While I’m not as voracious a reader as I used to be, novels were my first entry into fantasy and science fiction and remain my favourite way to escape into another world. This past year had an incredible array of wonderful books published, and I’m delighted to share some of my favourites from 2022.
My tastes tend towards the obviously queer, the slightly hard to read, the fantastically epic, and the swooningly romantic. Whether that’s romance as in fealty or romance as in smooching is up for debate, but regardless, here are 13 books that I devoured this past year. (Including two additions from Gizmodo’s Cheryl Eddy and one from Gizmodo’s Sabina Graves!)
Some books on this list have been published by HarperCollins, which includes the Voyager and William Morrow imprints. Please note that the HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for its workers. Click here to learn how you can support its fight for a fair contract.
The Art of Prophecy — Wesley Chu
A badass martial artist who can step along the wind is tasked with saving a child of prophecy but uncovers a massive conspiracy at the heart of her country’s religion. The Art of Prophecy is a sweeping epic tale that offers a distinct wuxia style and an impressively quick plot.
The Pallbearers Club — Paul Tremblay
Styled as a memoir peppered with sarcastic, contrarian feedback from someone with mysterious access to the manuscript, Paul Tremblay’s The Pallbearers Club introduces us to Art Barbara, who evolves from awkward teen to actually-pretty-cool adult thanks to his deep love of Bob Mould and Hüsker Dü — and the influence of a peculiar young woman he met in high school while volunteering at a funeral home. The reader is never sure if Mercy (or “Mercy,” since the character is so enigmatic we don’t learn her real name) is a ghost, an energy vampire, some sort of less-easily-identifiable monster, or just a really intense frenemy… and frankly, neither is Art, a charmingly unreliable narrator whose story becomes intertwined with his equally unreliable antagonist. –Cheryl Eddy
This book was published by HarperCollins. The HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for its workers. Click here to learn how you can support its fight for a fair contract.
The Sleepless — Victor Manibo
The Sleepless is a gripping, nightmarish descent into obsession, addiction, and the horrible journalistic pursuit of truth at the expense of literally everything else in Jamie Vega’s life. His boss is dead, you see. He’s got to get justice. Within the beats of the whodunnit, The Sleepless is a deep, introspective reflection on the ways in which productivity has taken over our lives, and the novel crafts a compassionate treatise on what makes people’s lives worth living.
Goliath — Tochi Onyebuchi
Tochi Onyebuchi’s searing prose is an emotional journey in every sentence, and Goliath proves that he can take on vast systems of inequality on an interstellar scale. A destroyed, polluted, post-apocalypse Earth becomes the site of vicious colonial gentrification as entire homes and cul-de-sacs are transported from Earth and re-settled in wealthy off-world neighbourhoods.
Sign Here — Claudia Lux
I love a deal with the devil novel, and Sign Here pits a pencil pushing demon with ambitions of finally making it out of the deals business against a wealthy family with more secrets than cash… and they’ve got a lot of cash. It’s a darkly funny, deeply considered novel that kept me up well into the night as I sped through to the ending.
Dead Silence — S. A. Barnes
Space horror is one of those genres that I am slowly but surely becoming more and more attached to. This book combines some old school lost in space tropes like luxury ships and dead crews with contemporary anxieties around being made redundant. Dead Silence is like Cthulhu made its home on the Titanic in space… and you’re the arseholes who thought you could handle it.
The Spear Cuts Through Water — Simon Jimenez
An epic fantasy that scratched every possible itch I have whenever I pick up a big old doorstop of a book, while also avoiding the pitfalls that make me cringe when reading books about bad royal families. This epic journey is about friendship and legacy as two warriors fight alongside a literal god as she attempts to outrun her children and destroy the despots that have taken over her domain.
Secret Identity — Alex Segura
Comics fans know him for his work at Archie as well as with Marvel and DC; noir fans know him from his Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery series. (Star Wars fans may also recognise his name, to boot.) But Alex Segura scored maybe his greatest-to-date literary triumph this year with Secret Identity, a fast-paced, incredibly entertaining 1970-set tale about a struggling writer who creates the next great superhero character — then gets pulled into a murder mystery that digs into the seedy underbelly of the comic-book world, with comic panels cleverly integrated into the storytelling. – Cheryl Eddy
The First Binding — R.R. Virdi
When I tell you this book is massive, it’s not an understatment, it’s absolutely a chonker of the highest order, and I enjoyed every single second of it. In this sweeping recollection of a new mythology, our main character Ari is a storyteller who travels across his world retelling, adjusting, tweaking, and lying his way through his travels. It’s a marvellous epic fantasy, and the evil at the heart of this world is a tense and demonic presence.
Babel — R. F. Kuang
Babel has a remarkably fantastic subtitle, which is “Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution.” This gives you a good idea of the kind of dark academia meets student revolution that you’ll get when taking on R.F. Kuang’s first novel since her standout Poppy War Trilogy. The book follows a young Chinese man, Robin, as he is torn between his magical academic pursuits and the knowledge that the war Britain is about to wage on his homeland is unjust, and he must decide whether to fight back or attempt a bloodless defence. Heart wrenching and violent, Babel is sure to become a fantasy classic.
This book was published by HarperCollins. The HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for their workers. Click here to learn how you can support their fight for a fair contract.
The Ballad of Perilous Graves — Alex Jennings
New Orleans comes to magical, undead, vibrant life in the pages of this book, which is charged with a cadence that is entirely unique. The line writing of this book is so fantastic, switching in between the perspectives of a young teacher and three child-mages. The whole of Nola is in danger as nine jazz songs escape their bounds, threatening to drive the city under the water, this time for good. An incredible, evocative, syrupy book that will not fail to enchant you… I’d advise giving it what it wants.
Lore Olympus: Vol 3 — Rachel Smythe
Had to get my hands on the latest volume of Rachel Smythe’s gorgeous reimagining of the Hades and Persephone myth, which I just can’t put down and stop what I’m doing to read when it hits the Webtoom app. But seriously, the amazing colours, the world designs, and love story are all just as riveting between the pages of a book. –Sabina Graves
A Taste of Gold and Iron – Alexandra Rowland
I devoured this book so fast, and then went screaming to Twitter about how wonderful it was. Luckily for me, Alex Rowland saw it and instead of telling me to chill, please, they agreed to an interview! This book is the moment! It’s pure Romantasy (that’s Romance/fantasy) in the best of ways, combining all the tropes I love in fanfiction and plenty I love in fantasy to portray fealty and love. As Prince Kadou struggles to regain his footing and uncover a conspiracy to commit economic fraud, his bodyguard, Evemer, has to figure out just how far he’s willing to go to protect the prince… and his heart. (They are so gone on each other by like chapter four it drove me mad, please read this book and scream at me on Twitter.)
Manhunt — Gretchen Felker-Martin
Thrilling, gory, disgusting, and wonderfully cathartic, Manhunt is a manifesto against every gender apocalypse stereotype, creating space for trans and nonbinary people in the biology of transhumanism by eating the competition whole. Not for the faint of heart, and resplendent for it.
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