As I write this, Goodreads informs me that I’ve read 41 books so far this year. Strange how my pile of reading material doesn’t seem to have shrunk at all, though… It’s a mystery!
Anyway, here are some of the books I read and loved this year.
Some novels I read and loved:
Restoration, by Angela Slatter
This is the third book in Angela Slatter’s outstanding supernatural crime trilogy set in Australia, and you should really read Vigil and Corpselight, too. Slatter has a knack for creating people you care about, at this point, I’d follow Verity Fassbinder anywhere.
State Tectonics, by Malka Older
State Tectonics is simultaneously a riveting political thriller and the very best kind of science fiction: a book that makes you think differently about the future and the present. Read the first two books in the Centenal Cycle too: Infomocracy and Null States. (Read my review at B&N.)
Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee
Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire is an amazing series. Quite simply, this is some of the most exciting science fiction I’ve read in recent years. Start off by reading Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem.
Aletheia, by J.S. Breukelaar
This supernatural thriller is excellent from start to finish, and there’s a point when the story takes a turn I did not see coming at all that elevates to a whole new level of fantastic. Towards the end, the story is just edge-of-your-seat GRIPPING. Horror and landscape mix with memory and desire. Dark and haunting.
The Ninety-Ninth Bride, by Catherine Faris King
A lovely and beautifully told twist on One Thousand and One Nights: “...a story of sisters and magic, and a kingdom on the brink of disaster.”
Watermark, by E. Catherine Tobler
A dark and gripping story about Pip, a kelpie who is banished from the Otherworld and forced to live in human form in our world. Tobler’s gorgeous prose and her deft hand at creating characters that are both flawed and compelling makes this a highly recommended read.
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
Alternate history and zombies: yes, please. To quote the blurb: “Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.”
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse
Stunning debut novel from Rebecca Roanhorse. You need this book in your life. “Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.”
Some older books I finally got around to reading:
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer
Three of the best books I’ve ever read. ’nuff said.
The Girl With All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey
The zombie apocalypse, turned inside out and upside down. Loved it.
Some excellent short story collections I read and loved:
Godfall and Other Stories, by Sandra M. Odell
No matter what the setting or genre, Odell has a knack for getting under your skin, digging into the uncomfortable, sometimes painful, truths that hide beneath the surface. She deftly twists each story off-kilter, giving you an unexpected (and sometimes unsettling) point of view.
Uncommon Miracles, by Julie C. Day
A fabulous collection of strange, weird, and wonderful fiction. You never know what you might meet in a story by Day, or how the everyday world will be twisted and turned into something eerie, unsettling, or just plain strange. Beautiful and compelling.
Lost Objects, by Marian Womack
In every story, the world and the people and creatures in it seem in the process of changing and transforming. Landscapes, animals and humans seem to shiver between dream and nightmare, between one state of being and another and the stories capture that uncertain state in all its dark glory.
Some excellent novellas and novelettes I read and loved:
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson
Time-travel, future Calgary, and characters that just pop off the page (sometimes using all six legs). This story jumps between past and future effortlessly, and it kept me hooked and entertained from start to finish.
The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (novelette)
This story is so good, and so powerful. Alternate history, elephants telling stories, the Radium Girls, and the oppressed fighting back against their oppressors – Bolander writes with fire and purpose in every sentence. (If you haven’t read her other novelette this year, No Flight Without the Shatter, at TOR.com, you should read that too.)
Queen of No Tomorrows, by Matt Maxwell
Maxwell blends a noir vibe with cosmic horror, and sets it all in 1990s Los Angeles. All together, it makes for a fast-paced and engaging read that pulled me right into its strange, unsettling world.
The Inconvenient God, by Francesca Forrest (novelette)
Beautifully told and uniquely imagined. I loved how questions of language, education, and life-choices (how we choose to live our lives, what we choose to fight for, what we decide to dedicate our lives to) are woven into the story from start to finish.
Static Ruin, by C.J. White
Action-packed scifi with engaging characters and Ocho, one of the cutest pets in the universe. Mars’s backstory pays off in spades in this book as we find out where, and who, she came from. Read the first two books in the Voidwitch saga: Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow.
The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky – A Novella of Cosmic Horror, by John Hornor Jacobs
There are beautiful and haunting terrors here. Exquisite prose and a story that makes you feel as if you’re watching the world slowly unravel.
Some excellent anthologies I read and loved:
Sword and Sonnet
One of the strongest and richest anthologies I’ve read this year. Every story here is a gem and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who enjoys speculative fiction.
Mother of Invention
A fantastic anthology with a wide range of compelling stories and voices. If you love speculative fiction and especially stories about AI, robots, and women doing amazing things, then this anthology is for you.
Hideous Progeny: Classic Horror Goes Punk
An anthology of stories inspired by classic tales of horror, each one with a punk twist, and each one telling a dark, unsettling, powerful tale.
Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was
A terrific read with entertaining, gripping, gritty and beautiful stories of urban fantasy. I loved how each story explores a different facet of life, love, and magic (dark and light) in the community.
Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger
A fantastic anthology, full of fabulous stories about airships, magic, dragons, djinns, pirates & more. I was thoroughly entertained, and loved the sense of adventure in each and every story.
For more reading recommendations, check out my columns on the blog and at B&N!
5 thoughts on “Some excellent books I read in 2018”
Thank you for the mention of Hideous Progeny!
And now I must start adding the rest of the list to my TBR pile. Well, not all of it, and if someone doesn’t nominate Sandra Odell’s Home For Broken for an award this year, something is wrong with this world!
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I loved Trail of Lightening and must finish The Southern Reach trilogy. Thanks for the recs.