A Genre of Swords and Soulmates: The Rise and Rise of 'Romantasy' Novels

From Sarah J Maas to Rebecca Yarros, the authors writing blends of fantasy and romance have found huge commercial success – largely thanks to TikTok


Rockstar Treatment for Romantasy Authors

Author Sarah J Maas recently experienced the rockstar treatment when she surprised fans at a New York City bookstore. Her books, including the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, have sold 37 million copies worldwide in 38 languages.

Maas is part of a new wave of bestselling authors who write in the genre of 'romantasy', which blends elements of romance and fantasy. Rebecca Yarros is another notable romantasy author, with her novel Iron Flame becoming Waterstones' highest-selling pre-order title in a single day.

These romantasy authors are enjoying commercial success in part due to their popularity on social media platforms. Videos related to Maas's books on TikTok alone have garnered more than 14 billion views. Fans on platforms like 'BookTok' share their rankings of book series, theories, favorite quotes, and outfits inspired by the books.

The Appeal of Romantasy Novels

Romantasy novels create fantastical worlds filled with fairies, dragons, and magic, while also incorporating classic romance plotlines such as enemies-to-lovers and love triangles. These stories allow romance readers to escape to a different world while still enjoying the familiar tropes of the genre.

Romantasy novels offer a unique combination of high-stakes romance and fantasy elements that can't be found in other genres. The blending of romance and fantasy allows authors to create storylines where love can blossom even in the face of dire circumstances, such as a world-ending threat.

The genre also attracts readers with its strong and empowered female characters. Romantasy novels often feature bold heroines who go on epic quests and find love with partners who are their equals. This representation and empowerment appeal to readers who may have felt overlooked in the fantasy genre in the past.

The Changing Landscape of Romantasy

Romantasy novels are also becoming more diverse in terms of representation. While many bestselling romantasy novels have traditionally focused on white and straight main characters, authors like Nisha J Tuli are actively working to change this. Tuli's main characters are brown girls, reflecting her commitment to inclusivity and representation in the genre.

Publishers are also recognizing the demand for diverse romantasy novels. HarperCollins, for example, will be launching the Midnight Collection, a list of romantasy titles, featuring an all-Black cast in its first release, Lore of the Wilds by Analeigh Sbrana. This reflects the publisher's commitment to reflecting the diversity of its readership.

The rise of romantasy novels may be attributed to the current socio-political climate and the need for escapism. In a world filled with challenges, these books offer readers hope and a sense of upliftment. The popularity of romantasy demonstrates the power of fantasy to provide solace and inspiration during difficult times.