2021 Reading Review
As the year draws to a close I would like to review my favourite reads of 2021! *Please note these books may not have come out this year, they may have simply been my favourites that I have read within this year.* We will be sticking mostly to fantasy as that is the main genera I read, but who knows, maybe there’ll be a few surprise genres!
‘The Starless Sea’ by Erin Morgenstern
The Starless Sea is a book that seeks to understand narrative, while also revelling in the power, beauty, and humanness of story. The main protagonist Zachary Ezra Rawlins is enraptured in a hunt for explanations after finding a startling and horrifying account in a book in his university library, of himself. From there the book whirlwinds out to an adventure one filled with books, and meaning, and love, and hope, and story, and pirates, and a library that all lovers of books would want to visit. Reading this book feels like flying in an aeroplane over a city at night and seeing all the golds and silvers of the lamp-lit streets, a feeling of coming home and awe that warms hearts and slowly (normally after the aeroplane has landed) teases the tensions out of muscles for just a moment. This book is utterly gorgeous, its’ enchanting and poetic style adding to the experience and capturing the attention of the reader. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is human and fallible and unbelievably curious, making for a wonderful main protagonist, and the love interest Dorian is interesting, capable, and sweet.
While reading this book I became lost to its depths while remembering exactly what fantasy can be capable of. It is now one of my favourite books and a go-to recommendation, its narrative form may be frustrating to some readers, but it is well worth sticking with, and just might be your favourite read of 2022.
I give this book 3 swords, bees, keys out of three!
‘The Girl in Red’ by Christina Henery
The Girl in Red is a chase in darkened woods. It is Little Red Riding Hood mashed together with zombies and the very real problem of racism in our world today and what that might look like in an apocalyptic situation. We run with Red, as she faces not only the predators residing in the wood but also the worst of man and nature, whilst attempting to get to her safe haven, her grandmothers’ house. It is horrifying and hopeful and while we see the worst of humanity we also see the best. It is also strange to read this book after having experienced the pandemic and seeing some people initial thoughts and reactions reflected back in a work of horror fiction.
While this book is not for the faint of heart it is absolutely a book I would recommend. It has the right vibes for reading under a quilt with a flashlight and jumping at all the noises of the outside and the crash of a shattered plate. I was addicted from this first sentence, and who knows, you just might be too!
I give this book 7 scary rustling noises out of 7!
‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ by TJ Klune
The House in the Cerulean Sea is a treasure (for the friends we made along the way, of course!). This book explores family while also analysing the bias and privilege within overarching systems, namely ones designed to support children. It is a book about challenging your world views, observing the places you work for, and who you support critically. Linas Baker is a caseworker for the department of magical youth who gets sent to assess the state of the most dangerous of orphanages … at least according to the paperwork and the heads of DICOMY. It’s a hilarious tale that challenges Linaus to accept concepts such as, just because one is the son of Satan does not mean one will burn the world to the ground … or murder Linus. The reader is asked to consider concepts of nature vs nurture and peoples abilities to change (and I’m not talking about the children). It explores the idea that we are not who we work for and that past success or failures do not determine if the future will have the same outcome. It is moving and funny and everything you want when you curl up to read in a hot bubble-filled bath on a rainy night.
I loved this book, and it is my go-to book for comfort after a sad day or simply a relaxing tale when I don’t want to think too much and sometimes for when I do want to have a good think. I couldn’t recommend this book more.
I give this book 9 world-ending events out of 9! A truly fantastic read!
‘The Affair of the Mysterious Letter’ by Alexis Hall
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is a book for all those who like bazaar world lore full of Doctor Who aesthetic when combined with witchcraft and the 1800s. It is incredibly rapturous and dry-witted, filled with chaos and all the best parts of a Sherlock Holmes novel, which is good because it is. It follows the adventures of John Wyndham a reserved fellow who once served in the elemental war that happened on a different plane of existence, and his roommate Shaharazad Haas a sorceress who sometimes when she wants to, solves crimes. This book travels from tight and curling cities to the ocean floor, woods, and into strange shows and gothic mansions. It has everything you could imagine and then some!
Reading this book reminds me of those scenes in movies where everything is wavey swirling colours and blinking lights. It is stunning and enjoyable and the perfect companion for recliners and thoughtful expressions!
I give this book 5 impossibly dangerous spells that should not be attempted, out of 5!
‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls is a haunting and tragic exploration of grief from the perspective of a child, whilst also being the best parts of bedtime stories from when I was a child. A Monster Calls explores grief and family and fear. It is a book that will pull tears from the depths of your soul. This is the story of Conor who through the help of the monster outside his window learns to cope with the idea and reality of death as he is forced to understand his mother in the context of someone who is dying with cancer. It is melancholically beautiful while also being fantasy and a story of hope. Reading this book feels like walking down a laneway in autumn after reading sad poetry while staring at the colour changing leaves. It is an experience in humanity.
I loved reading this book even when I cried, and as with all the other books on this list, I couldn’t recommend it more.
I give this book 1 giant tree monster out of 1!
I hope you enjoyed this list and maybe found something useful tucked away in all the words! These books were a pleasure to read and each one of them gave me something special and I can only hope they do the same for you. I wish you happy reading for 2022 and all the best!
WRITTEN BY ASHLEY THOMPSON