My Favorite Tropes

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Favorite Tropes.

As I couldn’t restrain myself from writing multiple paragraphs for every trope (I really can’t shut up when it comes to favorite anything, can I), this got long – half a top ten tuesday and half ten discussion posts – so I decided to cut it and talk about seven tropes instead of ten. I hope you don’t mind.

Hero/Villain Sexual Tension

My favorite trope.

I usually call it “villain romance“, but as a description it’s slightly misleading, as these situations are often very unromantic and usually don’t end well for at least one of the people involved.

I love this trope because I find it as fascinating as it is horrible, and – when executed well – I end up understanding why the characters feel the way they do, and why they choose to fight each other anyway. It’s twisted and always on the verge of becoming a total disaster if it’s not already, and… it’s just a lot, emotionally.

I like many versions of this trope, but as I like it more the more it gets messy and toxic and unacceptable, my favorite versions do not include anything similar to a redemption arc, as they often end with at least one of the two dead (if the other person in the couple killed them: now that’s what I call perfection).

Also: The queer versions are better, that’s just the truth, I’m actually not that into the “villainous guy/morally gray but still overall good girl” version anymore.

I read my favorite example of this trope in Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee. This book made me think “I can’t believe [villain] did that and I can’t stop laughing but I also want brain bleach and [villain] to drop dead”, which, yes, more of that (the “couple”, and I feel weird even calling it a couple, is m/m). Another example, which is more of an exploration of feelings from loyalty to grief to the awareness of being in love with an objectively despicable person is The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang, a story about the relationship between a courtesan turned revolutionary and the series’ villainess (f/f).
It seems that I love reading about people who are deeply conflicted because of what they feel?

Some other books to keep in mind if you like this trope:

  • The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley, adult sci-fi, f/f/f triangle with villain romance;
  • The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard, m/m, adult fantasy, “villain romance” shading to “enemies to lovers” in an arranged marriage;
  • Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear, adult sci-fi, not romantic at all but clear sexual tension between main character and the evil pirate lady (f/f)

Plant Horror

Atmospheric forests are already one of my favorite settings, and to have a straight-up horror forest? That’s perfect: I am studying botany, which means that I have a lot of opinions about trees, and I have a history of dendrophobia, which means that these books always hit close.

My ideal plant horror setting is one in which:

  • the author gives you an idea of which trees there actually are – I don’t need scientific names, something like “white pine”, “beech” or “quaking aspen” is enough; I need to be able to visualize it.
  • the main source of horror are the plants themselves and not something else roaming in the wood, though that’s also welcome.

I still haven’t read a book that fulfills both – Uprooted is one of my favorite plant horror books because the plants are the creepy ones, but it doesn’t tell you which trees there actually are (as far as I remember); Wilder Girls was lovely because it did tell me which trees there were but what was actually creepy were the animals, not the plants; same thing for Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé and Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton. They were still really atmospheric, and what I loved the most about them was the setting.

Haunted People

I’ve never been a fan of stories about haunted places, or stories about possessions, but I love stories about haunted people. If stories about possessions are usually about the evil that is in every person being brought to the surface, and if stories about haunted places are usually about the past coming back to bite people, stories about haunted people are stories about isolation.

They feel a little like a dark version of the imaginary friend, and an obstacle at the same time – hard to have a functional social life in that situation, especially if the “ghost” is a person in their own right, which adds so many complications. You will be isolated, but you will never be lonely. It is at the same time comforting and terrifying, and the effect depends a lot on which side the author decides to lean on more.

And, especially in cases in which the author is taking “haunting as isolating obstacle” as the main angle, this trope is a portrayal of mental illness without directly talking about mental illness. Metaphorical representation has its own place and value, if the author knows what they’re doing: my favorite portrayal of anxiety is in the horror novel The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé, a story about a haunted girl which uses the haunting as a paranormal metaphor for anxiety and avoidant behavior. The fact that the character isn’t cured and is explicitly portrayed as mentally ill makes the representation even more valuable to me. And it works: some things are better when approached indirectly, or they are too emotionally painful to read.

Some other examples of this trope I love: I was having a lot of feelings about the Cheris/Jedao living situation in Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee since I heard what it was about (a woman has to ally with the ghost of a murderous and very likely evil general to win a space siege, and it really does feel like a haunting story with a sci-fi twist). Another story with this trope I loved is Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy by JY Yang (free online!) which takes more the imaginary friend/maladaptive coping mechanism angle than the “evil obstacle” one.

Everyday Ruins

I’m currently rereading The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, set in a post-apocalyptic version of Paris in which there are fallen angels and Vietnamese dragons, and there’s something both deeply beautiful and sad in seeing people’s everyday life in the ruins, and I love this kind of setting.


In books, “ruins” are usually something ancient and mysterious and abandoned. But my experience is that ruins are everywhere in various states of decay, from so many different times, and we live here. We build around them, and they’re still somewhat mysterious without even really being dead places.
Authors should find a way to make the mysterious and the ordinary coexist more often. I just think it’s fun – characters who live in places that have a mysterious History but that are not actively hostile to them? That’s great. Why have obviously evil haunted ruins when you could have unpredictable magical palaces that might or might not have an agenda and maybe are kind of falling apart?

Well-Intentioned Extremist

I’m not going to write examples for this one, as this trope is often a plot twist, my favorite kind of plot twist.

I love the dissonance of it. How a character might do something that you could never, ever justify, and the story makes you look at the motivations, and maybe you can’t help but think for a moment that maybe the character had a point, however – the well-intentioned part can’t erase the extremist part. And the extremist part can’t erase that not doing anything would have been worse. There are often no good answers, and if there are they are not simple, and I love this.

Blue-Orange Morality

Kind of an answer to the previous trope: if that’s about a character who is dissonant exactly because we can understand them and kind of wish we didn’t, this is about characters who don’t even understand human ideas of morality. (Or, what I wish fae in YA fantasy were, instead of what we usually get. The blue-orange-nonhuman version is just more interesting than the toxic masculinity because I said so version.)


I expect aliens – especially aliens who are not usually in contact with humans – to be some version of this trope; I remember that the first portrayal of aliens I ever really liked was the one in the Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie: the things the Presger translator said didn’t make sense to the main characters (and were, often, funny and kind of terrifying), and that was refreshing, because why are aliens always so easy to understand? I still have no idea what the Presger are actually like as a society, but I’m fine with that.

Organic Technology

The weirder it gets, the happier I am. Especially if the author goes for the “it’s so advanced it looks like magic” route, it has so much potential for really unusual body modifications.

Almost everything Kameron Hurley has written is a good example of that; my favorite is the universe of The Stars Are Legion, in which there are parthenogenesis and biological spaceships involved, but many of the worlds seen in Meet Me in the Future were just as interesting for that aspect.

And it’s been a while, so I don’t remember it as vividly as I’d like, but I also remember loving what was done with organic technology in Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. It didn’t make sense, but when you go all the way into not making sense territory, the book might end up being great. Here, it did – I especially loved Borne himself, the creature that couldn’t clearly be described as animal or plant or anything, really.

There is something about taking the shapes of everyday life and reminding you of how much inherently gross parts there are about living that makes all of this really appealing to me. Life is weird.

What do you think of these, and do you have any recommendations?


T10T: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book.

I already talked about some of these points in detail in the past, and I’ll be linking some of the posts in which I did that.

1. Is the cover pretty?

There’s a good chance that the first thing I ever see about a book is the cover. If the cover for some reason catches my attention, I’m far more likely to read the synopsis, or try an excerpt, or add it to my TBR.

I wrote two posts in the past about what I like in covers and what I’m tired of seeing on book covers, and here are some other books I picked up/noticed mostly because of the cover:


  • The closer I’ve been to a cover add recently is House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. I wasn’t that interested in the premise, and while I’ve heard good things, I want to read it mostly because its cover is a tide pool. There’s nothing as pretty as tide pools and I’m glad this book recognizes that.
  • I probably would have never reached for Aliette de Bodard‘s novels if it hadn’t been for the beautiful cover of The Tea Master and the Detective. She’s now one of my favorite authors, and I’m so glad I decided not to ignore my so-pretty-must-read instinct. This novella is a genderbent Sherlock Holmes retelling but in space, of course I had to try it, but would I have noticed its premise if the cover had been boring?
  • More than a cover buy, War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi was a cover download – it’s free to read on edelweiss – but still. Look at it. Isn’t it one of the most beautiful covers of 2019? (Also, Nigerian-inspired sci-fi!)

2. Do People I Trust Like It?

Reviews matter a lot, especially if I know and trust the person who wrote them. I’m far more likely to pick up something out of my comfort zone if someone I often interact with or whose recommendations have worked for me before liked it.


  • Did I read the Twisted Romance anthology, edited by Alex de Campi, just because Allison @maliciousglee talked about it on twitter? Yes. And I’m glad I did, and if you like queer short fiction/short graphic novels, you should really give it a try.
  • I read The Wicker King by K. Ancrum just because of Elise @thebookishactress and wow I really did almost miss the weird gay & polyamorous genre-bending book, I’m glad I listen to other people sometimes (and yes, I know, I should read the sequel too).
  • At least three different people have told me to read Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, which I wouldn’t try otherwise because of my experience with the Illuminae series (nothing ever went downhill faster), and I promise that I’m going to get to it this year.

3. Can I Request it on Netgalley or Edelweiss?

(And did they approve me/grant my wish?)

I have very little self-control, and when I can request/wish for something on netgalley/netgalley uk/edelweiss that sounds vaguely interesting, I do. It often doesn’t work, and when it does, it doesn’t always work in my favor – ARCs mean pressure and feeling pressured to read something that wasn’t a priority for me to begin with doesn’t feel great – but I’m glad I have this opportunity.


  • I didn’t expect to get this, but I have, and since I’ve also already read it, I can say that I recommend Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite to all of those who like mixed media novels and the “reconnecting with family” plotline in The Astonishing Color of After.
  • I read The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke just because I got an ARC through netgalley UK – I wasn’t that interested in the premise, and was I wrong. It ended up being one of my favorite books of 2018.
  • I didn’t know whether I was going to read Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao since I don’t even know if I will finish the Forest of a Thousand Lanterns duology, but it was free to download on edelweiss and it’s the retelling of a Vietnamese fairytale, so…

4. Is It Diverse?

I’m more likely to read something if I hear that it’s diverse, because I prioritize diverse books. I’m just not that interested in reading about white, allocishet, abled American main characters: I’m not one, and for someone who isn’t, I’ve read so many stories about them already. Literature should reflect the world in which it is created, and we live in a diverse world.


  • I tried A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna just because it was a genre-bending retelling of the Mahabharata set in space and I’m always looking for ownvoices retellings of non-western stories. To this day, it’s my favorite YA book set in space (and it’s criminally underrated. Please read it.)
  • When I heard that An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon was a sci-fi story with a mostly-queer cast – specifically, it follows an autistic intersex queer black woman – I immediately added it to my TBR, because I’m always looking for that kind of stories.
  • I did buy Release by Patrick Ness just because it was gay, because if it’s gay and I find it in a bookstore in my country, I read it.

5. Specifically, Is It F/F?

I’m more likely to get out of my comfort zone for f/f books, because in the genre I read the most – YA fantasy – there’s not a lot of it (but there is some and I hate when people erase that). This has helped me find some genres I love, like adult sci-fi, which is currently my favorite genre.


  • I don’t often reach for horror, but if it’s queer – especially f/f – horror? I’m going to try it, and that’s one of the two reasons I’m going to read Wilder Girls by Rory Power (…the other is the cover. Just look at it.)
  • I’m going to read Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear just because it’s about lesbians in space. Have I heard anyone talk about it? No, but it doesn’t matter, I have to at least give it a chance.
  • I thought I didn’t feel strongly about adult contemporary romance until I read Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole, and I read it just because it’s an f/f second chance romance following two black women in New York. I’m so glad I did, because I loved it and now I know that I was just reading badly-written romance.

6. …Did Anyone Mention Villains?

If someone praises a book because they loved the main character, I will consider adding it to my TBR. If someone praises a book because they loved the villain, it’s very likely that I’ll add it instantly, especially if said villain and their storyline seem to fall into my two favorite tropes: either a monster romance, or manipulative well-intentioned extremists. I wrote a whole post about why I love villain romance if you’re interested in knowing the reasons (and some recommendations!).


  • I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin when I rarely reached for adult fantasy and didn’t even really know who NK Jemisin was, just because someone compared it to Shadow and Bone (and yes, it’s accurate).
  • One of the reasons I was anticipating The Fever King by Victoria Lee was that I heard something that, while very vague, made me think this book had an interesting villain. And while the main reason for reading this was “this is a futuristic gay book” (and it is a wonderful futuristic gay book, read it), the villain was as amazing as I expected.
  • The villain romance was the main reason I wanted to read Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan since it was just “the damn cleric book”, and I wasn’t disappointed.

7. Does Its Premise Sounds Like Something I’ve Never Read?

I wrote a whole post about what I like in synopses, but anyway, while the pitch isn’t everything, an interesting one will get me to add the book immediately.


  • My most anticipated release of 2019 from a new-to-me author is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, which is apparently a space fantasy story about lesbian necromancers. I read some excerpts and… this book is so out there. I want it now.
  • I picked Witchmark by C.L. Polk up just because it was a steampunk murder mystery with an m/m paranormal romance inside. It ended up being one of my favorite novels of last year.
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a story about Mayan gods in Mexico in the 1920s and I don’t think anything similar even exists. I have an ARC and I hope to read it this spring.

8. Does It Have Any Of My Buzzwords?

I have many of them! While I have already mentioned the main one before – and it’s villains – I have other ones, some of which I’ve talked about in this post.


  • I now know that political intrigue in space is… basically my favorite genre, so when I heard that A Memory Called Empire was specifically about that, I knew I had to read it. And, surprise, it’s my favorite book of this year so far. (Also, it’s f/f!)
  • One of my main buzzwords I talked about in my post was plant magic/creepy magical forest, and apparently the novella Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh has both! And it’s an m/m fantasy romance which is being described as Uprooted meets Witchmark, so everything I didn’t know I needed.
  • I was thinking about what trope often appeared in my favorite books, and “haunted people” turned out to be one of them. Which is the reason I immediately read the short story Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy by JY Yang when I heard of it. It’s my favorite story of 2019 so far, and it’s free online!

9. Is It From An Author I Trust?

This is probably the main one. If I trust the author, I’m willing to stick with something that doesn’t work for me or that sounds completely out of my comfort zone to see if it improves.


  • The main example of this I can think of is The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley. I dislike reading fiction about the horrors of war, but I didn’t DNF this book even though I was hating it, just because Hurley wrote one of my favorite books. I don’t regret it, as I ended up really liking it.
  • New adult about secret societies in American colleges isn’t something I would usually be interested in, but Leigh Bardugo wrote Ninth House and of course I’m going to at least give it a chance.
  • I don’t know what Escaping Exodus is really about, and I don’t need to: Nicky Drayden wrote Temper and I’ll be reading everything she writes in the near future.

10. Did I Read an Excerpt And Love It?

Sometimes, I try an excerpt of a book I’m not that interested in out of curiosity. I usually end up not feeling strongly about it – as I’m really not that interested after all – but sometimes I fall in love with the book just because of the first few chapters.


  • I tried an excerpt of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee because I thought the cover looked like a weird space urchin and I wanted to know more about that. After I read it, I couldn’t think about anything else for the following two weeks. I didn’t even want to read anything else for those two weeks, until I finally bought a physical copy (which I almost never do with books I’ve never read) – and that’s how I found my favorite book!
  • I didn’t feel strongly about This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow and wondered whether I actually wanted to read it – the early reviews were few and mixed. So I read an excerpt, fell in love with it, and ended up buying an ebook immediately. It’s a gorgeous book that deserves more hype.
  • I was going to remove The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz from my TBR because of the lukewarm reviews, but I decided to give it a last chance and read an excerpt. That’s how I found what’s probably my favorite standalone.

What makes you pick up a book? What are some of your buzzwords? Have you read or are anticipating any of these books?


Judging Before Reading: Buzzwords

My (probably) last post in the Judging Before Reading series! I wanted to end on a positive note, so today I’m talking about buzzwords, those words that, if they’re associated with a book, make me more likely to read a it.

A note

All of these buzzwords are genre-specific. I wrote this post thinking about fantasy, science fiction and maybe contemporary fantasy/magical realism; I have no interest in any of these things in contemporary, with the exception of creepy forests and atmosphere (…every book should have an atmosphere, because I say so).

Villains/Villain Romance

Fantasy books with weak and uninteresting villains? Boring.

It’s so much easier to write the villain as an unfeeling, flat person (who acts more like a thing) with whom the reader isn’t meant to empathize at all. The protagonist is never tempted to go down that path, and if they are it never feels genuine, and you know it’s not going to happen. The heroes are good, the villain is bad, and if the heroes aren’t good, then they’re still without a doubt better people than the villain. I want books that make me question that.

[I think one of the many reasons The Grisha is more polarizing than Six of Crows is that in Six of Crows there’s never any reason to doubt even for a moment that the villain might have a point.]

If I hear that a book has an interesting villain who is at the same time somewhat right but also very wrong, I want to read that book. If I hear that a book involves the hero questioning whether they should ally with the villain (or maybe they even do that! I love when that has terrible consequences), I want to read it. Especially if there’s a villain romance involved. Make them kiss and still try to kill each other, cowards.

Some of my favorite examples of villain romance are the Jayd/Rasida side of the love triangle in The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley, the Asmodeus/Thuan plotline in The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard, and the Darkling and Alina from The Grisha. Also, of course, a certain something from Ninefox Gambit, but I won’t spoil.

[If you know any villain romance books, please tell me. I know four, maybe five of them and I need more. I don’t care if they end up together or the villain remains a villain and gets killed, I like both options, I just want more]

Creepy Forests

I don’t know how many of you know, as I’ve talked about this on here before, but I have a very unlikely phobia and reading about creepy, eerie forests is my version of haunted houses or whatever people find really scary and fascinating in horror books (for me, Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a horror book).

Even if it weren’t for that, I would probably love this. I like spooky books, especially atmospheric ones, and there are few things as atmospherics as forests. I remember After the Woods by Kim Savage not for its plot or its characters (even if I did like the main character) but because of the beautiful, mysterious descriptions of the woods. I also recently loved the forest from Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton.

…Anything Involving Plant Magic, Really

It doesn’t have to be scary! I’ll love it even more if it does, but anything involving plants and magic together is great. Botanical magic is a great concept and not enough books agree with me. The fact that I still haven’t read a witchy book in which the witches actually seem to know something about botany makes me sad.

One of the main reasons I loved Wild Beauty was the way the magic was tied to flowers, and in The Secret of a Heart Note, the main character uses plants to make magical perfumes and it’s one of the most beautiful and wholesome books I’ve ever read.

Women in Science

For all my life, I have cared about useless facts about marine animals just as much as I care about books, and I am the kind of person who can spend hours staring at tide pools trying to understand which species of blenny live there. I’m also an underwater photographer.

To see women who love science – it doesn’t have to be marine biology, I love reading books about magical female mathematicians even though I hate math – in SFF books means a lot to me. We aren’t just princesses or witches.

One of my favorite books I read this year is Into the Drowning Deep by Seanan McGuire, which is marine biology horror, featuring a bisexual marine biologist as one of the main characters. It has so many small details I loved – find another book that mentions carcinization! – and I didn’t even mind too much when it got things wrong. Another book I read and loved is Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, in which there’s a flashback scene following the main character as she stares at tide pools. This is relatable content, even though the biologist from Annihilation is probably the last person I’d want to find relatable, ever

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang follows a woman whose superpower is math, and while I didn’t love the book itself, I loved her and her magic a lot.

Magical Buildings

This is my #1 contemporary fantasy buzzwords. I just find this trope fascinating – I love books that get that kind of “liminal” atmosphere of forgotten places and almost-haunted houses without ending up in straight-up horror territory.

My all-time favorite example of this is The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz, a story that revolves around a building in which every person is the best version of themselves – and people can create the best art ever in it, but they can’t take any of that outside. It’s about fantasy and reality through a magical building metaphor, and I love it. Another magical building book is A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma, which I read just because it involved this trope, and it had all the vaguely creepy atmosphere and mystery I wanted it to have.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter also counts for me, because most of it is set inside a forgotten, cursed store that walks around Brooklyn on chicken legs. And that’s not even the weirdest part – there’s resurrection of a dismembered body via soft drink in this book!

Mass Murder

There’s something darkly fascinating about mass murderers in SFF. This is the kind of thing I would never want to read about in a contemporary book, but for some reason, I’m drawn to them in fantasy and sci-fi. Especially if the book at some point makes you wonder whether the murderer isn’t the worst person in the room. It’s just. I love it when books deal with morally messed up situations, a lot.

The first time I saw this trope was in Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, in which mass murder is just one of the many weapons one of the characters will use to maintain control after seeing so many magical users slaughtered just because of their powers. That character is wrong and what he does is horrible, but without them Ravka would have ended up like Fjerda, and would that have been better? It’s a really interesting discussion.

My favorite example of this is of course Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee, which I read because its premise promised mass murder and extreme questionable morality. And did it deliver. If you like villain content and situations in which everyone is wrong and doing the “good” thing will make things worse (but in space!), read this. I love this mass murder magic math book.

Fictional Schools

I wrote a whole post on that! Magical schools are never boring. Even in books I disliked that had that aspect – like The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang or Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko – I still ended up liking the magical school to some degree. I fell in love with this trope with Harry Potter and I have loved all the vaguely similar settings ever since.

Some of my favorite examples are the Little Palace from Shadow and Bone, the Sweet Mercy Convent from Red Sister, and the weirdest boarding school ever written, the Gabadamosi Preparatory from Temper by Nicky Drayden.


I read a lot. Many books feel the same after a while. But weird books? They’re the best. I love nonsense and I love when SFF breaks tropes and boundaries.  Even when I end up not liking the book because it was too weird even for me (Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko is an example) I am still glad I read it.

Some of the weirdest books I’ve ever read that I haven’t already mentioned in this post are: Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente, a “decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery” told through transcribed fragments of films; The Wicker King by K. Ancrum, a maybe-not-so-contemporary book about messy teens and a broken reality; and Too Like the Ligthning by Ada Palmer. The last one is what happens when your novel is 90% worldbuilding and basically the book equivalent of a 18th century philosophy shitpost.

They make no sense. Please read them.


Why should I read something if I end up having no sense of setting? I’m not here to read a book that feels as if it were floating in blank space. That’s my main problem with more than half of American contemporary books: they assume I already know how the setting looks like and don’t bother describing it.

Anyway, I love when I feel as if I were there with the characters, when the world feels alive and not just a barely sketched background. I’m more likely to read a fantasy book if it’s described as atmospheric, because I’m willing to forgive a lot if the writing and descriptions are nice enough.

Some of my favorite atmospheric books are The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, a novel set in a mysterious kingdom inspired by Hindu mythology, and When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, young adult magical realism at its best. And one of the main reasons the Tensorate series worked for me is that – at least during the first two books – the setting is always really vivid and beautiful.

Do you know any books involving some of these? (Especially quality villain content, I always need that). Are any of these some of your buzzwords/anti-buzzwords?