There’s nothing better than escapist fiction – immersing yourself in a different world while the one here gets cold, dark and/or wet. So, here are my recommendations for the fantasy and science-fiction lovers on your list this year!
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
Agnieszka’s village pays dearly for their protection from the corrupted wood that surrounds them; once every ten years the Dragon (a powerful but inhumanly cold wizard) chooses and takes one girl. This time, the Dragon’s unexpected choice will forever change Agnieszka’s world. This is my favourite book this year, and, even better, a rare standalone fantasy novel. It’s reminiscent of a fairy tale, with a fascinating – and at times downright chilling – world that Novik so expertly brings to life.
A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last of his kind – a magician who can travel between the four worlds that are connected by their different incarnations of the city of London: Grey, Red, White, and Black London – although no one goes to Black London since it fell to its obsession with magic. This is so far relatively light non-gritty fantasy, and a great pick for someone looking for a new series.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1), by Jim Butcher
This is the first in a new series by the author of the Dresden Files features. Its part steampunk, part dystopian sci-fi, and part fantasy, and promises to be extremely entertaining. And for the record, while I’m normally anti-talking-cat I was completely won over this time by the fiercely loyal, arrogant, thirty-pound warrior cat featured here; he was by far my favourite characters by the end, and his last chapter was actually laugh out loud. A good pick for someone looking for a new series of the epic adventure variety.
The Shattered Sea Trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie
While the first in this series (Half a King) was technically a 2014 novel, the remaining two in the trilogy (Half the World and Half a War) came out this year so now would be a good time to acquire the complete set for someone (or yourself). Abercrombie is normally known for gritty fantasy; this one’s a bit of a departure for him that way, but it’s still filled with his morally-grey and wholly believable characters, and it’s a thoroughly engrossing series, mixing coming-of-age, revenge, and world-encompassing war. It repeatedly kept me up way past my bedtime, so thank you, Patricia, for recommending this one, and for costing me so much sleep.
If you’ve got a Hunger Games fan on your list, try the first two in the Red Rising Trilogy. In a highly class-segregated world, its protagonist – Darrow – was willing to work and to serve until tragedy strikes home, and he’s driven to becoming a revolutionary in his quest for revenge. Red Rising was a gritty, action-heavy 2014 hit, and its 2015 sequel, Golden Son, only upped the game in tension, twists, and of course, action. And good news, the final book in the trilogy – Morning Star – will be released in February 2016 so you won’t have your gift recipients upset with you for hooking them on a new series with a long wait for the next book!