The year of 2018 brought us hundreds of new and noteworthy novels. It’s next to impossible to pick favorites from all the choices out there. And yet, there are always a few shining examples of literature for each year.
2018 had dozens of brilliant fantasy novels. We could spend all day listing the novels worth reading, but instead we’ll just focus on ten that most people agree are some of the best from last year. Hopefully, you’ll find a book or two to add to your reading list.
10 Circe by Madeline Miller
Circe follows the life of the daughter of a Titan. She’s not like the other gods, and quickly finds herself banished from the rest. Circe humanizes her character in unexpected ways, while fleshing out the classic tales of legend by showing her perspective.
Circe is alone; her banishment only made that all the more obvious. She isn’t like the other gods, but she’ll never fit in among the humans either. Here she is trapped, between worlds. But that never shakes her, never brings her down. She’s more than capable of making a place for herself on this lonely little island.
Circe has already won dozens of awards, from the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fantasy, to the Orange Prize and more. It hit the New York Times Bestellers list, and has been showing up in many other Best Fantasy lists as well.
9 Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Spinning Silver was published in July of 2018, and it made major waves when it came out. This is a novel that is both fantasy and love story, fairy tales and timeless, all in one. It reads very much like a classic fairy tale, where the stakes are high and the threat is real. It’s a twist on the classic Rumpelstiltskin.
Miryem is from a family of moneylenders. Despite their careers, her family has gone into debt over the years. Miryem is the one that will change all of that though – determinedly collecting all that is due, until she gets a reputation all of her own. Her actions (and money) draw the attention of the fae, and things quickly spiral out from there for young Miryem.
Spinning Silver was a finalist for the Nebula Award, made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list, and countless other fantasy listings as well.
8 Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire
Beneath the Sugar Sky is the third novella in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. The series itself explores the idea of magical doorways opening portals to other lands. The series has been a hit from the start, so it’s really no surprise that this novella made it onto dozens of lists as well (including this one).
Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, bringing us back into the present for this tale. Rini, the daughter of the departed Sumi, comes home looking for her long lost mother. Only to find that the worst has happen. But in the world that Rini loves, is death truly something to be understood? Is it as permanent as we believe?
The Wayward Children series has won several awards in recent years, including the Alex, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and Locus Award. It’s also been a World Fantasy Award Finalist. The series was recently optioned to become a TV series as well, starting with the first novella. With any luck we’ll see Beneath the Sugar Sky on the small screen in no time at all.
7 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Blood and Bone has been making waves since its first appearance last year. The novel was written by Tomi Adeyemi, a Nigerian-American author who uses her knowledge and experience to create rich worlds.
Children of Blood and Bone is the first novel in the Legacy of Orisha series. It follows Zelie Adebola on her quest to bring magic back to her world. Along the way she’ll face plenty of danger and threats, as well as opportunities. Before she can do anything though, she’ll have to learn how to control her newly awakened powers.
The first novel in the series has been selling out everywhere. It made it to the New York Times Bestseller list, and it won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut Goodreads Author for 2018.
6 The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War is the first novel in a series of the same name, by R.F. Kuang. It’s a grimdark fantasy at heart, and is set in the mid twentieth century in China.
Rin is a young orphan girl, one who happened to pass one of the most prestigious tests known in her country. Her world suddenly changes, and nobody can quite believe what is happening, least of all Rin. Here Rin have to face people unwilling to accept her because of who and what she is, all while trying to use her powers to save her people.
The Poppy War was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Goodreads Choice Awards for best Debut Goodreads Author, and the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fantasy.
5 Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Empire of Sand is another debut novel worthy of being included on many best of lists. It’s the first novel in the Books of Ambha series by Tasha Suri. The series is a Mughal India inspired fantasy, full of nomads, magic, and brilliantly written characters.
Mehr is an Amrithi. She’s also an illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor, while also inheriting her mother’s powers. It’s those powers that bring all sorts of the wrong attention onto her. Mehr has to survive the attention and figure out how to help her people at the same time.
Empire of Sand has been getting loads of praise from publishing companies, review sites, and authors alike. The novel was a great start to what is sure to be a dazzling series.
4 Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is a fast-paced and fast selling novel from 2018. It’s the first novel in a new series called the Founders, and the series is bound to be just as popular as the first book.
Sancia Grado is a thief who quickly finds herself in over her head. However, she can’t back out, she has to keep going forward, because there’s more than just her fate on the line at this point. Sancia must stop a transformation of the city, while also keeping herself alive at the same time. She’ll have to create and find allies in order to make it possible, but she has a chance.
3 Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2) by Mark Lawrence
Grey Sister is the second novel in the Book of Ancestor series by Mark Lawrence. It’s a dark fantasy series, following Novice Nona Grey from the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Nona has a lot of choices to make in the near future for herself, such as which order she’ll want to dedicate herself to.
Making a decision that major isn’t going to be easy, not with all the challenges that keep showing up along the way. Nona has enemies all around, and they’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on her.
Grey Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fantasy, and has been consistently selling copies up through now.
2 Year One (Chronicles of The One #1) by Nora Roberts
Year One is the first novel in the Chronicles of the The One by the famous Nora Roberts. It’s the launch of a new series by a well-loved author, so it’s no surprise that fans jumped at the chance to read it.In the world of Year One a sickness has taken over the world. Everything collapsed along with the spread of the disease, power systems, the government, everything. The novel follows a handful of survivors as they try to adapt to the world crumbling around them. They all have unique situations they’re coping with, and while they don’t know it, they all have the same goal in mind.Year One was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fantasy. The second novel in the series is already out as well, Of Blood and Bone.
1 The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden
The Girl in the Tower is the second novel in the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. It’s a spellbinding series, full of magic and lore and pure determination. Vasya survived the events of the Bear and the Nightingale, but there’s still a long way for her to go.
Vasya’s life is filling up with secrets, and yet there’s still so much more she has to learn and do. Worse of all, the Kingdom is still under threat, and she’s the only one that realizes the true depth of the danger.
The inclusion of this one on the list is somewhat sneaky, since the novel technically released at the tail end of 2017. However, it was considered for awards with the rest of the 2018 books, so it only seems fair to count it here as well.