The Different Types of Fantasy

Want to read more fantasy or start writing fantasy, but you’re not sure which direction to go? Because there’s more than one type of fantasy! Fantasy encompasses a lot storytelling today, and after looking through all the different types, I realized just how much fantasy can branch into other genres and just how many different subtypes of fantasy there are. So take a look below at each of the different subtypes of fantasy. Maybe you’ll find your next favorite subgenre!

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Dark Fantasy

Sometimes this subgenre falls under horror that features supernatural entities, though often this genre exhibits more dark elements that lend itself to horror while still retaining its fantasy setting. The tone of the genre or the themes and elements in a work can be considered “dark,” or otherwise scarier than typically fantasy.

High Fantasy AND Low Fantasy

Ah yes, the great divide. Here’s the main difference: High Fantasy is a fantasy that takes place in another world entirely (a secondary world, if you will), while low fantasy is a fantasy that takes place in our world, or a “normal” world. People sometimes refer to high fantasy as epic fantasy because of scope and low fantasy as intrusion fantasy/magical realism because the fantasy elements intrude on our world.

Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy typically takes place in a, well, urban setting. Fantasy elements appear in a city setting through various means. (Modern/contemporary fantasy, on the other hand, may take place in the modern world or the present day, but it’s separated from the city or other urban settings specifically).

Paranormal Fantasy

Supernatural or paranormal entities make this genre stand out. The goal for this subgenre is that something classified as paranormal is the main focus of the story. While other subgenres of fantasy and fantasy works include the paranormal, a work is considered paranormal fantasy if it focuses on the paranormal rather than just incorporate elements.

Arthurian Fantasy

Technically, this subgenre attempts to retell the story of King Arthur or other Arthurian legends in another setting. It focuses on the supernatural or the legendary aspects of each of the stories, meaning it can fall into more of a high fantasy or pure epic fantasy subgenre or even some kind of supernatural genre.

Science Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fantasy

I’ve combined these two because this subgenre goes by both names. This subgenre combines both science fiction elements and fantasy elements. It can lean more toward one genre than the other, but as long as there’s evidence of both it can fall under this genre. (Math fantasy, similarly, focuses on the “science” of mathematics in a fantasy setting).

More subgenres include: fairy tales, superhero stories, magical realism, sword and sorcery, grimdark, dystopian, and more! You can find more in-depth descriptions of these here.

I plan on writing some articles on each of these subgenres in more detail later on. I’ll be putting up examples for you to expand your TBR list!

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