My Best Reading from 2020

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

My Best Reading for 2020

As a reviewer for Schlock! Webzine, the Horror Tree, the British Fantasy Society and beyond, I get to read some amazing books every year and share them with you. 2020 has been a particularly busy reading year for me, and in among a fair number of disappointments and Did Not Finishs, I've also unearthed some real gems.

So, here's six of the very best from 2020.

1. The Merry Spinster by Daniel M Ortberg. This anthology of retold and recast fairy tales and folk tales was delightfully playful and very thought provoking. I'm sure a second read will make more of the underlying philosophy of the tales clearer, but each one contained a unique and powerful message about our world. One of the most original books I've read this year.

2. The Stain by Ruschelle Dillon. I love writing that is fertile and rich to the point of poetic while at the same time telling a cracking story. This short novel provided a powerful location as well as riveting characters to engross the reader. I'm looking forward to reading more from this emerging author.

3. The Fugitive and the Vanishing Man by Rod Duncan. This fantasy novel explored being nonbinary via its main characters, siblings Elizabeth and Edwin. I hadn't read the first five books in the sequence, so all power to the author for making the narrative enjoyable and comprehensible for a late arrival at the party!

4. The Children of Gla'aki from Dark Regions Press. This anthology, edited by Brian M Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass, features short stories set in the universe of Ramsey Campbell's Gla'aki mythos. My personal favourites were Konstantine Paradias's tale 'Cult of Panacea' and 'The Secret Painting of Thomas Cartwright' by the late W H Pugmire. DRP can always be relied upon to put together a great anthology, and this one was no exception.

5. Everything About You by Heather Child. A little unusually for me, I strayed into Science Fiction when I reviewed this new release from Orbit for the British Fantasy Society. Although it was set in a futuristic universe, the world portrayed wasn't much unlike our own and technological element was pretty relaxed. This gave plenty of space to focus on the core of the book: a grieving woman's use of technology to search for her missing stepsister. I loved the focus on family relationships and the gritty portrayal of grief.

6. The Desert Spear by Peter V Brett. I love full on epic fantasy, especially with a demonic twist, so I'm a real fan of Brett's work. The Desert Spear is the second in his debut series, the first novel being The Painted Man. I've not encountered such vivid world building in a very long time, so I'm always glued to every page when I open one of his novels.

So, that's it for another year. Happy reading over the holidays!

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