Books of the year 2020: sci-fi & fantasy

I know that you usually wait until the year is over before you do a books of the year list, but I figured you might appreciate some ideas for christmas books. So, for the science fiction and/or fantasy fan in your life, here’s a list of the books I’ve enjoyed this year. They’re all fantastic, so in no particular order, here we go!

The Dark Archive – Genevieve Cogman

Ah, the return of everyone’s favourite Librarian spy Irene. Adventure, hijinks, peril and books. What more could you possibly want? It’s book 7 in the series, so perhaps not the best place to start, but if you haven’t already started then you’ve got seven books to read rather than one! Don’t say I never give you anything. One of my favourite series, and each new chapter is a welcome chance to curl up on the sofa for an afternoon.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

I listened to this in audiobook over the course of a couple of long car journeys, and blimey, what a book! As you’d expect from Claire North it’s beautifully written, the plot is tauter than a piano wire with more layers than one of those really complicated cakes you see on that cookery show in a tent. Harry August is fated to live life after life, returning each time to the same point in time. But with the memories of his previous lives intact. Time travel novels are notoriously tricky to pull off, but North manages it with a deft ease that makes it look effortless.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue – V.E. Schwab

Addie LaRue, a girl with seven freckles, one for every love she will ever have. A girl who wants a life of her own. A girl who made a deal with the gods who you definitely should never, ever pray to after dark. A girl who is unable to leave her mark on the world. A girl who everyone forgets.

Then one day she meets a young man who remembers.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is like a meal from a Michelin starred restaurant. Layer upon layer, expertly combined. A hint of something you can’t quite put your finger on, but which gives it that certain… je ne sais quoi that will linger in the memory for long afterwards.

It is… wonderful.

Grave Secrets – Alice James

Sometimes a book comes along at exactly the right moment. Grave Secrets is one of those. It’s just enormous fun, with a delightful sense of humour and a marvellous lead in Lavington Windsor, estate agent for the undead by day, necromancer by night. Zombies and vampires, gallons of blood (most tastefully handled) and a cheeky glint in the eye. I await the further adventures of our Tori with great interest.

Seven Devils – Elizabeth May & Laura Lam

A group of rebels out to smash the patriarchy in space? A feminist space opera with a hint of Rogue One, a dash of Firefly and a heady dose of bad-assery? A Guardians of the Galaxy type heist, but with way more gay?A princess, a soldier, a courtesan, a pilot, a mechanic, a leader and a child genius hacker. What could possibly go wrong?

Glorious fun, with a wonderfully diverse group of characters, Seven Devils is the sci-fi book you didn’t know you needed. Roll on book 2!

The Library of the Unwritten – AJ Hackwith

I’m a sucker for a good library book. Or a good book about libraries. And this one is quite splendid. In short, there’s a library in Hell, looked after by Claire, the Head Librarian. Her job is look after all the unwritten books. Shouldn’t really be that taxing. Should it? Except that some of the characters tend to escape from time to time, and it’s Claire’s job, along with her apprentice Brevity (ex-Muse) to keep things in order. 

The worldbuilding is marvellous, the action sharply written, and the plot fits together as neatly as an expertly shelved set of books. On a bookshelf. In Hell. I enjoyed this so much I ordered the US edition of the sequel as I couldn’t wait until next year to read it.

The City We Became – NK Jemisin

What a book this is. It’s glorious in its scope, worldbuilding (albeit atop our own world) which is second to none, and characters? Oh, the characters.

I do love a story with a sense of place, and this book is ALL about place. Some books you feel that the location could almost be a character in itself, but in The City We Became, that is literally true. You see New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. And it’s these five parts which make up the whole, which must come together to fight off the ancient evil which lurks beneath.

Jemisin’s writing is never short of spectacular, and this book is just superb.


Right, those are my choices for fantasy and science fiction. Have you read any of them? What else would you add to the list?

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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