In 2011 I clocked in with 125 books read. This year I just skirted by 100 with 105 books read with many of those graphic novels. Overall, 2011 was a better year of reading for me and I felt the debuts were a bit stronger, granted I didn't get to check out as many debuts this year as in the past as I have been trying to vary my reading even more than in the past. I still have plenty ground to gain in that regard.
Overall, Fantasy in 2012 wasn't as strong for me as in 2011, but there is still plenty to crow about with some memorable reads. The Troupe is one of those novels that just sticks with you long after closing it. Think of it as a period American Gods through the lens of Steinbeck. Yes, that's heavy praise, but this book deserves it. The Blinding Knife surprised me and then surprised me some more. Abercrombie gave us back many memorable characters from the past with Red Country, a very nice spaghetti western, yet it still isn't as much of a standout as his previous work. I haven't read a Tad Williams book in quite a few years, but I was immediately drawn to The Dirty Streets of Heaven, his first bonafide Urban Fantasy series where he uses his complex story skills to great effect with an Angel detective. Again Abraham is developing some of the smartest Fantasy with his latest Dagger and Coin novel, The King's Blood, but I think the next will cement the series as a favorite as he takes his time building things up.
I went with a different title for this category instead of calling these Horror as the flavor of darkness I typically enjoy isn't the bloody sort. Barron's The Croning is also a debut and works the big "DREAD" angle to the utmost in a novel filled with atmosphere. The Drowning Girl is just flat out beautiful and mind bending. Including John Dies at the End is a bit of cheat since it came out a couple years back, but it epitomizes fucking with one's head.
I love books about books. Libriomancer pulls the magic out of books while Walton's Among Others makes the experience of reading pure magic.
If you're just looking for a pure good time these will certainly sate you.
People always want to know if a long-running series is worth grabbing on to and each of the above is the 3rd or later book each of which are on par or superior to earlier volumes in said series.
The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
This category is all about which book I loved and think will stand the test of time being talked about more than a decade from now. The other front runners were Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck, Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson, and Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, but as soon as I finished The Troupe I knew there would be no other book that could beat it this year. I also want to throw an Honorable Mention to The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon since I haven't mentioned it elsewhere even though I had some reservations about it. It still fills-in the world nicely, if a bit lightly compared to the first two books.
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