I’ll admit, I very nearly didn’t meet my reading goal for 2018. Part of that was due to books that I struggled to get through, but part of it was also due to some amazing books. Books I wanted to devour, but instead savoured because I didn’t want them to end. While I’m sure there’ll be many more to come this year, here are some 2018 releases that sunk their teeth into me.
Blackout by Kit Mallory
Blackout is a dark dystopian set in the UK—yes, you heard me right. The UK! A dystopian not set in America! Because of that, it was so refreshing to read, and I loved the idea of a UK quite literally divided by north and south. Plus, the parallels it drew to current events didn’t require much suspension of my disbelief. Along with a f/f relationship, excellent mental health rep, and plenty of twists, Blackout is a perfectly fresh take on a familiar genre, and I need the sequel ASAP.
Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
The third in Three Dark Crowns series, and just like its predecessors, it had me hooked. Perhaps a bit slow to start, but I didn’t even notice because the tone of the book—dark, twisty, mysterious—was such a delight to read. With my personal favourite of the queens now on the throne, and a revolution rising simultaneously, the series’ multiple POVs once again worked wonders. It felt like everything in this book was building up to the final installment in the series, which I can’t wait to read later this year!
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
I don’t read contemporary fantasy all that often, but The Hazel Wood made me want to change that. I love how the real world elements sat perfectly alongside the fantasy elements, without making them feel any less magical. Alice (named with a nice nod to the story’s fairytale aspects) felt like such a messy, real protagonist, which was a nice contrast with the very unreal happenings of the story. The fairytales Albert created were deliciously dark, and the overall tone was creepy, gritty, and unlike anything I’ve read before.
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
I liked this so much better than the first book! I much preferred reading from the point of view of Donatella, whose bubbly and bold personality gave the book an overall more enjoyable feel. But don’t let that trick you into thinking it was all fun and games—Legendary felt so much darker than its predecessor, with higher stakes and a storyline that went beyond the game of Caraval. With its gorgeous worldbuilding, mysterious new characters, and plenty of Garber’s lush descriptions of dresses, Legendary was the best sequel anyone could ask for.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
I was a little late to the party reading this one, so I’ll admit, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to all the hype. Wrong! This book was delightfully twisty, and though some people might consider it slow to begin with, I thought it was the perfect pace for the all of the book’s scheming, nasty, and—well, cruel happenings. Plus, without giving anything away, I can safely say it becomes much more fast-paced towards the end. The Cruel Prince filled the faerieland fantasy shaped hole in my heart. It was so whimsical, and so, so dark. Add that to an enemies-to-lovers relationship, and a drunken, charming mess of a faerie prince, and you’ve got the perfect book for me.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
I knew this would be one of my favourite reads of the year before I even finished it. This is some of the best fantasy worldbuilding I have ever encountered, inspired by Nigerian mythology to create a magic system that felt so different to anything I’d ever read. The story draws many parallels with real life despite being rooted in fantasy, and it forces the reader to stop and think about the racism and injustice in our own world. Also, a friend recently pointed out to me that this book has a lot of parallels with Avatar: the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra (neither of which I’d watched before reading the book), and now I’m itching to read it again just to see all the places it’s drawn inspiration from.
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Ever since Six of Crows, I have been in love with the idea of street gangs in fantasy (so much that I decided to write my own)—so when I heard about Ace of Shades, I knew I was going to fall in love all over again. Charming bisexual (!) con-man Levi and prim, proper, secretly badass Enne stole my heart right away, especially with the found family they form with secondary characters Jac and Lola. And if that isn’t enough of a reason to love this book, then the unique worldbuilding, clever schemes, and 1920s gangster/casinos/cabaret aesthetics will steal your heart.
Vengeful by V. E. Schwab
I’m predictable, but if I had to pick just one favourite 2018 release, this would be it. Vicious stole my heart the minute I read it, as gripping and immersive as all of V. E. Schwab’s writing, but so much darker than anything I’d read of hers before. I’ve been itching for the sequel ever since, and I was NOT disappointed. Vengeful was even darker than its predecessor (there were a couple of moments where I had to set the book down and just… reflect on what I had read) and it brought the story of Victor and Eli to a whole other level. I loved the new characters, especially vengeful (pun not intended) mob wife Marcella and shapeshifter June, and of course it was nice to be reunited with Victor, Mitch and Sydney. And then, it did the unthinkable… it made me feel sympathy for Eli Ever. I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers, but if anyone needs me, I’ll be thinking about that ending until we (hopefully) get a third book.
Which books sunk their teeth into you in 2018? And what are the 2019 releases that you just can’t wait for? (If 2018’s books didn’t empty my bank account, then 2019 is going to finish it off). Let me know in the comments!