Nevernight, Jay Kristoff

It is rare for me to find a book, fantasy or otherwise, that I so immediately connect with and enjoy. It happened with my first Haruki Murakami novel, with Senlin Ascends of course, and to my surprise with Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. If I judged books solely on their cover, I might have guessed…

Quill, A.C. Cobble

Quill is a new type of fantasy for me, but one that I feel has been lacking in my life. I have a fondness for the colonial periods of our world history, despite the innumerable horrors inflicted upon native peoples during the imperialist rampage. There is a sense of adventure and discovery to this time period…

Sin Eater, Mike Shel

If I had been the sole judge in 2018’s recently wrapped up SPFBO, I would have chosen Mike Shel’s Aching God to win it all. His elegant prose and measured pacing won me over from the start, enough that I had to order a print copy of the book halfway through because I didn’t feel that reading…

Seven Blades in Black, Sam Sykes

Sal the Cacophony is a hell of a character. I don’t know that I’ve read her equal, though Monza Murcatto from Joe Abercromie’s Best Served Cold is close. These deadly ladies share a few common characteristics, from their ability to extract death from the unlikeliest of circumstances, to their completely unforgiving and exacting attitudes towards any and every one. They are…

Blackwood Mauraders, KS Villoso

“You don’t argue with a name like “Lucky” if you were lucky to be alive.” Thus starts KS Villoso’s Blackwood Marauders, and in doing so introduces us to its main character, one Luc “Lucky” apn Jak, a young man so likable from the start that even had I not enjoyed the story and other characters of Blackwood,…

The Half-Killed, Quenby Olson

It becomes apparent from the opening of The Half-Killed that Quenby Olson is a master of mimicking Victorian prose. I would wager that she is so good, so authentic, that she could fool the literati of the time. She sets up the prologue of The Half-Killed in second-person point of view, potentially the only clue that this isn’t a…

The Gutter Prayer, Gareth Hanrahan

The Gutter Prayer. It sounds dark, and messy, and brimming with meaning. It sounds like the last whisper of the dying before darkness shrouds the eye. As far as evocative titles go, this is one of the best, and the gorgeous cover, the kind that catches the eye and demands to be gazed upon, only…

Aching God, Mike Shel

The tendency to pigeonhole Aching God as a simple Dungeons and Dragons adventure is tempting (not that such efforts should be cast aside because many a good story has come from the table-top). Shel’s debut has all the trappings of a role-playing game: there is a band of adventurers, each with a different skill set; there are monsters to slay…

The Hod King, Josiah Bancroft

How does a fantasy book reviewer critique a work that he unabashedly loves? Do I try to make up bad things about Josiah Bancroft’s newest Book of Babel? Do I scour it for the tiniest typo and the smallest grammatical error simply so I don’t come off as an advertisement for Orbit Books? I mean, I guess…

Orconomics, J. Zachary Pike

Satirical fantasy has never been my sub-genre. I like Terry Pratchett (no way I’m getting through this review without mentioning Pratchett, so might as well get it out of the way), but not in the devotional way of many of fantasy connoisseurs. I get it.  There’s no denying the clever writing and imaginative world-building, but for whatever reason…

The Boy Who Walked Too Far, Dom Watson

Note – This review originally appeared at Fantasy Book Critic as part of the SPFBO contest of 2018.  Defining fantasy, as a genre of literature, is one of the trickiest things in this industry. There are so many sub-genres now, as well as decriers of genre who insist that everything should simply be called literature,…

Blackwing, Ed MacDonald

Blackwing feels like the love-child of The Black Company and Dark Souls, but potentially grimmer than either (an impressive feat). On paper, this is my dream combination. The Black Company is one of the best anti-hero fantasies ever written, and Dark Souls is likely the best fantasy video game series ever made. This should make…