Throughout the month of May I’ll be doing a Fantasy related Book Tag each Thursday in honour of Wyrd & Wonder. I’ve plumbed the depths of my drafts folder to find tags I’ve started in the past, and I have to thank Zezeewithbooks as I think I’ve found most of these on her blog in the past.
Amphiptere: a book that was too much for one story and should have picked one topic
The world building in this one has a lot of potential, but it needs some serious unpacking. Huchu’s universe is distinct and the characters so compelling that it makes it all the more frustrating when loose ends aren’t fully realised. By the climax of the book I still had no idea what cataclysm had resulted in the new world order. I’m hoping book 2 will be more illuminating.
Anthropomorphic: a book series that wasn’t everything you hoped for (disappointing book 2, 3, etc.)
I loved book one, predominantly enjoyed book 2, but then along came book 3….what on earth happened there? It’s hard to think of another series where I found the climax to be so disappointing and just…bewildering. I hate series that end in a manner that negates everything that went before, it feels like a complete waste of reading time. After all, Life’s Too Short To Read Bad Books.
Dragon Beast: a book with a wild concept that somehow worked
Gideon the Ninth is bonkers AND brilliant. It’s hilarious and mad and a complete gut punch. I’m psyching myself up to read Harrow the Ninth during Wyrd & Wonder. I’ve no doubt it’ll bewilder and beguile me just as much as book one from what I can see from the reviews so far. Also, I adore the covers.
Draconic Hybrid: name a book that could be considered a genre mash
Is it fantasy? Is it mystery? Is it a political thriller? Just kidding, it’s all three and more. In opposition to prompt one, this is a book that contains multitudes in a way where the themes and genres feed into each other seamlessly. I’m never going to stop shouting about it because it’s so good.
Drake: name a good beginner fantasy
I’m going to plug Naomi Novik’s Uprooted for this. I think fairytale retellings are a great way to get into fantasy. Even the most anti-SFF reader has encountered a fairy tale, can recognise the tropes and follow the pattern. This is an excellent example of the genre, enough nods to Beauty and the Beast to see where it’s coming from but very much its own thing.
Eastern Dragon: name a fantasy with elemental magic
This trilogy was a revelation for me and I loved how connected to nature the magic was, from Morosko’s control over frost and winter to Vasya’s own burgeoning powers. Arden’s writing is deeply evocative of Russian folklore but also the nature of the region, the narrative is emersed in the forest and the seasons.
Fae Dragon: name a fae/fairy fantasy
Spinning Silver is one of my favourite explorations of the fae. Novik’s Staryk are both strange and frightening and utterly believable, she really explores the concept of cultural differences. What at first appears callous and cold, instead unravels to display an intelligence not so different to our own. Also it’s a pleasure to explore a version of the fae that isn’t British centred.
Great Serpent: name a fantasy with an Asian setting/influence
Nghi Vo’s Singing Hills Cycle of novellas are an utter delight. Following the adventures of a history chronicling monk, these tales are laced with Asian mythology and blend elements of real world history with Vo’s world-building. I honestly can’t recommend them enough, the writing is exquisite.
Hydra: favourite series with 3+ books
I could have easily gone with Discworld for this but I’ve sung its praises in another tag recently. So instead I’m going to throw the spotlight on Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. This series sprawls across 9 novels, three novellas, a short fiction collection and a graphic novel spin off (so far). I’m currently rereading via audiobook so that I can fully appreciate the brilliance of novel number 9: Amongst Our Weapons. It’s rare nowadays that I buy hardcopies automatically for new releases, but RoL is a definite exception to this.
Devil Fish: name a book with thievery/scams
The ultimate heist book, it’s just so FUN. Kaz’s Russian Doll of a scheme unfolds alongside our insight into the cast’s history. It’s twisty and turny and packed with humour, a couple of example quotes can be seen below. I love all the elements of the different schemes, the names and slangs the dreg’s use for the different set pieces, a delight.
Lindorm: a book that kept you up at night
Let’s put it this way, I’m never going to look at a mushroom the same way again but I desperately needed to get to the end of Mexican Gothic, it was well worth the late night!
Ouroboros: name a book with alchemy
I struggled to think of a book for this one, clearly I need to read more alchemical stories! This series has its issues (instalove anyone?) but I’m currently working my way through the TV adaptation and enjoying myself, I really like the world building’s blend of science, alchemy and magic.
Sea Serpent: name a book with pirates/sea travel
Shannon’s sprawling epic is full of dragons (as the cover indicates) but there’s pirates and sea-faring too, often perilous, and a fantastic final battle out at sea. I love nautical narratives, probably due to a childhood spent devouring the adventures of the Sky Pirates in The Edge Chronicles and obsessive rewatching of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film.
Serpent-Waist: name a book with shapeshifting
The shapeshifting in this one is far from consensual, an evil stepmother curses her stepsons to be turned into swans forcing their sister Sorcha into a quest of quiet desperation as she tries to save them. This is the first book in Marillier’s Sevenwaters series and I think it’s the best installment.
Western Dragon: name a classic/European fantasy
I love The Ryria Revelations, a swords and sorcery fantasy series with a difference. Sullivan wrote this series from beginning to end before publication and the intricacies of foreshadowing, subplots and underlying themes are a delight. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again….
Wyrm: name a grim dark book
When someone says Grimdark I always think of Abercrombie. His first law series was my first encounter with this fantasy subgenre and I think he’s still the master of it (plus he’s from my home county of Lancashire, how can I not promote that?).
Wyvern: a character you felt was too aggressive or too much
Eshevis Telemar from The Goblin Emperor is a right evil sod with far too much ego and no sense of boundaries, but in the interests of no spoilers I shan’t say anymore than that.