On today’s Badass Best of 2013, we’re presenting our favorite Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror novels! Take a look below for our five favorite novels from each of these genres and be sure to let us know what we missed in the comments.
Synopsis: Black Feathers is a modern fantasy set in two epochs: the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, and generations into the future in its aftermath, the Bright Day. In each era, a child undertakes a perilous journey to find a dark messiah known as The Crowman. In their hands lies the fate of the planet as they attempt to discover whether The Crowman is our saviour… or the final incarnation of evil.
Why We Love It: Black Feathers was emotional and challenging. It forces the reader to think about our current society and to see how close we might be to an apocalyptic event. It takes that realness and pairs it with a fantasy world soaked in corvid legends and the respect for mother earth seamlessly. This is a beautiful, dark fantasy written for adults and we cannot wait to see how the Black Dawn series continues.
Synopsis: There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same. Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate. Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.
Why We Love It: Dreams and Shadows was a surprisingly complex novel. What starts as a twisted fairytale becomes a story about one young man realizing his destiny and changing the fabric of the world. This is definitely adult fiction as it is filled with violence and death, but at its heart, it’s about growing up and how the fantasies we cling to break down as we experience the real world.
Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder || Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by Harlequin MIRA || || Review
Synopsis: Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he’s gone forever. But there’s a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry’s healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.
Why We Love It: Taste of Darkness was the best book in the series! After a slow start and trying to remember the huge cast of characters, we quickly got into this story and enjoyed it immensely. We loved the Healer world created by Maria V. Snyder and the book was a lot of fun to read.
Synopsis: William Iris struggles to keep the throne of Londinium whilst hated by his own court and beset by outsiders, while Cathy discovers the legacy of her former governess. But those who dare to speak out about Society are always silenced. Sometimes for good. While trying to avoid further torments from the mercurial fae, Sam finds himself getting tangled in the affairs of the Elemental Court. But an unexpected offer from the powerful and enigmatic Lord Iron turns out to be far more than Sam bargained for. Max and the gargoyle are getting closer to uncovering who is behind the murder of the Bath Chapter and the corruption in London and Max finds the gargoyle’s controversial ideas harder to ignore. Can he stay true to his sworn duty without being destroyed by his own master, whose insanity threatens to unravel them all?
Why We Love It: We were really happy with the way All is Fair wrapped up the Split Worlds trilogy. Our favorite characters had plenty of page time and all the big mysteries were resolved with a few strands still left floating so that Emma Newman could return to this world in the future. This has been one of our favorite new series this year and having it completed over the span of a few months was really nice, but now we need more stories!
Synopsis: On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
Why We Love It: Leave it to the husband and wife writing team of Ilona Andrews to come up with a fresh new series revolving around an innkeeper of a seemingly innocuous bed and breakfast. Sounds kind of mundane, right? When you read anything by this author, you know that there will be some kind of magic and a host of interesting, if not freaky scary, creatures involved. And don’t forget – the snarky sense of humor. Clean Sweep was no exception and was a solid start to the Innkeeper Chronicles.
Synopsis: Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet. That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle. If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.
Why We Love It: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach has some very nice science fiction elements mixed with a kick-ass heroine and a romance that you will either love or hate. There is also an interesting mystery with major political ramifications running through this book. We highly recommend this one and can’t wait to see what happens with Devi throughout the rest of the Paradox series.
Synopsis: Finn looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is now to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion…and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world, and in Cat’s heart.
Why We Love It: The characters in The Mad Scientist’s Daughter are vibrant and real, but each is deeply flawed. No one is presented as perfect or stereotypical here; Cassandra Rose Clarke has added layer upon layer to make each an individual. Cat and Finn are the two characters that drive this book and, at times, we both loved and loathed them, but were ultimately satisfied by the journey they traveled both separately and together.
Synopsis: In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills. When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
Why We Love It: Gameboard of the Gods is a solid start to an original series. Fans of Richelle Mead’s adult books should enjoy this one as well. Our only criticism and it is minor – we were left wanting more! We can’t wait for the next book in the Age of X series next year.
Synopsis: When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it. He wasn’t. He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes. Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well.
Why We Love It: The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu was a very interesting take on aliens and the body snatcher archetype. The narrative was extremely funny and the characters were all very well-developed. We enjoyed learning about the war between the Prophus and the Genjix and especially enjoyed the developing relationship between Roen and Tao. Mr. Chu has created a fabulous new mythology and we cannot wait to see how all the different plotlines play out.
Synopsis: A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever. Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.
Why We Love It: The Best of All Possible Worlds exceeded our expectations. It was heavier on the romance than a traditional science fiction, but everything was so sweet and almost quiet that we really enjoyed it. This entire novel was just fun, a feel-good read, and a nice change from some of the heavier science fiction epics; think Ursula Le Guin light.
Synopsis: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them. But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.
Why We Love It: Parasite was such a great science-based horror story. Mira Grant is a wonderful writer and she managed to gross all of us out with her tapeworms. We loved the character of Sally and thought she had great development. We can’t wait to see what happens in the next Parasitology book!
Synopsis: It’s been two months since Perry Palomino and Dex Foray’s relationship reached a new turning point, two months since Perry started a new life in Seattle, and two months since their Experiment in Terror show took on a new partner, ex-Wine Babe Rebecca Sims, and found a new level of success. But whenever there is light in their lives, the madness still has a way of coming back in. When the team is sent back to the stormy Oregon coast to investigate a haunted school, Perry wants to use the opportunity to reconnect with her family and reintroduce Dex into their lives. Only Perry’s not the only one who’s reaching out – her grandmother Pippa has started appearing to her with disturbing warnings and Perry’s presence at the school has ignited a chilling new wave of supernatural phenomenon. Once used a century ago as a sanatorium to house children dying of tuberculosis, the school’s past residents are slowly coming back to life and with one thing on their mind. They want someone to play with, someone to join them. Forever. Even when dead, some children get whatever they want. And they want Perry.
Why We Love It: The Experiment in Terror series is one of those pleasant reading surprises. Ashes to Ashes is the eighth book and our protagonists have been through a lot in the past eight months. Oh, does Ms. Halle know how to stage her settings well. Isolated sanatorium on a hill on the Oregon coast, shrouded by fog – we’re already creeped out and we haven’t even entered the building. Add in some malevolent entities playing ball, secret tunnels, restricted floors – are you scared yet?
Synopsis: On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death. Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.
Why We Love It: Doctor Sleep had a lot of expectations to live up to and my, oh my, did it ever! Stephen King fans will enjoy this book immensely. If you have not read The Shining, you do not need to do so before you read this book – it works well as a standalone title and will definitely keep you up at night.
Synopsis: For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.
An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly. Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it’s up to her to find out what happened. Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the “Night Angel”-a bloodthirsty creature that feeds on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what stalks the streets at night.
Why We Love It: Nightlife gives us the tale of Jack and Beth going head to head with monsters in New Harbor and it was a hell of a ride. This book could also be considered urban fantasy, but this one is DARK and creepy. If you want to see vampires restored to a fearsome glory, give this book a try!
Synopsis: Meet Mookie Pearl. Criminal underworld? He runs it. Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it. Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job. But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give. The Blue Blazes – the first in a new urban fantasy series in which lovable thug Mookie Pearl must contend with the criminal underworld, the supernatural underworld, a new drug that makes the invisible visible, and a rebellious teen daughter who opposes him at every turn.
Why We Love It: This book is usually considered urban fantasy, but the world of Mookie Pearl is so frightening and dangerous that The Blue Blazes definitely works as a horror read. It’s very dark and gritty and very different from most of the urban fantasy out now. There are gangsters, and gobbos, and shadow demons, and nagas, and half-breeds, and drugs, and violence, and gore, and guns, and grit grit grit. This is urban fantasy gone noir horror.
Other Badass Best of 2013 Lists:
Mystery, Romance, and Historical
YA & NA Fantasy, Paranormal, and Science Fiction
YA & NA Dystopian, Horror, and Mystery
YA & NA Contemporary, Historical, and Romance
Our Best Discoveries
Our Literary Slambook
Our Most Anticipated Books of 2014
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