I started 2023 with a list of eight books I was excited about reading. Unfortunately, an intriguing concept doesn’t always turn into a compelling story, and I ultimately abandoned several of them, and none of them made it onto the list of the books I most enjoyed this year. Life’s a gamble, isn’t it?
I’m not complaining. Several of them were good; I just stumbled onto others I enjoyed more. Here, in no particular order, is the short list of the ones that stand out when I look back on 2023.
- Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh: A murder mystery/psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator and an atmospheric evocation of the dense New Zealand bush.
- Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky: Sentient spiders, doing a better job of acting civilised than the humans who created them.
- The Magician’s Daughter by H. G. Parry: A coming of age story wrapped in historical fantasy with lovely, heart-warming magic.
- Tides of Magic (and the sequel, Tides of Change) by Andi R. Christopher: Cosy, feel-good fantasy with female/female romance, a neurodivergent main character, and a strong New Zealand flavour.
- The Foundling by Georgette Heyer: An oldie but a goodie, this is a coming-of-age story crossed with screwball comedy. Heyer must have had a lot of fun writing this one.
- Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee: Drawing on Persian folklore about rocs and manticores, this is a lovely, haunting novella about obsession, loss, and friendship.
- Subversive by Colleen Cowley: the first in the three-part Clandestine Magic series, this romantasy (equal parts romance and fantasy) has some problems with world building, but makes up for it with strong characters, high stakes, and plenty of drama.
- The Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu: The first in a cozy mystery series set in 1930s Singapore, with a charming, resourceful main character.