I actually haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday in a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d jump on this one. The topic for this week was unique books we've read. Now I’m not sure if those on my list are the most unique books out there, but they’re all fantasy novels with a clever take on the genre.
1. In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield
Two words: Mermaids & royalty. This book takes place in an alternative 16th century Earth where European rulers marry deepsmen to ensure control of local waters. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything similar.
2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Billed as the adult version of Harry Potter, this book follows Quentin after he is accepted into a prestigious & secret magical academy. However Quentin is a spoiled brat, and the characters – all in their early 20s – spend a lot of their time angsting about what they want to do with their futures instead of being noble and heroic. It’s unexpected and rather enjoyable.
3. The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
A portal fantasy, where a musician named Theo gets sucked into the world of faerie. Only Faery has also undergone an industrial revolution, resulting in some twisted urban landscapes running off magic rather than electricity.
4. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
This book is bizarre, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. It's chaotic, urban, weird, unexpected... If you haven’t read it then you are missing out.
5. Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman
A very original take on vampires in a secondary-world fantasy. In this world, using magic consumes your own life-force - or the life-force of others, if you gain entry to the immortal order of Magisters.
6. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
A book included on this list purely for the descriptions of communist domovye (house-elf) committees that run individual Russian households. And perhaps for Valente's lyrical writing.
7. The Secret Vampire by L. J. Smith
I read this book 15+ years ago, but I still remember it as one of the most original vampire novels I’ve ever read. The main character is Poppy, a teenager girl dying of cancer. Luckily, she also has a bloodsucking boyfriend. It’s a nice twist to your average vampire romance.
8. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson’s magic systems are so damn clever he had to make it on this list eventually. I wasn’t too fond of the writing in this one, but the magic system is stunning.
9. Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox
This book made it on this list for two reasons. The first was the setting - colonial NZ society through a fantasy lens. How often do you see that? The second is the plot, concerning a magical realm called ‘the Place’ where dreams can be harvested and shared among the wider population. It’s an interesting novel all around, and I say that as somebody who doesn’t read much YA.
10. Mystery Faery Novel
My google fu failed me with this book, and I can’t remember the title or the author. It tells the story of a woman who moves to Australia after a tragedy back in the UK. Unfortunately, she’s also being pursued by the Fairy King, who promptly swaps his court with the local one in Sydney so he can continue stalking her. I remember it being a good book, and a very clever way of importing British myth to an Australasian setting. If only I could remember its name! If you recognise it, please tell me...