Top topics in 2022

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

I intended to squeeze out another review to close out my twelve days of festive blogging, but I’m swerving into a final (for now) retrospective on 2022 instead. Today I’m picking some highlights from the blog over the past 12 months: some posts you loved, some posts I loved, and some posts that deserve more love!

Popular reviews

Possibly because it was one of the first I posted (so has had longest to rack up views) or perhaps because it has cross-audience appeal, How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu was my most-read review published last year – and possibly my most critical. This was a book I wanted to like better than I did, but ending up finding frustrating and samey.

Subjective Chaos is always a big draw, with my fantasy novella round-up of A Spindle Splintered, The Future God Of Love and A Manslaughter of Crows snatching second place. While I didn’t love these tales, I found something to appreciate in each from smashing the patriarchy to top notch folkloric worldbuilding to the cheek of having a political fantasy narrated by a talking cat.

Coming in hot at the end of the year is The Immortality Thief, which I haven’t stopped raving about since I finished it. Come for the deserted spaceship full of weird science that wants to kill you (don’t damage anything, or the AI will come for you too), stay for the tightrope of loyalties.

Favourite topics

My most popular posts of the year were all part of recurring events that it seems you enjoy as much as I do: Wyrd and Wonder, SciFiMonth and The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards. It was a big birthday year for all three, with Wyrd and Wonder and Subjective Chaos celebrating their fifth events, and SciFiMonth racking up an impressive tenth. I’m delighted that you all continue to show such affection – here’s to another round of group geekery next year.

If I look beyond the events, the top three non-review posts all put a smile on my face. At the top of the rankings was my round-up of small and independent presses I favour, and whose work I will always happily praise. If you’re looking to expand your reading horizons, I urge you to take a look (and to check out the #SmallPressBigStories tag on Twitter, where there are many additional recommendations from across the blogosphere).

Next up, the devastating challenge of picking a favourite read from each of the past 10 years, which didn’t pull any punches from the horror of realising it’s been ten years since some of these were published to the nightmare of trying to pick just one. I stand by my choices (and yes, I shared some runners-up too).

More frivolous but just as personal, the Never Have I Ever tag was a blast to write – if you’re looking for a tag to take, I recommend it!

Honoured guests

I love it when an author agrees to pop by and this year I was blessed with several guests. Both AJ Hackwith and Ren Hutchings took on my Six Degrees of Separation challenge, with AJ jumping through connected themes that all link back to the fabulous Hell’s Library trilogy and Ren choosing to showcase other people’s 2022 releases in a big-hearted gesture that neatly encapsulates the vibes of Ren’s own novel, Under Fortunate Stars. CSE Cooney also stopped by to talk about the challenges of being born into a family of necromancers and to explore the narrative opportunities and relationships such a family has to offer…

Much loved but overlooked

Honourable mention next to three reads that I enjoyed, but whose reviews didn’t gain much traction, so I’m giving them a final boost today. Aurora by Jo M Thomas is an unusual novella of emerging sentience and identity through the often-alarming lens of social media algorithms. You may think twice about what you share online after reading it, but at least you probably won’t murder anyone. I hope. This Dreaming Isle is a gorgeous anthology of darkly fantastical tales inspired by the geography, folklore and culture of Britain. It veers from nightmarish satire to haunting reverie, by turns beautiful and unnerving. One to savour and a great introduction to some British authors I had not encountered previously (along with some I had). A troubled teenage girl is introduced to a grimoire that lets her step into parallel worlds in The Dark Tome, an episodic dark fantasy presented as a glossy audio drama available via Realm and Audible, with excellent production values and chapters contributed by a spectacular array of authors.

Thank you for joining me through another year of bookish enthusiasm – here’s to plenty more in 2023.