7 Favorites of 2016

Bone - Jeff Smith The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch The Lions of al-Rassan - Guy Gavriel Kay The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 3) - Chris Wooding The Fear Institute - Jonathan L. Howard The Fisherman - John Langan

Yeah, it's a little late, but these are my favorites of the books I  read last year. I'm only listing one per author/series, and I am not including short stories, but one novella did make the list, as did one graphic novel. So, in no particular order, my favorite books read in 2016


1. Bone - Jeff Smith  Bone - Jeff Smith  


    Easily the longest book I read  last year, and the one I'd been wanting to read the longest. I remember reading an interview with Smith when this was first being serialized about twenty years ago. Basically, if Carl Barks (of the old Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics) had written LOTR... It's gorgeously drawn, and surprisingly deep, epic and hilarious in equal measure. Despite being over 1300 pages long, I read it in a day. It is truly that compelling.


2. The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle  The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle 


    I read a lot of Lovecraftiana in 2016, but this was easily the best example. This novella is an inspired retelling of "The Horror at Red Hook," easily one of Lovecrafts most racist stories, that flips the whole thing on it's head. The main character goes down some dark paths, but you always understand why. This tale both celebrates and excoriates HPL while telling a great story in it's own right.


3. The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch  The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch  


    The first, and easily best, of the Gentleman Bastards series, this introduces us to a spectacular crew of conn artists as they take on a huge job in a fantastic city reminiscent of Renaissance Venice. Told in both flashback and present day, with truly remarkable characters, this book should be read by any fantasy fan. The rest of the series thus far has been a case of diminishing returns, but still fun. Either way, I'm in it for the long haul.


4. The Lions of al-Rassan - Guy Gavriel Kay  The Lions of al-Rassan - Guy Gavriel Kay  


    Loosely based on Song of the Cid, this is a flat-out gorgeous novel that deals with heavy themes while still being very funny and entertaining. Thhis also may have been the best-written book I read last year.


5. The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 3) - Chris Wooding  The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 3) - Chris Wooding  


    I read and loved the entire Ketty Jay series in '16. Still, this penultimate volume was the most epic and exciting, while also having several of the best character moments. It is almost too easy to describe this series as a steampunk-fantasy Firefly... So that is exactly what I'll do.


6. The Fear Institute - Jonathan L. Howard  The Fear Institute - Jonathan L. Howard  


   Another great Lovecraftian piece, albeit one deeply involved with old HP's Dreamlands, an aspect of his work too often ignored in favor of his Mythos. This is the third in Howard's Johannes Cabal series, and the first to feel like a genuine horror novel. This is my favorite of the five books in the series thus far.


7. The Fisherman - John Langan  The Fisherman - John Langan  


    True, there are other books I rated higher, but this one makes the list, if only for the novella that serves as the novel's centerpiece. The rest of the book is quite good, but Der Fischer is possibly the single greatest piece of cosmic horror I have yet to read. It is indebted to Lovecraft without using any of his actual narrative inventions, instead using Talmudic, Cabbalistic and Biblical sources for it's horrors. Truly amazing.