What draws a reader to the lands of myth and legend, of dragons and fae beasts?
For me, Fantasy (with a capital F) is the epitome of escapism, the ultimate getaway from the drudgery of normal life. Even in a perfect life, the ability to slip into a new world, to become a warrior, a priestess, a mage or a dragon rider... it's more tempting than any drug. To be able to laugh, love, hurt and win with no strings attached, to traverse the countryside without soggy boots and ride the skies without airsickness or chafe … who could say no?
Fantasy has gone from a tiny, single shelf at the back of the bookstore to a wall-to-wall section of incredible worlds. It's grown and evolved, encompassing stories that stretch from the simple Hero's Journey to wild and intricate tales of social justice. The genre is pushing the norms, testing the boundaries and becoming richer and deeper as it does.
The Obernewton series began when I was in school. I’m not sure exactly when as I came to it when it was already a little worn from use at my high school library. Apart from a childhood favourite about a unicorn and a girl who beat the bad guys by using her manners, this was my first foray into the world that Is Not. Carmody introduced me to a universe that at first, seemed alternate. It’s revealed (early, no spoilers) to be a dystopic, post-apocalyptic Earth, populated by normal humans and those who have evolved to be something more. By using proxy races and traits, Carmody opened my mind to the reality of racism, bigotry, and acceptance of other, without ever pointing a finger at existing peoples. She wove dire warnings about the realities of war, the destruction of the planet and respect for animals into her universe, and for an impressionable young mind, it made one hell of an impact.
This is the series of books that reminds me why I love Fantasy. It allows us to explore themes that are uncomfortable and contentious in our world, through a medium that takes away the blame and preconceptions that often mar discussions about them. By using a non-existent race or class of people, by creating scenarios and worlds that are so different from our own that we have to learn them from the start, we’re opened to the possibility that anything can be true. When we’re whopped in the head with an actual, real-world truth? The blow is not only cushioned, but our minds are already softened up and receptive to hear it with new ears.
Fantasy isn’t just about new worlds. It’s about changing ours.
Post Script: I asked Isobelle herself where she’d link a link directed for purchases. Her response was ‘the nearest good bookshop’. This is why I love her so much as a person as well as an Author. Do it, guys. Go and support your local store. Get to know the staff. Be a regular. It may cost you an extra dollar or so to buy a book but the return value you get from a Good Bookstore is worth so, so much more. I’d like to give a giant shout out to the folks at QBD Strathpine- they are my Good Bookstore. I couldn’t live without them.