I'm probably the last person to get this post up, but I am so excited to finally get the chance to share with you all my favorite reads from 2023! This is my "official" top ten list, though I always say that with hesitancy since it's so damn hard to narrow down all the books I loved. That being said, these are ten books that I've continued to think about, anticipated sequels for (if applicable), or just generally think of as being standout books that I loved. I would love to here your thoughts on any of these if you've also read them. I'd also love to know what everyone else's best books of 2023 were, so feel free to link to your own posts in the comments if you have them, or just let me in the comment!
Pt. I of my best books of 2023 featuring backlist titles and some honorable mentions can be found here. My annual reading stats post should be up at the end of this week. That post includes fun things like number of books read, top genres, how I get my books, average page counts, and more–all things I love keeping track of to look at as a whole at the end of each year!
Without any further digressions, let's have a look at my top reads of 2023!
(in no particular order)
1. The Will of the Many by James Islington: The Licanius Trilogy by James Islington is one of my favorite fantasy trilogies, so to say my hopes were high going into The Will of the Many is an understatement. This was absolutely more than I could have hoped for and has become a favorite in its own right. None of the books on this list are in any particular order, except for this one right here which has to be my #1. I just loved everything about this book, from the protagonist to the world building to the introduction of how the magic works in this world. I am so incredibly curious to see how this book is going to pick up and I'm admittedly a little nervous based on how The Will of the Many ended, but I know it's in good hands with James Islington. (Review)
2. The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland: This was one of the first books I read in 2023, but the story is still quite vivid in my memory (a rare feat these days). It's a beautiful, somewhat melancholy, reflective, and thought-provoking story that really caught me by surprise by how much I loved it. I never expected this one to grab me as much as it did, but it's one of those quiet favorites that sneak up on you and grab your attention with an engaging and interesting protagonist and an exploration of themes and ideas, such as what immortality really means and what it's worth it (also a common theme in Dewes' Rubicon on my Pt. 1 post!) that I was riveted by. (Review)
3. To Shape a Dragon's Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose: This is a pretty chunky book, so I was a little intimidated to be going into a big new fantasy when I was int he middle of a reading slump. It ended up being the best decision I made because I was riveted from the start and truly struggled to put it down. It's not that it was some intense, action-driven story, but rather the way it was written–immensely readable, compelling, and intelligent–was what grabbed me. I loved the capable protagonist who stood up for herself when necessary, the way that magic works, and of course, the dragons. I haven't seen an announcement for the sequel yet, but I will absolutely be reading it and cannot wait.
4. Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett: I have a feeling this one may have shown up on a lot of people's lists this year, and for good reason! I had the most enjoyable time reading this book and getting to know our delightful protagonist and her loyal dog companion, not to mention all the other incredible colorful cast of characters we meet along the way. This was both cozy and had plenty of high stakes to keep things immensely fun and also compelling at the same time. I've already read (and loved!) the sequel and genuinely cannot wait to read the third book and promptly be devastated when it's all finished.
5. Whispers from the Poisoned Isle (Jekua #4) by Travis M. Riddle: It's been many years in a row that Travis M. Riddle has shown up on my favorites lists, and this year is not going to be any different. I'm not sure what to say other than I can't get enough of his books. I have been having such a blast with Riddle's Jekua series and read two of them in 2023 (Makanuele Rumble and Whispers from the Poisoned Isle), both of which were five star reads. This is basically a stand-in for both books, but I do have to say that Whispers from the Poisoned Isle was truly one of the most exciting books I read in 2023 and propelled the plot forward in so many crazy, momentous ways that it's been sitting at the front of my mind ever since I finished. The pacing of these books perfectly balances faster-paced action scenes with more contemplative, exploratory moments that makes my brain really happy. This is a series that I cannot wait to keep reading, and I can't stop recommending it enough to everyone else. (Review)
6. The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf #2) by Richard Swan: The Justice of Kings was amazing and I did worry that The Tyranny of Faith wouldn't live up to it's predecessor... and I was very, very wrong to have that worry. This was a stunning sequel and drew me immediately back into this world. Richard Swan does a masterful job of creating complex characters, political intrigue that has me glued to the page, and exploring complicated themes around morals and ethics. If you haven't started this series yet, you should absolutely do so, especially since the third book is going to be released soon! (Review)
7. Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher: T. Kingfisher is an author I always look forward to reading work from because there's always something new mixed with classic Kingfisher style that just works so well for me. Thornhedge was a wonderful fairy tale inspired novella that would be a great choice for fans of Nettle & Bone. I loved the interactions between our protagonist, Toadling, and the knight who stumbles upon her, and I especially loved the stories we learned of in this book, complete with plenty of magic and curses to make it complete. This would be a fantastic place to start reading T. Kingfisher's work, or an even better place to read more if you're already familiar! (Review)
8. The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson: This hefty historical fiction reminded me just why I love historical fiction, and that I need to get back into reading these big, epic historical fiction mysteries more often. This was a complex story full of so many different secrets and twists, as well as a young protagonist who we get to follow from child to young woman and the many turbulent things she undergoes in the process. I was so hooked on this story and couldn't get enough of everything that happens. If you like Sarah Waters and similar authors, then you might like this one, too! (Review)
9. The Militia House by John Milas: This is probably the most unexpected book to end up on this list for me, but it's one that I just find myself continuing to come back to and admiring. It's a short work of military horror that seems to masterfully capture the horrors and monotony of war with a work of pure horror that will make your imagination go absolutely wild. It has both readers and characters alike questioning what is real and is honestly just brilliant. John Milas is an author to look out for! (Review)
10. A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher: Yes, T. Kingfisher is making it on this list twice because her two books are very different in genre, but excellent nonetheless. I started reading T. Kingfisher with her release The Hollow Ones and have hooked on her horror releases since. Something about Kingfisher's brand of horror really works for me–something about her masterful mix of truly terrifying and horrible things and witty dialogue from smart, rational characters is absolutely perfect. This book contained all of that and more and was such a bonkers, horrifying ride that I couldn't get enough of it. (Review)
Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite 2023 releases?