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19 of the Best Books of 2021

fantasy fiction books 2022

A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books. 

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner

fantasy fiction books 2022

In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

fantasy fiction books 2022

At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.” 

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney

fantasy fiction books 2022

New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue  declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.” 

“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford

fantasy fiction books 2022

Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.” 

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

fantasy fiction books 2022

Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco,  Last Night at the Telegraph Club  is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”

“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer

fantasy fiction books 2022

In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The  Los Angeles Times  writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more. 

“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves. 

“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu

fantasy fiction books 2022

Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”

“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

fantasy fiction books 2022

What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel,  Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”

“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell

fantasy fiction books 2022

Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the  Red, White & Royal Blue author. 

“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion

fantasy fiction books 2022

Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read. 

“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

fantasy fiction books 2022

Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”

“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”

“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi

fantasy fiction books 2022

In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.


fantasy fiction books 2022

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The Best Fantasy Novels of 2022

From dark academia to epic journeys, the best fantasy of the year comes in all shapes and sizes..

fantasy fiction books 2022

If, in the year of our Lord 2022, the phrase fantasy books evokes nothing but decades-old series of thousand-page sword-and-sorcery door stoppers set in slightly altered versions of medieval Europe, well, we’re thrilled to tell you that you have some catching up to do. Today’s fantasy fiction refuses to be constrained by the dominant cultural stereotype. There’s room for door stoppers, to be sure, but there’s so much more out there. The books on this list are the cream of this year’s crop, from dark academia to mythological retellings to epic journeys, set in alternate versions of our reality and in worlds completely foreign to us.

In the interest of covering the widest variety of books and authors, we’re not including sequels or series entries here, but 2022 was a rich year for those, too. Don’t miss A.K. Larkwood’s The Thousand Eyes (the second entry in her Serpent Gates series), N.K. Jemisin’s The World We Make (the second and final book in her Great Cities duology), Naomi Novik’s The Golden Enclaves (the final book of the Scholomance trilogy), and Tamsyn Muir’s Nona the Ninth (third in the Locked Tomb series).

10. The Atlas Six , Olivie Blake

fantasy fiction books 2022

Olivie Blake’s runaway self-published #BookTok sensation turned traditionally published No. 1 New York Times best seller is the real deal. Equal parts Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History , the novel follows six magical adepts (called “medeians”) who have been chosen to compete for a spot in the ultra-elite, ultrasecretive Alexandrian Society, whose members are caretakers of the world’s lost knowledge. Five will be admitted, and the sixth — well, don’t worry too much about the sixth. The joy here is in sinking fully into these characters’ personalities, powers, quirks, foibles, assignations, and betrayals as they maneuver their way toward a place in the group. (Plus, we’re always a sucker for a good fantasy library.) It’s an immensely satisfying read, and if you love it, the sequel came out in October.

9. The Book Eaters, Sunyi Dean

fantasy fiction books 2022

A reclusive family lives in self-imposed isolation on the Yorkshire moors: They are Book Eaters who live on pages and the stories they contain. But the Book Eaters are a dying breed, and their daughters are forced into arranged marriages in the interest of furthering the population. When Devon gives birth to a son, Cai, with a rare mutation — he eats not books but minds — she finds herself on the run from her controlling relatives, driven at all costs to protect her child and find a way to make a life for herself in the human world. This fantastical, often horrifying premise sets the scene for a remarkably nuanced exploration of the triumphs and sacrifices of motherhood (Devon must procure victims for Cai to subsist on even as she searches for a fabled drug that will allow him to live something closer to a normal life) and an affirming, if difficult, journey of self-determination as Devon comes into her own sexuality and agency.

8. Nettle & Bone , T. Kingfisher

fantasy fiction books 2022

For those of us who grew up on a diet of a certain kind of ’80s and ’90s fantasy (think Patricia C. Wrede, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett), tucking into a T. Kingfisher book feels a bit like coming home to a house you’ve long loved only to find that some industrious, careful soul has dismantled the building board by board, removed the dry rot and plugged the leaks, and reconstructed the pieces into something familiar, spectacular, and utterly surprising. This is the key, though: The  feeling  is the same. You already know all the individual components of  Nettle & Bone : a plucky heroine whose family is in danger, an evil prince, a helpful(ish) witch, a fairy godmother, a disgraced knight, three impossible tasks, and not one but  two  delightful enchanted animals. But this isn’t a retelling; this is someone with a deep love for fantasy, folklore, and fairy tales picking the best parts from a smorgasbord of story elements and stitching them into something sparklingly original. Morbid but funny, cozy but with real danger at its heart,  Nettle & Bone  is the fairy tale this year needed.

7. Saturnalia , Stephanie Feldman

fantasy fiction books 2022

A fascinating, genre-bending dystopian fantasy-thriller-ecohorror hybrid, Stephanie Feldman’s Saturnalia imagines a magical near-future Philadelphia studded with mysterious, mythologically connected secret societies and a populace that has bent back toward paganism as the world burns. On the feast of Saturnalia each year, debauched revelry is the order of the day. Nina, a fortune teller who removed herself from the elite ranks of the Saturn Club three years prior, undertakes a heist for a friend during the festival but finds herself drawn into a much darker, more dangerous plot before night’s end. Feldman builds an engrossing, upsetting vision of the future that’s at once grim and wondrous — a magical feat in and of itself.

6. Spear , Nicola Griffith

fantasy fiction books 2022

Inclusive retellings of misunderstood figures of myth and folklore are very much in vogue right now, but vanishingly few of them are written by authors as talented as Nicola Griffith. She has been writing singular queer speculative fiction for 30 years now (when Ursula K. Le Guin says your debut novel has a “very interesting take on gender,” you’ve planted your flag early), and this short novel is as strong as anything she has written. Spear reimagines the legend of Percival, the Welsh Grail knight later supplanted by Sir Galahad, as the story of a nameless girl raised in isolation but called to adventure, romance, and glory. The book is steeped in research (but never weighed down by it) and told in prose as incisive and devastatingly beautiful as any we’ve read this year.

5. The Spear Cuts Through Water , Simon Jimenez

fantasy fiction books 2022

Formally ambitious and imaginatively rich beyond wonder, Simon Jimenez’s sophomore novel is a marvel. On the surface, this is the story of two soldiers shepherding a dying goddess across a landscape populated by miracles, oddities, and monsters to bring down a tyrannical emperor. That alone would be enough, but Jimenez’s command of prose and playfulness of thought is used to incredible effect to show how oral traditions can transform a tale. The frame narrative (calling it a frame narrative is reductive, but it works for simplicity’s sake) is set generations later than the main story and shifts from recounted myth to immersive storytelling by way of a theater accessed through dreams; it’s a timeline that intersects with the main story in unexpected and magical ways. This book must be read to be believed.

4. The Women Could Fly , Megan Giddings

fantasy fiction books 2022

Megan Giddings’s remarkable second novel takes place in an oppressively racist and misogynist totalitarian version of the United States that simultaneously fears, covets, and punishes women’s power. Witches are real, and any woman not married by 30 will have her autonomy curtailed by force under suspicion of witchcraft, especially if she’s not white. Jo — Black, bisexual, and 28— is at a crossroads. She’s staring down the deadline for marriage (to a man, of course) and haunted by the disappearance of her mother (a suspected witch), which happened when Jo was a teenager. But when new clues about her mother’s fate arise, Jo finds herself in the midst of a community unlike any she has ever experienced. It’s a harrowing and beautiful book, and Giddings never lets the immediacy of her subject matter overbalance her graceful storytelling and the deep humanity of her characters.

3. The Ballad of Perilous Graves, Alex Jennings

fantasy fiction books 2022

Some of the best fantasy starts from a place of metaphor made literal. A visitor to New Orleans in our reality may observe that music seems to be the city’s lifeblood; in Alex Jennings’s exceptional urban-fantasy debut, the magic of song is quite literally the engine that keeps the phantasmagorical city of Nola alive. But some of the songs that form its foundation have escaped from the piano of Doctor Professor, Nola’s “haint” musician emeritus, and it’s up to a plucky and powerful set of young characters to track them down before the city crumbles around them. Just as Nola overflows with personified song, vivid art, zombie cabs, talkative nutria, sky trolleys, and floating graffiti, Perilous Graves is full to bursting with surreal ideas, gloriously unique characters, unapologetic Blackness, and a soul-deep love for New Orleans and its people.

2. Babel, or the Necessity of Violence , R.F. Kuang

fantasy fiction books 2022

R.F. Kuang’s Poppy War trilogy made her an instant name in the fantasy world, and her first stand-alone novel once again shows us why. In Babel , the work of translation is the source of magic, which is in turn the source of the British Empire’s power. At Oxford, a team of young translators finds “match-pairs,” or words and phrases translated from one language to another. The gap in meaning or connotation between the two holds immense power, and the empire uses that power to maintain its stranglehold on the rest of the world. The protagonists are young people snatched from their homelands (China, Haiti, India) who were raised to support Britain but are coming into their own awareness about imperialism, academia, racism, and what revolutionary decolonization could look like in practice. Babel is not an easy read — Kuang isn’t here to hold your hand through your feelings about colonialism, and she doesn’t shy away from the ugliest pieces of imperialist history. Rather, she challenges us to actively engage with the story in a way that more casual readers may not be used to. But it’s worth it: Babel is a monumental work that rewards the effort you put into it.

1. Siren Queen , Nghi Vo

fantasy fiction books 2022

In an alternate version of pre-Code Hollywood where aspiring actors often meet their end as fodder for the sinister ritual magic that powers the studio system, Luli Wei is determined to be a star. The odds, of course, are stacked against her as she’s a gay Chinese American woman, but driven by her ambition and willingness to play the studio heads’ dark game, she finds her breakout role: not as a heroine but a monster. Yet as she sinks further into the murk of the industry, risking her own soul in the process, Luli finds love — and a greater purpose if she can muster the strength to see it through. Coming hot on the heels of last year’s The Chosen and the Beautiful , a queer, immigrant reimagining of The Great Gatsby , Siren Queen establishes Vo as an uncommonly talented new voice in fantasy, one who writes from a place of anger, insight, and deep compassion.

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fantasy fiction books 2022

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Spring's Most Anticipated New Books

2022 Goodreads Choice Awards

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas

All Nominees • 497,369 votes total

Babel by R.F. Kuang

2022 Rules & Eligibility

The 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards have two rounds of voting open to all registered Goodreads members. Winners will be announced December 08, 2022.

Opening Round: Nov 15 - 27

In the first round there are 20 books in each of the 17 categories, and members can vote for one book in each category.

Final Round: Nov 29 - Dec 04

The field narrows to the top 10 books in each category, and members have one last chance to vote!

2022 Eligibility

Books published in the United States in English, including works in translation and other significant rereleases, between November 17, 2021, and November 15, 2022, are eligible for the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards. Books published between November 16, 2022, and November 14, 2023, will be eligible for the 2023 awards.

We analyze statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on Goodreads to nominate 20 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher at the time of launch. A book may be nominated in no more than one genre category, but can also be nominated in the Debut Novel category. Only one book in a series may be nominated per category. An author may receive multiple nominations within a single category if he or she has more than one eligible series or more than one eligible stand-alone book.

Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

fantasy fiction books 2022

A collage image of titles featured in this list: The Candy House, Speaking Bones, The Hacienda, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, The Oleander Sword, Babel, and The Spear Cut Through Water.

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The best science fiction and fantasy books of 2022

Impressive debuts, returning favorites, and much more

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We’ve run through our favorite games , movies , and TV shows of 2022, and now it’s time to talk about our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of the year.

2022’s best SFF books feel like an apt reflection of the past few years, as so much has changed. It may come as no surprise that this year ushered in a tidal wave of terrifying gothics and hauntings — books where protagonists were trapped in by the spaces around them. Science fiction gave us visions of the future, from white flight and space exploration to hopeful philosophical ramblings about the nature of being alive to post-pandemic technofuturism. At the same time, much of this year’s best fantasy looked backward, retelling mythologies and critiquing institutions of power.

This list has a range of titles from beloved authors, impressive debuts, and short-story collections, that all share one thing in common: We absolutely loved the time we spent with them. And we hope you do too. The list is in reverse chronological order of release, so the most recently released books will be at the top — with honorable mentions at the end.

The cover for Africa Risen, featuring a Black person whose hair is blending in with green growth behind them, wearing a colorfully painted outfit that looks like a space suit

Africa Risen edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight

Africa Risen showcases some of the most talented contemporary speculative writers — ranging from established writers to debut authors — whose works are set in Africa and across the African diaspora. This large volume reimagines fantasy and science fiction with stories about capturing lost memories and minds, those of climate crisis, and interpretations of folklore and myth. Stories range from whimsical and imaginative to hefty and contemplative, and each is the perfect size to read over a morning commute or before bed (which is how I have been slowly savoring this book). The breadth of this anthology harkens back to the seminal Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora . Africa Risen ’s editors take care, in their introduction, to mention numerous other publishers and collections of short speculative fiction set in the African diaspora and written by Black authors — including independent presses, zines, and other short-story collections. As the editors write in their introduction: “Africa isn’t rising — it’s already here.” — Nicole Clark

Cover image for Heart of the Sun Warrior, a colorful image with a castle, clouds, and a person aiming a bow.

Heart of the Sun Warrior (The Celestial Kingdom #2) by Sue Lynn Tan

Sue Lynn Tan’s debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess , took the world by storm earlier this year. And she published the second in the duology this year as well, gifting us with a short wait and another romance- and action-packed adventure. In the first book, Xingyin, daughter of the moon goddess Chang’e, worked her way into the palace’s army in order to ensure her family’s survival — falling for Liwei the prince, son of the Celestial Emperor, in the process.

Heart of the Sun Warrior picks up right where the previous book left off, throwing Xingyin back into action. The Celestial Emperor once again found reason to punish the moon goddess and her daughter, forcing them to flee for their lives. Wenzhi attempts to curry Xingyin’s favor, even after his betrayals. It is unwise to attempt to outsmart the gods, but this is once again the choice our heroine is given. This sequel packs an impressive, near-breathless amount of plot into its pages, telling a tale of love for one’s family, and the quiet dignity of never giving up. — NC

Cover image for N.K. Jemisin’s The World We Make, with a black-and-white apartment building that has colorful octopus-like graffiti on it

The World We Make (Great Cities #2) by N.K. Jemisin

New York City may be the fifth character in Sex and the City , but it’s all six main characters in The World We Make . The conclusion to Jemisin’s Great Cities duology finds five of the city’s avatars still struggling to figure out how to stop the R’lyeh — a feat made more difficult without the aid of Staten Island, who remains allied with the enemy despite idly watching her borough’s boroughness be leached out of existence. The rest of the city is similarly threatened by a popular mayoral candidate whose campaign built on hateful rhetoric and gentrification threatens the very fabric — and existence — of the city. The battle for New York is thus fought across two planes in The World We Make , with some of the avatars focusing on the multidimensional fight for survival against an eldritch terror, and others standing off against Proud Men chanting “Make New York great again.” Subtle, this book is not. Though not as strong as the first installment in the duology, The World We Make still has enough grit, heart, and humor to propel you through to the very end. Though maybe I’m biased. I am a New Yorker, after all. — Sadie Gennis

Cover image for Bliss Montage by Ling Ma, with oranges in plastic wrapping

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Bliss Montage is a departure from Ling Ma’s bestselling debut, Severance , in the best of ways. I was sucked into this collection of short stories from the very first page as Ma melds the fantastical with reality, serving it all in a witty deadpan. The opening paragraph from “Los Angeles” immediately sets the tone:

The house in which we live has three wings. The west wing is where the Husband and I live. The east wing is where the children and their attending au pairs live. And lastly, the largest but ugliest wing, extending behind the house like a gnarled, broken arm, is where my 100 ex-boyfriends live. We live in L.A.

Stories deftly blur the lines between reality and satire, borrowing from speculative fiction conventions to create something entirely new and satisfyingly odd. It is a must-read. — NC

Cover image for The Spear Cuts Through Water, which depicts two figures fighting — one with a spear, one with a sword — through an opening in a tree canopy.

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

The Spear Cuts Through Water is many things. At its core, it’s the tale of Jun and Keema, two strangers who help a fallen god escape her captivity at the hands of her cruel husband, the emperor, and their sons, aptly dubbed the Three Terrors. But Jun and Keema’s adventure is actually being acted out in a magical theater in another dimension hundreds of years later, with the book’s narrative winds between Jun and Keema’s story, the performance of it, and the experience of one man watching from the audience — though he’s fated to forget what he’s witnessed as soon as he leaves the theater.

The Spear Cuts Through Water recalls Gabriel García Márquez with its surreal fluidity, though the way Jimenez weaves together first-, second-, and third-person perspectives creates an immersive style just his own. And his decision to consistently disrupt the primary story with the flowing thoughts of surrounding characters gives you the sense that you’re floating through this world, both tethered to and set free by Jimenez’s mesmerizing prose.

So, as I said, The Spear Cuts Through Water is many, many things. It’s a spellbinding tribute to oral storytelling and folklore. It’s a thoughtful exploration of identity and family. But more than anything, The Spear Cuts Through Water is a love story, and one unlike anything you’ve read before. — SG

Cover image for The Oldeander Sword, featuring a woman in a gorgeous dress lifting up a green curtain while holding a sword.

The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri

While the first Burning Kingdoms book was a beautifully lush piece of world-building and slow-burn romance, The Oleander Sword is a brutal epic that relentlessly builds toward utter devastation. The Jasmine Throne ends with Malini’s and Priya’s paths diverging, as Malini wages her vengeful war against her brother to claim the throne and Priya steps into her role as an Elder of Ahiranya. But when the two women see an opportunity to come together to help each of their people, the lovestruck pair leap at the chance to reunite and end Parijatdvipa’s reign. Malini’s brother is not the only threat facing the kingdom, though. The rot continues to spread throughout the kingdom, and new revelations about the Yaska leave Priya and Bhumika reevaluating their people’s history and relationship to their faith. A series already beloved for its thorniness, Suri muddies the dynamics further in The Oleander Sword as political plots, romantic desires, and religious beliefs intertwine and clash in in engrossing and often heartbreaking ways. — SG

The cover image for Babel, a stark black-and-white drawing of a tall tower, with white birds around it and smaller buildings.

Babel: Or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang

In this masterful, lengthy book, R.F. Kuang sharply critiques British imperialism and the bureaucratic institutions that hold it up — particularly academic scholarship and monarchy. Historical fiction intertwines with fantasy, as a cohort of four students pursue translation studies at Oxford’s Babel. The end goal of their academic pursuits is to make magic-imbued silver for the crown. These magical silver bars are created through a process of translation — namely, that bit of meaning that’s lost between words in different languages, or as they’ve evolved over time.

One such example comes early in the book: the gulf between triacle and treacle , the former from Old French and Middle English with herbalist connotations of curing poisons and ailments. The contemporary in English is a kind of sweet and bitter syrup. This creates a silver bar with the power to heal, and that leaves a sweet aftertaste in the mouth. It is also the bar that Professor Lovell uses to save Robin Swift (this is the English name the boy chooses) from cholera in 1828, before whisking him from his home in Canton.

While studying at Babel, Robin and his cohort are given access to abundant resources they could have never dreamed of. At the same time, they see the ugly agenda of Oxford, and how even their mother tongues become tools of British imperialism. Their professors and classmates see the value in the silver they may produce, with their knowledge of such “exotic” languages, but view those who live in foreign countries as less than human and ultimately expendable. Robin and his friends must choose between two paths set before them: comfort and wealth in the bosom of the crown, or simply burning it all down. — NC

Cover image for Ramona Emerson’s Shutter, featuring a person walking down a dirt road in a red and brown landscape, as seen through  concentric circles.

Shutter by Ramona Emerson

The National Book Award-winning novel follows a forensic photographer who — unfortunately for her — can see ghosts. The traumatized spirits haunt Rita at all hours, refusing to let her sleep and purposefully sabotaging her life. These hauntings are also what pushed her out of the Navajo reservation she grew up on, where even discussing death was seen as taboo. But no ghost has given her as much trouble as an alleged suicide victim, whose crime scene Rita is sent to photograph at the start of the novel. The rageful ghost is insistent that she was murdered and won’t stop terrorizing Ramona until her case is solved. Soon, Rita is in deep over her head as she finds herself immersed in a web of crime and corruption involving one of New Mexico’s top cartels.

A thrilling yet melancholy read, Shutter delivers on all levels. But be warned: If you can’t stomach too much gore, you might need to skim through the crime scene descriptions where Emerson’s own experience as a forensic photographer shines through in her grisly prose. — SG

Cover image for Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, featuring a woman in a teal dress standing in a large orange doorway, surrounded by growing vines on the house.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s newest novel is a retelling of the 1896 classic by H.G. Wells. But Moreno-Garcia sets it in 1871 in Yucatán, during the Caste War — a time when the Mayan people fought back against their Mexican and European oppressors.

As in her other works, this Gothic tale is told through the perspective of the young woman at its center. Sequestered in her father’s estate in the Yucatán Peninsula, Carlota Moreau lives alongside hybrid creatures, formed of animal and human DNA. She grows up alongside these hybrids, treating them as siblings, though the outside world would see them otherwise. She has long suffered from a “disease of the blood” that her father has treated with a regular injection of jaguar “gemmules.” To keep their work private, her father claims that he runs a sanatorium — attempting to hide the Lovecraftian horrors that lie within.

Carlota loves her home, and feels as if no other place would contain such natural beauty — though she begins to suspect all is not well. When Eduardo Lizalde, son of the doctor’s benefactor, visits the estate, her doubts only intensify. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau explores themes of colonization, class, and what it means to be human, all while being a suspenseful page turner. — NC

Cover image for A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, filled with bright colors and an orange skyline with circular shapes, as well as a cart going along a hilly road.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers’ newest installment of her Monk and Robot series follows Sibling Dex and Splendid Speckled Mosscap’s journey through the wilds of future human civilization. A Psalm for the Wild-Built , the first in the series, details the context of this world. In the future, AI has gained sentience — and in response, humans decided to let them form agency and leave to build their own civilization in the wilderness.

Sibling Dex had been a Tea Monk, a profession that led them to human settlements; they would prepare tea and chat or offer guidance to those who sought their various brews. But one day the monk chose to eschew this path, leaving behind their profession to wander in the wilderness — where they stumbled upon Mosscap, a robot on a quest to learn about humans and their needs. In the first book, the two wander through uninhabited lands, discussing philosophical questions about the nature of being alive. In this second slim volume, the two finally enter a settlement of humans.

Chambers builds an alternate, gentler world than the one we live in — though it has its fair share of melancholy, sorrow, and prejudice. Through their questions back and forth, Dex and Mosscap get closer to the tender marrow of what keeps them going, and what their friendship might look like once their “quests” have come to a close. Chambers’ work has been called “hopepunk” by various critics, and this small novel continues on this theme. — NC

The cover image for Ken Liu’s Speaking Bones, which depicts a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables inside an antlered skull.

Speaking Bones by Ken Liu

I was dreading having to write this blurb because it’s incredibly intimidating — and I think, frankly, impossible — to do justice to Speaking Bones in a few hundred words or less. Though, my struggle is thematically aligned with one of the Dandelion Dynasty series’ larger points: that people’s truths are too complicated and contradictory to ever be fully captured. Often, the intricacies of people’s hearts, minds, and relationships become stripped of context, simplified, misinterpreted, or erased until what’s left is a cohesive, neatly wrapped-up history that’s easy to digest. But even within these stories, there’s truth and there’s power. And learning how to wield the power of storytelling is just as important in Speaking Bones as the ability to wield a sword, the might of a garinafin, or the grace of kings.

Speaking Bones is a detail-rich, multigenerational saga with a scope and ambition that would be unwieldy if not helmed by someone of Liu’s masterful talent. There are gods and war, political cunning and philosophical debates, pages upon pages of technical specifications for inventions, and dialogue that reads more like poetry. The questions the book raises and the empathy it extols are not things easily forgotten. But what has stayed with me the most is the gap between the characters’ stories that I read and the ways those stories get retold — within the book, but also outside it, as I try to share my love for this story with others. There’s so much that gets lost in that translation, but it doesn’t make either version any less true. — SG

Cover image of Saara El-Arifi’s The Final Strife, with a dark-skinned woman with long hair backgrounded by blue flowers.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi

This epic fantasy remixes tropes to create something entirely new and impossible to put down. As in other dystopias, society is separated by a strict class system — this time by blood color. Embers have red blood, which affords them the powers and privileges of blood magic. Dusters, the middle classes, have blue blood, while Ghostings, the servant class who are maimed at birth, have transparent blood.

Sylah was raised as a Duster and trained to overthrow the Embers by winning the Wardens’ annual trials. But when the rebellion was quashed — killing her family, or so she believed — she coped by turning to other vices, hoping to vanish into the background. All of this changes when she sneaks into an Ember princess’s quarters and gets roped right back in. The Final Strife sets its bureaucratic squabbles and a gripping love triangle against the backdrop of a deadly competition. It’s thrilling and entertaining from start to finish. — NC

The cover image of Isabel Cañas’s The Hacienda, featuring a woman in a red dress standing in front of a dilapidated building and behind some spiky plants.

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

If you loved Mexican Gothic , then The Hacienda will be right up your (haunted) alley. This Gothic is set at the lavish Hacienda San Isidro, in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence. Beatriz faces dire prospects — her father had been executed, and she and her mother are near penniless. When Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes marriage, she feels as if her problems have been solved. She’ll turn Hacienda San Isidro into the home she and her mother have long craved, with bright windows and beautiful gardens.

But the Hacienda is not what it first appears. It is profoundly haunted, projecting visions of blood-soaked floors and walls caved in, blacking out the lights and rattling doors. In this tale, the monster is in the house — but the monster also is the house. Beatriz is abandoned without allies: Rodolfo has left on a business trip and his sister, who lives at the estate, turns her nose at Beatriz at every turn. Who will save her from this house? And who will give her and her mother a place to live if she cannot make this work? Only Padre Andrés, the young priest — with other secrets of his own — is there to help. — NC

Cover for Eyes of the Void, which features a planet and multiple space ships.

Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Architects, an alien species of moon-sized planet destroyers, are back, and the one thing that used to ward them off is no longer effective. So, how does humanity respond? With infighting, power grabs, and petty squabbles. At the center of all this is Idris Tellemier, the only person to ever communicate with an Architect, who spends the majority of Eyes of the Void being bargained over, used, and kidnapped for political gain and protection. But while Idris is the one burdened with saving the world, his friends on the Vulture God are tasked with saving Idris. Eyes of the Void finds Solace, Kris, Kit, and Ollie (who rightfully gets her own POV chapters this time around) navigating the tense political atmosphere and facing down enemies ranging from the Architects to cultists to their own people in order to protect their unusual family.

Adrian Tchaikovsky has built a dizzyingly complicated narrative, and his inventive world-building gets a chance to shine in Eyes of the Void, as the Vulture God crew becomes further entangled with new characters, species, and cultures — most of whom the crew finds various ways to piss off. And though the book raises more questions than answers, the compounding mysteries raise the stakes to heart-pounding heights as Idris’ quest to learn how to stop the Architects unravels startling truths about the very makeup of the universe. — SG

The cover for John Gwynne’s The Hunger of the Gods, which features a very angry wolf.

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

In its second outing, The Bloodsworn Saga remains a merciless and brutal series filled with graphic action, impeccable world-building, and an ever-growing ensemble of characters who straddle the lines of morality. Only now, it’s no longer just about mortals fighting for power, revenge, or family. Gods have returned to Vigrið, throwing the balance of society into chaos. As many scramble to find footholds of power in the shifting world order, our original protagonists — Okra, Elvar, and Varg — continue resolutely down their paths to rescue and avenge those taken from them, even if that means fighting (or enslaving) a god. While characters’ storylines were largely separate in the first novel, here they weave in and out of each other’s lives as fate and (mis)fortune reveal how intricately their paths intertwined. Tightly paced and with invigorating action throughout, The Hunger of the Gods is the epic payoff to the foundation Gwynne meticulously laid down in The Shadow of the Gods and a thrilling setup for the series conclusion. — SG

The cover for Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House, with a pixelated image of horizontal lines of all kinds of colors.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

Like A Visit From the Goon Squad before it, The Candy House , the newest novel from Jennifer Egan, is written in the mode of its subject matter. While the 2010 outing’s connected-yet-discrete short stories functioned much like a mixtape, or an experimental album from a band that had gotten sick of releasing catchy singles, The Candy House functions more like the omniscient, hyper-reactive style of communication that defines social media, and the internet writ large.

Following ancillary characters from Goon Squad , the sort-of sequel focuses on a groundbreaking consciousness-sharing app, its celebrity creator, and the multifarious cast that gave rise to its existence. As in Goon Squad, and even Manhattan Beach , Egan is above deploying the ramifications of such a godlike technology for soapbox diatribes — instead, she explores her own winding maze of characters and conflicting interests with disgust, empathy, and some of the year’s best prose: ”My problem is the same one had by everyone who gathers information: What to do with it? How to sort and shape and use it? How to keep from drowning in it? Not every story needs to be told.”

Above all, The Candy House explores both the danger and the sublime in humans’ compulsion to share their lives with others. Weaving stories from dozens of points of view in New York, the redwood forests, and the deserts of the American Southwest, among many others, it’s a sobering reminder that the connective technology — the “social media” — that could either save or ruin us is already here. — Mike Mahardy

The cover for Sea of Tranquility showing a moon behind the horizon

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Emily St. John Mandel has demonstrated her talent for penning interlacing stories, with both Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel introducing their casts in piecemeal fashion, slowly revealing how each of these characters know each other. Sea of Tranquility is even more sprawling, stretching from the 1910s and into the further future, a time when people live in moon colonies. The book also creates an official Mandel multiverse , if that’s your thing, with characters from The Glass Hotel serving as some of the novel’s primary focuses.

My favorite part of Sea of Tranquility is its wholesale embrace of one of my favorite science fiction tropes. It’s a time travel story with a number of well-plotted turns, all in Mandel’s fluid, introspective writing style. It’s a great read for anyone who loves The Matrix movies or enjoyed Disney’s Loki (but maybe wished it stuck the landing a bit better). — NC

The cover of This Rebel Heart, with a young woman overlaidd on a burning city.

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke

Budapest is where Csilla’s family has lived for hundreds of years. It’s also where they died. In 1956, seven years after her parents were executed by the Soviet police, Jewish newspaper typist Csilla and her aunt are preparing to flee to Israel. But after chance encounters with a student revolutionary and an angel of death, Csilla begins questioning what means more to her: fighting to survive or fighting for a better life.

With its richly drawn characters and gutting depictions of post-Holocaust trauma and antisemitism, This Rebel Heart is a grounded, often heartbreaking account of Jewish life under Russian occupation. As Csilla finds herself on the forefront of the Hungarian revolution, she navigates the dueling realities that have shaped her — remembering and forgetting, survival and freedom, and loving a city that has never loved her back. Elegantly blending history with magical realism and Jewish folklore, Katherine Locke has created a profound tribute to those willing to risk everything for hope. — SG

The cover of The Way Spring Arrives And Other Stories, a collection of Chinese science fiction and fantasy in translation from a visionary team of female and nonbinary creators, edited and collected by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang. The cover features flowers.

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories edited and collected by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang

Chinese science fiction has become increasingly popular in the United States, as Ken Liu (an accomplished author in his own right) translated Liu Cixin’s groundbreaking Three-Body Problem into English. Since then, Chinese speculative fiction has gained popularity, making way for other literary talent.

The Way Spring Arrives is a collection of 17 Chinese science fiction and fantasy stories — and all of them have been written, translated, and edited entirely by women and nonbinary writers. Curated by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang, the excellent collection spans topics and tropes. — NC

The cover for Goliath showing big block text in front of a few profile images of a Black woman

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

In the near future, a mass white flight to space colonies has left the largely poor, BIPOC population to eke out an existence on Earth, which has become uninhabitable after ecological and human-made disasters. But though the powerful and privileged abandoned the planet, the system they profit off of remains intact. Now, years later, the space colonists have begun to return — some to gentrify the neighborhoods their ancestors deserted and others as trauma tourists seeking to gawk at those who’d been left behind. A nonlinear series of vignettes, Goliath switches between several characters’ perspectives, but the main focus is on a group of stackers, a Black and brown crew of workers who scrape by salvaging bricks from demolished buildings to send to the colonies. With no hope of circumstances improving, they’ve long ago come to accept that grief will be the primary constant in their inevitably short lives — if the cancerous air doesn’t kill them, the automated drone police will. But while so much of their lives are defined by pain, the stackers keep moving forward, searching for meaning and fleeting moments of joy in a world designed to destroy them.

Impressive in its scale, ambition, and range of voice, Goliath is a shattering work that is so much more than the sum of its parts. In addition to the stackers, Tochi Onyebuchi weaves in tales of a gay white couple leaving the colonies to play pioneer on Earth, a journalist hoping to tell the stackers’ story (but really, hoping to assuage her white guilt), an incarcerated Yale grad who becomes a negotiator in a prison protest, and a Black marshal dragging a slaver across the West to retrieve the body of a murdered boy. Goliath is simultaneously sprawling and intimate, exploring racism, classism, gentrification, the prison system, and the climate crisis through brief moments in these largely disconnected lives. But taken together, these small moments add up to a powerful look at America’s broken system and the harrowing trajectory we find ourselves on. — SG

The cover for Akata Woman showing the semi-profile of a woman with an afro, illustrated in grayscale

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor

If the first two installments in The Nsibidi Scripts series were about Sunny discovering and exploring her identity, Akata Woman is about her defining it. The inventive, adventurous novel follows Sunny during a period of great growth as she and Chichi are forced to uphold their bargain with the giant spider Udide to return her stolen ghazal. With Orlu and Sasha tagging along, the coven’s treacherous journey to retrieve the ancient scroll leads them to discover breathtaking new worlds and the increasing limits of their juju abilities. But as Sunny strains to keep up with her rapidly evolving powers, she must also face the growing fracture in her relationship with her spirit face, Anyanwu.

Being doubled and being a free agent both carry heavy burdens in Leopard culture, but throughout Akata Woman , Sunny discovers a strength and comfort in who she is and what she can do. It’s yet another beautiful leg in Sunny’s coming-of-age journey, made all the more impactful by Nnedi Okorafor’s rhythmic prose. — SG

The cover for How High We Go in the Dark which shows clouds as a backdrop

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year so far — and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s my absolute favorite by the end of the year. Tender and dystopian, the pandemic novel is told in a series of vignettes, each exposing a different pocket of future society — and eventually connecting through characters and circumstances.

Nagamatsu sharply paints a picture of society inevitably building industry out of grief, as people fight for basic human dignity and struggle to hold onto memories of loved ones. It’s an ambitious critique of late-stage capitalism, wrapped up in a series of family dramas that sound wild out of context: a robo-dog toy that contains recordings of a deceased mother’s lullabies, a euthanasia state park for children whose parents want them to have happy final memories, and tech-bro-created funereal currencies are just a few of the scenarios. — NC

The cover of Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lyn Tann, with a blue background, flowers, a figure in a dress, and the moon.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

This heartfelt, lyrical fantasy follows Xingyin, a young immortal raised in secret by her mother Chang’e, the moon goddess exiled to a life of solitude by the cruel Celestial Emperor. But when Xingyin’s existence is discovered, she must flee the only home she’s ever known and carve a new path for herself while hiding the truth of who she is.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess sweeps through the years of Xinglin’s journey with efficient, effortless speed, chronicling her evolution from a sheltered child to the Celestial prince’s unlikely but dearest companion and a decorated archer serving the very emperor she despises. All the while, Xingyin must juggle the desires and duties she develops in her new life with her long-held determination to free her mother from under the emperor’s thumb. A story about how far we go for love and the painful choices we must make along the way, Daughter of the Moon Goddess weaves together Chinese mythology, court intrigue, romance, action, and betrayal into one of the year’s most exciting debuts. –SG


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The Best Fantasy Books of 2022

The Best Fantasy Books of 2022

The year of our Lord 2022 was a heck of a time to be a fantasy fan—in multiple mediums. While we were all rejoicing over the arrival of long-awaited adaptations like The Wheel of Time , The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power , and The Sandman on our screens, the shelves at local bookstores were full to bursting with thrilling, magical new titles, in a perfect storm of new release kismet. Delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the publishing industry finally began to truly ease, favorite authors were crossing genres to write in the adult fantasy space, and multiple highly anticipated sequels and series’ conclusions seemed to arrive on what seemed like a monthly basis.

What I’m saying is, there were a lot of incredible fantasy releases in 2022—more than could possibly fit on a single list or that one person could even feasibly get through in a single calendar year. So here’s our attempt to narrow it down a little bit for you—the best fantasy books our team here at Paste Books read this year, which will hopefully have something for everyone.


Unlike so many stories that have come before it, there are no easy answers in the series finale The Golden Enclaves . Everyone is complicit to some degree in the damaging choices that have built the world they’re living in and even the happy endings in this story come with bittersweet sacrifices attached. But the tale is full of clever twists and meaningful resolutions to almost every major character’s arc, some that pay off groundwork laid hundreds of pages prior. Most importantly, this final installment ultimately embraces a larger message of hope and resilience, one that says there’s nothing we’ve done that’s so bad we can’t fix it—if we all simply choose to find a better way together and refuse to give up on each other. I’m not sure that there’s a more appropriate moment to put that kind of call to action out in the world than right now. It’s a rich, fully satisfying conclusion that makes the whole trilogy stronger and more meaningful in retrospect. —-Lacy Baugher Milas

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While Bryce remains a generally delightful heroine, the novel gradually unspools a much larger and more intricate tale than the adventures of a college grad and her friends, largely focused on the brewing rebellion against the god-like beings known as the Asteri (who claim to possess the power of the stars). Its sprawling scope encompasses nearly a dozen main characters, with multiple romances and competing narrative threads, and its story is so complicated there are moments where it feels like the novel’s eight-hundred-plus-page count isn’t quite long enough.

That said, every flaw in House of Sky and Breath will likely be erased by the book’s ending, the sort of gutsy, inevitably controversial storytelling twist that is either going to make fans utterly ecstatic or mildly furious. How the events of this book’s final fifteen pages—which are maddening and exhilarating and nothing that anyone likely expected—will play out in Maas’ subsequent books to come is anyone’s guess. But what a ride we’re in for. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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To be clear, Babel is an incredible feat of writing and absolutely the most ambitious fantasy novel you’ll read this year. It’s a book with plenty of flaws, but its obvious depth of research, lovely prose, fascinating linguistic-based magical system, and utter dedication to giving voice to sorts of topics we rarely see tackled at this level of depth in this genre make it a book that’s worth your time. It’s not a perfect story—but as you’ll learn within these pages, almost nothing is—but author R.F. Kuang absolutely gets an A for effort. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Leslye Penelope sets her story in 1920s Washington D.C., an era of thriving creativity within the African American community. While racial injustice is never far distant from the story, that’s not the point of the story. It’s the idea of building community—and the power of that same community to help a person know exactly who they are—that drives the book’s larger narrative forward. A heist is central to the plot, but the objective isn’t wealth or glory; by the end, the goal is saving the people who are in the thick of this world with them, facing the same prejudice and discrimination, no matter how rich or poor. Brightly painted with hues and shades of magic, set against a backdrop of jazz music and drag balls, Penelope has taken a specific historical place and moment and made them feel vibrantly alive. She expertly weaves threads of folklore, mythology, and Bible stories into the tapestry of the setting, creating a texture that ties the story to this world and its history while allowing the fantastic to breathe and flow. —Alana Joli Abbot

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From its ragtag group of heroes—which includes witches, demons, and resurrected bone animals—to its unflinchingly honest representation of the abuse and misogyny that makes much of its traditionally framed fantasy world go round, there’s a specifically wonderful alchemy at work in T. Kingfisher’s Nettle and Bone that threads the thin line between humor, horror, and heart in order to create something that feels both fresh and utterly necessary. (This is the only book that has an entry on multiple Paste Books “Best of the Year” lists—and there’s a reason for that.) A true delight from the first page to the last, it’s a deeply feminist, fiercely funny fairytale that delightful and unexpectedly subverts so many of the tropes we typically see in stories like it. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Thanks to the thorough world-building that takes place in Jasmine Throne , sequel The Oleander Sword is able to hit the ground running, weaving together the battle for the fate of a kingdom, the future of the series’ central relationship, and the threat of an encroaching magical disease known as the rot into something truly epic in scope. Wrestling with issues of theology, politics, magic, family, and love, this is a sequel that takes everything you loved about the first book in the series and cranks it up to eleven before essentially smashing it on the ground while you watch. Though its ending is the emotional equivalent of a knife to the heart for almost every major character, it’s hard to see how things could have gone any other way. (Which is part of the reason this book is so great.) It’s going to be a long wait for the trilogy’s third installment. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Though it contains some subtle homages to rom-comes of yore, Megan Bannen’s adult debut The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is wholly unique, with an imagined setting that will hook you in from page one and keep you reading until the catharsis of its ending.

The novel’s greatest strength is found in the relationship at its center. Hart and Mercy have an undeniable connection from the moment they start sharing the text together, and whether they’re sniping or unconsciously admiring each other’s attributes, their building tension is heading in a divinely inevitable direction. More than physical chemistry (although even that is exquisite, both teased and fully realized), the most heartwrenching revelation comes from understanding that these two people are quite lonely, and even though they aren’t initially aware of their true romantic potential, their souls figure it out for them first, reaching across the yawning chasm of misunderstanding that separates them and bringing them together to forge a fulfilled whole. With The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy , Bannen has crafted a fantasy romance that should be on everyone’s radar—a story about love, about loss, and yes, about death, but ultimately about how important it is to live, especially when you find the one person you want to spend that life with most. —Carly Lane

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But since the Locked Tomb series as a whole frequently defies description, it shouldn’t shock anyone that its latest installment, Nona the Ninth , does too.

A book that wasn’t even supposed to exist in the first place—the bones of this story were originally slated for the first act of the upcoming series finale Alecto the Ninth — Nona is the series’ most personal and human. To be fair, it also contains just as much violence and cruelty as its predecessors. Characters die, get resurrected, and swap bodies just as easily as ever. But where Gideon the Ninth ended in tragedy and Harrow the Ninth was a study in grief, Nona the Ninth feels like something altogether different: A story about life, and maybe even a little bit about hope. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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The adult fantasy debut from popular YA author Rebecca Ross, A River Enchanted contains many of the same strengths that can be found in her YA writing: Slow-burn love stories and enemies that gradually turn into lovers to reluctant Chosen Ones and family members willing to trade anything for one another. And yet, thanks to her delicately intricate writing, Ross makes these tropes feel fresher than they have any right to be.

A story that mixes fantasy staples with political intrigue and a dash of mystery on top, A River Enchanted is, quite simply enchanting. Set on a vividly imagined, clearly Scottish-inspired island known as Cadence whose people have existed under a curse for centuries—which leaves their land literally torn in two—the story follows two former childhood rivals forced to work together for the betterment of their kingdom and their adventures through a lush, vividly realized world of fairies and elemental spirits. And it’s gorgeous, in every sense of the word. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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It’s hard to believe that Abdullah, an American-Kuwaiti writer who grew up on some of the traditional tales she embellishes, is a debut writer. The prose is polished, the world rich with depth, and the characterizations endearing. With lies and secrets, she lulls her readers in with a story that feels familiar, simultaneously crafting a tale that undermines expectations. The finale changes the stakes for the series to come, and while it’s not quite a cliffhanger, the last pages are told almost breathlessly. The wait for the second book will be long, with no publication date yet announced, leaving readers to imagine an endless desert filled with ruins and danger—and jinn. —Alana Joli Abbott

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A gorgeously written coming of age story about a young woman’s struggle to free her mother from a magical imprisonment, Daughter of the Moon Goddess is packed with lush descriptions of immortal life and beautiful, intricately rendered settings. Its strong grounding in Chinese mythology and culture makes even the most well worn or expected tropes feel magical and fresh, and its story is nonstop adventure as Xingyin goes on all manner of quests to try and prove herself to the emperor of the Celestial Kingdom.

Throw in some dragons, mer folk, demons, and a love triangle where both sides are (initially at least!) compelling options for our heroine, and you can’t ask for much more in a story like this. Bonus points, the book’s sequel, Heart of the Sun Warrior also hit shelves in November of this year, meaning you can read this entire magical duology right now. — Lacy Baugher Milas

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But where For the Wolf focused primarily on Redarys’s journey into the Wilderwood and her slow-burn love story with Eammon, the titular Wolf of the forest, For the Throne follows the story of her sister Neve’s journey through the Shadowlands, the dark inversion of the golden magical forest above and a terrifying place populated by bones, dying gods, and the villainous Five Kings, semi-immortal murderous despots who long return to the real world and reclaim their powers. A beautifully balanced tale of love in many forms, For the Throne is not just a satisfying conclusion to the story that began in For the Wolf , but a bittersweet reminder that in real stories, happily ever after doesn’t exist, and it’s up to us to muddle through the best we can and try to make a future with the people we love. —Lacy Baugher Milas

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Black has spoken before about the ways that shifting to writing an adult novel has allowed her to explore more complex sorts of issues, such as the stagnation of adulthood and the ways we’re less able to adapt and change as we get older than perhaps we once were. And that’s honestly a big part of the reason why young con woman Charlie feels so relatable as a heroine. Because even though you (probably?) can’t magically control your shadow, well, who among us hasn’t wondered what we were doing with our lives? Or questioned whether we were failing at this whole adulting thing? And while the story isn’t perfect—it drags in more than a few places, and doesn’t fully explain the hierarchy and rules of shadow magic as well as some readers would likely prefer—it’s an exciting introduction to a new world of seemingly limitless possibility. And a story that feels like it could go anywhere. —Lacy Baugher Milas

best books of 2022

Best of 2022.


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The 19 best fantasy books of 2022, according to Goodreads

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Goodreads is the world's largest platform where readers track their favorite books, find recommendations, and participate in annual reading challenges. There, readers rate and review books of every genre, including all kinds of fantasy novels, from highly anticipated sequels to magical new releases. 

Fantasy novels let readers experience mythical worlds with daring characters on adventures for love, justice, or vengeance. These fantasy reads are the best and most popular of 2022, ranked by a combination of how often they were read and how highly they were rated. From fantastical romances to gripping historical reads, here are 19 of the best fantasy books of 2022, according to Goodreads reviewers. 

19. "Thistlefoot" by GennaRose Nethercott

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $24.99

Inspired by the Slavic folklore of Baba Yaga, "Thistlefoot" is the story of the Yaga siblings who are reunited when they learn of a mysterious inheritance: a sentient house on chicken legs called Thistlefoot. Now in America, Thistlefoot came from their ancestral home in Russia and was followed by the Longshadow Man, who brings destruction and terrible secrets as he pursues the house and the siblings on their final tour of their family's traveling theater show.

18. "The Lost Metal" by Brandon Sanderson

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $23.48

"The Lost Metal" is the seventh novel in "The Mistborn Saga," a fantasy heist series set in a land ruled by the Dark Lord for a thousand years where a gang of thieves take destiny into their own hands instead of relying on a prophecy that failed to save them. In this new addition, new leads are discovered, strange abilities arise, and someone must step up to save Scadrial before the planet faces inevitable ruin.

17. "Ordinary Monsters" by J.M. Miro

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $14.06

Set in 1882 England, Charlie and Marlowe each have mysterious powers and are part of the Talents, a group of children with gifts like theirs. In this nearly 700-page historical fantasy, the dead and the living collide with terrible monsters, a dark Victorian world, and the truth about the children's abilities. 

16. "The Stardust Thief" by Chelsea Abdullah

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $18.58

Loulie al-Nazari hunts and seals illegal magic but, after saving the prince's life, is blackmailed into finding an ancient lamp for the sultan. In "The Stardust Thief," Loulie teams up with the prince and her bodyguard to embark on an epic but dangerous adventure where they'll encounter more than they bargained for.

15. "The Book Eaters" by Sunyi Dean

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $23.49

In a fantastical world, there lies a line of book eaters who retain a book's content once it is consumed, from helpful maps to fun spy novels. Devon is a book eater whose brothers were raised on adventure stories while she was raised on fairytales, but when her son seems to be born with a darker genre of hunger, she must protect her son in this dystopian, feminist read.

14. "A River Enchanted" by Rebecca Ross

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $14.39

On the magic isle of Cadence, young girls have begun to disappear and Jack Tamerlaine must help find them, though he hasn't returned in 10 years. Adaira isn't thrilled to be working with her childhood enemy but knows the spirits will answer to his music. Together, they unearth trouble far greater than they expected as the fire that fuels their rivalry turns into something more.

13. "When Women Were Dragons" by Kelly Barnhill

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $15.39

Set in an alternate 1950's America, hundreds of thousands of women inexplicably transformed into dragons in the Mass Dragoning of 1955. Now, young Alex has countless questions and must face a world in which the Mass Dragoning isn't spoken of yet has affected nearly every aspect of life.

12. "Kaikeyi" by Vaishnavi Patel

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $17.81

"Kaikeyi" is the retelling of the Indian epic "The Ramayana," and follows Kaikeyi as she uses secret magic to transforms into a warrior and queen in a world controlled by men. But when her path clashes with fate, Kaikeyi must choose her legacy in this story of family, destiny, and courage.

11. "Elektra" by Jennifer Saint

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $13.99

Elektra, Clytemnestra, and Cassandra are three women whose lives have been cursed and irreversibly affected by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. In this imaginative retelling of a Greek myth, Elektra is determined to break the cycle as a war devastates Troy.

10. "The Golden Enclaves" by Naomi Novik

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $23.99

The bestselling "Scholomance" trilogy concludes with "The Golden Enclaves," where El has escaped Scholomance, but her journey isn't done: She must return to the school to save everyone once and for all as war threatens to rise. Readers love this young adult urban fantasy novel and find the cliffhanger ending delightfully evil.

9. "Nettle and Bone" by T. Kingfisher

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $21.99

Loved for its dark but humorous tone, "Nettle and Bone" is the story of Marra, the third-born daughter, who seeks to kill the prince who's been torturing her sisters. As she finds help from an unlikely group that includes a fairy godmother and a chicken possessed by a demon, Marra must accomplish the impossible if she hopes to save her family.

8. "Legends & Lattes" by Travis Baldree

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $14.99

In this slice-of-life fantasy novel, Viv, an orc barbarian, wants to leave her warrior life behind to open the first coffee shop in Thune. Hugely popular on TikTok, "Legends & Lattes" is a sweet and cozy fantasy romance about friendship, community, and the chance to start anew.

7. "The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches" by Sangu Mandanna

fantasy fiction books 2022

Mika Moon is used to hiding her magic except for her online account, where she "pretends" to be a witch. When she's summoned to a remote house to teach three young witches how to control their magic, she finds a protective librarian, a host of secrets, and a place she may finally belong.

6. "The Daughter of the Moon Goddess" by Sue Lynn Tan

fantasy fiction books 2022

Inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, "The Daughter of the Moon Goddess" is the story of Xingyin, who grew up on the moon, unaware she was being hidden from the Celestial Emperor. When her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee and leave her mother behind, but quickly hatches a plan to disguise her identity, learn how to fight alongside the emperor's son, and save her mother.

5. "The Atlas Six" by Olivie Blake

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $16.98

Every 10 years, six of the most talented magicians are chosen to qualify for initiation into the secret Alexandrian Society. As the six candidates spend a year together to prepare, they know five will join the ranks — and one will be eliminated.

4. "Babel" by R.F. Kuang

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $20.49

"Babel" is an epic fantasy novel set in 19th-century England that follows Robin, who is taken from his home in China to study at the Royal Institute of Translation at Oxford University, more commonly known as Babel. There, Robin studies languages and learns silver working, which transforms translation into magic, and discovers how Britain is using this power against the world. In this historical fantasy, Robin must choose between supporting the institution or siding with an underground organization determined to bring them down.

3. "Fairy Tale" by Stephen King

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $16.25

Written by the beloved "King of Horror," "Fairy Tale" is the story of a 17-year-old boy named Charlie Reade who is left a strange inheritance including gold, a cassette tape with an unbelievable story, and a house on a hill with a locked shed in the backyard. When Charlie discovers the key to a parallel world, he finds good and evil at war in this suspenseful novel that blends fantasy and horror.

2. "The War of Two Queens" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $17.99

In this highly anticipated fourth novel in the "Blood and Ash" series, Casteel is reeling from recent revelations while Poppy plans to destroy what the Blood Crown stands for to create a peaceful future. Together, they must stop the powers that have already begun to rise — even if it means Poppy must face the prophecy.

1. "House of Sky and Breath" by Sarah J. Maas

fantasy fiction books 2022

Available at Amazon , Bookshop , and Barnes & Noble , from $17.74

"House of Sky and Breath" is the highly anticipated sequel to " House of Earth and Blood ," following Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar as they search for a moment of peace after all the upheaval in the first book. But as they're pulled into rebel plans, the two know they can't stay silent while others are oppressed. Readers love this book for its gripping tension, plot twists, and satisfying ending.

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Top 25 Fantasy Books of 2022

This year’s bench of fantasy authors are from across the globe and include mythology, religion, and the retelling of classic stories.

fantasy books

This was a spectacular year for fantasy, a genre that has steadily risen in prestige and importance over the decades. Once mainly accessible to niche literary fans, fantasy now occupies the minds and captures the imaginations of followers of every type of medium. From hit films like Everything Everywhere All at Once and Wakanda Forever to TV series like Rings of Power and House of the Dragon, the influence of fantasy is everywhere.

One of the most exciting trends in fantasy has been the increase in opportunities for diverse authors to incorporate their cultural traditions and ideas into the genre. Decades ago, mainstream fantasy literature was often seen as the domain of white male authors influenced by European history. Despite the significant contributions of authors like Octavia E. Butler, Margaret Atwood, and Ursula LeGuin, much of the shelf space dedicated to fantasy was woefully homogenous, lending itself to the frequent dismissal of the genre as derivative.

Fortunately, so much has changed for the better. This year’s bench of fantasy authors includes influences from across the world, including South America, the Middle East, Africa, East Asia, and South Asia. Mythology, religion, and the retelling of classic stories is also crucial to the traditions of fantasy writing, and global religions, fairy tales, and fables have made their way into the milieu of influences for fantasy authors to draw on, making the genre richer and more appealing to a wide range of readers than ever.

Something that has not changed is the abundance of serialized fantasy novels occurring in massive, interconnected settings with deep and complex world-building elements. If a reader finds a story they like, it doesn’t have to end after one novel; the characters and world often continue for multiple entries. Several of the books on this list are first installments of new series or continuations of existing ones.

Without further ado, here are 25 enchanting, riveting, and engaging fantasy novels to read.

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words , by Eddie Robinson

The Logi are a race of aliens who are an important trading partner for the people of Earth. Lydia works as a translator for the Logi, verbalizing their telepathic communication while tolerating the inebriating side effects. When her employer, the Logi’s cultural attaché, winds up murdered, Lydia must help unravel the mystery while keeping the blame from herself.

Siren Queen , by Nghi Vo

In an alternate history of 1930s Hollywood, studios use blood magic to control the faces and fates of their stars and starlets. Luli Wei is a beautiful and talented young woman, the child of Chinese immigrants, desperate to become a star whatever the cost.

Ordinary Monsters , by J.M. Miro

In Industrial Revolution–era London, an institute sends a rough-and-tumble female detective to track down children with strange abilities for an unknown purpose. Charlie and Marlowe are two such guinea pigs, and their contact with the institute launches them on an international quest to rescue the world of the living from the dead.

The Measure , by Nikki Erlick

Every person in the world simultaneously receives a small wooden box in the mail that contains a thread, the length of which corresponds with chilling accuracy to the remaining length of their lives. As society begins to unravel due to the weight of this forbidden knowledge, eight strangers grapple with the consequences in their own ways.

The Spear Cuts Through Water , by Simon Jimenez

The tyrannical and evil emperor of the Moon Throne and his sons—known as the Three Terrors—viciously control and oppress their subjects, leveraging the ancient power of an imprisoned deity. Two young warriors break the god free and embark on a quest to put an end to the Moon Throne once and for all.

In the Shadow of Lightning , by Brian McClellan

Demir Grappo is a promising young general from a wealthy family who has the power to manipulate magical glass. Years after battlefield disgrace leads to his voluntary exile, he must return to the capital city when his mother is brutally murdered. As war within the Empire brews, Demir investigates the guild-family intrigue that led to his mother’s death.

Kaikeyi , by Vaishnavi Patel

When Princess Kaikeyi’s mother is forced into exile by her father, the Raj, she finds herself alone and powerless. Threatened by forced marriage, Kaikeyi dives into the library to reconnect with her mother through texts they once read together. When one of the scrolls unlocks a magical power inside of her, Kaikeyi’s strength and influence grows, just in time to confront an ancient evil that threatens her kingdom.

Age of Ash , by Daniel Abraham

In the city of Kithmar, the gulf between the poor and the wealthy is enormous. Alys is a small-time thief from the slums who spends every day struggling to eke out a living. When her brother is murdered, Alys becomes embroiled in a plot that threatens the mightiest of the city’s residents and puts her life in even more danger than usual.

Nettle & Bone , by T. Kingfisher

The princess of a small kingdom is married to an evil prince, forced to cement a political alliance that protects her family. When Marra, her younger sister, notices her sister’s abuse at the hands of the prince, she enlists the help of a grave witch and a band of misfits to free her family from the prince’s malevolent grip.

The Stardust Thief , by Chelsea Abdullah

In a land where magical Jinn walk the streets, a powerful sultan seeks to stamp out any threat to his control. Loulie al-Nazari is a vendor of rare and illegal magical artifacts. When the sultan decides to blackmail her into seeking out a powerful artifact that can threaten the lives of all Jinn in the kingdom, Loulie and her Jinn bodyguard reluctantly set off on a quest.

The Kaiju Preservation Society , by John Scalzi

Jamie Gray, a delivery driver for an Uber Eats-esque app, is laid off and destitute. Unable to find work, he lucks out by randomly encountering a former university friend who offers him a job handling “large animals” that turn out to be mythical Kaiju in a parallel universe. Jamie dives into the weird world of Kaiju and must fight against forces who would seek to control them for dangerous ends.

Wild and Wicked Things , by Francesca May

In England in the roaring ’20s, Crow Island is a mysterious beach community where the national ban on magic is lightly enforced. Annie Mason, adrift after losing her love in WWI, travels to the island to spend the summer settling her recently deceased and estranged father’s estate. On the island, Annie reconnects with a long-lost friend and is entranced by a magical and enigmatic neighbor.

Nuclear Family , by Joseph Han

A Korean American family runs a successful lunch plate restaurant on Hawaii. When their eldest son, Jacob, teaching English in Korea, is possessed by the ghost of his grandfather and attempts to cross the demilitarized zone into North Korea, the family is shamed by a viral video of the incident. Their daughter, Grace, a disengaged college senior, finds she is the only one who can save her family’s business and prosperity.

The Lost Metal , by Brandon Sanderson

The seventh and final chapter of the Mistborn saga, The Lost Metal returns to the world of Scadrial to follow the escapades of Waxillium Ladrian, a former lawman, current senator, who can magically manipulate metals. In the thrilling ultimate novel, Wax and the gang may finally take down the devious criminal organization known as The Set once and for all.

This Vicious Grace , by Emily Theide

A kingdom is faced with a demon invasion that manifests every five years, its only protection a powerful duo known as Finestra and Fonte, who work in tandem to defeat the threat. Alessa, the current cycle’s Finestra, has a bad habit of accidentally killing her Fontes due to lack of control over her power. Faced with the impending invasion and without a Fonte, Alessa turns to an accused killer to protect her from her own subjects.

The Final Strife , by Saara El-Arifi

In an empire where the color of blood marks your station in life, Embers rule with an iron fist while Workers toil and Ghosts are mutilated and pass their lives in servitude. A handful of Embers are stolen as infants, replaced with the offspring of Workers, and raised by the lower classes, destined to lead an uprising. Sylah is one of the few surviving such children fights to take her place as revolutionary leader.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves , by Alex Jennings

In an alternative New Orleans, magical, musical spirits roam the streets enlivening the residents with song and dance. Perry and his sister Brenda are two kids who love getting into adventures and chasing mystical “Haints” that find themselves with an enormous task. When the songs escape, and music starts to leak from the city, Perry and Brenda must capture the songs and save all of Nola.

How High We Go in the Dark , by Sequoia Nagamatsu

When researchers accidentally release a plague frozen in the ice in the Arctic Circle, the world is forever shaped by the tragic and massive numbers of deaths that follow. How High We Go in the Dark begins in the present and unfolds over hundreds of years after the pandemic, following the lives of numerous characters over the centuries and how they cope with loss and heartbreak.

The World We Make , by N. K. Jemisin

In N. K. Jemison’s sequel to 2020’s The City We Became , major cities have become sentient, embodying human avatars who walk and talk among us. After temporarily halting the existential threat of the “Woman in White” in the first installment, the sequel finds the humanoid representatives of NYC’s boroughs battling against a populist candidate for mayor who strives to destroy the character of New York for good.

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories , edited by Regina Kanyu Wang and Yu Chen

In a collection of translated short stories written by Chinese fantasy and sci-fi authors, The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories covers a diverse range of themes, from mythology to allegory to urban fantasy. These stories have never before been published in English and are a wonderful primer to the rich world of Chinese fantasy and sci-fi.

Sam McKenzie is a tech employee by day and fantasy author by night. He writes about fiction, technology, and culture. Follow him on Twitter @samckenz 

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The 45 best fantasy books of all time

Check out our picks of the most exciting new fantasy novels of 2023, the best of 2022, as well as the top fantasy books of all time..

fantasy fiction books 2022

Fantasy books offer readers the perfect escape into another world. Here we share some of the top fantasy books to give you some inspiration for your literary bucket list. From Megan Giddings dystopian The Women Could Fly , to the magical multi-dimensional universe of Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, and the dark academia world of The Atlas Six – if you’re a fantasy fiction fan we’ve got you covered.

The best new fantasy books of 2023

The thousand eyes, by a. k. larkwood.

Book cover for The Thousand Eyes

The epic sequel to The Unspoken Name – could you sacrifice your dreams to escape a nightmare? Csorwe, Shuthmili and Tal survey abandoned Echentyr worlds to make a living. The empire’s ruins seem harmless but fascinating. Yet disaster strikes when they stumble upon ancient magic during a routine expedition. This revives a warrior who’d slept for an age, reigniting a conflict thousands of years old. And the soldier binds Csorwe to her cause. Shuthmili is desperate to protect the woman she loves. However, as events escalate, she’s torn. Can she help Csorwe by clinging to her own humanity or by embracing her eldritch powers? 

One For My Enemy

By olivie blake.

Book cover for One For My Enemy

In New York City, two rival witch families fight for the upper hand in Olivie Blake's new fantasy fiction. The Antonova sisters and their mother, Baba Yaga, are the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants while the Fedorov brothers and their crime boss father, Koschei the Deathless, dominate the shadows of magical Manhattan. For twelve years, the two families have been in stalemate, but that is about to change. While fate draws together a brother and sister from either side, the siblings still struggle for power, and internal conflicts could destroy each family from within. 

Under the Whispering Door

By tj klune.

Book cover for Under the Whispering Door

TJ Klune brings us a warm hug of a story about a man who spent his life at the office – and his afterlife building a home. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own sparsely-attended funeral, Wallace is outraged. But he begins to suspect she’s right, and he is in fact dead. Then when Hugo, owner of a most peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace reluctantly accepts the truth. Under the Whispering Door is a witty, haunting and kind love story from TJ Klune – the master of queer fantasy. 

The best fantasy books of 2022

Guns of the dawn, by adrian tchaikovsky.

Book cover for Guns of the Dawn

For generations, peace reigned over Denland – until revolutionaries assassinated their king. Next, they clashed with Lascanne, their neighbour. Both countries are now locked in fierce war, pitching war machines against warlocks. Genteel Emily Marshwic has lost much to the war. Then the call for more soldiers comes for her. Alongside other conscripted women, she finds herself on the battlefield, braving the harsh reality of warfare. But she begins to doubt her country’s cause, and her choices could determine the fate of these two nations.

The Atlas Six

Book cover for The Atlas Six

Dark-academia fantasy novel  The Atlas Six  was originally self-published by Olivie Blake, and was then snapped up for re-publication after it shot to fame on TikTok. The story follows six young magical practitioners as they compete to join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places. Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.

The Atlas Paradox

Book cover for The Atlas Paradox

Six magicians were offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Five are now members of the Society. And two paths lie before them. In the second installment in the Atlas Six series, the secret society of Alexandrians is unmasked. Its newest recruits realize the institute is capable of raw, world-changing power. It’s also headed by a man with plans to change life as we know it – and these are already under way. But the cost of this knowledge is as high as the price of power, and each initiate must choose which faction to follow.

Don't Miss

The Atlas Six books in order

Stone blind, by natalie haynes.

Book cover for Stone Blind

At last, Medusa's story is told. The sole mortal raised in a family of gods, Medusa lives with an urgency that her family will never know, and is alone in her ability to experience change and to be hurt. Then, when the sea god Poseidon commits an unforgivable act in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can – and Medusa is changed forever. Writhing snakes replace her hair, and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. Unable to control her new power, she is condemned to a life of shadows and darkness. Until Perseus embarks upon a quest . . .

This retelling of the famed myth of Medusa asks who the real monsters are, after all.

The Discord of Gods

By jenn lyons.

Book cover for The Discord of Gods

The unmissable conclusion to the epic A Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons, containing the final battle between gods, demons and dragons. As Kihrin seeks an eleventh-hour reprieve for the universe – with Relos Var and the demon Xaltorath continuing to wage war on each other – his body threatens to betray him. Reeling from the aftereffects of a corrupted ritual, one that twisted both him and the last dragons. Worse, he’s now bound to the avatar of a star, a form that’s becoming catastrophically unstable. All of which means he's running out of time. One curse. One man. One destiny.


By susan dennard.

Book cover for Witchshadow

Susan Dennard’s  New York Times  bestselling fantasy series continues – with the story of Iseult, the Threadwitch. The Witchlands have been on the brink of war, and in the fourth book in this epic fantasy series, it arrives. Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.

The Witchlands series books in order

By frances hardinge.

Book cover for Unraveller

In a world where anyone can cast a life-destroying curse, only one person has the power to unravel them. Kellen does not fully understand his unique gift, but helps those who are cursed, like his friend Nettle who was trapped in the body of a bird for years. She is now Kellen's constant companion and his closest ally. But the Unraveller carries a curse himself and, unless he and Nettle can remove it, Kellen is a danger to everything – and everyone – around him . . .

Legends & Lattes

By travis baldree.

Book cover for Legends & Lattes

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually  is . But old rivals and new stand in the way of success, and Thune’s shady underbelly could make it all too easy for Viv to take up the blade once more.

A Taste of Gold and Iron

By alexandra rowland.

Book cover for A Taste of Gold and Iron

Kadou, the modest prince of Arasht, has no plans to wrestle for imperial control with his sister, the queen. Yet he is in conflict with the father of queen's new child, who is a powerful ambassador at the court. Then a hunting expedition goes badly wrong, and Kadou finds himself accused of murder. This sensual tale of courtly intrigue, backstabbing politics and romance set against the backdrop of an Ottoman Empire-inspired world, is a must-read.

A Marvellous Light

By freya marske.

Book cover for A Marvellous Light

For fans of Bridgerton who'd like to welcome magic into their lives. Set in an alternative Edwardian England, this is a comedy of manners, manor houses, and hedge mazes: including a magic-infused murder mystery and a delightful queer romance. Young baronet Robin Blyth thought he was taking up a minor governmental post. However, he's actually been appointed parliamentary liaison to a secret magical society, and he’ll need the help of Edwin Courcey, his adversarial magical-society counterpart, as together they discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles.

A Restless Truth

Book cover for A Restless Truth

In the thrilling follow-up to  A Marvellous Light, Maud Blyth longs for adventure and finds exactly that when she agrees to serve as an old lady's companion on an ocean liner, and on the very first day of the voyage, her companion is found dead. Then, she meets Violet, who is everything Maud has been trained to distrust, yet can’t help but desire: a magician, an actress and a magnet for scandal. Surrounded by open sea and a ship full of suspects, Maud and Violet must work together to locate a magical object worth killing for – and unmask a murderer. All without becoming dead in the water themselves.

Book cover for Wolfsong

When Ox Matheson was twelve his father taught him that he was worthless, destined to be misunderstood, and then he left him. Four years later, the energetic Bennett family moved in next door, harbouring a secret that would change his life forever: they are shapeshifters, and can transform into wolves at will. Drawn into an unimaginable new world, Ox found a friend in Joe, the youngest Bennett brother, but when the pack was pulled apart by tragedy and murder, Joe left town . But now, he has returned, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

The Women Could Fly

By megan giddings.

Book cover for The Women Could Fly

Part fantasy, part dystopia,  The Women Could Fly  is a powerful novel that speaks to our times. In a world where witches are real and unmarried women over the age of thirty must be monitored by the state, Josephine Thomas is twenty-eight, ambivalent about marriage and on the cusp of losing autonomy over her own life. It's been fourteen years since her mother's disappearance, and Jo has heard ever possible explanation from kidnapping to murder . . . to witchcraft; but all these years later, she feels she's never understood her mother more. So when she's offered an opportunity to honour one last request from her mother's will, she takes it . . .

Origins of The Wheel of Time

By michael livingston.

Book cover for Origins of The Wheel of Time

This companion to Robert Jordan's internationally bestselling series, The Wheel of Time, will delve into the creation of a masterpiece, drawing from interviews and an unprecedented examination of his unpublished notes. Michael Livingston tells the behind-the-scenes story of who Jordan was (including a chapter that is the very first published biography of the author), how he worked, and why he holds such an important place in modern literature.

She Who Became the Sun

By shelley parker-chan.

Book cover for She Who Became the Sun

A Number One  Sunday Times  Bestseller, this absorbing historical fantasy novel from Shelley Parker-Chan reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor. In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule, and when a bandit raid wipes out her home and her brother perishes, Zhu resolves to overcome her destiny by taking her dead brother’s identity. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream?

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

By t. l. huchu.

Book cover for Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

Ropa Mayo finds herself embroiled in another magical crisis in T. L. Huchu's sequel to the much-loved The Library of the Dead . Ropa thought her life would change forever after she discovered an underground occult library, in modern-day Edinburgh. But she's still unsuccessfully chasing a prized magical job with the city's secret societies, until her friend Priya offers her a job at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies – a very specialised hospital. Here, a dangerous new illness is resisting both magical and medical remedies. If Ropa can solve this case, she might stand a chance of impressing her mentor, Sir Callander. 

Black Water Sister

Book cover for Black Water Sister

Broke, jobless and just graduated, Jessamyn is abandoning America to return ‘home’. But as she packs to return to Malaysia, a country she hasn't seen since she was a toddler, she starts to hear a bossy voice in her mind, which belongs to her late grandmother Ah Ma who in life, and apparently in death, worships a local deity, the Black Water Sister. When a business magnate dared to offend her goddess, Ah Ma swore revenge, and she isn't afraid to blackmail her granddaughter into helping her to make mischief . . .

Fury of a Demon

By brian naslund.

Book cover for Fury of a Demon

The third and final instalment in Brian Naslund's Dragons of Terra trilogy has come to paperback this year. Osyrus Ward has subdued most of Terra, but to finish the job and annihilate the dragons he must add to his huge army of skyships and create a machine that possesses unheard-of power. Rebels Bershad and Ashlyn are doing every everything they can to prevent this, but they have been captured in Dainwood by Ward's mercenaries. Ashlyn employs her dark magic against the terrifying forces massing around them, and Bershad summons his history of victory in battle. But will their combined energies be enough to save the world?

The House of Always

Book cover for The House of Always

The House of Always is the fourth book in Jenn Lyons’ epic fantasy series A Chorus of Dragons. As the novel opens, the Eight Immortals have catastrophically failed to stop Kihrin’s enemies, who are moving forward with their plans to free Vol Karoth, the King of Demons. Kihrin has his own ideas about how to fight back, but even if he’s willing to sacrifice everything for victory, the cost may prove too high for his allies. Now they face a choice: can they save the world while saving Kihrin too? Or will they be forced to watch as he becomes the very evil they had all sworn to destroy?

Jenn Lyons on world-building in her fantasy novels

The empire's ruin, by brian staveley.

Book cover for The Empire's Ruin

In the first book in Brian Staveley's epic fantasy trilogy, Ashes of the Unhewn, the great Annurian Empire is on its last legs, and its elite soldiers – the Kettral – are dwindling. Kettral soldier Gwenna Sharpe is given a quest, in order to restore the hawk-riding battalion. She must travel beyond the known world, to the place where the mighty war hawks nest. She will face obstacles along the way, from poisoned land to a monk turned conman to sinister forces massing against the empire. Gwenna's quest to save it is fraught with danger, but full of potential for recovery and renewal.

by Lucy Holland

Book cover for Sistersong

This folklore-inspired tale of betrayal, magic and murder is a 2022 must read. King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure. All three fear a life confined within the hold, protected from Saxon invaders. But when Myrdhin, meddler and magician, arrives, the siblings discover the power within themselves and the land.  

Best fantasy books of all time

Book cover for Bloodwitch

The brilliantly imagined coming-of-age fantasy series, Witchlands, continues with  Bloodwitch . The Bloodwitch Aeduan and Iseult the Threadwitch race for safety, desperate to evade the Raider King. His attempts to subdue the Witchlands are gaining momentum, as his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. Despite differing goals, Aeduan and Iseult have grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. Yet trust is a tenuous bond . . .

We Free the Stars

By hafsah faizal.

Book cover for We Free the Stars

We Free the Stars  is Hafsah Faizal's spellbinding conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology. The battle is over, but the war is just beginning. Low on resources and allies alike, Zafira and Nasir are determined to finish their mission; to restore magic to their kingdom. But time is running out and if order is to be restored, sacrifices will have to be made. Both hopeful and devastating, this is YA fantasy at it's best. 

Children of Virtue and Vengeance

By tomi adeyemi.

Book cover for Children of Virtue and Vengeance

In this thrilling sequel to Children of Blood and Bone , Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they imagined, reigniting the powers of the maji and some nobles with magic ancestry. With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must find a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart. Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the perfect read for young adult fantasy fanatics. 

Empire in Black and Gold

Book cover for Empire in Black and Gold

This epic fantasy novel is the first book in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s critically acclaimed fantasy series The Shadows of the Apt. The Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades, but now an ancient Empire is conquering city after city, and the Lowlands are next . . . Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, sees the threat, but can he convince his people of the danger that is coming? 

Adrian Tchaikovsky's books in order

The star-touched queen, by roshani chokshi.

Book cover for The Star-Touched Queen

Maya's world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges her marriage for political advantage. She becomes the Queen of Akaran and the wife of Amar despite a horoscope that promised a marriage of death and destruction. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire. But Akaran has its own secrets. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger, but who besides her husband can she trust? Steeped in Indian folklore and mythology The Star-Touched Queen is an enthralling fantasy read.

The Lost City

By amanda hocking.

Book cover for The Lost City

The Lost City is the first book in Amanda Hocking's Omte Origins trilogy, an adventure set in her magical Trylle universe. When Ulla Tulin was abandoned as a baby, like many half-blood trolls she was raised by strangers who hid her away. But she never stopped wondering about her birth parents, and so when she hears about a project to help half-blood trolls she's determined to discover her true heritage. She enlists the help of the resourceful Pan and must contend with the mysterious Eliana. But as she and Pan fight to unravel the truth they realise that someone – or something – is determined to stop them . . .

The Fifth Season

By n. k. jemisin.

Book cover for The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season is the first fantasy novel in N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy. In a far-future Earth, a continent known as the Stillness is plagued by apocalyptic natural disasters known as Seasons, that can last for generations. Book one follows the story of Essun, a woman living an unremarkable life in a quiet town until three tragedies strike in one day. Her husband murders their beloved son in cold blood and kidnaps their daughter, a world-spanning empire falls, and a great rift has been torn into the Stillness throwing ash into the sky and blocking the sun's light for years to come. And so Essun's fight to save her daughters in this dying land, begins . . .

Blood of an Exile

Book cover for Blood of an Exile

In Brian Naslund's must-read debut fantasy novel we meet Bershad, an adventurer sentenced to kill dragons for a living after being caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble. When the king who sentenced Bershad offers him a way out of his forced occupation and exile, Bershad sees a way to earn redemption, but it won't be easy.  Blood of an Exile , the first book in the Dragons of Terra series is packed with adventure and of course, lots of dragons.

Sorcerer to the Crown

Book cover for Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown is the first book in Hugo Award-winning author Zen Cho’s fantasy series. In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England's first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, whose duty it is to keep the levels of magic stable   – but they're failing. The supply of magic is being disrupted by the Fairy Court, and war with France means the government wants to drain this scarce resource even further. When Zacharias meets ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman they find that her recent magical discovery might just change the nature of sorcery forever.  

The Invisible Library

By genevieve cogman.

Book cover for The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library is the astounding debut fantasy book by Genevieve Cogman, and the first novel in The Invisible Library series. Professional spy Irene works for the mysterious Library, along with her enigmatic assistant Kai. Their mission is to steal a dangerous book from an alternative London. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. And to make things more complicated, this alternative world is infested with chaos, full of supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic.

The Invisible Library books in order

By john gwynne.

Book cover for Malice

Malice is the first book in John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series , from bestselling author Conn Iggulden. Set in the Banished Lands where armies of men and giants clash in battle, Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Ruin of Kings

Book cover for The Ruin of Kings

The hugely anticipated debut by Jenn Lyons is the first fantasy book in the A Chorus of Dragons series. Brim-full of big ideas – body-swapping, prophecy, rich worldbuilding and grim commentaries on many aspects of empire – to name but a few, this is the tale of Kihrin, a young prince cursed with bad luck and worse prophecy.  The Ruin of Kings  is a fantastically complex and multi-layered fantasy book, and characters like Doc and Galen, alongside Kihrin's own well-balanced set of talents and flaws make this a promising new fantasy series. 

The Tiger and the Wolf

Book cover for The Tiger and the Wolf

The Tiger and the Wolf  is the British Fantasy Award-winning novel from Adrian Tchaikovsky and the first book in his Echoes of the Fall fantasy fiction series. Maniye is an outcast, the daughter of the chieftain of the Wolf clan and the queen of the Tiger clan, clans which have been deadly enemies for generations. Hiding a deadly secret, the power to shapeshift into the form of both a wolf and a tiger, she escapes. But Maniye is crucial to her father’s plan to rule the north, and he is determined to get her back. As she flees, priests foresee danger and rumours of war spread . . . 

by China Miéville

Book cover for King Rat

Blending eerie Pied Piper-influenced fairy tale with the ‘90s South London Drum and Bass scene, China Miéville’s debut is a thrilling urban fantasy novel. When Saul’s father is murdered, in a London where mysterious forces prepare for a showdown, Saul is left to pay for the crime. But help comes in the unlikely form of King Rat, who leads him to freedom where he confronts his inheritance at the gathering of the Junglist Massive.

Children of Blood and Bone

Book cover for Children of Blood and Bone

Tomi Adeyemi’s YA fantasy book is the first in her West African-inspired fantasy fiction series Legacy of Orisha. Zélie remembers when Orisha was full of magic. When different clans ruled with unique powers, including her Reaper mother who could summon forth souls. But everything changed when the ruthless king had anyone with powers killed. Now only a few people still have the power to use magic, and they must stay hidden. Zélie is one of those people, but now she has the chance to bring magic back to her people and strike against the monarchy . . . Tomi Adeyemi is the author of some on the best fantasy books for YA readers in recent years.

The Lord of the Rings

By j. r. r. tolkien.

Book cover for The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy is a classic of fantasy fiction and is a must-read for all fantasy fans. The story of the hobbit Frodo and his epic quest to reach Mount Doom and defeat the Dark Lord, Sauron, by destroying the One Ring, Tolkien’s epic fantasy was adapted into three of the most popular films of the 2000s. One of the best fantasy books ever written. 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

By marlon james.

Book cover for Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf  is the first fantasy novel in Marlon James's Dark Star Trilogy. A New York Times bestseller, National Book Award finalist and Ray Bradbury Prize winner, it's no stranger to accolades. Set in an African-inspired fantasy world, the first book in the series follows Tracker, a mercenary with an extraordinary ability to follow scents, as he hunts down a missing boy. On his journey Tracker's crosses paths with strange companions, from shapeshifters to giants, who seek the same child and hide their own secrets . . .

A Game of Thrones

By george r.r. martin.

Book cover for A Game of Thrones

No list of the best fantasy fiction is complete without George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy fiction series, universally acknowledged to be some of the best fantasy books of all time. The first book in the series gave its name to the TV series that became one of the most talked-about in history. In a world where summers span decades and winter can last a lifetime, the battle for the Iron Throne has begun. The breakout success of A Game of Thrones means the series will feature on best fantasy books lists for years to come.

Books series to read if you love Game of Thrones

The colour of magic, by terry pratchett.

Book cover for The Colour of Magic

Terry Pratchett’s wonderfully inventive fantasy fiction series Discworld begins with  The Colour of Magic . Set in a flat world resting on the back of four elephants who are balanced on the shell of a giant turtle, this is a parallel time and place full of magic. When the first-ever tourist arrives, their survival is charged to a comically inept wizard who must face robbers, mercenaries and Death himself. Terry Pratchett is the author of some of the most-loved fantasy books of all-time.  

The Lie Tree

Book cover for The Lie Tree

When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. As she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered. Frances Hardinge's wonderfully evocative YA fantasy novel was the Costa Book of the Year 2015, and is one of the best fantasy books for younger readers. 

by Neil Gaiman

Book cover for Stardust

In the tiny town of Wall, young Tristan Thorn is madly in love with the beautiful Victoria Forrester. When she agrees to marry him if he retrieves a fallen star he doesn’t hesitate. But to find the fallen star he’ll need to cross the ancient wall which the town is named for, into a world of magic and danger. This charming fairytale fantasy will delight fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver . 

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The best epic fantasy book series through the ages, the best sci-fi and fantasy audiobooks, the best ya fantasy books to escape in.

14 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2022

From gender apocalypses to travelogues of living gods to oaths sworn while hair-washing, i had an amazing book haul this year..

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While I’m not as voracious a reader as I used to be, novels were my first entry into fantasy and science fiction and remain my favorite way to escape into another world. This past year had an incredible array of wonderful books published, and I’m delighted to share some of my favorites from 2022.

My tastes tend towards the obviously queer , the slightly hard to read , the fantastically epic , and the swooningly romantic. Whether that’s romance as in fealty or romance as in smooching is up for debate, but regardless, here are 13 books that I devoured this past year. (Including two additions from io9's Cheryl Eddy and one from io9's Sabina Graves!)

Some books on this list have been published by HarperCollins, which includes the Voyager and William Morrow imprints. Please note that the HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for its workers. Click here to learn how you can support its fight for a fair contract.

The Art of Prophecy — Wesley Chu

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A badass martial artist who can step along the wind is tasked with saving a child of prophecy but uncovers a massive conspiracy at the heart of her country’s religion. The Art of Prophecy is a sweeping epic tale that offers a distinct wuxia style and an impressively quick plot.

The Pallbearers Club — Paul Tremblay

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Styled as a memoir peppered with sarcastic, contrarian feedback from someone with mysterious access to the manuscript, Paul Tremblay’s The Pallbearers Club introduces us to Art Barbara, who evolves from awkward teen to actually-pretty-cool adult thanks to his deep love of Bob Mould and Hüsker Dü—and the influence of a peculiar young woman he met in high school while volunteering at a funeral home. The reader is never sure if Mercy (or “Mercy,” since the character is so enigmatic we don’t learn her real name) is a ghost, an energy vampire, some sort of less-easily-identifiable monster, or just a really intense frenemy… and frankly, neither is Art, a charmingly unreliable narrator whose story becomes intertwined with his equally unreliable antagonist. - Cheryl Eddy

This book was published by HarperCollins. The HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for its workers. Click here to learn how you can support its fight for a fair contract.

The Sleepless — Victor Manibo

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The Sleepless is a gripping, nightmarish descent into obsession, addiction, and the horrible journalistic pursuit of truth at the expense of literally everything else in Jamie Vega’s life. His boss is dead, you see. He’s got to get justice. Within the beats of the whodunnit, The Sleepless is a deep, introspective reflection on the ways in which productivity has taken over our lives, and the novel crafts a compassionate treatise on what makes people’s lives worth living.

Goliath — Tochi Onyebuchi

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Tochi Onyebuchi’s searing prose is an emotional journey in every sentence, and Goliath proves that he can take on vast systems of inequality on an interstellar scale. A destroyed, polluted, post-apocalypse Earth becomes the site of vicious colonial gentrification as entire homes and cul-de-sacs are transported from Earth and re-settled in wealthy off-world neighborhoods.

Sign Here — Claudia Lux

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I love a deal with the devil novel, and Sign Here pits a pencil pushing demon with ambitions of finally making it out of the deals business against a wealthy family with more secrets than cash... and they’ve got a lot of cash. It’s a darkly funny, deeply considered novel that kept me up well into the night as I sped through to the ending.

Dead Silence — S. A. Barnes

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Space horror is one of those genres that I am slowly but surely becoming more and more attached to. This book combines some old school lost in space tropes like luxury ships and dead crews with contemporary anxieties around being made redundant. Dead Silence is like Cthulhu made its home on the Titanic in space... and you’re the assholes who thought you could handle it.

The Spear Cuts Through Water — Simon Jimenez

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An epic fantasy that scratched every possible itch I have whenever I pick up a big old doorstop of a book, while also avoiding the pitfalls that make me cringe when reading books about bad royal families. This epic journey is about friendship and legacy as two warriors fight alongside a literal god as she attempts to outrun her children and destroy the despots that have taken over her domain.

Secret Identity — Alex Segura

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Comics fans know him for his work at Archie as well as with Marvel and DC; noir fans know him from his Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery series. ( Star Wars fans may also recognize his name, to boot.) But Alex Segura scored maybe his greatest-to-date literary triumph this year with Secret Identity , a fast-paced, incredibly entertaining 1970-set tale about a struggling writer who creates the next great superhero character—then gets pulled into a murder mystery that digs into the seedy underbelly of the comic-book world, with comic panels cleverly integrated into the storytelling. - Cheryl Eddy

The First Binding — R.R. Virdi

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When I tell you this book is massive, it’s not an understatment, it’s absolutely a chonker of the highest order, and I enjoyed every single second of it. In this sweeping recollection of a new mythology, our main character Ari is a storyteller who travels across his world retelling, adjusting, tweaking, and lying his way through his travels. It’s a marvelous epic fantasy, and the evil at the heart of this world is a tense and demonic presence.

Babel — R. F. Kuang

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Babel has a remarkably fantastic subtitle, which is “ Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution . ” This gives you a good idea of the kind of dark academia meets student revolution that you’ll get when taking on R.F. Kuang’s first novel since her standout Poppy War Trilogy. The book follows a young Chinese man, Robin, as he is torn between his magical academic pursuits and the knowledge that the war Britain is about to wage on his homeland is unjust, and he must decide whether to fight back or attempt a bloodless defense. Heart wrenching and violent, Babel is sure to become a fantasy classic.

This book was published by HarperCollins. The HarperCollins Union has been on strike since 11/10/22 to get a fair contract for their workers. Click here to learn how you can support their fight for a fair contract.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves — Alex Jennings

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New Orleans comes to magical, undead, vibrant life in the pages of this book, which is charged with a cadence that is entirely unique. The line writing of this book is so fantastic, switching in between the perspectives of a young teacher and three child-mages. The whole of Nola is in danger as nine jazz songs escape their bounds, threatening to drive the city under the water, this time for good. An incredible, evocative, syrupy book that will not fail to enchant you... I’d advise giving it what it wants.

Lore Olympus: Vol 3 — Rachel Smythe  

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Had to get my hands on the latest volume of Rachel Smythe’s gorgeous reimagining of the Hades and Persephone myth , which I just can’t put down and stop what I’m doing to read when it hits the Webtoom app. But seriously, the amazing colors, the world designs, and love story are all just as riveting between the pages of a book. - Sabina Graves

A Taste of Gold and Iron - Alexandra Rowland

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I devoured this book so fast, and then went screaming to Twitter about how wonderful it was. Luckily for me, Alex Rowland saw it and instead of telling me to chill, please, they agreed to an interview ! This book is the moment! It’s pure Romantasy (that’s Romance/fantasy) in the best of ways, combining all the tropes I love in fanfiction and plenty I love in fantasy to portray fealty and love. As Prince Kadou struggles to regain his footing and uncover a conspiracy to commit economic fraud, his bodyguard, Evemer, has to figure out just how far he’s willing to go to protect the prince... and his heart. (They are so gone on each other by like chapter four it drove me mad, please read this book and scream at me on Twitter.)

Manhunt — Gretchen Felker-Martin

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Thrilling, gory, disgusting, and wonderfully cathartic, Manhunt is a manifesto against every gender apocalypse stereotype, creating space for trans and nonbinary people in the biology of transhumanism by eating the competition whole. Not for the faint of heart, and resplendent for it.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel , Star Wars , and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV , and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water .


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By Amal El-Mohtar

This illustration, done in shades of blue-gray, shows a Saturn-like ringed planet leaning on a bookshelf. Next to it is an otherworldly figure in a large gown and hat, a book floating at its side.

Completing a novel is a difficult feat in the best of times, and we haven’t had any of those in a while. Because publishing moves slowly, this year brought us several novels that were drafted or revised during the upheavals of 2020, only to be released into a very different world. I want to recognize and celebrate the many, many hands laboring to make books in the face of so many challenges: not only authors but editors, agents, artists, designers, typesetters, copy editors and publicists. Of all the books I read this year, the following stood out as the most accomplished, astonishing or a heady mix of both. They’re arranged in the order I read them.

THE VIOLENCE, by Delilah S. Dawson, takes place in a post-Covid Florida, in 2025, on the cusp of a very different pandemic. Chelsea Martin lives a seemingly idyllic life in a gated community with her wealthy husband, two daughters and small fashionable dog. But Chelsea’s husband is physically and emotionally abusive, and he has systematically cut her off from any friends or support systems apart from her cruel and self-absorbed mother. As a new disease called the Violence spreads — causing brief, individual episodes of amnesiac rage during which the infected beat the nearest living thing to death — Chelsea sees an opportunity to free herself and her daughters. The book is a dazzling piece of knife work.

Instantly immersive and deeply affecting, IN THE SERPENT’S WAKE, by Rachel Hartman, concludes an epic fantasy duology that began with “Tess of the Road.” Publicly, Tess is on a quest: to sail through the Archipelagos to the South Pole and find the Polar Serpent, for science and for her friend Pathka, who has an ailment only the Serpent can ease. Privately, Tess is on a mission for the queen of Goredd: to spy on the neighboring nation of Ninys’s activities in the Archipelagos and report any aggression against its Indigenous peoples. Complex, compassionate and challenging as all Hartman’s novels are, this one is more expansive and multivocal than her previous work.

Sarah Tolmie’s ALL THE HORSES OF ICELAND is a slim and beautiful chronicle in the tradition of Naomi Mitchison and Ursula K. Le Guin. In it, a medieval Christian scholar named Jor relates the adventures of a stoic Icelander, Eyvind of Eyri, who travels to Mongolia to make his fortune and returns with a nameless white mare from whom all of Iceland’s horses will descend. The result is a sorcerous journey through hospitality and enchantment.

Jo Harkin’s TELL ME AN ENDING is one of the most sophisticated works of science fiction that I’ve read recently. A British company called Nepenthe offers therapeutic memory removal to two kinds of clients: self-informed and self-confidential. “The self-informeds know that they’ve had a memory removed; the self-confidentials don’t.” But a court order forces the company to offer the latter the option of memory restoration — revealing that they’ve had memories deleted in the first place and, for some, throwing their lives and relationships into turmoil. Sharply written with wry, slanted asides, “Tell Me an Ending” follows five characters in alternating chapters and explores the threads binding them to one another.

THE IMPOSSIBLE US, by Sarah Lotz, is an utterly delightful epistolary romance between Nick, a grumpy failed novelist turned freelance editor, and Bee, a cheerful workaholic with commitment issues, who refashions her clients’ wedding dresses into new clothing. When Nick types up an angry message demanding payment from a client and accidentally sends it to Bee, the two begin a cheeky, charming correspondence that will change both their lives — in multiple universes.

In Juno Dawson’s HER MAJESTY’S ROYAL COVEN , Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle are modern-day British witches who were inducted into the titular coven when they were schoolchildren. In the 25 years since, their tightly knit group has loosened. Helena has become the high priestess of H.M.R.C.; Niamh has drifted away from it; Leonie has left decisively to start her own coven, Diaspora; and Elle has buried herself in mundane domesticity, hiding her witchy nature from her husband and children. But when a terrible prophecy rattles the witching community, the friends draw together again — only to find just how different they’ve become. Warm, funny and heartbreaking.

Robert Jackson Bennett’s LOCKLANDS concludes his “Founders” trilogy, an epic fantasy that blends Renaissance Italy aesthetics with the ingenuity of the industrial and computing revolutions, and that asks hard questions about late capitalism and its attendant technologies. Over the course of three books, Sancia Grado has gone from a petty thief with the ability to “hear” magical objects, to the leader of the last bastion of free people battling against a terrifying artificial intelligence. Called Tevanne, it turns people into unwilling hosts for its consciousness and fodder for its projects; Sancia and her wife, Berenice, wage guerrilla warfare against it, having developed their own magical and technological enhancements. Berenice thinks winning requires ever more clever technology; Sancia isn’t so sure. A worthy conclusion to a spectacular series.

R.F. Kuang’s BABEL is a tremendous achievement, imagining an alternate history for the British Empire in which languages are an exploitable magic resource, provided the children who speak them with native fluency are groomed and assimilated into the empire’s violent systems. In the 1840s, Oxford’s Royal Institute of Translation attracts or uproots students from foreign countries and teaches them to work translation magic on its behalf. Focused on one cohort of four brilliant students and viciously footnoted by a shrewd narratorial voice, “Babel” is an unflinching study of the cost of loving what’s destroying you.

Aimee Pokwatka’s SELF-PORTRAIT WITH NOTHING is tantalizing and elusive lacework, delicately balanced between the branches of fantasy, mystery and realism like a spider’s web. Pepper Rafferty is a forensic anthropologist who often treats the facts of her own life as a puzzle in need of solving; in particular, she wonders what kind of person she would be if she’d been raised by her birth mother, Ula Frost, a reclusive painter of strange portraits rumored to have sensational effects on the lives of their subjects. Ula goes missing, and Pepper is declared her heir — but Pepper isn’t certain Ula’s dead, and decides to become the kind of person who sets out to find her.

Teeming with music, magic, family and art, Alex Jennings’s THE BALLAD OF PERILOUS GRAVES is a feast for the senses, dazzling and inventive, with prose I wanted to eat off the page. In the marvelous city of Nola, graffiti can walk and swamp rats can talk — but the city’s magical existence depends on nine foundational songs that live inside Doctor Professor’s piano. When those songs escape, Doctor Professor recruits Perilous Graves; his little sister, Brendy; and their best friend, Peaches, to retrieve them.

THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS , by H.A. Clarke, is a sequel to “The Scapegracers,” but it feels more like that book’s second half: fully as bold and bloody, visceral and fierce. In the first book, Sideways Pike, a solitary weirdo witch, found a coven but lost her magic; in the second, she fights to get it back. Along the way, she learns more about her friends and enemies, their shared histories and herself. Chaotically queer and helplessly loving, it’s a series I wish a long and celebrated life.

Amal El-Mohtar is a Hugo Award-winning writer and co-author, with Max Gladstone, of “This Is How You Lose the Time War.”

Best of Fantasy - 2022 43 books

Cover of The Ivory Key

The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key Duology, #1) by Akshaya Raman

Cover of The Amber Crown

The Amber Crown by Jacey Bedford

Cover of Engines of Empire

Engines of Empire (The Age of Uprising, #1) by R. S. Ford

Cover of Bound by Firelight

Bound by Firelight (Wickery, #2) by Dana Swift

Cover of Castles in Their Bones

Castles in Their Bones (Castles in their Bones, #1) by Laura Sebastian

Cover of Rise of the Mages

Rise of the Mages (Age of Ire, #1) by Scott Drakeford

Cover of Age of Ash

Age of Ash (Kithamar Trilogy, #1) by Daniel Abraham

Cover of Only a Monster

Only a Monster (Only a Monster, #1) by Vanessa Len

Cover of The Justice of Kings

The Justice of Kings (Empire of the Wolf, #1) by Richard Swan

Cover of Scorpica

Scorpica (The Five Queendoms, #1) by G. R. Macallister

Cover of Legends & Lattes

Legends & Lattes (Legends & Lattes, #1) by Travis Baldree

Cover of The Bone Orchard

The Bone Orchard by Sara A Mueller

Cover of A Magic Steeped in Poison

A Magic Steeped in Poison (Book of Tea, #1) by Judy I. Lin

Cover of The City of Dusk

The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods, #1) by Tara Sim

Cover of The Bloody Throne

The Bloody Throne (Hostage of Empire, #3) by S. C. Emmett

Cover of The Bladed Faith

The Bladed Faith (Vagrant Gods, #1) by David Dalglish

Cover of The Blood Trials

The Blood Trials (The Blood Gift Duology, #1) by N.E. Davenport

Cover of Fevered Star

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Cover of Kaikeyi

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Cover of Book of Night

Book of Night by Holly Black

Cover of Kagen the Damned

Kagen the Damned (Kagen the Damned, #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Cover of The Stardust Thief

The Stardust Thief (The Sandsea Trilogy, #1) by Chelsea Abdullah

Cover of Relic and Ruin

Relic and Ruin by Wendii McIver

Cover of In the Shadow of Lightning

In the Shadow of Lightning (Glass Immortals, #1) by Brian McClellan

fantasy fiction books 2022

Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy Books 2022

The magic of getting lost in another world is truly unparalleled, and our best science-fiction/fantasy books of 2022 are books we believe any reader can both lose themselves and find themselves in. Any sci-fi/fantasy fan would be thrilled to find one of these books wrapped just for them, and with something for every type of sci-fi/fantasy reader, gift givers have plenty of options with these ten amazing titles!

Babel: Or, The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution (B&N Exclusive Edition) (B&N Speculative Fiction Book Award Winner)

Babel: Or, The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution (B&N Exclusive Edition) (B&N Speculative Fiction Book Award Winner)

Hardcover $24.99 $27.99

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R. F. Kuang

In Stock Online

A dark academia standalone that dives into the power of language and the evils of imperialism, student revolutions and a history of violence, Babel swirls with magic, lore, and Kuang’s signature attention to detail. It’s smart, witty and terrifying; the type of book you can’t stop reading and can’t stop recommending!

A Broken Blade

A Broken Blade

Paperback $17.99

Melissa Blair

A fast-paced fantasy adventure you will not be able to put down. This one plays out an intense, sexy spin on the enemies-to-lovers trope with a sapphic romantic backstory. There’s fae, elves, magic, sword fighting, morally grey characters, as well as LGBTQIA and indigenous representation – what’s not to love?!

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City Series #2)

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City Series #2)

Hardcover $21.99 $28.00

Sarah J. Maas

Urban fantasy meets high fantasy, with all the witty dialogue and slow-burn romance we’ve come to expect from Sarah J. Maas. Bryce and Hunt are back! They may have saved the city, but they are once again pulled into the fight. And, in a world on the brink, staying silent is not an option. This second installment of the stunning Crescent City series is all we could ask for and MORE. 

Book of Night (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Book of Night (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Hardcover $21.99 $27.99

Holly Black

Charlie Hall is trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading, but she can’t seem to escape this maelstrom of doppelgängers, thieves, and magic. Manipulating shadows has a cost, and Charlie is about to be swept up in a battle for its secrets. Holly Black’s adult dark fantasy debut is everything you loved about The Cruel Prince series, now for adults. 

Nona the Ninth (Locked Tomb Series #3)

Nona the Ninth (Locked Tomb Series #3)

Hardcover $22.99 $28.99

Tamsyn Muir

Tamsyn Muir’s  Nona the Ninth , third in The Locked Tomb series, continues to build a one-of-a-kind space opera filled with swordplay, cut-throat politics and lesbian necromancers. The result is a new entry in the heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

The Atlas Paradox (B&N Exclusive Edition)

The Atlas Paradox (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Hardcover $22.99 $27.99

Olivie Blake

All your favorite medeians are back, and the stakes couldn’t be higher! This follow-up to  The Atlas Six  is sexy, smart, and brilliantly written. With its cinematic setting and compelling characters you love to love, hate, and lust after, this dark academia sensation is impossible to put down!

The Fall of Númenor: And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth

The Fall of Númenor: And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth

Hardcover $34.99 $40.00

J. R. R. Tolkien

For the first time ever, stories from the Second Age of Middle-earth have been collected in one volume. Not only that, but it’s also illustrated in watercolor and pencil by none other than Alan Lee! Adhering to the timeline of “The Tale of Years,” this new volume is perfect for fans who want to immerse themselves in the world once again. 

Heart of the Sun Warrior (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Heart of the Sun Warrior (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Hardcover $27.99

Sue Lynn Tan

Xingyin’s journey is far from over. The stunning sequel to  Daughter of the Moon Goddess  brings new threats and adventures, magic, betrayal, and of course, romance. The Celestial Kingdoms series has captivated readers with its lush worlds and vivid storytelling, and this epic conclusion of Xingyin’s story is enchanting from start to finish.

The World We Make (B&N Exclusive Edition)

The World We Make (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Hardcover $24.99 $30.00

N. K. Jemisin

The avatars of NYC are back in this stunning conclusion to the Great Cities Duology. This time, even the magic in the city that never sleeps will need to join forces with the other Great Cities of the world to bring down the mysterious Woman in White. Real-world themes of cultural identity, privilege and gentrification mix with magic and myth in this epic adventure from one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time. 

Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Paperback $14.99 $17.99

Travis Baldree

The much-beloved BookTok sensation  Legends & Lattes  is Travis Baldree’s novel of high fantasy and low stakes. Our gorgeous Exclusive Edition includes French flaps with unique art created by the author, an original city map of Thune designed by the author and exclusive pages from Viv’s journal. Come take a load off at Viv’s cafe, the first & only coffee shop in Thune. 

fantasy fiction books 2022


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  1. 2021’s New Surefire Bestseller Fiction Books

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    Science Fiction stories delve into all things futuristic, technological, extraterrestrial — you catch our drift. Pivotal authors in the space include Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, N. K. Jemisin, and countless others.

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    A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk.

  4. The Best Fantasy Novels of 2022

    The Best Fantasy Novels of 2022 · 10. The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake · 9. The Book Eaters, Sunyi Dean · 8. Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher · 7. Saturnalia

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    All Nominees 497,369 votes total ; 105,718 votes. House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas ; 62,732 votes. Babel by R.F. Kuang ; 60,818 votes. Fairy Tale by

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    Runners-up: · House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson · The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang · The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid · What Moves the Dead by

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    The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri Tasha Suri's The Jasmine Throne was one of the best fantasy releases to hit shelves in 2021, a doorstopper of a

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    Top 25 Fantasy Books of 2022 · Drunk on All Your Strange New Words, by Eddie Robinson · Drunk on All Your Strange New Words, by Eddie Robinson.

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    Best of Fantasy - 2022 43 books ; Jan 4, 2022 Cover of The Ivory Key. The Ivory Key ; Jan 11, 2022 Cover of The Amber Crown · The Amber Crown ; Jan 18, 2022 Cover

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    Urban fantasy meets high fantasy, with all the witty dialogue and slow-burn romance we've come to expect from Sarah J. Maas. Bryce and Hunt are