An odd year of reading, actually, because it’s been 50% re-reading old books from my youth, 20% new books, and then a four month bit in the middle where I mainly listened to audio dramas and didn’t touch a book. As a result, most of the books I’ve loved the most this year are ones I’d read because I already loved them, and I didn’t want to overload the list with those.
In no particular order:
Speak My Language edited by Torsen Hojer I’m actually only halfway through, but it’s a great collection of stories from an a-z of gay writers you should know if you don’t. Very eclectic, but for the most part (so far, anyway) the stories are great.
The Glittering World by Robert Levy I never actually reviewed on the blog because the review I wrote is still in the ether for being published elsewhere. It’s a returning-home/faerie fantasy story but that summary doesn’t do it justice, and I’ve not read many stories that handle faerie in such a way as to be genuinely other and threatening.
Pictures in the Dark by Gillian Cross is one of my re-reads that blew me away with with being better than I remembered. Dark and wild, but simple. Loved it.
The Magician’s House by William Corlett was another re-read that completely stood up to my memory. A brilliant children’s fantasy with a social-realism edge to the children’s interactions that defuses any hint of cutesy-cutesy, and an evocative fantasy story around it.
Pantomime by Laura Lam A YA-ish fantasy novel I’d heard a lot of good things about, primarily for it’s trans protagonist, but it exceeded my expectations. The thing that seals it is Micah, the protagonist, who is just wonderful: sympathetic and very real.
Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper by David Barnett Juicy steampunk/Victoriana goodness – the third in a great series, but this volume is where every character finally comes into their own, and it’s a stonking great adventure story.
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin It’s criminal I’d never read them before, but Tales of the City thankfully lived up to the weight of ridiculous expectations everyone had placed on it for me. He mixes soapy sweetness with poignance and humour better than anyone I’ve read.
Season of War ed. by Declan May A fan charity anthology featuring John Hurt’s War Doctor character from Doctor Who. A fan anthology has no right to be this damn good.
Welcome Home, Bernard Socks by Paul Magrs Review of this is to come, but my pull-quote for it when I read it was: “The Story of Fester Cat was the first book to make me cry since I was twelve, and Welcome Home, Bernard Socks is a beautiful follow-up. Reading the story of how a family can carry on loving and welcoming after a major piece of their home has moved on had me back on the verge of tears from start to finish, and frequently bear-hugging my own bemused pet. It’s a simply lovely book, full of magic, whimsy and most of all: love.”
The City of the Saved: Tales of the Great Detectives edited by Philip Purser-Hallard is just. fucking. brilliant. Seriously – I had no expectations or preconceptions of what this anthology would be like, and it’s pure genius. Smart, meta, twisty and the right kind of bonkers. Cannot recommend highly enough.