Fantasy Worldbuilding Secrets

In honor of #FantasyMonth, I thought it would be fun and insightful to re-explore some of my absolute favorite books (who wouldn’t?!) and why their “worlds” felt so special or real to me. Why they felt like places that, oftentimes, I’d prefer to the world I actually live in.


The Sevenwaters series. Author Juliet Marillier has a unique touch to her story-weaving ability that has often led me to wonder if she actually weaves magic straight into the pages of her tales. She has such talent for transporting readers to the worlds she creates. And as an author, I’ve of course asked myself why that is. Description is a strong point for her. While the world of Sevenwaters is a fantastical one, its forests and streams and houses bear many similarities to the ones in our world. Yet Marillier’s descriptions of these places come completely to life when she speaks of them. I can only imagine that the places she speaks of are, whether recreated from real life or whipped up in her imagination, places she deeply loves. She obviously has a deep respect and affection for nature (as do I!), and this shows very starkly and beautifully in her writing. Authenticity like that means her readers sit up and pay attention.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon. From the first words of this book, I knew it would be one I never forgot. And I was right. While Barnhill’s worldbuilding is magnificent, what I remember most about her story are the characters themselves. Which, in the end, only enhanced the world they live in. Each character has a unique way of seeing the world around them and interacting with it. And because of that, the story world itself, along with the strong feelings it evokes, becomes unforgettable.

The Chronicles of Narnia. Well, you knew I’d never leave these off the list. While many have lamented Lewis’ over-simplified worldbuilding (especially when compared to his friend Tolkien’s), I still consider Narnia as one of the most special places in my heart. Why is that, if the details of his world leave so much lacking? My opinion: Passion. When Lewis was writing about Narnia, he was writing about his own personal version of heaven. The rolling hills and fresh orchards and sparkling streams, the seaside castles and nymph-filled forests and moonlit dances in the glade. He had not only knowledge of the Bible (which was crucial to imbue the tales with deeper allegorical meaning), but was well-versed in mythology of many kinds. These details, and the rather unorthodox (at that time) mixture of them, added a uniqueness to Narnia that makes it irresistible and so very easy to fall in love with.

The Mirrorworld duology by Cornelia Funke. I read these years ago, yet every time I glimpse one of them on the shelf or hear someone talk about them, I immediately return to the world the author created. Details arise in my mind, images I’ve stored there (unknowingly) of particular things that struck me when I read these books so long ago. Many books I’ve read simply fade away, but for some reason these have not. Ironically, the title of one of the books is Fearless, which happens to be the exact reason I believe the world of these stories remains so clearly in my mind. The author herself fearlessly plucked ideas from well-known fairy tales and quite boldly and firmly placed them in her own wildly unique story. There’s something that makes your head swivel when you see an author so gracefully and expertly weaving a tale. I couldn’t help but remember her Mirrorworld and the light and shadow that play in my mind each time I think of it.

I’d love to hear about the story worlds that have touched you in a unique way. What caused them to remain in your mind or heart? What was it about them that reached out and grabbed your attention?

Don’t forget to visit author Jenelle Schmidt’s blog to read other intriguing posts for #FantasyMonth!

2 thoughts on “Fantasy Worldbuilding Secrets

  1. Loved this post so much! And I’ll have to check out the Mirrorworld series. I’ve only read Inkheart and Inkspell so far and none of her other books, though I’ve seen them in passing.

    LOVE Girl Who Drank the Moon. That book is so beautiful.

    And Narnia, of course! ❤ ❤

    I have read the Sevenwaters series, but I was expecting the books to be more in the vein of Wildwood Dancing, which I read first, and wasn't prepared for the more adult themes in the story, so I don't actually remember much of the world building.

    Thanks for joining Fantasy Month!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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