Ah, 2019. A great year for books. And here, in no particular order, are my favourite sci-fi and fantasy books.
Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) – Jay Kristoff
The review that I’m most proud of this year.
Go, read the books. Laugh, cry, blush at the smutty bits, and when you’re done, we can talk.
Talk about the stabby bits, the funny bits, the pirates and gladiators and assassins and cats made of shadows, of the mountain of murderers, the gods, everything.
Then we’ll go back to the books and read all about a girl called Mia. For we love her so very very much.
Thank you Jay, for giving us this, perfect ending.
This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
Just stunningly good. Two time agents leave letters to each other up and down the time streams. Like nothing you’ll have read before.
Survivors (The Voices #3) – G.X. Todd
Defender is good. Hunted is great.
Survivors knocks it out of the park. Survivors takes us back in time to before the Voices, and we get to know a little more about how the world came to be in the state we find it in Defender. We also find out a lot more about the mysterious Pilgrim, and it was fascinating to learn his backstory. If you’ve not experienced The Voices books, get on it. Now.
The Undoing of Arlo Knott – Heather Child
It’s an incredible concept – what if you could flip back in time a few moments to undo something you’ve said or done? What if you could keep trying, a second chance, a third? Heather Child’s second book (following the fabulous Everything About You) explores just that. Mind-bendingly brilliant.
Magic for Liars – Sarah Gailey
A mysterious murder at a magical school? Two of my very favourite things! Though we are very much not at *that* school for Witchcraft and Wizardry. And the murder is so *very* gruesome that even You Know Who might blanch at it. And yes, there’s a Chosen One.
Mixing magic with murder, this is most splendid, and highly recommended.
The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1) – Evan Winter
Fast, brutal, African-tinged epic fantasy featuring incredible swordfights, revenge, magic, demons and of course, dragons.
What’s not to like?
It’s so good. The battle scenes are incredibly well written and you feel that you’re deep in the action, dodging blades. The political skulduggery is suitably devious. The training montages are exciting and brutal, and there’s a real sense of menace and danger from the demon-inhabited underworld.
Billed as Game of Thrones meets Gladiator, The Rage of Dragons definitely has flavours of both, possibly more of the latter, but is most certainly its own concoction of epic fantasy.
Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate #1) – Megan E. O’Keefe
Smart, slick sci-fi with brilliant characters and a cracking plot, Velocity Weapon is everything I love about science fiction. The worldbuilding is superb, spanning hundreds of years of political shenanigans and a planetbusting doomsday weapon wouldn’t be amiss in an Iain M. Banks novel.
If you like your space opera played out on the grandest, galaxy-spanning stage, with some brilliantly diverse characters and a whip-smart plot, then this book is for you.
Loved it. Ten sentient AIs out of ten. Hugely recommended.
The Raven Tower – Ann Leckie
At face value The Raven Tower checks all the regular classic fantasy boxes. A son returns home from afar to take up his father’s post as ruler, only to find that his position has already been filled by his scheming uncle. A kingdom under threat. Mysterious machinations at court. Gods making alliances with mortals.
Yes, it’s a story of gods and power and what people will do to gain the latter and the price they’re willing to pay to do so. But Ann Leckie does this with such a deft hand that you’re left marvelling at how it’s all constructed. The way she plays with character and language and structure reminded me not a little of the skillful hand of Claire North, and whilst they tell very different stories, they both show a similar joy at playing with expectations.
Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1) – Tamsyn Muir
This is one of my favourite books of the year. Weird, dark and often very funny, I loved it from the first page to the last.
It’s got everything – lesbian necromancers, a giant labyrinthine crumbling (possibly haunted, definitely deadly) house by the sea, swordfights, murder, blood, skeletons, locked rooms (which should *definitely* stay locked), mysterious mystics, battling Houses, daring cavaliers and a cluedo-esque whodunnit running throughout.
Hugely recommended. I can’t wait to see where the story takes us in Harrow the Ninth, which is out next year.