The list author says: "I love the genre of fantasy more than any other, yet so much of it is predictable and boring. These are a few books I have read that had more speculative, gothic, or philosophical themes than most. And not a one is boring. The last three are a little more intense, intellectual and detailed. The rest all bear the familiar comfort of a fantasy novel but each has something dark or special that sets it apart."
"The Kushiel's Dart series is my favorite. The heroine, Phedre is a trained courtesan who is chosen by the gods to experience pain and pleasure as one. She uses her skills for everything from court politics to inter-kingdom diplomacy to fun."
"This is a trilogy. This story is really an engrossing study on whether the ends can ever justify the means and the good of the many vs. the good of the individual- all set in a fairly typical fantasy realm. The heroine spends a large portion of the story disguised magically as a boy but no one bothered to tell "him" about this."
"Set in the land of the Picts: warriors with facial tattoos representing battle experience and lineage. the Picts were a real people inhabiting the land that is now Scotland. This story is about innocent love, druids, and people as pawns in the gods unknowable and vast plans."
"Not all Mercedes Lackey books are created equal. This one, however, will always be one of my favorite books. It is the story of Swan Lake, told from the point of view of the Black Swan. However, the Black Swan is the daughter and magical apprentice of the villain, Rothbart, rather than the evil twin of the White Swan. This book is a perfect dark fairy tale."
"I really enjoyed this book though I haven't read any others in the Elemental Masters series. I have a feeling much of my love for this books stems from its basis in Hindu mythology and the Anglo-Indian setting. Dark magic, Edwardian doctors, and Kali- the Hindu goddess of destruction!"
"This story starts with a young girl on death row taking a last chance job as a food tester and poison detector. So much more happens from there but I won't spoil it. It is fascinating from page one and far more readable than many fantasy stories. Danger, intrigue, magic, evil, and love."
"Set in a dark ages Ireland, this is a strange twist on the Swan Lake story. Sorcha's six brothers have been cursed by an evil stepmother and she must find the spell to save them. She draws on her druid-like spirituality and all the courage she possesses to attempt this task, putting aside all of her own needs."
"It must be noted that this story was written by a man, and most others on my list by women. The difference is obvious to me- this one is far more technical and less romantic than the others. However, this book is a work of genius. In a city held above a chasm by thousands of chains and angels fly overhead.This is doubtlessly the most imaginative and creative setting of anything I have ever read."
"In a futuristic world, one "avout", essentially a monk of science, comes of age. A couple warnings: this book is quite long. This world is as well-realized at J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings with just as much vocabulary and history that you must learn as you go along."
"Wordy yet detached prose. The concept is a city that you can only visit in the dreams you have after sleeping with another person who has also been to the city. The city is more real than real life and very addictive. This story has many characters and can be very sexual and very melancholy."