My 12 Favorite Books of 2021

I read 91 books this year, most trending towards horror and escapism. These are my favorites.

A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Maas

Okay, we’ll start off with the obvious. I read a Court of Thorns and Roses a few years back, and while it was decent fantasy, I wasn’t wild about it. I only picked this second in the series up when booktok started talking about how much of a departure it was from the first book. And thank you booktok. I can’t believe I almost missed out on a series containing all of my favorite romance tropes.

The Bayou, Arden Powell

This was a surprise find for me while searching for queer fantasy. It’s always a delight to find new southern gothic tales, as it is to find queer historical romance. Finding both in one place is a joy, and I hope this novel continues to get more attention, because it deserves it.

Verity, Colleen Hoover

No one twists and turns like Colleen Hoover. This was my first foray into her work, but not my last. It was the perfect starting place for me, given its resemblance to Rebecca, which happens to be the first gothic novel I ever read.

From Highbury With Love, Corrie Garrett

I love a good published Jane Austen fanfic, and this one combines some of my favorite character, who them manage complicate each others’ lives in new and interesting ways.

Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula, Bram Stoker and Vladimar Adsmundsson

When I learned that the Icelandic translation of Dracula diverged wildly from the original story, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed.

A Dowry of Blood, S. T. Gibson

Speaking of the count, how about a book where Dracula’s wives rebel? There’s a reason this queer, feminist take on Dracula has gained so much traction.

Pretty Broken Things, Melissa Marr

Another southern gothic horror, this one a retelling of Bluebeard. All the trigger warnings. All of them.

Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand

A folk band holes up in an old manor house to record an album. Told as a documentary, this will take you deep into British folklore.

Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant

Killer mermaids is the hook of this book, but that only scratches the surface of its charm. It has diverse, lovable characters and oodles of scientists making believably bad choices for the sake of science. If you’re an ocean person or a science person, you will love this.

Find Me, Ashley N. Rostek

I’ve developed a fascination with the audacity of reverse harem novels, and this one was my favorite of the year. And it truly is audacious. A girl in WITSEC, hiding from an obsessive serial killer, falls in love with the boys next door. How’s that for a premise? If you have any triggers, just assume they’ll be in this series. It is not for everyone, but if you like true crime and reverse harem, you might want to check it out.

The Suffering, Rin Chupeco

The companion book to The Girl From the Well, this book, about a a teen boy and his ghost, centers around Aokigahara in Japan. Both of these books were a wonderful introduction into the spookier parts of Japanese folklore, a subject that I did not know much about.

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Another booktok favorite, my partner insisted on listening to this with me, despite having read it already. I still haven’t forgiven her for the ending.

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