On Literary Discoveries, 2015 Edition


I love discovering new writers and new books and new series, and 2015 provided me with a bumper crop. Urban fantasies, graphic novels and comic books, mysteries … *le sigh* Check out a few of my favorite literary discoveries from the past year.

Agent of Hel series by Jacqueline Carey is a wonderful urban fantasy series set in modern-day Pemkowet, Michigan. Thanks to the presence of Hel and her underground of Little Niflheim, the town is a nexus for supernatural critters and happenings of all kinds. Our heroine is Daisy, the daughter of a mortal woman and a demon, who acts as Hel’s mortal liaison, keeping the peace between the mundane and the magical. Daisy is an appealing protagonist, with a well-defined network of supportive family, friends, and co-workers ,and Hel is treated as a Goddess should be: with dignity and respect. Plus, Carey does her homework, incorporating myths and belief systems from around the world.

Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford is set decades after Earth and the fae realm smashed into one another, and got stuck. Now the world is a patchwork of the ordinary and the magical, with monsters (two-legged, four-legged, and winged) ranging far and wide. Kai Gracen is an elven hunter, and one of the best. When he is hired for an “easy” job by an elven lord, Kai quickly finds himself in waaaay over his head, and enemies old and new come calling …. I couldn’t put this book down. Fantastic world-building, a snarky and self-deprecating hero, a truly vile villain, and a potential love interest, plus the mystery of Kai’s origins. Where’s the next book already??

Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett, Laura Braga, et al is an on-going digital-first series from DC Comics. War is raging across the global, and women are stepping forward to fight alongside the men — but in their own unique way. Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Mera, and Zatanna are just a few of the mystical, magical, and powerful women  answering the call of duty. I love how Bennett and company incorporate Diana’s beliefs into the story, and show the world through her eyes.

The Charmed and Dangerous anthology was one of my favorite collections of any year, ever. Loved this book. I have discovered half-a-dozen new authors, and new tales from old favorites. I can’t recommend this one enough. Fair warning though: it’s sexy!

Okay, okay. I get that I am little late to discovering The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Whatever. I am just happy that I have found them. This series is a heck of a lot of fun; a great hero, frightening villains, narrow escapes, cool magic, and a slowly evolving story arc. I’m on book four now. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Feral Magic by Nicolette Jinks is the first book in the Swift Codex series. After a meeting with a witch doctor to get back her stolen magic, Feraline awakens in the field behind her home with missing time and missing memories. She quickly discovers that she is wanted by the authorities, and she goes on the run, desperately hoping to figure out what happened to her. Jinks does a great job of dropping the reader in the middle of the action. The reader’s disorientation and confusion mirror that of Feraline; as she slowly uncovers information, the reader learns more about the world Feraline inhabits. Magic here is the norm, with a Constabulary to keep the peace and take down any feral magic users who arise — which is a problem for our heroine.

I highly recommend The Pathwalker’s Guide to the Nine Worlds by Raven Kaldera to anyone with an interest in the Northern Traditions and world walking. This is a deeply personal book, filled with personal anecdotes and rituals. As Kaldera acknowledges, his experiences will not necessarily match those of other people — but discerning readers will still find the book of enormous value. Read, meditate, adapt (I also recommend reading The Pathwalker’s Guide alongside Talking to the Spirits by Kaldera and Kenaz Filan).

Undercover Gorgon #0: Becoming by RL Naquist is the first book in a new Greek mythology-based series. At midnight on Patrice’s twentieth birthday, her Deity Stealth Insurance expires and her true nature as a gorgon is exposed. Patrice, though, is not the least upset; quite the opposite. She is ecstatic: now she understands why she never felt comfortable in her own skin. Even better, her new skills as a gorgon come in handy when peaceful mythological critters (like basilisks) are tagged for extermination. Fun, fast, and highly entertaining. I look forward to reading the series proper.

Veiled Magic by Deborah Blake is also the first book in a new series, in this case, one set in an alternate America in which witches and other magical types came out of the broom closet in the early twentieth century. Donata Santori has been attached to the local police department for years, and spent most of that time in the basement, interrogating the souls of the recently murdered. When she gets the chance to prove herself by working on a case involving a stolen painting and a murdered art restorer, she leaps at the chance … only to discover that there is much, much more to the painting than anyone realized …. Great characters, solid world-building, and an intriguing mystery.

So, there you have them: a few of my favorites from the passed year. What about you? What new books and authors did you discover, that you want to share with the world?