My Favorite Adult F/SF Novels in 2016

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I posted last week about my favorite MG books read in 2016, and I promised to do a followup post about my favorite adult reads. Of course, I always have less time than I expect over the kids’ school holidays…so this followup is a little late for holiday shopping. Sorry! However, if you (like me!) are a last-minute holiday shopper, or if you just want to look for more fun new books to read yourself, here’s a list of adult fantasy novels that I genuinely loved in 2016, along with snippets of the reviews that I wrote for them on Goodreads (and links to some of the longer reviews):

Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory
A fabulously fun steampunk adventure story with a great, sympathetic (and very diverse) cast of characters and a completely gripping narrative voice. Karen, the narrator, is just *awesome* – matter-of-fact, brave, loyal, funny, and far more impressive than she realizes – and I cheered for her arc of empowerment by the end. I also loved her sweet, fumbling romance, and Priya, her love interest, is truly wonderful too. (Read my full Goodreads review here for more details and discussion.)

Laura Anne Gilman’s Silver on the Road
A slow-paced but truly lovely fantasy novel, set in an alternate version of the 19th-century American west in which the Devil staked his own territory centuries earlier and the rest of the territorial borders have shifted around that. The heroine, Izzy, is a sixteen-year-old coming of age and coming into her own as the Devil’s Left Hand, traveling the roads of her boss’s territory with a mentor who has magical issues of his own. The alternate history setting is fascinating and well thought-out, the writing is absorbing, and the characters are wonderful. By the time I was halfway through reading this book, I’d already preordered Book 2, which is coming out next month – I can’t wait to read it!

Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to San Francisco’s glamorous local superheroine, Aveda Jupiter…who was once her best friend Annie long ago, before a rift between dimensions scattered random superpowers across the city. Annie grabbed onto her new superpower whole-heartedly and flung herself into the spotlight, renaming herself Aveda Jupiter and fighting demons on livestream to the delight of her internet fans; Evie panicked and hid as deeply in Annie’s shadow as she could. But when she has to take Annie/Aveda’s place at an event with the help of a magical glamour, she’s finally forced to recognize her own true strength in more ways than one….with the help of a very nerdy, very hot scientist, lots of great friends, AND her rebellious little sister.

This book was so funny and fun and so full of real heart, it filled me with pure delight throughout. It’s full of fun urban fantasy adventure, hot (AND sweet and funny) romance, intense female friendships and complex, important family relationships. Basically, it has everything I love most in a book! And it’s all done so well. (Read my full Goodreads review for even more raving. I LOVED THIS BOOK.)

Ilona Andrews’s Magic Binds
This turned out to be one of my very favorite books in the whole Kate Daniel series so far (which is, by far, my favorite-ever urban fantasy series – I didn’t click with Book 1, but when I started again with Book 3, I got hooked HARD). I love the combination of humor with real emotion, tension and adventure, and these characters all feel like old friends by now. I loved the mixture of madcap wedding planning moments along with genuinely heartwrenching issues, freaky magic and fun fantasy action. I adored all the different kinds of relationships between women in this book, including one I would never, ever have guessed at any earlier in this series – it came as a delicious surprise in this book. And most of all, I cannot wait for the next book!

Seanan McGuire’s Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special
I just discovered Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series and have been DEVOURING it. I tore through both of these first two books within less than 3 days! Urban fantasy, ballroom dancing and talking mice – this series is just ridiculously fun. You can read my full reviews of Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special on Goodreads.


What about you guys? What were your favorite f/sf reads in 2016? I’d love to hear about them either here, on Facebook or on Twitter. (You will not be surprised to hear that I am ALWAYS looking for new recommendations! :) )


  1. The only adult fantasy I read this year were GOT #1-4 but I really enjoyed Marie Rutkoski’s Winner trilogy, which is YA.
    Many years ago I worked with Laura Anne Gilman at Penguin/NAL/Roc so it is nice to hear her book made such a positive impression on you.

    • I’ve heard so many great things about the Rutkoski trilogy – I have to move that higher up on my TBR list!

      And Silver on the Road is *wonderful*.

  2. Agree on Karen Memory and another hearty YES for McGuire’s InCryptid series. I snatch those up as soon as they are printed. Didn’t get into the Toby Day books as much but she’s a brilliant writer so I should try them again. Loved the Parasite series, too.

  3. Although I read and enjoyed a fair amount of speculative fiction in 2016, most of it was published earlier. My favorite of what I read in 2016 that was also published in 2016 was Imprudence, book #2 in Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol offshoot from her delightful Parasol Protectorate series. I’d recommend the Parasolverse to anyone interested in clever historical paranormal romance featuring strong, capable women.

    Favorite 2016 reads that were published earlier include: in adult fiction, Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series and Scott Lynch’s “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” contribution to the Rogues collection; in YA, Tim Floreen’s Willful Machines (<3!), Jennie Wood's ongoing Flutter, and Lexa Hillyer’s Proof of Forever; and, in MG, Nigel Quinlan’s The Maloneys’ Magical Weatherbox and Jessica Lawson’s Nooks & Crannies.

    (I work for a public library, so, requesting recommendations can be dangerous. ;-) Fingers crossed that I didn’t bungle any of that pile of HTML.)

    • Ooh, I loved Gail Carriger’s two novellas this year, and I love the look of this whole list! Thank you!

      • You’re welcome! Best wishes for enjoyable reading. =)

        I’ve realized, thinking more about it, that Lawson’s book didn’t have f/sf aspects, just a sort of magical feel to it. Still a good book, but in its place for recent MG speculative fiction I’ll suggest Django Wexler’s Forbidden Library series.

    • Ooh, I haven’t read the Forbidden Library series yet, and I love that title!

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