Note: Not all the books were published in 2018. I just wanted to share with you eight titles I’ve read this year and have really liked.
Okay, here we go, in no particular order!
Pride and Prometheus—John Kessel
Derek Newman-Stille, eight-time winner of the Aurora Award for Speculating Canada, is also the editor of the We Shall Be Monsters anthology about Frankenstein. (Yours truly will have a story featured in it.) Derek was not only responsible for my falling in love with Mary Shelley’s novel, but also for introducing me to this gem from John Kessel. Taking place years after the Austen tale, we discover the Bennet at the forefront is Mary. (Nice coincidence in the name, eh?) Mary encounters Victor Frankenstein and becomes very much drawn to him but has no idea that the grim Victor is trying to figure out how to construct a bride for his creation. She eventually finds herself face-to-face with the Monster and risks her own reputation to get to the bottom of Victor’s plans, which affect her own family. Like a master tailor, Kessel seamlessly joins the two worlds of Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein together, and the ending left me so satisfied.
Of Echoes Born—’Nathan Burgoine
Never, ever, ever, ever in my life have I come across a compilation like this. Of Echoes Born is a collection of short stories that reads like the camera is simply shifting to different scenes of a local queer community. What knits these stories together is the intensely creative use of colour, representing emotions, but not always in the clichéd way we’ve imagined. There’s great diversity within the community as well.
I’ve been a fan of this author for a while now; however, in my opinion, he topped himself with this work. Even if you “don’t like short stories,” put that feeling aside and grab this one. It all comes together like one cohesive novel. Masterfully done, in my awestruck opinion.
Moonshadow’s Guardian—Dianna Gunn
I find an occupational hazard of being an editor is becoming a fangirl of my authors. When Dianna Gun, author of Keeper of the Dawn, asked me to be one of the editors of Moonshadow’s Guardian, I jumped at the chance. Fantasy readers, you’ll want this book in your TBR pile, but maybe move it close to the top. In fact, just read it right after you finish this article. Moonshadow’s Guardian has so many of the elements of the genre—demons, the undead, telepaths, sorcerers, and a quest while flying an endearing dragon—but it’s all done in such a fresh and kinda badass way. It was really hard for me to slow down to edit it because I wanted to rush ahead and find out what came next! And adding the god Loki into the mix was fantastic.
It’s the first of a duology, and I’m really looking forward to the next book!
Human Remains—Melissa Yi
Okay, so this is book 5 in her Hope Sze Medical Crime series, but I still really loved Human Remains, and even though it had some spoilers from a previous book, it still read like a standalone to me. It’s about a doctor who accidentally stumbles upon the murder of a scientist who works in a stem-cell lab where she’s just been assigned, but we soon find out there are tie-ins to deadly viruses (or life-altering ones like Ziska). It’s not always easy to guess who the good guys are, too. There’s great character development and rhythm in this story. Even though I’m no scientist or doctor, I found the medical language easy to follow. Also, as a human who suffers from panic attacks, I felt Hope’s moments of breeeeeathing were so relatable. I’m intrigued by her two boyfriends as well. Must dive into the other novels to find out more.
Life and Lemonade—Jamieson Wolf
I’m a close friend of the author and one of the editors of this book. But really, who cares? If I had never met Jamieson, I would still have loved the second book of the Lemonade series. In this sequel to Lust and Lemonade, we again enjoy the sassy wit of the gang, especially Nancy, but there’s so much more to this story. Along with the squishy sweet romance that makes us melt, much darker themes are explored in Life and Lemonade. Wolf takes us through the blatant ugliness of abuse and does so with such realism, I found myself holding my breath. At one point I even gasped with an “Oh, no! No!”
I defy you to be able to put this book down. Wolf’s episodic chapters will make it hard for you to stop reading. Third book, please!
Tremontaine—created by Ellen Kushner and written by a band of awesome authors
The final season of Tremontaine is upon us. At the time of publishing this, I’ve read 10 out of 13 episodes. I love this world of intrigue so much that I tell everyone to read it and have dubbed myself a TremontainEvangelist. What’s not to love? In this sorta kinda 18th century world that’s not Earth but has recognizable cultures, there’s a deliciously conniving and beautiful duchess, the desire to dominate the chocolate-trade, savoury romances and dalliances, a lot of twisty-turny plots, “battles” between rich and poor, and excellent diversity. I particularly love how the writers crafted one girl’s neurodiversity as part of who she is, and how her friends accept and respect her. You can get all the seasons on Serial Box, which I highly recommend, because they have the most excellent audio versions of the episodes as well. Warning: you’ll get hooked. I just know it.
It’s Canada, in the future. We made alien contact years ago and they kicked the snot out of us. We call them the Daemons. They conquered much of our land and live in their territory and we do, too, but our land might be full of diseased humans who come out at night and want to kill us. Enter a third enemy, another alien force that’s capturing our people stationed in space and literally stripping them to the bone. Worse yet, these bad aliens are getting closer to Earth. Okay, this is not good. Might be a time to join forces with the Daemons. They don’t want to eat us, at least, and seem to be warriors with beyootchin’ skills.
I had reviewed this book in 2017, but it hadn’t come out yet. Skylark is now available, and space opera fans will gobble it up. (Yes, I’m one of the editors, but like I said, I’m a major fangirl, too.) The characters are endearing, funny, bitchinly cool, and I want to be their friends. The adventure of Skylark will keep you glued to the last page. A great story that is still my favourite of all her works.
Gatecrasher—Stephen Graham King
I don’t know what it is, but I have a fondness for wormhole stories. They usually are pretty awesome, but as usual, Stephen Graham King’s imagination and gorgeously crafted technological settings take this space opera all to a new level. But why is this revolutionary space travel system being constructed in secret, on the fringes? Welp, you know our beloved Maverick Heart team just has to find out, right?
It was also so great to be reunited with the crew and the sentient ship (’Vrick) in this sequel to Soul’s Blood. And as much as I adore the original “meat” duo of Keene and Lexa-Blue, I also love the addition of Ember. I can’t wait to see how he fits in with the team going forward. Fantastic world building, great story. The Maverick Heart Cycle will definitely be a favourite series of mine and I can’t wait for the next book.
That’s all for this year!
Oh, and if you read these books, don’t forget to leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I thank you on their behalf! (Because it’s super nice to get reviews.)
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance 2019). When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (call for submissions are ongoing until Dec 31, 2018.)