[DWJ] Best books of 2010

Roslyn Gross rosgross at bigpond.net.au
Fri Feb 25 05:51:18 EST 2011

The best book I read, hands down, in 2011, was Frances Haardinge's
Gullstruck Island (thanks, Hallie!). It has intelligent, sinewy writing,
characters bouncing off the page and a really unusual culture. It
illustrates what I've always felt ­ that YA fiction, especially fantasy, is
so often far superior to what's marketed as adult lit ­ especially 'literary

Other terrific YA books I enjoyed in 2011:

Perhaps the second-best YA was The Servants, by M.M. Smith, which reminded
me in some ways of Tom's Secret Garden but much darker. (This is kind of
cheating as I read it towards the end of 2009, but I really felt I had to
mention it!)

The Moorhawke Trilogy (The Poison Throne,The Crowded Shadows and The Rebel
Prince), by Celine Kiernan. It's set in a kind of alternative medieval
Europe/Asia (containing familiar elements like Christians and Muslims but
different) and a small country whose king has been trying to create a
kinder, more equal society, but then things start going strangely wrong.
Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Southern Gothic
paranormal romance might be the best description. Looking forward to reading
the sequel, Beautiful Darkness.

Solace and Grief by Foz Meadows, an Australian writer. Solace, who has some
unusual gifts, gets together with other teenagers with special abilities.
It's got some really unusual angles and ends on a kind of cliffhanger, so I
can't wait until the next book comes out.

Best adult fantasy/paranormal/whatever books:

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay.

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff.

Soulless, Changeless and Blameless (three separate books) by Gail Carriger.
Steampunk vampire/werewolf romance ­ fluffy and totally silly but lots of

Continuing fantasy  series:

Hell's Belles by Paul Magr ­ the fourth (I think) in his series set in
Whitby. These are quirky books with quirky characters and a darkly silly
sense of humour. Looking forward to the next one.

Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon by Nancy Atherton. The early ones were utterly
charming but they have been becoming close to formulaic, but I still enjoy
them. They feature Aunt Dimity, a ghost who helps the main character solve
mysteries. They probably belong to the sub-genre known as 'cosy mysteries'
as much as to fantasy.

Another series that I've continued to read and enjoy ­ this one definitely
not fantasy ­ is Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin series. In 2010 I read
Desolation Island and The Fortune of War (both some my favourites so far).

Most Underwhelming Books Read in 2011:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog  by Muriel Barbery (non-fantasy). Not
completely devoid of interest, but filled with cliches and pretentious
pronouncements and one of the worst endings I've ever read.

But the winner of the Most Underwhelming Book of 2010 for me has to be
fantasy novel The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna
Renee Hieber (fantasy) -  an example of an essentially good story and
characters that might have been interesting being ruined by an almost
bizarre combination of clunky and purple prose.



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