I don’t know whether it’s writing for a living, gaining a social life, or just not needing to escape into fantasy worlds anymore – but I’ve barely read this year. It’s now November and I’ve managed a measly eleven books so far. So instead of trying to catch up with my usual reading wrap-ups (because they went so well), I thought I’d just focus on my five favourite books from this year. If any gems pop up between now and 2018, then I guess I’ll just have to write ANOTHER post. But for now, I’m pretty happy with my picks.
1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I have a love/hate relationship with Laini Taylor. I absolutely devoured Daughter of Smoke and Bone when it came out, but felt the sequel fell flat and after multiple attempts, I finally gave up reading it. I never even got around to reading the final book. But her world building always impressed me, so I was ready to give her another shot. I’m so glad I did, because Strange the Dreamer had everything I love about Taylor’s writing. The dreamlike quality of her words, the detailed world building, and characters I’m actually rooting for – yes please. I went into this not knowing it was going to be a series, so was a little apprehensive when I figured that more was coming and the same thing might happen – but I have high hopes for the following books. It’s even made me wanna give Days of Blood and Starlight another shot…
2. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
I love stories that straddle the lines between thriller and mystery and horror. Stories that aren’t overtly creepy, but you know there’s something else going on. I was initially put off from reading this because of the word Roanoke been forever tainted by American Horror Story, but there’s no cheesy otherworldly stuff in sight. All the happenings in this story are firmly rooted in reality – and that’s what makes it more terrifying. Whilst the book seemingly starts out as a pretty standard mystery, soon you get sucked into the character’s histories and really start to wonder if the book is a result of evil people, or something else.
3. This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
I never jumped on the hype train for This Savage Song when it came out last year, but with the the end of Schwab’s Series of Magic series, I needed another taste of her world building. And initially, this book just didn’t do it for me. I found it hard to picture the monsters and didn’t really grasp (read as: care how) they materialise. But I kept reading and everything changed. The characters grew on me, I was genuinely interested in August’s moping and Kate’s angsty bullshit. So I obviously upon finishing it, I immediately started on Our Dark Duet. I think I even preferred the second book to the first, and it wrapped the duology nicely for me. It’s not often you don’t see the ending coming within a YA story. This series was great, yes, but it was no Shades of Magic.
4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This is the only book on my list that wasn’t released in the past year and I’ve been meaning to read it for so long. And despite the years of preparation, I was definitely not ready. This book destroyed me. Considering A Monster Calls isn’t a fantasy series and is pretty short at only 240 pages – I was surprised I cried so much. To paint you a picture: I finished the book in the dark, in bed, at 2AM, and cried so much that my boyfriend thought I was having a panic attack. The less you know about this book, the better, so if like me you never got around to reading this one, add it to your list for 2018.
5. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Schwab? Yes, this is the conclusion of the aforementioned Shades of Magic series. I went into this book knowing it was the end of one of my favourite fantasy series (Harry Potter, Rivers of London, and The Kingkiller Chronicle, I’m looking at you), so admittedly, I was not happy. But I have to hand it to V.E. Schwab, even when she’s ripping away a piece of my heart, I still love her and her books. A Conjuring of Light was the perfect end to a perfect series and I couldn’t be happier with how it ended. I think Shades of Magic deserves a post of its own at some point, so I won’t dwell on it too much, but if you’re looking for well written fantasy with a badass female pirate, LGBT representation, and ambiguously good/bad “villains”, HERE YA GO.
I’m currently on book number 12, so I better get back to that. I blindly set my Goodreads Challenge this year to 30 books, but that’s not going to happen. So if I can hit the halfway point, I’ll be pretty pleased with myself. Better stay on the lookout for more eerily poetic fantasy novels then.