Adult Fiction, Behind the Books, Book reviews and recommendations, Young Adult 16+

Fantasy Series – A Closer Look at the Genre – Part 6

Alternate Worlds, Crossworlds, Portal and Quest Fantasy

By Elaine Patterson, Newbridge Headquarters.

Alternate World Fantasy

Stories told in this sub-genre take place on a world other than our own and journeys to this world end in adventure. Consequently, world building is very important in Alternate World Fantasy as they must be developed enough to be immersive. The level of magic and violence in this sub-genre depends greatly on the world created by the author. These stories tend to have complex plots and well developed characters. 

Alternate World Fantasy crosses over with Urban, Portal, Children and Cross-worlds. The following are examples of Alternate World Fantasy.

Crossworlds Fantasy

Cross-worlds Fantasy is Fantasy where the characters are transported from the ordinary world to a magical one. Cross-worlds and Portal Fantasy are quite similar with the biggest difference being that Cross-worlds Fantasy may include crossing over to different worlds or times, while Portal Fantasy characters travel to another world with a different time-line. The level of magic increases throughout the story due to the travel between worlds, with characters and plot both being well developed. There is also a fair bit of violence (though not always graphic). There may or may not be social commentary depending on the author. 

The books below are examples of Cross-worlds Fantasy.


Portal Fantasy

Stories in this sub-genre have their characters travel from the real world to a fantasy world through a portal or gateway and become involved in some sort of conflict before returning home.  The other world may or may not have magic while the real world remains mundane, and the level of violence depends on the story. Frequently, stories in this sub-genre will have a message or lesson and the characters and plot are well developed. 

Portal Fantasy is related to the Cross-worlds, Children and Quest sub-genres.

Most of the following examples of Portal Fantasy can be found on the Library Catalogue.

Quest Fantasy 

Quest Fantasy involves a journey or quest towards something: a goal, a place, a person, or something else. On the way the hero will travel, so world building is important in Quest Fantasy.  The quest can also be an internal journey of self-realisation or knowledge. Magic may or may not be a component, depending on the story, while characters will be mostly three-dimensional and both plot and violence levels are high.  

Quest Fantasy is related to Sword and Sorcery, Heroic, Mythic, Legend Retelling, High and Epic. The following books below are examples of Quest Fantasy.


Check out all the examples above on BorrowBox or request them via our library catalogue.



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