The year 2017 has come and gone. Last year, we read a number of books. Some of these books were fantastic, others not so much. We’ve already outlined our nominees, and the reasons we considered them to be among the best books of 2017 (you can find that here). Which one will be our Book of the Year 2017? So, without further adieu, let’s begin!
Best World-Building – The Gates of Fire & Earth by Autumn M. Birt
When deciding which of our nominees shone best in any category, we had quite a bit to consider. All of our nominees were fantastic books, excelling in every respect. However, even among our crème de la crème, some books exemplify these aspects better than others. Miss Birt’s The Gates of Fire & Earth is a prime example of world-building done right. While the series is not yet through, Miss Birt has created a world the likes of which we have seen only a few times before. She does this by starting at the ground level, with vibrant, life-like characters.
In a way, good characters are the backbone of any good book. However, in fantasy, believable characters help the author build trust with their reader which allows for greater exploration of the beautiful worlds these authors imagine. Over years, Miss Birt has built the world featured in two trilogies worth of books (almost) and her effort and dedication make for some of the best fantasy out there.
Best Story – A Darling Secret by Amie Irene Winters
For the second year in a row, Miss Winters makes our list (though she isn’t the only one). A Darling Secret is a beautiful ending to an amazing series. Now, Miss Winters’ book wins best story for a couple of reasons, the first of which has to do with the darker and unexpected tones of her finale. It is this tonal shift that takes A Darling Secret in an unexpected and very successful direction. You can almost feel the books maturing with Daisy and the reader.
As well, the story matures to a crescendo, managing to be both different from its predecessors and manages to be a more satisfying conclusion than anyone could have anticipated. This is what we expect from a good story, to diverge from our expectations but not disappoint us when it does so. Miss Winters has good instincts, we look forward to seeing what she does in the years to come.
Best Literary Value – Brutal by James Alderdice
For those not privy, we will spoil it now. James Alderdice is a pseudonym used by one David J. West. Mister West’s excellence as an author shows through in Brutal. So, for those who know our feelings about this book, this may seem like a strange category for Brutal, which can be best described as a rollercoaster of gore and darkness. However, one need only remember a year ago, when a novella by the masterful David N. Humphrey won this distinction. Davids who write gritty dark fantasies seem to know what we like.
However, to say Brutal is the same as Knight of Coins would be a bit of a disservice to both. While Knight of Coins was in some ways pensive and reflective, Brutal is over the top. Brutal is a caricature of the world, dark and twisted, showing us not quite what we are, but what we could be. On top of that, it manages to be a darn fun book to read. Still, we will reiterate, Brutal is not for younger readers.
Book of the Year Runner-up – Night of Flame by Jordan Rivet
We will be honest, it was a tough decision this year. We read so many fantastic books, and as brightly as our nominees shone, two stood out even among this select group. In a different year, any of these books could have won, and Night of Flame came close. Seriously, Miss Rivet’s series is almost too good. We have read few series like it. The world-building in Duel of Fire is superb. It felt real. It was pure and new, familiar but imaginative. As the series rolls on, the world begins to stand on its own, and eventually take a backseat to an epic and sweeping narrative that could have been concocted by any of the greats.
While Night of Flame is elevated by the work that Miss Rivet put into its predecessors, the book itself stands out for its use of epic descriptions and outstanding character development. We feel for Dara. Decisions and events feel like they matter. The book culminates a long(ish) series and still manages to deliver a satisfying end. This would have been a difficult feat for most authors, but not for Miss Rivet. Night of Flame is a fantastic read and we highly recommend the Steel and Fire series to anyone who loves the genre.
Fantasia Reviews Book of the Year 2017 – An Arrow Against the Wind by P. H. Solomon
As we said, it was a tough call for us to make. We loved all of these books, but without a single winner, this wouldn’t be much of a distinction. Mister Solomon pulls it off again. He’s two for two now. An Arrow Against the Wind takes everything we loved about The Bow of Destiny and kicks it up a notch. The only problem we have is how many more praises can we sing about Mister Solomon’s work?
There is no such thing as the perfect book. Perfection is by nature unattainable. All of these books come close in different ways, but An Arrow Against the Wind stands out in the crowd. It is imaginative, yet familiar. Original, yet in touch with its roots. Mister Solomon has built a veritable mountain from the material that has inspired all of us at least once. When reading his work, it would be impossible to miss the threads of Tolkien and Salvatore, along with Dungeons and Dragons. His true gift is how he takes all of this and then makes it his own.
There is a care and quality to his work, a subtlety, in which he takes the things that we know and love and gives them back to us through his own imaginative lens. Probably the best part about An Arrow Against the Wind is that it is not the last book in the series. While it may leave you wanting more, you won’t have to wait long to sate your hunger.
2017 is Gone, but 2018 has Come
Another year is upon us with so many new and exciting books to read. We hope you join us. Before you do, though, check out these amazing books and the amazing authors who wrote them. We don’t have enough words to thank them for their contributions. It takes a lot to write a book and a lot more to publish it. We suppose we have already found the best way to say thank you to these authors though. Remember, the best way to thank an author is to review their work. That is it for our Book of the Year 2017.
Reviews will resume shortly. In the meantime, take care and keep reading!