Ageism in Fantasy

So, I read many, many books in the fantasy genre. I don’t read very much in the children’s or YA section, even the fantasy novels.

That may be about to change.

I just started reading the Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas (It’s super cheap on B&N for Nook right now). Cover looks like a children’s book. I got the “Free Sample” to see if it would be good to read with my son and ended up buying it for me to read. It’s a pretty good read. Good enough, in fact, that I bought the second book.

It doesn’t have the depth and reach that an epic fantasy has. It is… well… As Harlequin monthlys are to Eloisa James and Julia Quin, so these are to the normal fantasy books that I read. It has me wondering: If they took the cover and format, made it more adult, would it sell?

There’s actually precedent for this. The newest incarnation of the Herald series by Mercedes Lackey starts out with a young protagonist. It also has a different depth than the earlier books. Although they’re “lighter” than say, Vanyel’s story, still I go back and buy the new books about Mags, Bear and Lena every single time.

So is it the age of the protagonist, or the “lightness” of the story that propels these books into the children’s stacks? I’ve read some YA fantasy series that blew me away. I feel strongly that they should have been listed just as Fantasy, not YA books. Because a lot of readers, myself included, pre-judge a book based on where it’s filed. Is it fair? Nope. But it’s there.

I wonder though…. Why has no one come out with the Harlequin monthly books for Fantasy and Science Fiction? The work is there— just look at how many people are going indie with 50,000 words. Look to YA and children’s books that have a strong crossover audience in the adult section.

I think in looking for books to get my son interested in reading… I’ve opened up a whole new section of authors for myself. We shall see.

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2 thoughts on “Ageism in Fantasy

  1. I think sometimes it’s strictly a marketing decision. YA is fairly hot right now, and some books that would normally be considered as adult fantasy are categorized YA instead.

    • And it’s great for the younger ones because it will help them transition to the adult section… Just makes it hard to find those great reads. More steps but a great book is worth it.

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