THE BEST BOOKS
OF THE YEAR
By Michael Ahr
Many wonderful and nerdy books have surmounted supply chain issues and labor shortages to reach our shelves in 2021. Here are some of our favorites.
Our list begins with the urban horror fantasy The Liar of Red Valley by W.L. Goodwater, which takes place in a world where an offering and a sacrifice can make your lies come true.
Redempter is Jordan Ifueko’s sequel to 2020’s Raybearer, continuing Empress Tarisai’s quest for justice in ending a treaty that sacrifices children to appease demons.
Xiran Jay Zhao offers up a vibrant, wildly entertaining debut with Iron Widow, a speculative fiction reimagining of the rise of China’s only female emperor, Wu Zetian.
Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street follows a man and his daughter in a rundown house near a lake where girls have gone missing. Oh, and there’s a talking gay cat!
Hannah Whitten’s debut novel For the Wolf combines the red riding hood tale with Beauty and the Beast: a royal daughter sacrificed to the wolf in the woods forges an unlikely romance.
Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life by Linda H. Davis is the first biography written about the The Addams Family creator, exploring his eccentricities as delights rather than horrors.
Star Wars fans should try A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland, a survival tale in the High Republic era with a new Jedi Knight and his young charges stranded on a moon.
Or visit another rebellion against an empire in C. L. Clark’s The Unbroken, in which a conscripted soldier is blamed for a crime, saved by a princess, and used as a tool for peace.
In My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, Jade must educate affluent newcomer Letha in the ways of slashers if she is to be the needed savior in the coming massacre.
Forging a Nightmare is Patricia A. Jackson’s first novel, in which an FBI agent must solve the murders of people born with six digits on hands and feet, and things get biblically supernatural.
Our list ends with The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, the translated fantasy by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, following two soulmates who fight injustice in a fantasy version of ancient China.