Raise your hand if you’ve ever been suckered into reading a Young Adult (YA) fantasy novel purely because it had a lavish castle on the cover, or promised a fierce princess wielding a sword. Heck, I’ll proudly raise both hands. There’s a recurring theme of royalty in YA fantasy, and it’s not by accident. But have you ever stopped to think: why are we so obsessed with fictional kings, queens, and their rebellious offspring?
Let’s dive deep into this enchanting realm of crowns, gowns, and clandestine affairs.
The Historical Affair with Royalty
Fantasy, as a genre, has been dancing with royalty for what feels like eons. Centuries before Hermione punched Draco in Harry Potter, or we swooned over the love triangle in The Selection, tales of kings, queens, and knights were the day’s Netflix binges.
The earliest audiences revered monarchs not only for their might but their divine connection. In ancient lore, kings and queens weren’t just political leaders; they were sacred, divinely chosen. They literally had God on speed dial! And who wouldn’t want a slice of that majestic pie?
Fast forward to today. Modern YA fantasy is like that sneaky kitchen wizard who takes a centuries-old recipe and gives it a millennial twist. Today’s readers may not be bowing to sovereigns, but the allure of royalty hasn’t waned a bit.
Enter the World of Psychological Appeal
While the fancy dresses and shiny crowns are undeniably magnetic, there’s a deeper psychological pull at play.
- Escape from the Mundane: Who hasn’t daydreamed of a royal convoy sweeping them away from Math class? The regal world, with its intrigue, grandeur, and sometimes dragons, offers an escape. Books like The Red Queen introduce us to characters with hidden royal lineage or latent magical powers that morph their world completely. Talk about an epic glow-up!
- Power Fantasies: Deep down, most of us want a bit more control over our lives. And what’s the ultimate power fantasy if not being royalty? In Throne of Glass, the protagonist evolves from a feared assassin to a queen, navigating not just political intrigue but her own blooming abilities.
- Relatable Struggles on a Grand Scale: Royalty in YA fiction doesn’t get a free pass. They grapple with love, identity, responsibility, and destiny. Their stakes might be kingdoms, but their feelings? Pure teenage angst. When America Singer questions love and duty in The Selection, aren’t we all nodding along, thinking of that one crush or that one argument with our parents?
Pioneers of the Royal YA Fantasy Genre
We must tip our crowns to some of the trailblazers who gave us these delicious tales of royal intrigue:
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: Where a wardrobe led to a land where children become kings and queens, battling evil and learning of sacrifice.
- The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black: A whirlwind of faerie politics, deception, and the intoxicating lure of power.
- And who can forget George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, even if it’s more adult than YA? That series gave us a treasure trove of royal characters with shades of grey.
In Conclusion: Long Live the YA Fantasy Royals!
From days of yore to today’s bookshelf, the theme of royalty in young adult fantasy fiction remains a beloved constant. Whether it’s the allure of escaping, the thrill of power, or simply the joy of wearing a crown, one thing is certain: we’re all in for the royal treatment.
So, next time you pick up a YA fantasy brimming with royalty, don’t just skim through it. Revel in it. After all, in the words of Lorde, “We’ll never be royals,” but in the realm of books, we can always dream, right?