Back in November, I compiled a list of some new releases I really loved this year. However, at this point I’ve read a couple more that deserve to get mentioned, so I thought I would expand the list with some blurbs to tell you what each book is about.
Here are my top fifteen fantasy and science fiction releases for 2015.
1. Last First Snow by Max Gladstone. ★★★★★
Forty years ago the world was changed forever during the God Wars, and the city of Dresediel Lex was either conquered or liberated, depending on who you ask. The King in Red, Temoc, and Elayne are all veterans of that war. But now they meet again – at a bargaining table over an urban renewal project in the Skittersill district in an effort to find a peaceful solution to the Skittersill residents protests. However, there are many fractions who don’t want peace, and blood is soon to be spilled.
2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. ★★★★1/2
The Fifth Season is the start of an inventive apocalyptic fantasy trilogy set in a world wracked by frequent catastrophes which destroy civilizations and leave ruins in their wake. People have grown used to a world of disasters and prepared, storing food for hard times ahead. But when a giant rift in the earth rips apart the continent, annihilating the capital of the empire, enough ash is released into the air to block out the sun for thousands of years. Amid the chaos, Essun finds that her husband has murdered their son and left with their daughter. As the world collapses around her, she sets off across the dying land to find them.
3. Touch by Claire North. ★★★★1/2
Touch is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year. The idea behind Touch is that there exist “ghosts” who survive by possessing people’s bodies and transferring from body to body by touch. The narrator is one such ghost, who was beaten to death in an alleyway… but right before death gripped the shoulder of the attacker and thus lived on, in a new body. A couple hundred years later, the narrator has negotiated a deal with a woman named Josephine. The narrator gets the use of Josephine’s body for three months, and she gets ten thousand euros and a new start on life. Only, before the three months are up, Josephine is assassinated by a shadowy organization bent on destroying all ghosts. Instead of running, the narrator decides to go looking for the truth and to seek vengeance for her death.
4. Planetfall by Emma Newman.★★★★1/2
Planetfall is a science fiction novel of gradual revelations. The book’s set in a human colony beneath the shadow of a strange alien structure they call God’s City. The settlement is built upon a foundation of lies, and only two people know the truth, one of which is our narrator, Ren, the colony’s 3-D printer engineer. Ren has trouble with anxiety, and just how much trouble exactly becomes increasingly clear over the course of the novel. The colony has existed for twenty years and the lies have never been revealed… but at the beginning of the book, a stranger arrives at the gates of the colony and everything begins to change.
5. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★1/2
Shadows of Self is part of the second Mistborn sequence, which starts with The Alloy of Law. Waxillium Ladrian is a nobleman who spent over seventeen years out in the Roughs, a frontier land, acting as a lawman. Now, he’s back in the city of Elendel, reluctantly running his house. Yet, once a lawman, always a lawman. When a gathering of the city’s criminal underground and corrupt nobles turns into a mysterious slaughter, Wax, along with his companions Wayne and Marasi, find themselves chasing a killer the likes of which has never been seen before.
6. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. ★★★★1/2
The town of Fairfold is in the middle of a forest belonging to the fae. These are fairies in the folkloric sense – dangerous tricksters who may harm or help you or both. The citizens Fairfold have long ago grown used to the presence of the fae, including the sleeping prince in the woods. Hazel and her brother Ben are Fairfold natives who grew up telling stories of the sleeping prince and running wild in the woods. Hazel used to believe that she was a knight and Ben a great bard who together could save townspeople and tourists alike from the danger of the woods. As the worlds of the fae and Fairfold threaten to fatally collide, it is Hazel who stands in the center.
7. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. ★★★★1/2
Shadow Scale is the sequel to the wonderful debut YA fantasy, Seraphina, which must absolutely be read first. It’s hard to describe the book without giving away spoilers for Seraphina, which is about a half dragon musician who lives in a land that exists in an uneasy truth between the dragons and humans. Building upon the events in Seraphina, Shadow Scale was one of the more interesting endings I’ve come across.
8. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. ★★★★
Nimona is a very cute YA graphic novel that exists somewhere between the boundaries between science fiction and fantasy. From the blurb: “Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.”
9. The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★
The Shepherd’s Crown is the forty-first and final Discworld novel. It is also the fifth YA novel following Tiffany Aching, witch of the chalk. While The Shepherd’s Crown had undeniable structural problems – Terry Pratchett wasn’t completely finished with it when he died – it still manages to contain thoughtful commentary on death, loss, grief and, ultimately, change.
10. The Price of Valor by Django Wexler. ★★★★
The Price of Valor is the third book in the Shadow Campaigns series, which starts with The Thousand Names. Vordan is at war, and the revolutionary spirit has lead to a bloodbath of executions on the streets of the capital. Three different countries have declared war upon Vordan, and Janus bet Vhalnich is the only hope of victory. Winter Ihernglass struggles with the difficulties of her new command. Meanwhile, Raesinia, the queen, is nearly powerless when it comes to the affairs of her country. She will have to rely on the help of Marcus D’Ivoire to free her city and nation from tyranny.
11. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★★
Firefight is the second book in Sanderson’s Reckoners series. It is absolutely crucial that you read the first book, Steelheart, before you read Firefight. The Reckoners series is a fast paced, action packed YA super hero series. Only in this world, everyone with superpowers is evil. Those with superpowers dominate humanity, and a small group of humans named the Reckoners is determined to fight against them.
12. Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. ★★★★
Magic Shifts is the eighth book in the Kate Daniels series, so you definitely don’t want to be starting with it! This urban fantasy series follows Kate Daniels, a wise cracking mercenary, who lives in the post-Shift version of Atlanta, where magic and technology come and go by turn. I’ve found this series to be a lot of fun, and I especially appreciate the imaginative world building and entertaining characters.
13. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. ★★★★
Six of Crows is a YA fantasy heist story. A scientist discovers the formula for a drug that increases magic users powers to a ridiculous extent, even if it leaves them addicted and eventually dead. This scientist is being held in a strong hold in the far north, one which every country on the map now wants to break into. Kaz Brekker, a seventeen year old criminal mastermind, is offered thirty million if he can retrieve the scientist and bring him to the merchant council.
14. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. ★★★★
Sorcerer to the Crown is an alternate history fantasy novel set in Regency England. Magic is running low in England, and many pin the blame on an easy target – Zacharias Wythe, the first ever Royal Sorcerer to be an African. Zacharias has to navigate political difficulties, a situation involving Malaysian witches, and find a way to return magic back to England. In this effort, he’s added by Prunella Gentleman, a mixed race women with prodigious magical abilities of her own. It is one of those rare books that manages to deal with such difficult themes as institutionalized oppression but remain an overall fun and charming read.
15. Uprooted by Naomi Novik. ★★★★
Agnieszka lives in a valley bordered by an evil woods with strange powers. The valley is protected from the woods by a wizard known as the Dragon, but every ten years he takes a girl into his tower. This year, Agnieszka is picked. The wood is growing in power, threatening to overrun the entire valley if not the entire kingdom. Agnieszka will need to draw on her new found magic powers to protect her home and the people she loves.
What were some of your favorite releases of 2015? Tell me in the comments!