My top picks usually run to fantasy, as usual. I particularly enjoyed two series this year. Rebecca Ross’s A River Enchanted combined all the great fantasy elements for me-an island, childhood enemies who are attracted to one another after a long separation, magic, music and strange disappearances AND… an unfinished plot line which promised a sequel!
Another series I was intrigued with was AJ Hackwith’s Hell’s Library Novels beginning with the Library of the Unwritten. Something about the librarian of the Unwritten Wing of a library in hell just captured my imagination. Claire, the aforementioned librarian, must pursue runaway characters who escape from the pages of their book and return them before catastrophe occurs. Sardonic humor, snarky angels, cranky librarians and unpredictable heroes create a fun getaway read for this library Director.
I also loved a historical fiction series (did you notice I like series?) I found through my Kindle app, Octavia Randolph’s Ceridwen Saga. The ten books that comprise this tale begin with The Circle of Ceridwen. Set in 871 Ceridwen, orphaned as a child, has struck out on her own at 15. She becomes entangled in the life of a young Saxon girl who has been “given” in marriage to Viking war chief as a part of peace treaty. It is a tale of two strong women who manage to make their own way in a difficult time in history. The series follows the ins and outs of their lives, their children and those they love and hate.
Finally, a standalone novel called The Maid by Nita Prose was a surprise for me. I don’t usually enjoy mysteries but 25 year old Molly Gray, a maid at the Regency Grand hotel really pulled me in. If you liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, you will love The Maid. Molly is a very sincere, black and white thinker who finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation which she finds extremely confusing. A great story about the power of love, friends and quirkiness.
And finally, here’s Emma’s favorites from 2022:
Published in 2021, My Heart is a Chainsaw was my favorite read of 2022. Not only is Stephen Graham Jones one of the best authors writing in horror today, he’s one of the best authors writing in any genre. At once a love letter to the slasher genre, while simultaneously subverting its tropes, My Heart is a Chainsaw mediates on gentrification, class and race, familial trauma, and what it means to be an outcast, while still providing the tension and gore of the very best of slashers. The end is so heartwrenching, and yet so triumphant, you’ll find yourself punching the air for Jade, the main character, while crying your eyes out. I’m very excited about the just released sequel, Don’t Fear the Reaper.
Added bonus: A book has to be one of my favorites if you see me wearing a t-shirt referencing it (see below).
As a huge fan of A Visit From the Goon Squad, I was excited for this sequel, The Candy House. Jennifer Egan, as ever, does not disappoint. Not only do we see what happens to the characters from Goon Squad, but we see Egan consider the ramifications of social media and our lives being online, and where that might take us in the future.
It’s almost impossible to describe how immersive this phantasmagorical, elegant, and utterly unique novel is, a reading experience that mirrors the labyrinth at the heart of the story. Piranesi is like no other book I have ever read. It’s not even like Susanna’s Clarke‘s previous novel, one of my favorites, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. What made it even more strange for me is that I lived near the “real life” place in the book at the same time it is set, so it was easy to believe that the labyrinth was there all along, just around the corner, and I just didn’t know about it.
Other books I read and enjoyed in 2022: