Sabriel by Garth Nix: If I were to create a list of pre-Potter YA series that still really retain a following then, after Le Guin’s Earthsea, I’d be talking Tamora Pierce’s Alanna and the series Nix tarted here with Sabriel. When I got round to trying Nix’s debut, I could see why. The setting was an odd blend of WW1 and trad fantasy that provided an excellently backdrop for Nix’s tale of necromancy in the wild places. The tale itself was well-paced and full of interesting twists, and the characters charming and thoughtful enough to keep up. I’ve yet to continue the series, but I absolutely see how it continues to prosper.
Man O’War by Dan Jones: This is a very twisty book indeed. A techno-thriller set in a near sci-fi future where people are trying to build super realistic sexbots, there’s a certain Le Carre-esque feel to this tale. There’s a lot of slow building plot, a lot of ordinary people in over their heads combined with amoral plotters. The global scope of it feels a bit Le Carre-esque too. But there’s a definite sci-fi sensibility to some of the action. I had to read this one slow to get the most out of it, but I’m glad I did.
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman: I am open to the argument that Anansi Boys is Gaiman’s best work, which in a way is the review. I am not the world’s biggest Gaiman fan – I think he is a master of atmosphere and scenarios, but not the compelling plotting and deep characters I thrive most off of – but I do very much like him. He does good work. The thing in Anansi Boys‘ favour is that I think it’s got one of his best plots and deepest character sets. There’s nothing like setting up a few mirror images to really create some characters that pop. The book also has a wickedly funny, jaunty atmosphere that makes it an absolute joy. It’s not the best known of his books by any measure, but to me, that’s a big shame. Very worth checking out.