Happy new year!
A new year of books and reading awaits us – and there are certainly lots of new books scheduled for 2023 that excite me. So much so, that I’ve read a few advance copies.
Here are the books that have enthralled me the most- and that I highly recommend you read! There is a real mix too – fantasy/sci-fi, speculative sci-fi, epic fantasy and YA fantasy romance.
The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence
All books, no matter their binding, will fall to dust. The stories they carry may last longer. They might outlive the paper, the library, even the language in which they were first written.
But the greatest story can reach the stars . . .
Evar has lived his whole life trapped within a vast library, older than empires and larger than cities.
Livira has spent hers in a tiny settlement out on the Dust where no one goes and nightmares stalk.
The world has never noticed them. That’s about to change.
I had the pleasure of reading this book a few months ago – and my, what a book.
The Book That Wouldn’t Burn marks a departure from the lands of Broken Empire and Abeth and the interwoven stories of Mark Lawrence’s previous five series.
This series is entirely new – but a Mark Lawrence novel still. Razor sharp prose and insightful characters, this novel will make you think. It combines elements of both sci-fi and fantasy in terms of genre and if I was pushed to compare it, I’d say it felt like a mixture of Stargate and Narnia, only the setting is a library.
Fans of Nona Grey will also find a protagonist here worthy of her predecessor. Livira is a wonderful character to follow around this new world; brave and curious. War haunts her steps, but even so, she’s focused enough to try to discover the mysteries contained within the new city she is taken to… the library in particular.
Not only will fans of Mark Lawrence enjoy this, but I can see a whole new set of fans finding his work with The Book That Wouldn’t Burn.
Ascension by Nicholas Binge
A mind-bending speculative thriller in which the sudden appearance of a mountain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean leads a group of scientists to a series of jaw-dropping revelations that challenge the notion of what it means to be human.
An enormous snow-covered mountain has appeared in the Pacific Ocean. No one knows when exactly it showed up, precisely how big it might be, or how to explain its existence. When Harold Tunmore, a scientist of mysterious phenomena, is contacted by a shadowy organization to help investigate, he has no idea what he is getting into as he and his team set out for the mountain.
The higher Harold’s team ascends, the less things make sense. Time moves differently, turning minutes into hours, and hours into days. Amid the whipping cold of higher elevation, the climbers’ limbs numb and memories of their lives before the mountain begin to fade. Paranoia quickly turns to violence among the crew, and slithering, ancient creatures pursue them in the snow. Still, as the dangers increase, the mystery of the mountain compels them to its peak, where they are certain they will find their answers. Have they stumbled upon the greatest scientific discovery known to man or the seeds of their own demise?
Framed by the discovery of Harold Tunmore’s unsent letters to his family and the chilling and provocative story they tell, Ascension considers the limitations of science and faith and examines both the beautiful and the unsettling sides of human nature.
This book will part of the bookish conversation next year, and not only within SFF. It’s a genre defying novel – part speculative, part sci-fi, part contemplation on the nature of humanity. Perhaps I’d even go as far to say that it could be this generations Life of Pi or Atonement.
It’s an experience to read. Told by way of letters, we come to know Harold Tunmore, a scientist with a hidden past. The mountain has lots of mysteries to unravel too, but it is this hidden past that became the core of the novel for me and gave heart to the larger themes at play.
Barrow of Winter by H.M. Long
Thrilling epic fantasy adventures set in the world of HALL OF SMOKE and TEMPLE OF NO GOD, featuring murderous conspiracies, howling icy wastelands and the Children of Winter, for readers of Claire LeGrand, Margaret Owen, V. E. Schwab and Melissa Caruso
Thray is the Last Daughter of Winter, half immortal and haunted by the legacy of her blood. When offered a chance to visit the northern land of Duamel, where her father once ruled, she can’t refuse – even if it means lying to the priesthood she serves and the man she loves.
In Duamel, Thray’s demi-god siblings rule under the northern lights, worshipped by arcane cults. An endless winter night cloaks the land, giving rise to strange beasts, terrible storms and a growing, desperate hunger. The people of Duamel teeter on the edge of violence, and Thray’s siblings, powerful and deathless, stand with them on the brink.
To earn her siblings’ trust and find the answers she seeks, Thray will have to weather assassinations, conspiracies and icy wastelands. And as her siblings turn their gaze towards the warmer, brighter land she calls home, she must harness her own feral power and decide where her loyalties lie.
Because when the spring winds blow and the ice breaks up, the sons and daughters of Winter will bring her homeland to its knees.
This is a beautiful epic fantasy.
Prior to reading this, I’d read quite a lot of low fantasy. This is the opposite. We have plenty of gods, Demi-gods and mortals alike. Magic is tangible here and found in many places.
But what made this novel was the prose. H.M. Long is an expert at building tension. Thray is an interesting protagonist and we weave through the world with her. Why have her half-siblings found her? Why did her grandfather warn her not to speak with them? Why has the northern kingdom been thrust into darkness? And most importantly of all, who does Thray want to be?
Just absolutely gripping. A must read.
Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs
Having grown up hearing tales of her uncle, the great King Beowulf, Fryda’s one desire is to become a shield maiden in her own right. Yet a terrible childhood accident has left Fryda disabled – thus, she believes, thwarting her dream of becoming a warrior-woman for good. But still, somehow, she feels an uncontrollable power begin to rise within herself.
Meanwhile, a great celebration of Beowulf’s reign is underway, and Fryda’s house is soon overrun with foreign kings and chieftains. Amidst the drunken revelry, a discovery is made that threatens the safety of Fryda’s entire clan – and her own life. Enraged, Fryda resolves to fight for her people, no matter the cost… and all the while, her powers seem only to grow stronger.
But she is not the only one to feel its effects. For, buried deep in her gilded lair, a dragon is drawn to Fryda’s untamed power, and is slowly awakening from a long, cursed sleep…
YA romance is not really my thing anymore. Grumpy princes and questionable consensual behaviour are two tropes I find there too often and don’t enjoy.
How refreshing then to read a YA romance where both the leads are worthy of each other. What makes it even better is the setting. Beowulf is a classic Anglo Saxon poem and details the three monsters Beowulf must slay. This novel deals only with the final monster of this poem – a dragon.
The dragon has some POV chapters in this novel and we begin to understand why the dragon hoarded all its gold. I loved the weaving of stories and this part of Beowulf being told through a different lens.
As well as these four books, I have two more arcs for 2023 releases! I’m very excited about both of these and will read and review them as soon as possible!
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