2015 has been good to me, it really has. I’m not sure I can pick ten new favorite authors that I read this year but there were a few authors that gained my everlasting loyalty with their fiction and of course I want to share them with you. Thanks to Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish), here’s my chance:
Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors of 2015
1. Angela Slatter
I’ve made no secret of the growing love I have for Slatter’s fiction. She writes beautifully, poetically, mixes fairy tales and folklore with her very own ideas and creates mosaic novels out of short stories that can be enjoyed many different ways. Whether you read her collections in publication order (Sourdough, then The Bitterwood Bible) or in chronological order (the reverse), whether you pick and choose single stories or read them as fix-up novels – her writing is gorgeous, her characters vibrant and multi-faceted. Discovering something new about a side-character from a previous story, finding out the history of a place you visited earlier… it’s like diving into a place and time and looking at it from a multitude of angles. There are witches, vampires, poisoners, chroniclers, women looking for revenge, women looking for love, women looking for peace. It’s wonderful!
2. Alaya Dawn Johnson
I’ve only read The Summer Prince but I’ve been busy buying Johnson’s other books during the year. But The Summer Prince was so damn good and it came so out of nowhere for me that it has left a lasting impression. I still think about the futuristic Brazil the story is set in and I still catch myself reliving scenes from the book. This was such a powerful story with a gorgeous cover to boot. It’s one of my resolutions for next year to catch up with Johnson’s short fiction and her other novels. If they are anything like The Summer Prince, I’m in for a treat.
3. Laura Ruby
Again, I’ve only read the one book by Laura Ruby but, my god, was it beautiful! In Bone Gap, I discovered layer upon layer of awesome. It’s part fairy tale retelling, part coming-of-age novel, and many other parts that would enter spoiler territory so I’ll shut up about them. The way this story deals with beauty and its implications was just stunning. You discover what it means to be beautiful – or ugly – from different angles, through different characters, and every single one of them is amazing. I don’t think Ruby’s backlist is my type of stuff but I’m eagerly awaiting anything new she publishes and will jump on it if it sounds even the tiniest bit up my alley.
4. Shirley Jackson
So Shirley Jackson. I finally picked up one of her books and it’s true what everyone says – WOW! I didn’t manage to read more of her books or short stories but there is no question I will next year. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was completely different from what I expected but it turned out to be so much better. Unreliable narrators, the question whether the characters’ memories are to be trusted, whether they are insane, whether there is something supernatural going on or things have a mundane explanation – that alone would have kept me intrigued. But Jackson also draws her characters so well that I just loved following their story simply because I cared about them. Yeah, I need me some more Shirley Jackson.
5. Paul Cornell
This was unexpected. I had liked Paul Cornell a lot from the SF Squeecast and his presenting of the Hugo Awards. He seems like such a nice guy, yet I’d never read any of his writing. Then the Tor.com novellas came along and gave me the perfect starting point. Although I’m not a big fan of urban fantasy, Paul Cornell convinced me to give it a chance. His Witches of Lychford told a lovely tale about three very different women coming together to save their home town. I can’t wait for the sequel. Most warmly recommended.
6. Theodora Goss
This new favorite comes with a caveat. I adored the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting but I didn’t quite love the two-sided novel The Thorn and the Blossom. Goss’ strength lies in short stories, it seems, or maybe she’s just not as good with contemporary romance? Her language is beautiful and lyrical, and I won’t let one mediocre book keep me from reading more of this great author. Her Songs for Ophelia is on my TBR right now and on my must-read-in-2016 list.
7. Karin Lowachee
Military science-fiction is something I haven’t explored very much (except for Heinlein’s Starship Troopers) but Karin Lowachee does something really awesome with it. Warchild is a character-centric story about a kidnapped and abused boy coming into his own, discovering who he is in an interstellar war between humans and the alien species that basically raised him. It’s not the fastest moving novel at first, but there are plenty of space battles if that’s what you’re in for. For me, Jos was the reason to keep me reading. I felt for him so deeply that even without a single battle scene, I would have adored this book.
8. V.E. Schwab
Victoria Schwab has been on my radar for a while but it wasn’t until this stunning book with its stunning cover(s) came out that I pounced. Parallel London’s, magicians, a thief, a prince… the premise and world-building are enough to get any fantasy fan interested. But the plot is fast-paced, fun, quite dark at times, and the characters – although not as flawlessly drawn as I would like – will get you invested in no time. I pre-ordered the sequel right after I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, and there’s no question I’ll read it as soon as it arrives next year.
Not an author but a graphic novel illustrator, Kerascoët nonetheless is a new favorite of mine. In Beautiful Darkness, it is precisely the art that makes the story what it is. Had anyone else drawn the pictures for this graphic novel, I doubt it would have been as effective. Credit must of course go to the writer, but the pictures are really what make this story great.
The second graphic novel illustrated by Kerascoët that I read, Beauty, I think would have worked also with a different illustrator. But I was deeply impressed with the shift between Beauty’s real looks (she’s supposed to be hideous) and the way people perceive her – which is utter beauty that nobody can resist.
10. Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven blew me away. I didn’t think I’d like it because all blurbs I read made it sound super tropey and boring. But the clear language, the shifts in perspectives and time periods, the hopeful undertones of what is essentially a broken world, all made it into a surprisingly enjoyable post-apocalyptic story. Some chapters even squeezed a tear or two from my eyes, not because a character died or something terrible happened, just because you have to confront the implications of a world stripped of 99% of its population and all the comforts we take for granted. If something remains of art and beauty and hope – that’s the stuff that makes me cry…
Despite all of my love for Station Eleven, I don’t think I’m the audience for Mandel’s other books. But who knows, I may just try a shorter book of hers and see if I like it.
So there you go, I did discover 10 amazing new authors this year, even though some of them may remain one-book-ponies, simply because of my taste in fiction, not because of their skill as writers. I am pretty sure many of the books mentioned here will also make it onto my Top Ten Books of the Year list.