This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.
I have many of these! Though I want to point out that I will purposefully exclude ultra-hyped books from this list even though I almost never talk about them. You might or might not know, but Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite books. It also doesn’t need me to hype it up.
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng
I spent a good portion of 2018 and 2019 talking about this book (and its cover) in a lot of bookish weekly memes, but I’m now realizing that I haven’t talked about this book in a while and that the people who read my blog in 2018 aren’t all necessarily the same who read it now. So. Hi! I love this book.
This is perfect for every person who has ever thought that fae books don’t go nearly as far enough with the uncanny valley and morally messed up material, for those who like Gothic fiction, or really twisted/plain out weird stories (yes the sun in fairyland is literally a pendulum, the moon is a fish, and there are land whales). Also, a lot of theology. I really recommend looking up the content warning first, if one is interested.
A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
A surprisingly unpopular book in YA sapphic circles, A Line in the Dark is one of the few mystery/thriller books that has ever worked for me, because of its heavy focus on interpersonal relationship and specifically a messed up f/f/f love triangle. It’s a story about three girls doing a lot of questionable things for even more questionable reasons, never written to be palatable and often shining a light onto the uncomfortable; a story about friendship, attraction and love bleeding into obsession, with a nice side dish of murder. It’s also not afraid to genre-bend – it starts out with what looks like a slice-of-life story in first person, and then… you’ll see.
I really should reread it; I’ve been trying to find some mystery-adjacent novel that works for me the way this one did for years and I still haven’t been able to.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
It’s been at least three years since I last reread this book, so I don’t talk about it often also because I don’t remember the details really well, but this is one of my favorite fantasy books and probably the novel that convinced me I could in fact read adult books in English (it has been since translated into Italian with an ugly cover-title combination I refuse to acknowledge).
I’ve talked about my plant-related phobia on this blog before, and I will admit that most of my love for this book comes from the very odd and special place it has in my heart for fully acknowledging that yes, forests are as beautiful as they’re scary. The villain in this book is a wood! I also remember loving the somewhat unexplained and unexplainable weird magic system.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
Add this to the list of books I don’t like to talk about even though I love them because I never quite know how. Like, is this somewhat excessive in at least ten different ways? Absolutely! Do I love it anyway? Yes. It also has the record of being the only book so far that has ever managed to actually make me cry, and to this day I still think that the most emotionally impactful way to look at a war is to look at it sideways. Talk all you want but let the things you don’t say bear the weight! Also, it might be more of an exploration of fairytale archetypes than a villain romance, but I still consider it a must read for villain romance fans.
The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
I don’t often talk about this because it’s now 2020 and there are many F/F fantasy novels that aren’t a walking pacing problem and don’t have the worldbuilding issues this one has (the sequel was an even worse slog, which didn’t help). But I did really like this first book and the relationship between Shefali and Shizuka is still important to me – I haven’t read such an intense, epic story about fated love since. To see their relationship grow, to see these tropes employed for a sapphic couple really made me understand just how much F/F fantasy could do that straight books weren’t doing for me.
Final Draft by Riley Redgate
What happens on this blog is that I don’t often talk about contemporaries, and so even some of my favorite books – like this one – end up kind of forgotten. Which is wrong, because Final Draft is one of the most accurate portrayal of a school-stress-induced anxious breakdown I have ever read, and do I know a lot about those. It hit so close to home that even though I read it already out of high school, it still hurt a lot, but every moment of it was worth it because the ending was everything to me (getting help and freeing yourself of the problem at the same time? We love that) and the F/F romance was absolutely amazing.
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
I don’t know how to talk about this either, because to talk about it properly I’d have to reread it and actually understand what I’m reading the second time around, but the chances of me ever touching this book again are low. From the way I talk about Too Like the Lightning, one would think I hate it, but no, I consider it an almost-favorite and truly worth going through at least once, even just to wonder why the fuck are you doing this to yourself. I’ve been told by multiple people that my review of this book is “the most negative four star review they’ve ever seen”. Anyway, read the near-future philosophical murder conspiracy book! It’s really smart and complex and has the weirdest sense of humor and it will probably make you regret your decision at least a little at some point.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
My love for quiet fantasy has no limits and this is one of my favorite examples, with its wintry atmosphere and introspective nature. It’s one of the most original fairytale retellings I’ve ever read, too – you could almost forget it’s based on Snow White. It also has a sweet F/F romance, but it’s not the focus of the story, that’s the complicated relationship between princess Lynet and her stepmother Mina, which in a more boring book would be “the evil queen”. This book is unhurried and calm, but never that kind of boring.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
For something that ended up on a list of favorite books (in 2018), I almost never talk about it, and I should change that, because The Astonishing Color of After was a gorgeous story about grief, art, and family – specifically, about an artist that lost her mother to suicide and is reconnecting with her maternal grandparents in Taiwan. From the gorgeous writing and atmosphere to the portrayal of synesthesia and the care it gave to mental health-related topics, there was so much to love about this. It’s one of the best examples of what I want from contemporary-set YA novels: emotional, hopeful stories dealing with difficult themes with grace.
Have you read or want to read any of these?