Adult Fiction, Behind the Books, Book reviews and recommendations, Young Adult 16+

Fantasy Series – A Closer Look at the Genre – Part 9

Fairytales, Mythopoeia, Fantastic Poetry and Fantastique

By Elaine Patterson, Newbridge Headquarters.


Fairytales are a form of fantasy as they are usually set in distant magical worlds where supernatural characters exist. Fairytales in fantasy are expanded and given more back story and many fairytales have been re-written for adults. Due to the lack of specification of place or time in fairy tales, authors are free to invent worlds for them. Magic is central to stories based on fairytales just like the original source material and there is usually little violence present. The authors usually need to develop the characters beyond what is given in the original folktales, so the plot may or may not be simplistic depending on the author. 

Related fantasy sub-genres are mythic, coming of age fantasy, arthurian and celtic fantasy.

 The following are examples:


Fantasy that puts a new spin on mythological stories and deals with the same themes as myths do. Elements

Basically, Mythopoeia is a work of artificial mythology, where the mythology is fully-developed and its relationship with the fictional world’s history and people is completely realised. The best-known example of this is J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth with its languages, history, cultures, myths and geography. The role and scope of magic in mythopoeia depends on the particular mythology, but most often characters and plot will be highly developed. The level of violence depends on the author and due to the large scope in Mythopoeia, big ideas will be present. 

Related fantasy sub-genres are mythic fantasy, wuxia, epic fantasy and series fantasy.

Examples are below:

Fantastic Poetry

Fantastic poetry is fantasy super-charged and condensed into a poem. Fantastic poetry is different from other genres of poetry because it is categorized by its subject matter, rather than the form as it is about fantasy and imagination. The levels of magic, characterisation, plot complexity and violence are very variable. Very frequently a quality, feeling or idea will be mediated on in fantastic poetry.  

Due to the fact that most fantastic poetry is part of a story or is told within a story I have not tried to find any examples in the library’s catalogue or in Borrowbox. However the following poems are examples of fantastic poetry: 

  •  “Boys and Girls Together” by Neil Gaiman. 
  • “Over the Misty Mountains Cold” by J.R.R. Tolkien. Opening line, “Far over the Misty Mountains cold” which is found in his book, The Hobbit. 
  • “Cruising with the Avatar” by Nathalie Anderson. 
  • “Coyote” by Charles de Lint. 
  • “The Fates” by Jane Yolen. 
  • “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by W.B. Yeats. 


Fantastique is a French term for a genre that includes the literary, cinematic and the fine arts together with elements of fantasy, science fiction, mystery and horror. Fantastique stories don’t offer resolution, are ambiguous and instead they unsettle the reader. The emphasis is on atmosphere, so magic is not always incorporated into the story and when it is, it isn’t like the advanced magic systems in other fantasy genres such as high fantasy, celtic fantasy or gritty fantasy. Characters and plot are well-developed and the level of violence varies from story to story. 

Related fantasy sub-genres are weird fiction and magic realism. Examples are below:

Check out all the examples above on BorrowBox or request them via our library catalogue.


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