As a child, I loved fantasy–The Chronicles of Prydain, The Dark is Rising Sequence, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Wrinkle in Time Quintet–these were books I read repeatedly, happily losing myself in a world of someone else’s extraordinary imagination. In high school, I began to read science fiction as well but, in college, I abandoned made up worlds for books firmly rooted in our physical world.

Then, in 1991, I had my first child and, as I created a library for him and his siblings, I filled the shelves with fantastical children’s books. I loved Sendak, Seuss, Prelutsky who, along with so many other wonderful writers, filled their books with magic and myth. In 1995 my best friend’s sister, a children’s librarian, sent my friend an advanced copy of The Golden Compass. I thought–and still think–the book was astonishing. (She also, in 1997, recommend a book that was selling like hotcakes in the U.K.–Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It sounded so fabulous I ordered one from England!) 

A good fantasy is wildly, believably imaginative–one could say that about the best of all fiction. I’ve read a lot of fantasy in the past few years, some of it marvelous, some mundane. One reason for this is that, in fantasy, an author can create whatever world she chooses, escaping our contentious culture dialog about who gets to tell what stories. Another is that there are days when living vicariously in words other than our own is a welcome respite.

As I thought about this, I asked myself, is the most imaginative romance I’ve ever read? Who knows? I can’t recall every romance I’ve read–I suspect the number is easily approaching four digits. That said, a few come to mind. R. Lee Smith’s The Last Hour of Gann is one. Megan Crane’s Edge series is another as is Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk set. How about you? What’s the most imaginative romance you’ve ever read?

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