Unlike some years where I struggle to choose a mere five books to make the top 5 of the year list, this year the books seemingly chose themselves. Sure, I read a lot, and a lot of it was good, but these five were a step above the others and took it to a whole other level of enjoyable literature.
The Hunger - Whitley Strieber
I’ve been a fan of the film version of this novel since I saw it back during my undergrad years - who doesn’t love David Bowie as a vampire, a Sandman-inspired musical intro, and a completely different take on vampirism - but until last year I had no idea that the movie was based on this stunning novel. A lot of the themes are the same between both mediums, and the general feeling of both book and film is well adapted, but the focus Strieber’s focus on the character of Miriam Blaylock heightens the tension to a point where it’s almost impossible to put the book down. This is definitely one of the seminal books within the vampire genre, so I’m incredibly glad that I finally read it (and added it to my collection - yay Value Village score) this year.
All the Light we Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
This novel is kind of a slow burner, but it’s one of the best WWII-era books that I’ve ever read. Doerr weaves a compelling tale that really gets to the heart of the German-French conflict through the characters of two young children - each on opposing sides of the conflict, and neither with any real interest in the war besides the fact that they are in it. At times the story feels like a caper, with it’s plot line of a cursed jewel secreted away from Nazi looters, and at others like a human interest piece, with its family drama in a multi-story French household, and is all-together an absolute gem. I can’t wait to see more from Doerr, since it’s clear that he has a way with historical stories.
Paris: The Novel - Edward Rutherfurd
Something about reading this book at the peak of the mid-summer heatwave made it incredibly easy to devour this lengthy and complex book in only seven days. Maybe it was the synergy with Paris in the summertime (not that I would technically know, since I have yet to set foot on the banks of the Seine), maybe it was Rutherfurd’s style of prose (which is impeccably detailed and historically accurate, yet easy to engage with), or maybe I was just caught up in the stories of one of the most fascinating cities in the world (even if they are fictional). Either way, this book made me an official fan of Rutherfurd and piqued my wanderlust for the City of Light.
Harry Potter : The Creature Vault - Jody Revenson
When I read Rowling’s bonus book to the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I wanted it to be exactly like this one: full of fantastic illustrations, carefully written but humorous text, and all the magical beasts that you could ever want! It came out just in time to pique all of us latent HP fans for the coming film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them next year as well, so I would say this book had perfect timing.
A Madness of Angels - Kate Griffin
It’s been far too long since I’ve read a truly wonderful urban fantasy novel, but thankfully I stumbled upon this fantastic series by one of my favourite authors, who had been writing under a pseudonym so I had no idea that she had a whole bunch more books published than the four that I was aware of. In this book we get London, truly urbanized magic, an intriguing protagonist, and a horrifying but relatable villain, all wrapped up into a wonderfully rollicking adventure that sees a truly unique magical world realized - one that is right under the noses of modern Londoners. So far I’m three books into the series, and I never ever want them to end!
*images from Amazon