  •   2009
Trade Softcover • 148 pages • 6″ x 9″
Literary Studies / Fantasy
$16.95 softcover  •  ISBN-13: 978-1-933987-04-0
$4.99 eBook

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Note: This is a substantially revised edition based on an earlier work, A Writer’s Guide to Fantasy Literature (ISBN 0-87116-195-8), published by The Writer Books (2002, now out of print). The new edition is oriented more broadly to a general audience of readers and writers of fantasy.

Praise for the original 2002 edition
(A Writer’s Guide to Fantasy Literature):

“A genuinely valuable book, intelligently assembled and edited.”
— Peter S. Beagle, World Fantasy Award winner

“Rich with insights, thorough and knowledgeable, it’s the best and most reliable guide to a multi-faceted subject. At heart, it’s a work of deep love and understanding of a powerful literary genre.”
— Lloyd Alexander, Newbery Award winner

“The book is really practical and stimulating—unlike many in the field.”
— Joan Aiken, winner of the Guardian Award


How To Write Your Best Story (Crickhollow Books, 2011)
available in softcover and eBook editions

The Purpose of Fantasy (Crickhollow Books, 2013)
available in softcover and eBook editions

Interesting, learned and accessible thoughts on all aspects of fantasy fiction . . .  A Guide to Fantasy Literature is a very good book. Anyone with a strong interest in fantasy literature will come away from Martin’s guide knowing more than what they arrived with.”
January Magazine

A Guide to Fantasy Literature is a must for literary collections or those fascinated with the fantasy genre as a whole.”
Midwest Book Review


A Guide to Fantasy Literature is a wide-ranging look at the magic of fantasy storytelling and why it delights and enchants readers of all ages. The book discusses the nature of the best writing, from tales of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia to other diverse examples of classic high fantasy, dark fantasy, fairy-tale, magic realism, and adventure-fantasy tales.

The book examines the major building blocks of fantasy fiction, and discusses its purpose and popularity today. Includes material from interviews and samples of outstanding passages from the writings of the best fantasists, drawing an inclusive picture of a vibrant literary community across the ages.

The book looks to bridge the perceived gap between literary and genre approaches, while focusing on the roots of fantasy in imaginative investigations  of faith and belief, wonder and awe, in ways that distinguish the field from science-fiction speculative fiction.


Philip Martin is a folklorist, award-winning author, and book editor who has worked with award-winning children’s and adult fiction. He has produced audio, photo-documentary, and written studies of cultural heritage, as well as a number of instructional guides for writers, and is series editor of an occasional anthology on craft and career for writers, The New Writer’s Handbook. He directs Great Lakes Literary, a consulting firm that helps authors and small organizations get their best work published. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

He also maintains FantasyLit.com, a website and blog for discussion of fantasy as literature.