My Top 11 Christian Book Recommendations – Christian Fantasy and a Little Bit of Nonfiction

Welcome, friends! Today I want to share with you 11 of my top reads over the last several years. For the most part these are “newer” books, meaning they’ve been published in the last two decades as opposed to a hundred years ago.

I know how hard it can be, as a fan of Christian fiction and fantasy in particular, to find new authors and books that are engaging, well-written, and original.

These are all books I’ve read and personally really enjoyed. By the way, this isn’t a ranking … the books are in no particular order.

With no further ado, my Top 11 Christian Book Recommendations …

1. Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin

Official Description: What if the sleeping beauty refused to wake up?

The rescue wasn’t going at all how he planned. Prince Arpien intends to gain a throne and the sleeping beauty’s heart with a single kiss that wakes her from the evil fairy’s curse. But kissing the princess is only the beginning of a series of unforeseen obstacles: man-eating bugs, deadly spindles, talking lapdogs, and fiery pickles. The sleeping beauty is the biggest complication of all.

Princess Brierly is beautiful and Fairy-Gifted, but also…daft. After one hundred years of sleep imprisonment, Brierly refuses to believe this rescue is anything more than a tantalizing but doomed dream.

Arpien is drawn to the vibrancy beneath Brierly’s indifferent exterior. Can they reclaim her kingdom? Do they dare trust in the Prince of the old tales to help them battle the evil fairy who cursed Brierly? What is the price of waking beauty?

Rachel’s Thoughts: I read this book last year and LOVED it. Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite fairy tales anyway, but I absolutely loved Sarah Morin’s interpretation of it. Brierly is a vivid and intriguing character, and this book manages to mix humor, depth of meaning, and amazing characterization to create a story you’ve never read before, no matter how familiar with it you may think you are.

2. The Auralia Thread by Jeffrey Overstreet

Official Description (of Book 1): When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets. When Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, she sets the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Rachel’s Thoughts: This might be my all-time favorite modern fantasy series. I reread it every couple of years. I had the privilege of reviewing this one as it came out, one book at a time. It’s absolutely and utterly gorgeous. Read it.

3. Wolf Time by Lars Walker

Official Description: A DRAFT FROM THE PAST

There’s something unnerving about the October north wind. It makes a wolf in the wilderness turn southward, in search of dangerous prey. It gets inside people’s ears, opening their minds to bizarre ideas. It gets under their skin, inclining them to violence.

Of course there’s the comet too, a spectacular one, tracked by ordinary people in back yards, and by not-so-ordinary cult members at the top of a makeshift observatory.

Something’s gusting into Epsom, Minnesota. A witch in her quiet house feels it with dread. A young disc jockey feels it with confusion. A world-famous Norwegian poet greets it with triumph. And Professor Carl Martell listens to its song with worry—because Martell cannot tell a lie, but he knows one when he hears it.

Rachel’s Thoughts: I always give a disclaimer on Lars Walker’s work: It’s thoroughly PG-13 (not G, not PG). It’s also absolutely brilliant. Lars writes truly genre-bending stuff that’s page-turning and thought-provoking at the same time. And also funny. Wolf Time was the first of his books I ever read, on a plane coming back from the Philippines, and I read it straight through … couldn’t put it down. Think Stephen Lawhead meets Garrison Keillor meets Frank Peretti.

4. The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Official Description: Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.

Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war—little knowing what that promise will cost him.

As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?

Rachel’s Thoughts: This one isn’t fantasy or supernatural, and it’s the only fiction on this list that isn’t. It IS one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I loved, loved, loved it. It’s a retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan during the American Civil War, and it’s beautiful. It’s also a pertinent read in these unsettling times in which we live.

5. Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka

Official Description: From the author of the highly praised Trophy Chase Saga comes this exciting swashbuckling tale of a pirate sentenced to die for the crime of mutiny.

As he awaits his fate, this pirate (none other than the delightful Smith Delaney from the Trophy Chase Saga) ponders his life and the events that have brought him to this fate.

In the process of remembering, and in grappling with mercy and justice as they have been played out in his life, a tale is spun, a tale of true hearts wronged, noble love gone awry, dark deeds done for the sake of gold, and sacrifices made for love. In the end, our pirate will come face–to–face with himself, with his own death, and with a God who promises grace where none is deserved.

Readers of Christian fantasy will once again be swept away by Bryan Polivka’s compelling storytelling abilities. As Publisher’s Weekly said of the author’s first book, “Readers will be flipping pages eagerly.”

Rachel’s Thoughts: It’s been some time since I read this pirate yarn set in a fantasy world, but I remember it as original, brilliantly written, and surprisingly moving … the “I laughed, I cried” type of read. Check it out.

6. The Song of Albion by Stephen R. Lawhead

Official Description (of Book 1): “When I opened my eyes, I was no longer in the world I knew.”

Lewis Gillies is an American graduate student in Oxford who should be getting on with his life. Yet for some reason, he finds himself speeding north with his roommate Simon on a lark–half-heartedly searching for a long-extinct creature allegedly spotted in a misty glen in Scotland. Expecting little more than a weekend diversion, Lewis accidently crosses through a mystical gateway where two worlds meet: into the time-between-times, as the ancient Celts called it. And into the heart of a collision between good and evil that’s been raging since long before Lewis was born.

First published almost twenty years ago, The Song of Albion Trilogy has become a modern classic that continues to attract passionate new readers. Enter into The Paradise War and experience the dazzling brilliance of a world like ours–yet infinitely bolder and brighter: a place of kings and warriors, bards and battles, feats of glory and honour. It is a place you will forever wish to be. It is Albion.

Rachel’s Thoughts: This series is partially responsible for turning me into a fantasy writer. I read it as a teen after I’d gone through the classic stuff (Narnia, Middle Earth, etc) and discovered fantasy could intersect with history and human culture in ways I hadn’t imagined before. I loved it. I still do. Stephen Lawhead is partially responsible for creating the modern genre of Christian fantasy/sci-fi. If you haven’t read him before, start here.

7. The Word Reclaimed by Steve Rzasa

Official Description: Finders keepers. . .

Spare parts — that’s all Baden was looking for. Even then, whatever wrecks the pirates leave to rust in some corner of space are hardly worth the time he spends salvaging them. But a book? A Bible, no less? Now, that’s different.

The pages will bring a nice payout, with the content itself maybe more than nice. Baden had thought the secret police erased all trace of religion from the five colonies. But what if the find keeps him?

A talking book should be the least of Baden’s worries with the interstellar war storming. Should be. However, when the secret police are tipped off, reclaiming the Word that was abolished years ago, becomes a matter of afterlife and death.

Rachel’s Thoughts: Space opera with an underground church. This is the first book in a series. It is FUN. Really, really fun.

8. Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Official Description: Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.

Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.

But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?

Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

Rachel’s Thoughts: This is actually book 2 in a series, Anne Elisabeth’s “Tales of Goldstone Wood.” However, each book in the series is interlinked but also a standalone, and this is the first book of hers I read and still one of my favorites. Anne Elisabeth’s Goldstone Wood books FEEL like classics. There’s a reason they keep winning awards. Lovely, a little dark, deeply redemptive.

9. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard

Official Description: The Divine Conspiracy has revolutionized how we think about the true meaning of discipleship. In this classic, one of the most brilliant Christian thinkers of our times and author of the acclaimed The Spirit of Disciplines, Dallas Willard, skillfully weaves together biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice, revealing what it means to “apprentice” ourselves to Jesus.

Using Jesus’s Sermon of the Mount as his foundation, Willard masterfully explores life-changing ways to experience and be guided by God on a daily basis, resulting in a more authentic and dynamic faith.

Rachel’s Thoughts: This book is really, really hard to describe. Let’s just say it’s one of the very few Christian nonfiction books that felt truly eye-opening for me, and it has continued to undergird a lot of my thinking about Christian spirituality for years now. If you haven’t read this, you should.

10. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Official Description: Have you ever felt the urge to declutter your work life?

Do you often find yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you frequently busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy – instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to do less, but better, and declutter and organize their own their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

Rachel’s Thoughts: As an entrepreneur, I read a lot of business books. There aren’t many I would call “essential, but this is one … and not just for business, or for work, but for life. The principles here are really important to grasp for anyone trying to navigate the noise, clutter, and overwhelm of modern life and get what is truly important done.

11. The Dark Man by Marc Schooley

Official Description: The Dark Man is a near-future thriller about a master of disguise working to eradicate Christianity in America. Charles Graves is haunted by his dead brother, his lost mother, and a phantom arising cryptically from a child’s puzzle. But sometimes he who persecutes the church is destined to serve her.

Rachel’s Thoughts: This was my first introduction to Marc Schooley, who is a unique and uniquely thoughtful voice in the Christian fantasy landscape. I loved The Dark Man and reviewed it at length here.

And one last thing …

Did you know you can get lifetime access to all of MY fiction — over 17 novels and short stories, plus everything fictional I write in future — for one low price, forever? The price is going up 14.28% on December 26, so before we get there, I invite you to check out the Lifetime Readers Club here. I would love to welcome you inside :).