It's that time of year again. List time. I thought I'd offer up ten novels released in 2011 I consider my favorites. The key word being "novels." I'm putting together a couple of other lists for novellas and short story collections. This year was a really good one for quality storytelling if you ask me, and I could have easily cooked up a list of twenty books to recommend, but let's not get carried away.
#10: King's Justice (Knights of Breton Court Book 2) by Maurice Broaddus (Angry Robot Books) - "The fantasy element is more understated than I had anticipated, but it is there and used to great effect. I mean, you can't have a real world setting and then have mystical battles waged in the middle a major American city. People might notice."
#9: Resurrection (Demon Squad Book 2) by Tim Marquitz (Damnation Books) - "The thing I liked most about the book is the same as what I liked about the first: Frank Trigg's sardonic and sophomoric wit. The former heir to Hell's throne is as cynical as ever, subject to his own lascivious mindset even in the most dangerous of circumstances. Half anti-hero, half asshole, Frank is simply a great character to have tell a story."
#8: Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore (Skyhorse Publishing) - "With elements of horror, comedy, mystery, and even a pinch of romance, Kenemore does a really good job in finding a balance. The story flows fairly well and feels like a genuine blend of genres, though there is a bit of a speed bump in the pacing about midway through, that's carried by a very likeable and sympathetic character in Peter."
#7: Willy by Robert Dunbar (Uninvited Books) - "Willy is a far cry from Robert's debut novel, The Pines, which was outright horror. This novel is the personification of sinister subtlety. A few passages feel laborious, but the work as a whole is masterful."
#6: Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) - "I read one review of this book that described Dewitt as "Nancy Drew by way of Hunter S. Thompson." I can kind of see that, since Dewitt is a former child detective now grown up, tatted up, and has no compunction with taking recreational drugs."
#5: The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe (Tor Books) - "As a whole, the book is as much a modest bit of magic as the Tufa. Strong storytelling, damn near perfect characterization and dialogue, and a wholly satisfying end. I'm even more eager to read more of Alex's work after reading The Hum and the Shiver, and I bet you will too."
#4: The Woman by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee (Crossroad Press) - "The first two acts of his novel avoid the more extreme elements of the subject matter, instead establishing the stakes, the behaviors of the characters, and the setup for an inevitable showdown. It's the third act, however, that throws the playbook out the window and goes full-bore."
#3: Devil Red (Hap and Leonard Book 8) by Joe R. Lansdale (Alfred A. Knopf) - "The writing is gritty and plain-spoken, which suits the story to a tee. The dialog is fantastic and really funny in spots. The action is great and doesn't let up for very long, since it's only a two-hundred page novel. It's just a damned fun read. It's Lansdale."
#2: Book of Tongues (Hexslinger Book 1) by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications) - "Heroes are pretty hard to come by in this novel. Just about every major character we experience this story through has either some serious emotional baggage or just a mean-spirited streak running through them."
#1: Fun and Games (Charlie Hardie Book 1) by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books) - "Hollywood has its own mythology, or maybe it's just really good at revamping the mythologies of other places with a lot of glitz. In either case, Duane Swierczynski has concocted a novel, the first of a trilogy it turns out, that taps into the kind of conspiracy-laden thrill rides only Hollywood could call its own."
One of the little bits of trivia I noticed when I put this list together was the absence of any self-published books, though a couple came damned close. As a matter of fact, I figured I'd throw in a few honorable mentions to highlight some more books that I really enjoyed from this year.
Honorable mentions: R.J. Clark's The Rift; Teresa Frohock's Miserere; Layton Green's The Summoner; Steve Savile's and David N. Wilson's Hallowed Ground; Catherynne M. Valente's Deathless.
Likely contenders on my TBR pile: Z. Constance Frost's No Shelter; John Adjvide Lindqvist's Harbor; Lisa Mannetti's The New Adventure of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn; Barry Napier's The Bleeding Room; Kaaron Warren's Mistification.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what books you read and loved this year, or if you've got a list of your own posted on your blog, leave a link so I can check it out. These best of lists are always great to compare notes and add more books to my watch list.