In this Top 5 series, I’ll be counting down throughout the month some of my favourite books that I’ve read this past year. This first post is all about my favourite fantasy reads. I’m incorporating both urban fantasies and high fantasies into this favourites post. It was incredibly difficult to narrow down to just a top 5 but, out of all the fantasy books I’ve read this year (so far!) these are the ones that have stuck in my mind the most and that I feel most excited to continue reading.
1. The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu
Is anyone surprised that a Cassandra Clare book is at the top of this list? I obviously loved this instalment in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. Initially, before picking it up, as it’s set between a series that already exists, I wasn’t sure how this story would work. But, as I started reading, I knew I’d fall in love with this one just as I had for all the Shadowhunter books before. Alec and Magnus are two of my favourite characters so of course I loved reading more from their perspectives – especially at this point in their relationship. A certain aroace vampire makes their return in this books, alongside a few other favourite characters of mine so I was beyond giddy reading this. I think the combination of Cassie’s and Wesley’s writing was really well meshed together and brought a newer take on the Shadowhunter world. If you’re a fan of Cassie’s books, you definitely won’t be disappointed by this one – I think some people might even prefer it to The Dark Artifices as it’s more of a contained story (and a lot shorter too!)
2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
This is a book that manages to incorporate all of my favourite fantastical elements: multiple perspectives from a misfit group of friends that would die for each other; intricate, complicated, angsty character relationships; secret societies with puzzles to solve! and mysteries to unveil! There was no way I could possibly dislike this book. This is one of those rare times that I go into a book knowing I will absolutely love it and still end up feeling blown away by it. Just. The atmosphere. The characters. The plot. The romances (non-monogamy please!?!) There was also so much rep in this – a cast of mostly characters of colour, queer characters, an autistic character (my personal fave!) This book was delicious and I absolutely cannot wait to read the sequel, especially with that ending!
3. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
You really can never go wrong with a Brandon Sanderson fantasy book. This series is so epic and well thought out and detailed, I feel that I’m there when I’m reading it. Oathbringer is the one book this year where it was a physical pain not to be reading it, I just had to know what would happen next. And I think that’s where Sanderson really shines in his writing – he makes a 1,200 page book go by fast. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments in part 2 that I did struggle to get through, but part 3 onwards was just a complete whirlwind of action and emotion. I kind of hate that I’m all caught up on the series now – I now have to wait for a new Way of Kings book every three years!
4. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I went into it thinking I’d like it but I didn’t expect for it to become one of my favourites of the year, but I am so glad that it did. It’s one of the most addicting first books in a fantasy series that I’ve read for a while. The pacing was perfect. The plot was intriguing and there was a lot going on without the book feeling too overstuffed or rushed. It does contain a lot of the usual tropes you see in a YA fantasy series, but I think Kemmerer really manages to execute those tropes well. The main character is one of my new favourite heroines, aswell. It’s so rare to see a disabled character take centre stage in a fantasy story, so it was great to see some cerebral palsy rep from Harper. She’s such a relatable, no-nonsense, head-strong character and, when it comes to portal fantasies, those are my personal favourite types of female fantasy characters. If you’re looking for a fantasy to get you out of a reading slump, I would highly recommend this book to you.
5. Gumiho by Kat Cho
This was definitely the most interesting fantasy book I’ve read so far this year. I haven’t read any Korean folklore-inspired fantasies and this book made me want to pick them all up. I loved that this was set in Seoul, too, especially since I’m planning to visit there in April next year (fingers crossed!) I absolutely loved the characters in this. I liked that Miyoung was a moody, cutthroat badass and Jihoon was soft and sweet. I really like that relationship dynamic for hetero characters. I know some people will take issue with the pacing and the dramatics of the two main characters and I can see that, but I just really enjoyed those elements personally. And the story-world was beautifully created – it felt very immersive and having those snippets before the main chapters of the gumiho tale really helped to bring the story to life. I love me an angsty duo in an urban fantasy and this is definitely one of the best executions of that I’ve read for a while.
Honourable mentions to: The Wicked King, King of Scars, Beneath the Sugar Sky, Wild Beauty, The Kiss of Deception, Music and Malice in Hurricane Town, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, Malamander, Rumblestar and Monstress, vol. 4. Okay so maybe I should have made a longer list of my favourite fantasy reads since I seem to have so many! I think the hard part for me was that I read only a few 5 star reads this year and mostly 4 stars, which is why it was so hard to narrow it down to my favourite.
But anyway, there you have it, my top 5 fantasy books of 2019. What are some of your top fantasy picks for the year?