What is fantasy romance? Good question! Fantasy Romance is an emerging genre, driven by demand from readers like us, but there’s no clear ‘shelf’ that they all sit on…yet.
Fantasy romance is any work of fiction with fantastical, magical, or non-human elements (not set in space, and not with a technology focus, as this would be classified as sci-fi), where there’s a significant romantic element.
There are many sub-genres (and combinations of sub-genres). Let us know what we missed!
Fantasy romance genres
- Epic, swords and sorcery (witches, dragons, special powers)
- Epic, paranormal (vampires, shifters, fae – relationships with non-humans)
- Epic, contemporary feeling (could additionally be paranormal)
- Epic, urban (epic fantasy predominantly in an urban setting)
- Low fantasy paranormal (anything magical in our world that includes vampires, shifters, other paranormal beings (generally known as paranormal romance today))
- Low fantasy (anything magical in our world, but not necessarily with creatures who are non-human)
- Low fantasy urban (anything magical in our world that predominantly takes place in an urban setting, often includes monsters / portals to other worlds)
- Time travel
- Low / epic fantasy mix
- Sweet / clean: sweet love story with PG content
- Smoldering: buckets of heart wrenching tension, at least one (not especially graphic) sex scene, not much coarse language (A Court of Mist and Fury, From Blood and Ash, A Discovery of Witches, The Hating Game)
- Hot hot hot: generally one to three more extensive / detailed sex scenes, increasing use of coarse language (A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, A Promise of Fire, The Kiss Quotient)
- Scorching: ALL the sex scenes, much description and detail, lots of coarse language (A Heart of Blood and Ashes)
- Erotica (not a focus for FaRoFeb)
Age categories of the protagonists
- Young Adult (YA). This one causes confusion because protagonist age is not the same as reader age… (YA aimed at a younger audience is not a focus for FaRoFeb)
- New Adult (NA)
All the usual romance tropes apply to fantasy romance (enemies to lovers, fake relationships / marriages, brooding (or scary) one loves sunshine one, there’s only one bed etc etc), but there are also structural and situational tropes specific to fantasy romance:
- Assassin to lovers
- There’s only one horse
- There’s only one lake / waterfall / stream in which to bathe
- We find ourselves alone in a carriage…
- It’s cold. We should huddle together to stay warm
- Teach me about / help me control…(my abilities / fighting etc.)
HEA / HFN
In most romance, a happily ever after (HEA) or happily for now (HFN) ending for the two main characters is a sacred requirement. This isn’t the case to the same extent in fantasy romance, with the HEA or HFN often coming at the end of the series, not necessarily the end of each book.
But, as this genre is so new, it’s not clear if this will become an absolute requirement for readers of not…we will have to wait and see!