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For Readers

The 5 Fiercest Fantasy Reads This Summer

By: Hidden Gems on August 11, 2020

Hidden Gems Books ARC service.

By: Hidden Gems on August 11, 2020


The fantasy genre has evolved massively since the days of J.R.R. Tolkien – but one thing about it hasn’t: Popularity. Fantasy is still one of the fiercely performing genres in publishing, and the scale and scope of what ‘fantasy’ defines is now somewhat fantastical itself! In addition to keeping books flying off the digital bookshelves at Amazon, fantasy is also one of the strongest genres within the Hidden Gems program – and each month hundreds of subscribers eagerly await the opportunity to read and review the latest fantasy novels for FREE; sometimes before they’re even published! Over the course of the summer, we scoured the statistics and identified the five hottest recent fantasy reads – based on a combination of downloads, reviews, and ratings by our readers. Check them out below!

The Story of Evil - Volume I: Heroes of the Siege by Tony Johnson The Story of Evil – Volume I: Heroes of the Siege by Tony Johnson 

When I was a kid, the fantasy genre appealed to me because it gave the opportunity for young adults and teenagers to embark on adventures that made the average suburban teenager’s life look even more bland than it was already. This is what appealed about the first volume in Tony Johnson‘s Story of Evil series – which sees Knight Errant Stephen strike out to defeat a mysterious evil threatening the Kingdom, joined by an unlikely group of companions who each harbor secrets almost as dark as his own.

Reviewer Badger gave this book 5-stars, describing it as: “An immersive tale of magic and bravery.” He continues: “The stylizing used in this particular author’s writing style is perfect for the way he tells it, giving appropriate buildup and spacing to make the reader absolutely have to turn the page to see ‘How’s Stephen gonna get out of this one?’ In the midst of painting a beautiful world in your head – almost as if you were watching a movie – you’re in the same breath swiftly reminded of the gritty reality that the land of Element is subject to. Regardless of these hardships, one thing you can always be certain of is that Stephen finds a way to carry on. The grief isn’t exclusive to Stephen Brightflame, as his companions are no stranger to loss, vengeance, and a white-hot flame of determination that drives them to keep fighting. Where their lives and complications differ from one another, the common theme they all share is their ability to strive through and come out stronger than before. Tony Johnson is without doubt an excellent wordsmith, and any nerd reader worth their salt would easily find themselves turning pages with his work that I personally feel rivals even Tolkien’s themselves. This is the sort of story that can make even the most common person feel inspired, as though they themselves could take on the world with enough luck, willpower, a magically-imbued sword, and one really, really durable horse.”

Vine Voice reviewer Seraphia gave the book a similarly high grade. She writes: “This book is fantastic in my opinion. The author switches from one character to another in a flawless way. Yes, the changes are a bit unexpected because as one character begins to go dark you want to know what happens with them next. However, the author shifts to another character’s perspective and you relive the same events but see things from another angle and direction. It’s fascinating and it drives me crazy because I’m eager to get back to who was left behind so that I can learn their fate. For this book is a serious page-turner. I couldn’t get enough! If I had to put the book down it was reluctantly, and I’d cast side glances towards my tablet wishing I could be reading it instead of working or doing whatever other tasks I needed to be doing.”

Alpha's Ultimatum by Charlee GardenAlpha’s Ultimatum by Charlee Garden

The first book in the Alpha Selection series by Charlee Garden is on the more mature end of the Young Adult fantasy genre, but that makes it even more compelling as you read about Liliana reluctantly returning to her home town to care for her sick father, only to discover dark forces have her in their sights. It’s a full-blooded universe of witches and werewolves, and this book in particular struck me for the intensity of the final few chapters.

Reviewer Little Blue Butterfly praised the book, saying it was “fantastic from beginning to end.” In a 5-star review, she went on to write: “This was a fantastic read, that was full of suspense, action and romance! It was very well-written, and had plenty of twists that you didn’t see coming! The author wrote great character building, and a wonderful setting, to the point that you could imagine you were there. I highly recommend this book, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for Book Two.”

World-building is often where fantasy authors fall short – but reviewer Amazon Customer argues that Charlee is not guilty of this sin. Describing Alpha’s Ultimatum as “the best werewolf book I’ve ever read”, the review goes on to say: “the real star of this book is the world-building in the wolf community. I have never been so captivated or immersed. Whenever I’m learning the customs or norms of the wolf world, I am on the edge of my seat. Isn’t it supposed to be set up or exposition? Nope. It’s so vivid and unique that I dreamed about wolves every night, the entire time I was reading this book.”

Sovereign Night Sovereign Night by J.M. Ney-Grimm 

The second book in the Gael & Keir series, Sovereign Night, sees a secretive mage and a powerful healer as they search for the cure to an affliction which erodes the minds and bodies of those cursed with it. Their journey takes them to a distant city by the river – where an unexpected enemy disrupts their mission and leaves the unlikely duo fighting for their lives.

“I loved Gael and Keir and their somewhat tragic dynamic,” writes Joshua Grant in a 5-star review. “Ney-Grimm really knows how to pump feeling into her characters! This is a rich fantasy world that is really fun to get lost in!”

I was also impressed with a 4-star review by Chrissi, who provides a lot of value as she praises the book by stating: “This is a good read – but the only thing is you really need to have read Book One in order to understand the world and its lore better. I hadn’t read Book One, and just assumed I’d be able to pick up the important ‘stuff’ as the story unfolded. Yeah, nah, big mistake, lol!” While that might sound like criticism, it shows how compelling New-Grimm’s narrative threads are – and how good the book was even if you hadn’t read the first. In fact, Chrissi continues: “The characters were interesting and the author is uber-descriptive in her world. Even though I had a little trouble following along at times, the book was still a great read.”

Beginning After The End coverThe Beginning After The End by TurtleMe 

There are no less than seven books in The Beginning After the End series – and Book One is a powerfully immersive fantasy read, as it weaves the tale of a former warrior King who now has a second chance at life in a world in which magic has overtaken violence as the most powerful force in the realm. The book has an impressive 384 ratings and an impressive 4.5 score (as of writing this), and a Second Edition has undergone a tight and professional re-edit following initial release.

“A really good start to this series,” writes Amazon Customer in one review. “Really easy to read and get into. It has a great pace and compelling cast of likeable characters – I actually finished it in a day and will definitely be continuing the series!”

“Captivating,” writes Kindle Customer in a 5-star review. “This book had me in a constant state of wonder, leaving me just as hungry as the protagonist about his world and surroundings. The explanations border on exposition but otherwise the story has a great flow with constantly changing tone that is incredibly realistic.”

“It’s hard to tell what specifically I liked about this book,” writes another Amazon Customer, describing the book as “a very enjoyable read.” They continue: “It really all flowed together so well. I think first is the comedy. Having an adult in a child’s body makes for some really funny moments, especially when the main character is an infant. I also really enjoyed the fight scenes, which showcased a toddler jumping around killing adult. It was told in a way so I could visualize what was happening and I can tell you some of these scene are very hyper.”

Vessels cover

The Vessels by Anna Elias

Anna Elias emerges as a powerful new voice in the contemporary fantasy scene with The Vessels, which is the tale of mysterious spirits who require human hosts in order to make contact with mankind. Four people with tortured pasts agree to let the spirits inhabit them for seven days – but when one of the new arrivals reveals murderous intent, the ancient ritual becomes a fight for survival.

“Fantastic book!” writes Allen Horowitz in a 5-star review. “I could describe it as a thriller, but that doesn’t capture the essence. The tale is one of redemption, altruism and getting a second chance for all to right our wrongs and do the right thing. Helping others can prove valuable for the ones who sacrifice to assist as well as the souls that are able change their histories. The book spreads spiritual messages, but there is enough adventure and ‘action’ to satisfy readers of Child, Parker, and Coben as well as Chopra, Williamson and Meiss. I recommend it highly. Five Stars!”

“This book is very different from anything I’ve ever read. It’s very interesting though, and does hold your attention. It makes you ask yourself philosophical life questions, on the difference between right and wrong. I recommend giving it a try,” writes Little Blue Butterfly, in a 5-star review. “Four strangers, who each have a past, volunteer for a new program in which souls start entering their bodies. The strangers then have 7 days to try to help make past wrongs right, so the soul can find their way to Elysium – but what happens when things go wrong, and a serial killer takes over one of the strangers? Will the team be able to prevent this soul from killing more people?”

Subscribers to Hidden Gems receive invitations to read FREE fantasy novels just like these when they sign up – plus daily offers for books in 15 other genres. You only need to read the ones you’re interested in, and all we ask is that you strongly consider giving the author an honest review on Amazon when you’re done. Sign up today!

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