Magic and fantasy are some of my favorite genres to read in light novels, period. There is just something so wonderful about escaping the mundaneness of the real world and teleporting into a parallel universe where magic is the norm. And really, who hasn’t dreamt of being one of the top powerful mages at least once?
I feel like light novels are some of the only mediums where you’re spoiled in variety when it comes to fantasy and magic works, specifically. Whether it’s comedy or romance or even action, for that matter, you have something for everyone. You can have lighthearted comedy or serious stakes and either will be written well; the escapism is endless!
And frankly, some light novels just do magic fantasy better than regular books. The magic mechanisms and characters in these Light Novels are so well-rounded, despite not having much room to expose. And the world-building is so well done for something that’s supposed to be a more compact read, so it never feels like it’s a compromise on the quality of writing.
Best Magic Fantasy Light Novels
Light novels are perfect for when you don’t want to invest a lot of time and energy in a long-winded manga and just want a quick fantasy fix. But there are so many light novels out there, where to start?
Well, that is exactly why we’ve compiled this list of the best magical light novels you can pick up right now and binge to your heart’s content. Let’s go!
1. The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya
Believe it or not, this was the first light novel I picked up back in 2011 because the anime was just so good!
The story is narrated by Kyon, a student at North High School, who is roped into joining the SOS Brigade by its leader Haruhi Suzumiya, a weird girl who’s into all things paranormal. Together with Yuki Nagato, Mikuru Asahina, and Itsuki Koizumi, they all get dragged into Haruhi’s antics with trying to explore the unexplained. Only for Kyon to realize that the biggest mystery of them all is Haruhi herself.
Haruhi can bend reality to her will and she isn’t even aware of her powers. But that’s exactly why the others were sent by various secret organizations to watch over her because the threat of her ending the world is not a joke. And so, they try their hardest to quench Haruhi’s thirst for adventure, because the one thing she hates? Boredom. And that dissatisfaction spells apocalypse for the SOS Brigade.
The way this goes from cute ‘Mystery Machine’ high school gang to genuinely compelling fiction is astounding. This is a real cult classic, perfect for beginners!
2. Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World-
Yes, Re:Zero had its humble origins as a light novel before it became the hit anime series. So, you already know this is a good one.
This light novel is an Isekai that centers around Subaru Natsuki, our protagonist, who gets transported into a parallel world. But unlike a lot of other Isekai leads, he seemingly has no new powers or skills to aid him in this strange place known as the Kingdon Of Lugunica. That is until he’s killed while trying to help Emilia, a half-elf and potential new ruler of the Kingdom.
Turns out, that every time he dies, he travels just a few hours back in time and is instantly revived. So. after a lot of trial and error, he not only ends up surviving but also moves in as a Butler to keep helping Emilia. But all of this sacrifice comes at a cost: no one remembers the prior events as he does, and the pain he carries just increases over time. And he suffers it, again and again, and again.
The way the light novel goes into how scarred all of this experimenting with his existence leaves Subaru, I don’t think the anime emulates it quite as chillingly.
3. The Beginning After The End
This is currently the number 1 ranked light novel all over the internet and it’s easy to see why. Sure, it starts as your basic ‘reincarnation’ trope but the way it scales out is anything but.
The mighty King Grey has fallen, alone and broken. He realizes that acquiring all this power and fame meant nothing because, in the end, he is dying a hollow man with no meaningful connections. And then he opens his eyes as Arthur Leywin, reborn in a new country with a family to boot. Retaining all the wisdom and untapped power of his previous life, he sets out to hone his skills. But this time, he’s got the support of a loving family and friends. He has a second chance, and it won’t be wasted.
This is, hands down, one of the best light novels I’ve read. Instead of the usual ‘icy’ male lead, you have someone genuinely struggling to be better, which makes this an intriguing read.
Listen, it can’t all be doom and gloom! Sometimes, what you need is a quick burst of comedy that leaves you snickering in public.
When haughty noble, Catarina Claes regains her memories of being an Otaku, she realizes she is now stuck in the very Otome game that she loved playing. Worst part? She’s the villain, destined to exile or die! But luckily, she caught on early, so she still has a chance to turn her fate around by growing up as the nicest person possible and trying to not ruffle any feathers.
Of course, this goes south quickly when, instead of hating her, everyone falls obsessively in love with her instead! Instead of retiring to a quiet life, she is now the center of her own reverse harem.
It’s beyond cute, hilarious, and has some of the best trope subversion I’ve seen in Isekai!
5. The Author’s POV
The Author’s POV has one of the best ‘cool’ protagonists out there i.e., he doesn’t make me want to punch him. And that’s a feat.
An author ends up becoming the lead for his own story, and normally that would be a good thing. Except, in his novel, the main character made a ton of enemies thanks to his brash attitude. And now he’s going to have to suffer the very real-life consequences of those decisions.
The plot goes a lot of places but what’s likable here is the realism in the story is rooted. The way the light novel portrays the interactions between the characters is entertaining. And then there is the author himself, who isn’t just powerful for the heck of it. He’s calculating and shrewd but never becomes too ‘good’.
It’s an interesting premise, with amazing character growth. Highly recommend it if you like a little bit of mystery with your fantasy!
6. Death Is The Only Ending For The Villainess
This is what you get if you take the previously mentioned ‘My Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom!’ light novel and turn it into a serious thriller, filled with conspiracy and intrigue. And honestly? I kind of love it!
Our protagonist already had a pretty harsh life, growing up with a stepfather and siblings that didn’t care about her. So, she finally gained enough independence to leave her toxic household, only to be in a freak accident and die. But then, she opens her eyes as Penelope Eckhart.
She has been reborn into her favorite Otome game, but not as its beloved female lead, but as the hated villainess. And the game is on its strictest difficulty, with a single wrong choice leading to her instant demise. She has to make do with the 5 love interests available, get on their good side and make sure she avoids her imminent doom.
This has such good suspense, with pacing that doesn’t ever seem like it’s dragging. It builds and the payoff is high stakes. I love when the female leads in these sorts of stories are intelligent, and conscious of the consequences, making it that much more compelling.
7. Under The Oak Tree
Soft romance lovers unite! This is not only absurdly wholesome but exceptionally well written. And really, I’m just a big softie at heart that loves a good emotional bond.
Maximillian is the neglected daughter of the Crosyo family. Under the abuse at the hands of her father, Duke Crosyo, she grows up with immense mental and physical trauma that manifests itself in the form of severe anxiety and a stutter.
So, when she learns that her father has promised her to a lowly knight, Riftan Calypse, she is relieved. She might finally find peace with a husband that cares about her but when he, too, leaves her for the war for 3 years, she’s left heartbroken.
When he returns, they are still strangers. But color her surprised when Riftan treats her with kindness and love. Could there be a little spark between these two unlikely souls?
The representation of speech disability, and how mental trauma can affect future relationships, isn’t something that gets explored in magic fantasy light novels much. So this is a real treat.
It’s got Hestia, need I say more?
Welcome to Orario, a domain where Gods reside as heads of separate guilds known as Familia, supporting them through their adventures in the labyrinth under the city aka the Dungeon. This is where the adventurers battle it out with monsters and collect crystal shards, which can be used to craft weapons, to bring back to the surface.
Meet Bell Cranel, the sole member of the Hestia Familia. He is devoted to his solitary clan but also looks up to Ains Wallenstein, a powerful swordswoman from the Loki Familia. He takes an oath to become strong enough to be her equal, and also grows enamored with her. Though, he is unaware of how many other women are equally in love with him. Including Hestia herself!
When the anime for Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? aired, it quickly went on to become a favorite. So, if you enjoyed that, you’re bound to love the light novel, which has way more details and content!
I hope this list ends up helping newcomers to dive headfirst into the light novel genre. Let me know what kinds of magic light novels you’ll be picking up next!