There were so many ways I wanted to go about this week’s topic. I wanted to do fantasy novels on my TBR or my favorites I’ve ever read. But both of those lists were just too long. I would write the list, and then want to add more later. So, like with my LGBTQ list last month, I picked five of my favorite fantasy novels I’ve read this year.
Those books are:
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
A lot of people were disappointed by Flame in the Mist and I can understand why. It was pitched as a Mulan retelling by the publisher. While the novel does have similar themes—the heroine, Mariko, disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate the Black Clan, a notorious group of bandits, to find out who wanted her dead after her entourage is attacked—but that is where the similarities end. That’s not Renee’s fault; it was marketing. While I found the book slow in the beginning, it still had Renee’s beautiful writing style. I liked Mariko, who was a warrior that used her brain instead of a sword, which I personally prefer.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
This book sat unread on my shelves for almost two years and I don’t know why. I enjoyed My Lady Jane more than I thought I would. It gives Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for nine days before she was unjustly beheaded, a happier ending she deserved. The authors turned likely one of the darkest times in England’s history on its head, giving it a fantastical comedic spin. Plus, I loved every single character in My Lady Jane. I kind of wish we were getting a little more of them, but I do appreciate the novel being a stand-alone.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Heartless is another book on my TBR that I picked up and put down without reading it over the last two years. When I read it this spring, I was swept into a magical Wonderland that I adored. I absolutely loved Cath as well as felt for her. Marissa Meyer’s writing style is delicious, making me very hopeful about her Lunar Chronicles series.
While I’ve heard mixed reviews about Heartless since I read it, I personally enjoyed the author’s take on how the Queen of Hearts came to be. She was a sweet girl that had her dreams stolen from her by those she trusted. If that doesn’t make someone go bad, what will?
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Likely one of the most polarizing books to be published in 2018, people either love or hate The Hazel Wood. I originally checked it out of my local library. I was interested in the synopsis—a teenaged girl searches for her mother in a nightmarish fairy tale land created by her grandmother—but the negative reviews were overwhelming. Then, I read The Hazel Wood, devouring the frightening fairy tale world-building, the whimsical writing, and Alice, the complex main character you love to hate but you root for her anyway. I bought my own copy, where I display it facing front on my bookshelves because I love the cover, as well as the insides, so much.
Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller
As far as I am concerned, the Daughter of the Pirate King duology is severely underrated. The most recent read on this list, Daughter of the Siren Queen is the second and final novel in the duology. The heroine, Alosa, grows into her abilities as a siren and leads her predominantly female pirate crew on an expedition to find treasure in a race against her brutal father.
If you love morally gray characters, particularly morally gray females, check out the Daughter of the Pirate King duology. Alosa is the definition of moral grayness—she does some questionable things throughout the novel, but she’s loyal to those she cares for and protects everyone worthy of her trust. Plus, Daughter of the Siren Queen was downright fun. And steamy. And bloody. And fast-paced. And exciting. More people need to read this duology. So go do it if you haven’t already!