I touch my elf: the rise of "romantasy," with sex, supernatural encounters, and strong heroines

If you've ever fantasized about a steamy supernatural encounter, perhaps with a brawny faery sporting batlike wings and back tattoos, you're not alone. Romantasy — a potent mash up of bodice-ripping romance and fantasy — is big business in the publishing world, and Sarah J. Maas is the Faery Queen. Her book series, like the "A Court of Crowns and Thrones" have sold over 38 million copies, and her Instagram account has over 1.5 million followers.

Maas started out writing Harry Potter fanfic as a teenager, then transitioned to original lore in 2013 with her first published work, Throne of Glass. Sex sells, but the magic ingredient in her success is creating strong heroines who are overcoming personal trauma. 

As quoted in Vulture, Maas herself was inspired by shows like Buffy and Sailor Moon.

Getting to see these women who were like me: not that great at school, girlie girls who loved feminine things and then turn into these badass warriors where their feminine qualities don't cancel out their strengths."

There is a growing fellowship of authors finding treasure in this field, From the dragon riders of Rebecca Yarros to L. Penelope's post apocalyptic fae, there's something for every proclivity. Romantasy sales have increased 42% over the last year, so it may soon be the one genre to rule them all.

See also: Here's how to break all high fantasy stories into two distinct subgenres.