Fantasy Fiction in Film in 2020

Well, it’s awards season, and instead of talking about my generally unflattering views of nominations, I’ll stick to what I know: books!

Specifically, the next year of exciting new films that are based on books. There’s a lot, so in this piece I’m just narrowing it down to fantasy (and a smidgen of sci-fi).

Actually this post is about TV too but that just didn’t vibe with the alliterative nature of my title.

Each year, directors and screenwriters mine an expanding collection of fantasy novels for inspo for a new film or TV series. It seems the boundless number of superhero films are inspiring different types of fantasy, like The Witcher, (which was, before anything else, a book series). Also in 2019 were The Umbrella Academy and Watchmen, which … yeah they’re both superhero shows aren’t they.

This list includes adaptations of comics and graphic novels, but not any superhero ones (no shade, I just think ‘superhero’ is a genre of its own).

Here’s what’s coming to the big screen in 2020 – and also what will be on TV because there are approximately one million streaming services to choose from these days (and more on the way!) (??!!)

Locke & Key – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

BOOK: Locke & Key is a series of comics about three kids that move into a creepy house their father grew up in, and slowly uncover the mystery of the magic keys. It’s pretty dark and creepy, but very intriguing.

I’ve only read Volume 1 of the comics, but I did enjoy it. It really relishes its character building, both through the plot and the art.

SHOW: Already on Netflix. It looks like a little different from the comic but not too much. The trailer made it look like a child-friendly kinda show but it’s rated mature. Horror themes are strong.

Do you have to read it? No.

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

BOOK: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha.

Bardugo’s Grishaverse is a mix of the above trilogy, and the Six of Crows duology, which is about six teens and a heist. While I haven’t read any of the former, I loved the latter, which makes me wonder why I haven’t read all of it.

SHOW: On Netflix late this year. The series will bring together the stories and characters from both book series.

Do you have to read it? I’m planning to!

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

BOOK: Todd is the only kid on a farm where only men live, because women don’t exist (except, plot twist: they do). Also everyone can hear what everyone else is thinking. And it’s in space. 

It sounds bizarre when you’re trying to explain it, but the Chaos Walking trilogy (i.e. this one), was a staple YA read for most growing up, right at the same time as The Hunger Games.

MOVIE: According to everything I’ve read, this film has been in the works for a very long time. It was meant to release last March, so let’s see if 2020 is the one.

Do you have to read it? In my opinion, the first book is the best while the other two just complete the story, but they’re fun and easy reads (not to be mistaken for not dealing with complex subject matter).

Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

BOOK: Evil teen (he’s not really evil, tho) kidnaps a fairy, hilarity ensues. What more needs to be said?

MOVIE: Unfortunately, I’ve found that the books I enjoyed as a kid get turned into pretty poor movies, so I’m not holding out any hope for this one. Releasing sometime this summer.

Do you have to read it? They’re children’s books, and I haven’t actually reread them since I was in the target market, but that’s not to say it is not excellent writing. Give it a go and let me know!

Dune – Frank Herbert

BOOK: Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

The ‘Dune’ series, its first book published in 1965, has always been considered a sci-fi classic and a masterful example of storytelling that interweaves politics, technological advancement, religion etc. I personally can’t speak to whether or not I enjoyed it, because although Amazon dutifully informed me I purchased it years ago, I have not finished it.

However, I’m sure there are people who have been excitedly waiting for this adaptation, so here it is at last!

MOVIE: Owing to the sprawling nature of just the first novel (almost 600 pages long), this movie will be in two parts. Comes out in December.

Do you have to read it? Look, is there a reason I never finished this? Possibly, but I’ve forgotten. It turns out I’m actually 55% through the book so perhaps I’ll finally pick it up again.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

BOOK: Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers.

We’re going further back than Dune for this one, as Huxley wrote this in 1932. I’m pretty sure I read it and thought it was a bit strange but either I didn’t understand it, or I was projecting. I should read it again.

SHOW: maybe 2020, possibly not.

Do I have to read it? You can probably wait until there are definite details on the series, but it’s coming out on yet another streaming service if that informs your choice.

The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman

BOOK: Will, from the daemon-less world, meets Lyra, from the last book.

The BBC (or HBO) adaptation of Philip Pullman’s first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy came out in 2019 and season two is underway. It’s been years and years since I read any of the books, so it’s nice to watch it like a new story.

SHOW: Planned release for winter 2020

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

BOOK: When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. 

I haven’t read this trilogy, mostly because I got the vampire books out of my system while I was in high school. It’s been on my TBR for a while though, as I’ve heard good things.

SHOW: Apparently this adaptation not only exists, it’s already on season 2!

Honorary Mentions

Gothic literature is finding its feet this year, with Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (aka that book everyone says has the best opening line ever) getting a Netflix series. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (aka the book I only read because I had to at uni) is already out as a modern film adaptation.

Also, maybe fantasy but not quite, Circe by Madeline Miller is in the works for a TV series.

Are you looking forward to any of these? Let me know!

4 comments

    • Haha I always keep my expectations for adaptations low – less chance of disappointment then? Locke & Key on Netflix is very much a teen show but it’s a fun watch for sure. Let me know how you get on with it!

      Liked by 1 person

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