On Cozy Fantasies, Comfort Reads, and the Need for Whimsy in YA Fantasy, a guest post by Jamie Pacton

Cover design by Lisa Marie Pompillo

Friends, I am tired.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a long two+ years of pandemic, political instability, bad news, and, in my life, incredible personal loss and tragedy after the unexpected passing of one of my children. I’m a wildly different person, mother, and author than I was back in May 2020, when my debut, The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly came out. And that’s okay enough, I suppose. Life happens, things change, we lose people we love, we fight radically unfair systems of power, we take in bad news, we give out as much love and care as we can, and we keep going.

But sometimes, it’s a lot, you know?

I am sure you do. And the teen readers I’ve talked to lately are also feeling the strain of just existing in these trying times. Somewhere, in this storm, we need relief. We need a soft place to land. For me, books have always been comfort, companions, and escapes. When I was younger, I liked nothing better than spending the day curled up with a book. In an often-tumultuous family home, books were my refuge, and they allowed me to see new worlds and escape into lives that weren’t my own. As an adult, I’ve also always sought comfort in books. Certainly, I enjoy books that challenge me and make me think and ones that make me a better person, but I also adore stories where love works out, where happy endings happen, where magic exists, and where you might stumble across an enchanted circus or , as in the case of my new YA fantasy, The Vermillion Emporiuma magical curiosity shop.