Fantasy with no supernatural elements?

by Cleo


I‘ve been using your site since quite some time now but even with all the great information (thank you so much for this!) I’m still not sure what genre my novel would fit into. I know that similar questions were asked before, but even with looking at your answers to them, I‘m still not quite certain.

The story is set in a world with fictional landscapes, coastlines, countries and cultures, but otherwise it is exactly like our earth and it follows our natural laws, even so far that it even has the same star and planet constellations (with other names of course).
So there’s no magic or any other supernatural things.

The cultures of my fictional people are partly inspired by Celts, Romans and Greeks and the story would fit into the time period of about 500 BC.
The culture of the people, their customs and even the history of their country is very detailed and the plot is about a revolution (so mostly politics and war) with a very large cast of characters.
To me, it has the same feeling as a Historical Fiction (the genre I like to read the most) but since the people and the world never existed, this obviously isn‘t the case.

So does the story still count as Fantasy, even though there’s no magic at all, or is it something else?

Have a nice day and thank you very much in advance!

Answer: Well, I would call this story a Fantasy, since the setting is a world that has not, does not, and never will exist. For this reason, I think librarians would be more likely to shelve it with Fantasy than Historical fiction. Fans of Historical fiction would be more likely to be disappointed with the story than fans of Fantasy.

There are many readers who feel that magic and/or magical species are crucial in Fantasy. However, I'm not sure this is a deal breaker. Many fantasy readers enjoy political machinations and the exploration of fantasy cultures more than magic. In some fantasies, magic is subordinate to the power struggles. It is only a small step to leave out the magic altogether.

These days, genre blends are very popular. So a story that blends Fantasy with Historical fiction, may well find a readership.

Best of luck.

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