I feel like autumn is the perfect season for fantasy books, so I’m recommending five of my favourite fantasy reads of the year today.
Margaret Rogerson – Sorcery of Thorns
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
Sorcery of Thorns has the perfect atmosphere for autumn, and I especially recommend you pick this up if you love demons, because this has one of the best ones I’ve seen.
Hafsah Faizal – We Hunt the Flame
People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.
Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.
Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.
Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.
We Hunt the Flame has such intricate world building, and the writing is absolutely beautiful, even poetic at times. It’s really detailed, and I loved the banter between the characters.
Samantha Shannon – The Priory of the Orange Tree
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
It took me quite a long time to read The Priory of the Orange Tree, because it took a lot out of my ability to focus. But it was so worth it!
I actually had to read the first 50 pages twice to make sense over everything, but once I got a grasp on the story and the world building, I really enjoyed this. It’s a rather slow read, but not because the story moves slowly (it’s actually surprisingly fast-paced for such a long novel!), but because every page held so much intricate detail.
There was so much going on all the time, and so many characters and so much political and religious intrigue, which made this book very interesting to read.
Amanda Foody – Ace of Shades
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
If you loved Six of Crows, you’re legally obligated to read Ace of Shades. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules. I’m not saying it’s that similar, because it’s actually not, but it does have a similar sort of vibe to it. And I enjoyed the sequel even more than the first book.
Roshani Chokshi – The Gilded Wolves
No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
The same rule applies here: read The Gilded Wolves if you loved Six of Crows. Again, it’s actually really not that similar at all, but it does also have the whole “group of people bands together for a heist and has amazing banter” aspect down. I was also really happy to see an autistic character in this book 🙂
BONUS FOR DUTCH READERS: Rima Orie – De zwendelprins
Prachtig young adult fantasy-verhaal van winnares Moon YA Contest!
Als nieuwsgierige keukenhulp is de 17-jarige Simran op de hoogte van de meest kleurrijke verhalen en de smerigste roddels die er in het paleis de ronde doen. Toch is er slechts één verhaal dat zowel haar als de rest van de bevolking van Surya in de ban houdt: de mysterieuze verdwijning van de kroonprins. Tot er, tien jaar na zijn verdwijning, een prins uit het Noorden bij het paleis verschijnt met de belofte de kroonprins terug te vinden. Zal het deze mysterieuze prins lukken? Of heeft zijn bezoek een heel ander doel?
Ik keek erg uit naar dit boek, want er zijn maar zo weinig Nederlandstalige YA fantasyboeken, en al helemaal weinig met diversiteit. Ik had dan ook hoge verwachtingen van dit boek, en ik ben zeker niet teleurgesteld. Ik heb het bijna in één ruk uitgelezen! Het verhaal begon meteen sterk, Simran was een geweldige hoofdpersoon, en ik vond het een erg sfeervol fantasyverhaal. Ik kan alleen maar zeggen dat ik graag meer over deze wereld en personages zou willen lezen.
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