Book Reviews · Book Topics

Fantasy in the Modern Day

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.

— Lloyd Alexander

What is fantasy? When people hear the word fantasy, the first word that comes to their mind is: dragon. Or elf, fairy (also spelled faerie), wizards, orcs, and the like.

Don’t get me wrong. I love any good book or movie with dragons or wizards as much as the next Hobbit, Game of Thrones, or Harry Potter fan. But, fantasy is so much more than slaying dragons and defeating evil wizards. Today, fantasy is a way of understanding the world surrounding us.

I recently read a debut novel called The Storm Crow by author, Kalyn Josephson, and it was amazing! I loved the twist she put on the ideal dragon riding characters; replacing the dragons with crows. Nice touch.

It wasn’t only the flying crow riders that drew me in, but the fact that the author touches on dealing with depression and trauma. The main character, Anthia, suffers from depression after a terrible loss and a looming war ahead. Anthia isn’t a character who gets over her depression quickly or overnight, but even while she is getting better she still struggles to make it out of bed in the morning.

In fact, at one point in my life, much like Anthia, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Reality was too much for me and I wanted to transport myself someplace, any place away from my own life. That’s where books came into place.

Reading Josephson’s book was almost like looking in the mirror. I saw myself in the character’s shoes. Not in terms of circumstances (no flying crows here), but in terms of attitude and on an emotional and mental level.

I realized while reading the novel that books offer people, not only a way to escape reality, but to face it eventually on our own terms. Anthia lost her mother and the will to be strong, but when her kingdom was on the brink of losing everything that they valued and loved, Anthia stepped up to the plate. It didn’t happen overnight, nothing good ever does, but with the help of her friends and family and the ones she loved, she grew stronger.

In a modern day and age where technology, social media, and trends are pressuring us to be perfect and to focus less on being are true selves, it is important to be able to talk about things like depression, anxiety, and trauma. Fantasy makes us realize that hiding away from our problems and anxieties will not make them go away. It doesn’t go away so quickly either when you attempt to face them down.

What matters is that you get up and you face it, even if you are scared or worried, because you’ll realize that the problem you thought was a mighty, fire breathing dragon, is not as it seems. Maybe the fire, breathing dragon looked scary because it had a small piece of wood sticking from it’s wings and all you had to do was reach and pull it out…

Then, that big, scary dragon won’t be so scary and frightening anymore.

Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

–Neil Gaiman
I couldn’t resist putting a Game of Thrones gif in!

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