I know what you’re thinking–no top 10 fantasy?? Why am I even here?! I know that I’ve done a top five
six middle grade, top ten contemporary, and top ten sequels, so while it might seem terrible that I’m not doing a top ten fantasy, well. More than half of these are fantasies, and while there are some (one) repeats from the other lists, I really didn’t want to make a top ten fantasy list just so I could then stick most of those books also on this list because fantasy is generally what I read the most of. Of the 120 books that I read this year (as of this posting), 50+ of those were fantasy, sooooo you can kind of see my point.
Thus, here we are, at the most nerve-wracking post that I write every year because not only is this my top ten reads of the entire year, I’ve also put them in order of favorites, which was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do yet on this blog, and I’m still shocked at the order.
Last year, while reading Lara Elena Donnelly’s The Amberlough Dossier, I thought there was no possible way that anything could fill the dark hole of sorrow in my heart that Cyril & Aristide left behind, and then along came Natasha Pulley. Truly, all three of her books could make this list easily, but if I had to pick one, it would, of course, be The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. This wrecked me. When I was trying to think of what could possibly be my favorite book of the year, there was no question. If not for Thaniel alone, then definitely for Thaniel & Mori combined, and don’t even get me started on Six. In the end, it was more than just the characters, too, because I’m always going to be drawn in by excellently crafted characters, but the plot in Pulley’s books nearly pulled at my attention more, and that’s an incredible feat to manage, so I’ve got to hand it to her. Standing ovation for Natasha Pulley.
It was a close race, though, and my heart breaks a little that Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender isn’t the first, but there’s no denying it needs to be as close to the top as possible. The entire time I was reading this, I couldn’t stop shouting about how it was going to become one of my favorite books of all time, and it’s definitely become another RWRB for me, in that I want to read it again, and it’s been barely half a year since the first time. This was just an astonishing book, and there is so, so much that I love about it.
I’ll level with you, right up until the end of November, I had Alix E. Harrow’s debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, on this list, but the wild blend of rage & hope that The Once and Future Witches made me feel cannot be denied. It’s a book that I’m going to be thinking about for a long, long time to come, and I’ll definitely need to reread it at some point so I can sink my teeth even further into it. It was, truly, the definition of exceptional, and I wish I could say more now, but I’m still struggling to come up with the words of how I feel about this.
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh totally and completely blew me away in ways that I was not expecting in the slightest, and I was practically stalking the mail waiting for the sequel to come in so that could destroy me, too. It was everything that I love in these kind of stories, but elevated in ways that I haven’t seen in a long time, and it just got to me, deep down in the marrow of my bones. Shahrzad quickly became a Karou character for me, where I just occasionally screamed her name into my pillow, and it was the best.
Oi, The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen got me. It feels like it was written specifically for me, with all of my aesthetics in mind, and it was easily one of the best series that I read this year. I was beside myself with excitement that I read it so close to the release of the sequel, too, because that was somehow even more perfect, and there’s just not a single thing that I don’t wholeheartedly love about this duology. Fie will forever be beating a fever drum in my heart, and I am so damn ready to money dance at anyone that dares me to.
Lucky for me, I read Margaret Rogerson’s latest release, The Sorcery of Thorns, last year, so I didn’t have to choose between it and An Enchantment of Ravens this year! This was, hands down, my favorite depiction of the Fae ever, and it is now going to be the pedestal that I hold up against all other books with faeries in them. It was an enchanting, delightful book, and it’s definitely going to be one that I reread multiple times over the years.
You know who really deserves a standing ovation? Aidan freaking Thomas! NYT Bestseller list for his debut and first trans author to hit the list ever! It makes me so damn emotional because Cemetery Boys is an actual gem of a book, as is its author, and it deserves all the love and more that it’s gotten. I hyped this book so much, based purely on its title and cover, before I even knew what it was about, and then to find that it was a ghost romance with Latin magic, YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU! Yadriel & Julian may live rent-free in my heart forever.
I knew, going into Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, that I was going to love it, just given that literally every person I know whose read it has absolutely adored it, but I somehow still wasn’t quite ready for just how much I loved it. This is a hard, heavy book, but it’s so well written, and the story is so, so worth it. For the characters, the story, the writing, all of it. Do yourself a favor, and read this masterpiece.
If I had to pick one man to shout about this year, though, it’d definitely be Altair al Badawi from We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, and that should surprise no one. He is exactly my type of hides his pain behind charm kind of sad boy, and I’m here for it. This was also the first sequel that I preordered, and I’m just now remembering that it comes out in January, and I truly cannot freaking wait for it to absolutely devour me. The story in this is truly outstanding, and I am so, so curious to see how it continues.
It wouldn’t be a top ten of the year if there wasn’t nonfiction on it! Somehow, I’ve managed to adore at least one nonfiction a year enough to consider it a top ten, and it makes all the sense in the world that it belong to J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter this year. This was the sweetest biography I’ve ever read, and though it was completely biased (Carpenter thought Tolkien was the bee’s knees), I’m totally okay with that because it made it just such a joy to slowly fall into.