TOP PICKS – January 2023
Welcome to our new feature – The Fantasy Hive Top Picks!
Every month, we’re going to share with you our favourite reads of the month. We’ve rounded up our contributors and asked them each to recommend just one (looking at you Jonathan) favourite read of the month.
A big thank you to Nils for coming up with this feature, and our contributors for taking part!
Beth: The Jaguar Path by Anna Stephens
The sequel to her ancient Central-American inspired novel The Stone Knife, The Jaguar Path deals with the fallout of events in book one. The Pechaqueh have successfully brought all of Ixachipan under the Song, spreading their faith to all the people and bringing peace so that Singer Xac may bring forth the world spirit. Of course, what this means for the people of Ixachipan, and our Tokob protagonists from book one, is a life of slavery and a fight for survival. This was a powerful read, heart-wrenching as always from Stephens, and so twisty!
Nils: The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
This was a phenomenally entertaining feminist pirate read with the most loveable ragtag seafaring crew. I buddy read this with Beth and we laughed, we theorised, we teared up and we were left wanting more! I won’t say anymore as our review is due to go up soon, but I will say: add this to your TBR immediately!
Review to come soon | Pre-order
Lucy: The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake
A book filled with confusion, Chaos and problems of time, an absolutely brilliant second novel of Olivie Blake’s trilogy (The Atlas Six – Novel One)
Julia: Gates of Hope by J E Hannaford
Alright, choosing just one single book per month is a real hardship for me, but here we go…
My favourite of the month was probably Gates of Hope by JE Hannaford! It’s the first book in a new epic fantasy series, which is a great blend of intriguing world building, good characters, magic and mystery.
Jonathan: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
I hope you people realise what monsters you are, making me choose a single book. Out of all the wonderful books I read.
But seeing as I have to, I’m giving it to Isabel Allende’s beautiful and lyrical magical realist classic The House of the Spirits (1982, translated into English by Magda Bogin 1985), which is just glorious. An epic family saga that delves into the history and political upheavals that have shaped Chile whilst retaining a close eye on the personal and the magical, it’s nothing short of a revelation.
Theo: The Sandman Volume 1 – Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Picking a favourite book out of any list?! That’s like the sadistic thing the arch-villain does to the protagonist in the middle act of a novel. You know – “Pick your favourite book, Mr Bond – the rest go in the furnace!” Or like asking a parent to name their favourite child! (But then you aren’t going to actually burn anything are you, Nils, so I suppose I’d better turn my mind to the task.)
I had five very different speculative fiction reads in January, covering self-published and trad-published, fantasy and sci-fi and all excellent in their very different ways (with reviews either already up on the Hive or due to come.)
Buuuuut… I am going to go for Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Volume 1 – Preludes & Nocturnes, because it was my first foray into reading a graphic novel. It has an entrancing protagonist – captivatingly written, drawn and speech-bubbled. The kind of superpowered yet underdog-ed character that you can’t help rooting for. As if someone had blended the DNA of Elric of Melnibone, Terry Pratchett’s DEATH and John Wick!
Scarlett: The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang
Some amazing favourites everyone has chosen here! The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is high on my tbr! So glad you loved it, Nils. I haven’t read The Atlas Paradox yet, but I do have a penchant for graphic novels and love your choice of The Sandman, Theo!
My month and new reading year started pretty well. I’ve been mostly mood reading and counting the days till warmer weather! My eclectic reading plate this month was a sampler of everything, a memoir, a classic, a mystery, some lit fiction and two great fantasy reads, The Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio, book 2 in The Sun Eater series, and The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang. Both of them were fantastic, and I absolutely loved Empire of Silence prior. If I was forced to make a choice as my favorite read in January, I will go with The Sword of Kaigen. This novel, spoke to me for M.L. Wang’s incredible ability to write refreshingly authentic of a world filled with martial arts, interesting family ties and insane battle scenes. The female characters in this story exhibit the perfect mix of strength and endurance, yet prevail profoundly feminine and tender. I couldn’t help myself feel moved in many moments/passages, torn between turning the pages and not wanting the story to end.
What was your favourite read of the month? Share with us in the comments!