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10 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels That Would Make Great Movies

fantasy-movies
Touchstone, Infinity Publishing, Berkley Trade

With book-to-movie adaptations of ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ making so much money, Hollywood should check out these novels if they want to keep earning the big bucks. Most, like ‘Wicked Lovely’ and ‘Good Omens,’ already have a built-in fan base, while newer releases like ‘Iron Codex’ would appeal to both ‘Twilight’ and ‘LOTR’ fans. Read on to discover some truly great novels we think should make it to the big screen.

1. ‘Wicked Lovely’ by Melissa Marr

HarperCollins

‘Wicked Lovely,’ an urban fantasy novel, tells the story of a young, teenage girl named Aislinn Foy who has a big secret: like her mother and grandmother before her, she can see faeries. Unlike Tinkerbell, these faeries can be deadly dangerous and are ready to kill should they ever find out her secret.

The situation becomes even more intense when she attracts Keenan, the cursed Summer King, who falls in love with her and also believes that Aislinn is the key to breaking free of his magical shackles. But Aislinn is falling in love with her mortal friend Seth, thus creating one of those love triangles ”Twilight’ fans can’t resist.

Marr weaves strong female characters, a believable romance and a compelling storyline that leaves readers (and possible viewers) desperate to find out what happens to Aislinn, Seth, Keenan and the rest of the Faery Courts in the sequels.

2. ‘Lily of the Nile’ by Stephanie Dray

Lily of Nile
Berkley Trade

While not strictly fantasy, Stephanie Dray takes the story of Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony, and adds a touch of magical realism to her spin on an ancient story. Before Queen Cleopatra VII dies, she gifts her three children with magical abilities in order to help them survive the turbulent waters of Rome. Selene is given her mother’s soul, her twin brother Alexander Helios is given her strength and their baby brother Ptolemy Philadelphus is given her sight.

After being taken to Rome in chains, Selene must navigate a new country and a new life all while longing for Egypt. Yet her mother’s gift comes with great responsibility: she must learn to wield the magic of the Goddess Isis, which manifests itself by bloody hieroglyphics appearing on her skin and the newfound ability to command the winds themselves. Selene decides on a subtler course to help her family survive Rome, while her brash twin favors direct action and rebellion against their captors.

The true story of Cleopatra’s daughter melded with the fantastical elements of ancient Egyptian magic would make for a stunning onscreen visual, especially since most fantasy movies take place in a European setting. Aside from ‘The Mummy’ there haven’t been many too movies set in ancient Egypt recently, and if done right, ‘Lily of the Nile’ would be a big hit with the fantasy movie and history buff crowds.

3. ‘The Hunter’s Moon’ by O.R. Melling

The Hunter's Moon
Harry N. Abrams

While Melling, like Marr, writes about faeries, she sticks to the original Celtic legends instead. The story begins when teenage cousins Gwen and Findabhair confess to each other that they still believe in faeries and decide to go on a trip across Ireland to search for them.

When Findabhair is taken hostage one night by the Faery King himself, it’s up to her cousin Gwen to rescue her. As she sets out for the adventure of a lifetime across Ireland, she makes new friends, falls in love and eventually teams up with her cousin and the King of Faery to defeat an ancient evil.

Fans of ‘Twilight’ and ‘The Princess Bride’ will adore the sweet romance that develops between Gwen and Dara as well as Findabhair and the Faery King. However, there are also plenty of battle scenes that, with a little CGI and great directing, will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

4. ‘The Silver Wolf’ by Alice Borchardt

The Silver Wolf
Ballantine Books

Anne Rice’s sister writes a compelling story about a young werewolf named Regeane living in Rome during the time of the Dark Ages. As she struggles to escape her abusive uncle and cousin, Regeane must also learn to embrace her lupine side — this side gives her preternatural strength, the ability to see past the veil between this world and the next and primal memories that extend back almost to the dawn of time.

Yet despite being betrothed to a mountain lord, Regeane can’t help but be intrigued by a fellow werewolf that has been lurking outside the gates of Rome. In the end, she must learn to live as both woman and wolf, and to reconcile the two sides of her.

‘Twilight’ fans will adore the character of the werewolf lord Maeniel, and feminists fans might actually enjoy it when the feisty Regeane discovers the freedom only her lupine side can give her, as well as the way she eventually achieves her own agency after being abused by her relatives for so long.

5. ‘Twilight of Avalon’ by Anna Elliot

Twilight of Avalon
Touchstone

Elliot’s trilogy blends the story of Trystan and Isolde with the legends of King Arthur. In her novel Isolde, the widowed Queen of the High King Constantine is the daughter of Mordred and Guinevere, his father’s wife. She was taken by her grandmother, Morgan Le Fay, and trained in both magic and the healing arts. After the battle of Camlann and the death of her daughter, Isolde has buried all of her memories away and stopped using magic.

Called the “Witch Queen” and feared for her magical sight, Isolde must fight to keep her place on the High King’s council after her husband dies to keep England safe. But when she comes face to face with Trystan, a boy from her past, all of her memories start roaring back into her consciousness. In order to save England from the Saxons and a traitor, Isolde and Trystan must band together and she must use her talents at healing and magic once more.

In a stunning feminist tale about a young woman gaining agency and finding love, Anna Elliot’s novel has something for everyone: a strong female lead, romance, action, adventure and history. It could be a movie that will have viewers flocking to the theater.

6. Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn by Nell Gavin

Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn
Infinity Publishing.com

Fans of Showtime’s ‘The Tudors’ will love ‘Threads,’ which deals with both history and the idea of reincarnation. Gavin begins the story with the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, whose spirit is still furious at Henry VIII for betraying her. In order to move on and be truly happy, she is charged with an almost impossible task: to look over their previous lives together and forgive the king.

As the ties between Anne and Henry span over a thousand years, readers and viewers will see similar motifs popping up in their lives again and again as the couple struggles to find happiness just as the spirit of the Queen struggles to forgive the very man who ordered her death.

It may be difficult to adapt the constantly switching timelines and historical periods, but with a skilled and cautious screenwriter, that should be an easy problem to overcome for Hollywood. The lush descriptions of the different time periods coupled with the enduring love between the stubborn Henry Tudor and the volatile Anne Boleyn will attract both history lovers and romance enthusiasts to the theaters in droves.

7. ‘Good Omens’ by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett

Good Omens
William Morrow Paperbacks

This laugh-out-loud satire about the apocalypse is everything a Gaiman-Prachett collaboration should be. There’s a Queen-loving, Freddy Mercury-worshipping demon named Crowley who winds up befriending a stuffy, bibliophile angel named Aziraphale and it is up to them to save Earth and stop the Apocalypse. There’s also a hellhound turned Yorkshire terrier named Dog, the Anti-Christ is an 11-year old school boy named Adam and the Four Horsemen are a biker gang that are basically Hell’s Angels rejects.

While it’s true that this movie adaptation could face some criticism by more conservative Christians, most viewers will adore the witty dialogue and the absurd plot lines that bring about the Apocalypse. It would also make a good deal of money at the box office if the filmmakers cast a “bad boy” heart throb as the snarky Crowley: perhaps Ian Somherhalder or if they want someone older, Johnny Depp.

If done right, the movie would attract the book’s built-in fan base to the theaters as well as new viewers. (Fun fact: Terry Gilliam attempted to make a ‘Good Omens’ film for years, but like many Gilliam projects, it failed to get off the ground.)

8. ‘Birth of the Firebringer’ by Meredith Ann Pierce

Birth of the Firebringer
Firebird

While the idea of unicorns may seem unmarketable at first, the cult status ‘The Last Unicorn’ shows that if done right, this movie adaption of book one of Pierce’s ‘Firebringer’ trilogy would be a hit like the Disney movies of old.

The book revolves around Jan, the Prince of the unicorns, who is constantly butting heads with his father and fears that he’ll never be able to fulfill a prophecy laid out at his birth or be worthy of achieving his destiny. With his stalwart best friend Dagg and a mysterious female warrior named Tek, Jan must defeat one of the wyrvens, a race of creatures who are the ancient enemies of all unicorns.

Both children and adults would adore the riveting storyline and marvel at the superb world-building skills of Pierce, who is so unlike many of the modern fantasy authors that are clearly inspired by Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. Pierce has a unique writing style that is all her own, and this novel would make a wonderful animated movie in the style of the Golden Age of Disney.

9. ‘The Hounds of the Morrigan’ by Pat O’Shea

The Hounds of the Morrigan
Oxford University Press

Once again, unlike many fantasy authors who are clearly inspired by Tolkien, O’Shea mixes Irish mythology for a fun magical realism-inspired novel. This novel would make a great movie geared for slightly older children, as it recounts the tale of a young boy named Pidge who accidentally releases an ancient serpent. This serpent’s venom is the only thing capable of bringing the Morrigan, the ancient Celtic Goddess of War, back to full strength.

Now Pidge and his little sister Brigit must travel through Tir-Na-Nog, the Irish Otherworld aided by the Gods the Dagda, Brighid and Aengus Og in order to destroy the serpent and save Ireland (and the world) from being destroyed.

The good versus evil dichotomy is simple enough for younger viewers to understand, and the Celtic lore in the novel is a great way to introduce kids to a mythology beyond the Greek, Roman and Egyptian stories that they’ve learned about  in school. Besides, it’s a great way to showcase the beautiful country of Ireland too!

10. ‘The Iron Codex’ by Caitlin Kittredge

The Iron Thorn
Ember

This novel blends sci-fi, steampunk and fantasy as it explores how Aoife Grayson, the daughter of a madwoman locked away in an asylum, navigates a Lovecraftian America filled with Proctors who are dedicated to fighting the mysterious necrovirus and outlawing all that they deem is “heresy.” She also struggles with being poor as well as being one of the few girls accepted into the prestigious School of Engines. Aoife’s constantly on edge as well, because everyone expects her to go mad the way her mother and older brother did.

Her adventure begins with a mysterious note from her older brother, urging her to come to their estranged father’s house. With her friend Cal by her side and an arrogant but kind-hearted guide named Dean, Aoife comes face to face with a world with faeries, ghouls and magic — a world she was always told didn’t exist. Now she must learn to navigate this new reality as well as discover the secrets of her father’s family and the mysterious clockwork house that he lived in.

Viewers will love the dystopian feel that made ‘Hunger Games’ so popular as well as the gorgeous steampunk costumes. Kittredge’s story freely takes from steampunk novels, Celtic mythology and her own imagination to create a vibrant world that will leave both readers and viewers alike hoping for more. Because if there’s one thing Hollywood loves than adaptations of hit novels, it’s sequels.

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