My Outstanding Books of 2017


Last year was yet another bumper year for reading, particularly in the science fiction and fantasy genres. As usual, I’ll list the ones that stood out for me – and we’re not talking a top ten. I completed 174 books last year, but won’t go into too much detail in this article about my overall 2017 reading experience, as today it’s all about those that gave me the tingle factor. Most will have received a perfect ten on my scoring system, however there will be a couple that didn’t. The reason they are here is because that after I’d finished reading and writing about them, they didn’t go away, but continued to linger in my thoughts. So here they are, in no particular order:-


Emperor of the Fireflies – Book 2 of the Tide Dragons series by Sarah Ash

This godpunk duology set within the Japanese pantheon centres around a beautiful, dark-edged myth. Ash’s lyrical prose and deft handling of this tale has stayed with me throughout the year, despite having read it last January. See my review here.


Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

I absolutely fell in love with this haunting retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While I enjoyed and admired Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed – another strong contender – this one stole my heart. The ending gave me goosebumps, while making me weep. That doesn’t happen very often. See my review here.


After Atlas – Book 2 of the Planetfall series by Emma Newman

While I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, Planetfall, this one blew me away. The characterisation, the horrible situation the protagonist finds himself in – it all got under my skin to the extent that I woke my husband up as I yelled in shock at a particular point in the book. I can’t wait to see where Newman goes next with this amazing series. See my review here.


Wolf Moon – Book 2 of the Luna duology by Ian McDonald

This depiction of an existence on the Moon where rampant capitalism holds sway hasn’t left me alone since I read this one. McDonald has called it ‘A game of domes’ and he certainly has nailed the deadly powerplays the main families indulge in with his reference to George R.R. Martin’s epic. I keep thinking about that ending… See my review here.


Winter Tide – Book 1 of the Innesmouth Legacy by Ruthanna Emrys

This book was a delightful surprise – I had no idea the writing would pull me into this version of Lovecraft’s monstrous world, with a strong, sympathetic protagonist who is one of the few survivors of the attack on Innesmouth years ago. I loved it and am very much looking forward to reading more in this fantastic series. See my review here.


The Forever Court – Book 2 of The Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy by Dave Rudden

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Knights of the Borrowed Dark, finding Rudden’s punchy prose style both enjoyable and memorable. But this sequel builds on the first with an engrossing adventure and some amazing characters. It’s far too good to leave just for the children. See my review here.


Scavenger Alliance – Book 1 of the Exodus series by Janet Edwards

I have thoroughly enjoyed all Edwards’ books – but this managed to nock up the stakes to a point I could not put it down until I’d finished reading it. I have rules about never reading or watching TV until after 5.30 pm – otherwise I’d never get anything done. I broke that rule for this book. See my review here.


Cold Welcome – Book 1 of Vatta’s Peace by Elizabeth Moon

This is a new spinoff series by a much-loved author which I was delighted to read – even better, it was a storming adventure that proved to be an engrossing page-turner. I remembered all over again why I love reading this author. See my review here.


Dichronauts by Greg Egan

No one writes different aliens as well as Greg Egan – and I loved this adventure. I’m very much hoping it turns into a series as I would love to spend more time following the fortunes of these amazing creatures. See my review here.


The Lost Steersman – Book 3 of The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein

This is a series I read longer ago than I care to recall – and when I saw it had appeared in Kindle, I snapped it up and reread it, something I hardly ever do. My instincts were spot on – I have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this engrossing world and following Rowena’s adventures in this smart, cleverly written fantasy/science fiction mashup. This is the particular story that has stayed with me, though the other books in the series are just as good. See my review here.


Heir to the North – Book 1 of Malessar’s Curse by Steven Poore

This epic fantasy got under my skin and into my heart in a way that doesn’t often happen with this genre. I loved the clever, clever twist at the end and one of the treats in 2018 is to tuck into the sequel, The High King’s Vengeance. See my review here.


Sea of Rust by Robert C. Cargill

This was another amazing book that came out of the blue – I’d not read anything by this author before and was delighted by this post-apocalyptic world peopled by robots who are starting to wear out and fail. With no factories or warehouses full of spare parts anymore, the only option is to harvest those parts from other robots. See my review here.


The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker

I’ve read a number of apocalyptic tales during the year, however in this version Walker triumphantly succeeds in giving us a dog’s version of a complete collapse in law and order. And the chilling results of what happens when that order is reimposed by the wrong people. See my review here.


Empire of Dust – Book 1 of the Psi-Tech novels by Jacey Beford

This epic science fiction adventure stood out because of the flawed protagonist and the gritty depiction of establishing a colony. I really enjoyed the world and the fact that love clearly doesn’t cure all. I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented author. See my review here.


The Wizards of Once – Book 1 of The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

After her marvellous series How To Train Your Dragon, I was interested to see how she would follow it up. The writing is more lyrical, the underlying poignancy is more pronounced. My elderly Kindle didn’t like the illustrations throughout this book and part of my Christmas money is going on buying a print version of this book. Not for the grandchildren – for me. See my review here.


Whirligig: Keeping the Promise – Book 1 of Shire’s Union by Richard Buxton

I have to declare an interest – Richard is a former student and I had read some extracts from a very early draft. However that did not prepare me for the excellence of the writing, where this historical adventure finds two young English people from the same small village ending up in America during the Civil War. They are both caught in quite different ways and this story just kept on delivering in terms of plot twists and tension. See my review here.


Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

This doorstopper is extraordinary. Don’t ask me what the storyline is – other than recalling there are five main protagonists with very different and vivid voices, it’s too complicated to recall. What I do remember is that very early on I took the decision to slow right down and savour this book as reads like this don’t come along all that often. It took me 10 days to get through this one and I recall feeling sad when it came to the end. See my review here.

To pare the list down to this required setting aside other books that still hurt to leave out – the likes of Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett, Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory, The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts, The Invisible Library books by Genevieve Cogman and The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews all missed making this list by a whisker. If you force to me to choose just one of these books, I’ll probably never forgive you, but it would have to be After Atlas.

What were your outstanding reads of the year?

36 responses »

  1. Wow, fantastic list! There are quite a few on here that I’ve read and loved, and several I’m dying to read someday. It seemed like a very strong year for SFF fiction, and I’m sure 2018 will be just as good.

  2. Thank you Tammy! Yes, it was my impression that it was an excellent year for both fantasy AND science fiction. And like you, I see no sign of that letting up in 2018:). Here’s to another fantastic year of reading!

  3. There is actually a lot of books on here that I didn’t hear about last year! (Blame school for taking away from my bookworm life :P) I’ll have to check these out later. The Heir of the North was the one that really caught my eye 🙂

    • It’s a cracking read and was shortlisted for a couple of awards – quite right, too. I’ve got the sequel by my bed and am looking forward to tucking into it before the end of January:).

    • The Wizards of Once was a magical read:). I absolutely loved it, Katherine. And so is Miranda and Caliban, but in a completely different way. I’ve dreamt about both books…

    • Oh do! I was so taken by this amazing book – frankly I don’t think the cover does it justice and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Winter Tide – it deserves to be far more widely read.

      Thank you – I’m glad you like the list:)

  4. Many of these are on my book lists because of your thoughts about them. The Last Dog On Earth is one I hope to read soon. I’m reading a book with a similar idea right now and loving it.

    • Thank you, Laura – I take that as a HUGE compliment:).

      The Last Dog on Earth is a remarkable book, though be warned, the language is extreme, though in this case, I think it works. Ooo… I’m intrigued to know what you are reading with a similar idea?

  5. I’ve never even heard of godpunk? Going to have to look that up since it sounds interesting! I’ve heard fantastic things about Miranda and Caliban from other bloggers as well. I will def be looking some of these up because they sound so good. I mean, how did I miss your review of Sea of Rust? What a unique premise!

    • Godpunk was coined by some bright spark as an allusion to steampunk – it’s books featuring gods as main characters, apparently. The likes of James Lovegrove Pantheon series and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series qualifiy.

      Oh yes – do track down Miranda and Caliban AND Sea of Rust, they are both amazing reads that have seeped into my inscape:).

  6. Ah, Miranda and Caliban! That was one 2017 I really wanted to get my hands on last year, but never got around to it. I also read good things about Cold Welcome and After Atlas at other blogs, so those piqued my interest as well.

    I’m actually posting my Favorite Reads of 2017 next week, so I won’t give away anything too early. But looking back on my favorites, I definitely saw a shift in my reading tastes. Apart from a few fantastic exceptions, last year was a disappointing year for me with YA fantasy, and more of my favorites were adult fantasy or magical realism (for either teens or adults).

    • Yes, it’s interesting – I noticed that I read a lot less YA this last year, too. I shall be posting the statistics on my year’s reading in due course… I look forward to reading about your Favourite Reads, Sara.

      Oh yes – do get hold of Miranda and Caliban – I loved it. Cold Welcome was a real page-turner and After Atlas was awesome:).

  7. wow you list makes me feel like an “under a rock dweller” LOL How come I didn’t know about all these great books!?? [because I live under a rock duh!] my TBR Hydra is about to grow a bunch a new heads! LOL I especially like The Wizards of Once!

    • There are just SO MANY good books out there, Daniela – I’ve been visiting a fair few sites this month and found I didn’t know any of the blogger’s favourite reads, either! The Wizards of Once is wonderful:). Thank you for swinging by and have a great weekend.

  8. Pingback: Emperor of the Fireflies makes SJ Higbee’s Outstanding Books of 2017 – Sarah Ash – Fantasy Author

  9. I was reading through the post and looking at the covers, thinking, “oh, I remember this one” or “I really should add this one to my TBR”. At the same time, with so many books you’ve read throughout 2017, it must have been REALLY hard to narrow the list down to just a few (and I did see you still had to mention additional ones at the end 😉 ).

    • And I’m not good at narrowing down – as you can see! The thing is – with so many books, I find that the best of the best offer different things. One will chime with me so that I dream of it, while another is one that I think about a lot. One will have an outstanding character… and so on. It’s a bit like comparing apples with pears by the end to try and winnow out which is the BEST.

      • I know what you mean. It’s hard to compare two (or more) entirely different books that are great within their own genre/style/etc.

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