One of the best parts about interacting with the book blogging community is sharing the giddy anticipation over exciting new releases. Hearing about a favourite author releasing a new book, learning about a mind-blowing concept for a new series, and drooling over gorgeous, recently revealed cover art – it’s all part of the process. But sometimes in the onslaught of shiny new books, incredible backlist titles that didn’t have a huge marketing push get forgotten…which is a crying shame. Today I’m celebrating those books and rounding up a list of some of my favourite underrated fantasy and sci-fi books. Okay, there’s only one sci-fi book on here but…that’s kinda how I roll.
Let the listing begin!
Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
Gunslinging, horse riding, and monster hunting propel this weird western story forward, even as it explores themes of identity and belonging. Queer, mixed-raced protagonist Nettie/Rhett Lonesome is hands down one of the most nuanced and compelling characters I’ve come across in YA. This book absolutely blew me away, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the sequel, I highly recommend reading this one – even if you don’t continue the series.
The Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich
This ensemble fantasy follows the misadventures of a married couple, Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone as they flee mercenaries and make their way through the Eastern Province. They fight for each other and their friends, and this book also involves a magical library. #hellyes
Bitingly funny, atmospheric, and featuring an incredibly well executed portrayal of a disabled protagonist, Mishell Baker’s BORDERLINE is fantastic. Surprisingly, this dark story is set in LA – but the juxtaposition totally works. Not for the faint of heart but highly recommended if you’re looking for an emotional gut-punch.
Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney
This isn’t the first time I’ve raved about this book, and it won’t be the last! Combining the best elements of historical and epic fantasy, DREAMING DEATH introduces a richly detailed world and features the first blind protagonist I’ve come across in SF/F. The friendship (and hopefully, slow-burn romance) between protagonists Shironne and Mikael was a delight, and I loved the murder mystery angle of this one too. I’m dying for news about a sequel.
Invisible Planets ed. by Ken Liu
It’s not a secret that I don’t read that much sci-fi, and most of what I do read is on the mainstream side – INVISIBLE PLANETS is a notable exception. This short story anthology collects the work of China’s best science fiction writers, from the established masters to the emerging voices, all beautifully translated by Ken Liu. I was blown away by this collection and I’m shocked that I haven’t heard more people buzzing about it.
Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron
Hello, my name is Danya and I have an unhealthy obsession with Erica Cameron’s ISLAND OF EXILES. It’s only been a few months since I reviewed this one, but it has less than 100 ratings on Goodreads. THIS IS A TRAVESTY. If you’re looking for a creative, diverse, sex-positive YA fantasy with flawed but likable characters, then you need this book in your life. #justsaying
Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis
MASKS AND SHADOWS is what happens when you put a bunch of restrained but secretly passionate characters inside an isolated palace outside Vienna, add politics, intrigue, and some lowkey demon summoning and shake it all up. And yes, in case you’re wondering, this is a standalone…with a slow-burn romance. I AM HERE FOR IT.
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Although Gail Carriger’s adult steampunk series the Parasol Protectorate gets tons of love, her YA series isn’t talked about nearly as much. It’s full of badass ladies, hilariously silly jokes and madcap adventure – and Victorian racial commentary. You need this series in your life, especially if you like audiobooks!