Why is it that summer is the time for escape reading? Perhaps it's the heat or the pleasure of an afternoon relaxing poolside that requires lighter books with engaging characters and story lines. Whatever the reason, I am currently on a fantasy kick for my downtime reading.
Today I'm featuring five books in my current to-read stack. I've limited the list by three criteria: published in 2016, first in a series or standalone, and I own a print copy. Have you read any of them? Which one should I start with?
Dragons . . .
- The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan is the first installment in a fantasy / alternate history (Europe) series that involves spies, politics, pirates, dragons, and adventure. Some reviewers have also mentioned a strong steampunk bent to the novel. I'm on the fence because I've seen the book compared to the Eragon series, which I was only meh about, but The Waking Fire has dragons and pirates and strong female characters, so I need to give it a try. (Ace Books, July)
- The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood is first in an epic fantasy trilogy starring a young female dragon breeder. The story includes a classic battle of good versus evil, myths, imaginative creatures, and good action. Reviewers mention the intense emotional impact of the book and the realistic, smart main character. Lockwood's beautiful black-and-white illustrations bring his fantasy world alive. (Daw, May)
- Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan is the first in a new epic fantasy series that is set in the same universe as the author's Riyria Chronicles, although in a different time period and with new characters. The fantasy world contains several familiar creatures (elves, talking trees) and involves a struggle between two realms, one populated by the powerful bad guys and the other by the down-trodden good guys. Despite the expected plot elements, reviewers have generally given this book two thumbs up. (Del Rey, June)
- The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye is an alternate history / fantasy story set in Imperial Russia and involving a competition to the death between two contenders for the court's head magician. The story is told from different points of view and is based on a solid historical foundation sparked with magical details. Reviewers mention the nicely complex plot, unique take on magicians, and the terrific character development. Although the prospect of a love triangle is a bit off-putting, I'm interested in this promising story. I can't tell if the novel is the first in a series or a standalone. (Balzer + Brray, May)
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill is a middle grade (with adult cross-over) standalone fantasy with fairy tale elements. I love so much about the premise of this book: a misunderstood forest-dwelling witch makes a mistake and infuses a baby with magic. To protect the child, the witch raises her as her own. As the girl grows up and into her great power, we begin to wonder who is protecting whom from the outside world and the true evil one. I've read nothing but praise for this imaginative and beautifully written coming-of-age story. (Algonquin Books for Young Readers, August)