5 Five-Star Books

Some new. Some not so new. All awesome.

The Book of Night, Holly Black, 2022

Holly Black and con artists are a great combination. I already knew this from the Curse Workers series–and yet this book still blew me away. I didn’t anticipate any of the twisty plot’s major reveals, or how the original take on shadow magic would connect so deeply to emotional heart of the book. It’s rare to find a book that pays off so spectacularly and completely both in plot and character development in the end.

The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison, 2022

If only we could all be like Katherine Addison, and write perfect, perfect books. In the first trilogy she wrote as Sarah Monnette, trauma and heartbreak spilled over the page, too intensely for some readers, I think. Now she has found a way to be just as moving while writing a character who scarcely mentions, and can scarcely process, his own emotions. Somehow she invokes even more by writing even less, and I am so, so glad that she has found the success with these last few books that I always believed she deserved.

The Mask of Mirrors, M.A. Carrick, 2021

In this fantastic tale of adventure and intrigue, the stakes are many and varied, hinging upon an intimately emotional quest for family, a magical mystery descending into violent confrontation, and a crisis that will determine the political fate of a city-state. The detailed backstories of the many characters the reader comes to care about, the imagined historical roots of the culture and the fully realized geography of the city, combine to create a world that seems as real and complex as our own. The challenge is to keep remembering that Nadezra is not based on a real city, rather than to suspend disbelief.

The Quicksilver Court, Melissa Caruso, 2021

I thought it would be impossible for this second book to have as much emotional impact as the first–after all, the first begins with an isolated woman whose deadly magic has not allowed her to touch another human being since she was two–but I was thrilled to find that I was wrong. If you are looking for a high fantasy series with a well-developed world, multi-dimensional characters, and heart, definitely start with The Obsidian Tower.

The Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee, 2016

I don’t usually like military SF, and I landed on this book because I was desperate for space opera that was “in” at my online library–but I’m so glad I did! I often steer away from military SF because it doesn’t seem psychologically complex enough, but this book does not have that problem. Both the evolution of the two main characters’ relationship, and Cheris’ gradual emergence from a state of externally imposed loyalty programming, made the character arcs driving this book just as satisfying as the plot of clever strategies. In addition, the world building is wild, and if you don’t understand quite how things worked as you are plunged into your first battle…just give it a little time.

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