What is romanticism? Our experts explain the trend of best-selling books

What is romanticism? Our experts explain the trend of best-selling books
18 April 2024 J.W.H

In 2015, Sarah J. Maas published A Court of Thorns and Roses, by which teenage heroine Feyre is kidnapped from her human life right into a world of magical intrigue and romance within the fairy court. The novel, which was advertised as a youth novel, was very talked-about. He hit, amongst others, New York Times bestseller list.

However, the short-term success of this book pales compared to the long-term success of the five-volume series to which it belongs. Maas has now been sold 40 million copies of her books worldwide (as of February 2024).

A Court of Thorns and Roses (nicknamed ACOTAR by fans) was already popular on bookish social media, nevertheless it reached truly extraordinary levels with the appearance of BookTok, the reader-generated, bookish a part of the social media platform TikTok. Almost as quickly as BookTok became a phenomenon – around 2020 – so did A Court of Thorns and Roses.

As with the works of fellow BookTok sensation Colleen Hoover, A Court of Thorns and Roses' popularity fueled not only book sales but in addition conversation. A brand new term has crystallized around this and similar books: romanticism.

It's romantic currently experiencing extraordinary visibility each on digital platforms and in local bookstores.

Although specific data is scarce, there isn’t any doubt that it sells in extraordinary numbers, each in Australia and overseas.

À lire aussi : What is BookTok and the way does it impact what Australian teenagers read?

A wedding of romance and fantasy

To be clear: romance and fantasy exist not recent bedmates – have an extended and healthy relationship. These two species have been debated since Guinevere first saw Lancelot.

a woman in a flowing dress on a horse with a knight in armor
Romanticism began with Guinevere and Lancelot.
Encyclopedia of World History

Many authors have made successful careers exploring romantic tropes in fantasy or fantasy elements in romance novels. In the Seventies, Anne Rice became famous for the previous The Vampire Chroniclesstarting with Interview with the Vampireadapted right into a film in 1994 and a television series in 2022.

Even before that, Anne McCaffrey brought romance to her fantasy series Dragon Riders of Pern, where humans and dragons form lifelong bonds. The first book within the series, Dragonflight, was published in 1967 and featured a robust romantic storyline between two dragon riders.

The second half of the twentieth century also saw the rise of two often overlapping subgenres: paranormal romance and concrete fantasy, by which fantasy characters and/or concepts are placed in the true world.

Authors comparable to Laurell K. Hamilton, writer of the series Anita Blake, vampire hunterand Charlaine Harris, whose Sookie Stackhouse series was made right into a TV series True Bloodwas an enormous success.

Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire.
Warner Bros/AAP

This was reflected in Australia by Kerry Arthurwhose Riley Jenson Guardian Series her half-vampire, half-werewolf heroine achieved international success; and in New Zealand by Nalini Singhbest known for her Psy/Changing series.

Similarly, time-shift romances – by which magical means allow characters to travel back in time – became very talked-about within the Nineteen Nineties due to books by the likes of Jude Deveraux A knight in shining armor (1989) and Diana Gabaldon Outlander (1991).

In the past, different terms have been used to differentiate different versions of the romance-fantasy cocktail. “Romantic fantasy” relied more on the conventions of the fantasy genre, but included strong romantic subplots, comparable to in Jacqueline Carey's novel Kushiel's arrow (2001) and its sequels, a few courtesan spy in quasi-medieval Europe.

In contrast, “fantasy romance” followed the structure of a romance novel more closely, often featuring a romantic joyful ending, but incorporating fantasy elements and/or settings. Examples of this include The Iron Prince Meljean Brook (2010), a Victorian steampunk adventure featuring pirates, zombies and nanotechnology.

Like other subgenres of each romance and fantasy, romantic fantasy and fantasy romance have waned and declined in popularity. However, in young adult literature, their marriage remained stable.

Perhaps probably the most famous title of the twenty first century is Stephenie Meyer's book Dusk (from 2005), the primary in a series of paranormal romances featuring vampires and werewolves. But there are lots of others: Richelle Mead Vampire Academy series (since 2007) and Cassandra Clare Angel's instruments series (from 2007), each about students and teachers of magical boarding schools.

One of probably the most beloved fantasy tropes – as with most literature written for young adults – is the approaching of age, during which characters find their very own identity while taking over various tasks. This implies that the characters might be quite young, and the road between what’s published and marketed as young adult fantasy and adult fantasy is commonly blurred.

Cassandra Clare's City of Bones, the primary in her Mortal Instruments series, was adapted right into a 2010 film and a 2016 television adaptation (as Shadowhunters).

The birth of romanticism

Therefore, “romanticism” shouldn’t be recent – however the term itself is.

New life is breathed into older titles when BookTokers read them through this romantic lens. For example, Holly Black's The Cruel Prince (2018), a few mortal girl entangled in an internet of faerie intrigues and about Tahereh Mafi Destroy me (2011), a few heroine whose touch can kill. There are 82,700 tagged posts on TikTok #hollyblackand 55,800 tagged #taherehmafi.

The next generation of authors capitalizes on the recognition of Romanticism, using the term (and its associated tropes) as a hook. Rebecca Yarros Fourth Wing AND Iron Flame, each released in 2023, are probably the most visible. They each fit well inside best-selling titles in Australia in 2023 and the Fourth Wing won the Dymocks Book of the Year title). Its heroine, Violet, learns to survive (and ride dragons) while falling in love together with her sworn enemy, Xaden, at a magical military academy.

Authors like Rebecca Ross together with her adolescent enemies-to-lovers fantasies Divine Rivals (2023) and its sequel Merciless Vows (2023) are also very talked-about.

Authors whose barely older books have been rebranded as romance have also benefited from increased visibility, comparable to Chloe Gong's These brutal delights (2020), a brand new installment of Romeo and Juliet, set in magical Twenties Shanghai.

Authors of other genres are also entering this space, comparable to the writer of romantic comedies Ali Hazelwood (best known for The love hypothesis), whose typical area of interest is women in science finding love. Her latest novel is a vampire-werewolf romance, Bride (2024).

Like all publishing trends, the romance rocket will eventually hit the bottom. However, the long history of marrying romance and fantasy suggests that this union will likely proceed to bear fruit for a very long time – in a single form or one other.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

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