2018 was a great year for me for urban fantasy reads and for my Urban Fantasy 101 series overall. I had more hits in the genre than misses and I found books and authors that I’ll always adore. I was able to develop really interesting thoughts on worldbuilding from reading tons of urban fantasy books and I think I’m finally finding a balanced approach between celebration and criticism.
While I read a ton of urban fantasy in 2018, a fair amount of it wasn’t actually published this year. So, I’m going to wrap up the year by talking about the ones that were. Here are eight of what I thought 2018 had to offer as the best urban fantasy reads (that I’ve read all the way through)!
Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)
Stitch Summary: Some time after a series of ecological disasters decimates the United States, Maggie Hoskie hunts monsters. After failing to save a little girl from a monster that kidnapped her, Maggie finds out that the monster was created and that there may be more of them out there. Maggie teams up with Kai, the grandson of her only friend, and sets off across a world changed by the past apocalypse, chasing down pieces from Maggie’s past in order to save what’s left of the world.
My thoughts: Roanhorse’s debut urban fantasy novel is incredible. It’s another un-put-down-able urban fantasy novel, one that left me freaking out at some scenes and mourning during others. With Maggie, Roanhorse manages a balance between the familiar trope-y heroine of the genre and the newness she brings to the table. Intricate and detailed worldbuilding is threaded throughout this post-apocalyptic urban fantasy and Roanhorse’s writing is so vivid that you feel as if you’re following along with Maggie as she travels across the crumbling remains of partially destroyed cities. I’m talking about feeling the wind in your hair and smelling the stink of burnt flesh in your nostrils.
Craig Schaefer’s The Neon Boneyard
Stitch Summary: These days, Daniel Faust is a very busy man. On top of being a mob boss in Las Vegas and an official knight in the courts of hell, Faust is also constantly juggling the complex politics of both worlds as they interfere with his day to day life. When his past comes back to haunt him in a very real way, he has to figure out the game that’s being played in order to stop himself from being used as a pawn. This book sees the return of several of Faust’s long-term enemies and sets up the next stage of this amazing series.
My thoughts: Craig Schaefer is one of my hands down favorite urban fantasy writers because of the care he puts into his work and how he manages to write really nuanced marginalized characters and slowly ratchets up the horror and the violence until you literally have no idea what’s going on, but you’re so invested that you need Daniel (or Harmony Black) to win so that you can sleep later. The Neon Boneyard, the eight book in Schaefer’s Daniel Faust series, is a dark and thrilling continuation of his long running series. It’s a book that I legit couldn’t listen to the audiobook for at night – when I do most of my intense audiobook listening – because I knew I’d have nightmares. This book connects some of the long threads between it and Schaefer’s other two series in the same world, namely the ones revolving around the Network, a massive criminal enterprise that has designs on this world. (Full review.)
Matt Wallace’s Taste of Wrath
Stitch Summary: The shit hits the fan in this stunning finale to Matt Wallace’s Sin Du Jour series. After the destruction of the horrifying charnel pit that was Gluttony Bay in the previous book, the man that was once Allensworth is out for blood and he intends to carve up the crew working for chef Bronko Luck at Sin du Jour. It’s the end of the line for some of the best characters you could come to adore and by the time the dust settles, you’re going to wish you had a stiff drink.
My thoughts: This book just about broke me. I cried repeatedly through reading it. I thought about lightly yelling obscenities at Matt on twitter. I’m pretty sure I recorded a sad and/or drunk video about how much this final Sin du Jour book affected me. In this last novella, everything happens so much. I’m talking fast-paced worldbuilding, losing characters I loved, the motherfucking Council of Chrises, and a shit ton of other awesome and unexpected moments. I loved this book to motherfucking pieces and if I had Matt’s number when it was released, I probably would’ve called and screamed at him for a while. Because it was that good and that stressful. (Full review.)
Hailey Turner’s A Ferry of Bones and Gold (Soulbond #1)
Stitch Summary: Patrick Collins, an agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency, owes the gods a debt that they call in after one of their own goes missing and a series of demon-led ritual killings call back to Patrick’s past. Fate puts old and new allies in Patrick’s path, including Jonothon de Vere, a werewolf that Patrick shouldn’t want as much as he does.
My thoughts: Hailey Turner is a new-to-me urban fantasy writer and this book, her debut urban fantasy novel, is a pretty solid debut. I couldn’t get enough of Turner’s writing and I really can’t wait for the next book in the series. Her overall writing is mostly solid with minimal plot holes, interesting main and minor characters, and I’m really interested in the dynamics between the different supernatural groups and the hierarchies they find themselves sticking to. This novel also deals with our main character dealing with metaphorical and actual scars from his past – particularly when it comes to his father’s quest to attain immortality and goodhood no matter what the cost.
Stephanie Ahn’s Deadline
Stitch Summary: Harrietta Lee has got a lot going on. She’s been excommunicated from the magical community, barely making rent doing small time cases in New York, and now, she’s got a case that threatens to bring past forward into the present. As she runs across New York City, Harrietta runs into demons, spoiled little wizards, and weird… mole thingies as well as the woman that got away.
My thoughts: I adore Stephanie Ahn to pieces and beyond. This is another debut urban fantasy novel and it’s a ridiculously rereadable book that outs you squarely into the head of the hottest hot mess in the genre. Harrietta is a disaster gay of the highest caliber and her adventures across New York are as epic as they are frustrating (for her). I loved the fact that Harrietta is unlike many of the genre’s biggest protagonists (she’s a gay Korean-American woman who owns her hot mess status without passing the blame/dropping the ball). I’m also intrigued by the underground world of magic and the supernatural as they relate to Harrietta’s life. The second book is coming out next year and I seriously plan to be obnoxious about it. (Full review.)
Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Prophecy
Stitch Summary: Elena is something that no one else on earth has seen before: a human turned into an angel by an Archangel’s will and love. Throughout the course of the Guild Hunter series, Elena has struggled to find her own path as an angel, dodging deadly attacks by angels and archangels that have nothing but time on their hands to hone their cruelty and grudge holding skills. Most of the books in the series have a clear villain or problem to stop (however temporary it might be). In Archangel’s Prophecy however, Elena’s enemy appears to be her own body as her angelic body begins to weaken and fail her at one of the worst possible times – a resurgence of the Cataclysm that threatens to disrupt and destroy life as they know it.
My thoughts: The cliffhanger at the end of this book nearly made me throw my kindle across the room. I always enjoy Nalini Singh’s books, but I could Not handle the cliffhanger after the heightening tension across this novel. What Elena, Raphael, and their family (found and otherwise) go through in this book is painful and while the bright parts make up for the dark and give you strength to push through – I did way more crying than I expected to. Let’s be real: while I loved this book and I wouldn’t change a thing about it, it was an intense ride of emotion and stress. At the end, as frustrating as the ending was, I was glad to be at it because feeling so much is exhausting. But there’s brightness ahead: Archangel’s Prophecy is the end of an era or arc for the Guild Hunter series, and I really can’t wait to see what comes next.
Rachel Aaron’s Last Dragon Standing
Stitch Summary: It’s the end of the world as the Heartstriker clan knows it and Julius Heartstriker, the youngest and nicest member of the massive Heartstriker dragon clan, has a plan. In this final book of Rachel Aaron’s five-book urban fantasy series, Julius brings together dragons from around the world in order to stop a massive worldeater from another plane from wiping them all out.
My thoughts: I’ve been reading Rachel Aaron’s Heartstriker series since the first book came out in 2014. It might have even been one of the first books I got with my initial Kindle Unlimited subscription. Last Dragon Standing is a satisfying end to a series that gets you hooked from the first few chapters. Julius Heartstriker has been slowly collecting friends and allies across this five-novel series and in this final book, he gets to put what he’s learned over the past few months into practice. While Julius is the youngest Heartstriker and the one many other folks (regardless of species) see him as naïve and even too nice, his experiences at the bottom of the heap and with wrangling capricious dragons serves him well as he steps up to set things right before there’s nothing in the world worth fighting for.
Ben Aaronovitch’s Lies Sleeping
Stitch Summary: Following the stressful events of the previous book, London police are on the hunt for the recent incarnation Faceless Man who’s been terrorizing London for seemingly no reason. With their newfound knowledge of his real identity, Peter and the other members of London’s finest think that they’re on their way to catching him. Unfortunately, the Faceless Man isn’t just two steps ahead of them, he’s tossing obstacles back like this is a really intense game of Mario Kart. The Faceless Man has a plan that draws from British history long past and it’s going to take all of Peter’s allies, friends, and assorted foxes to make sure that the city’s left standing once the dust has settled.
My thoughts: Literally, I finished reading this book at 3 in the morning on the 10th , dropped my kindle to my chest, and went “Bitch, what the fuck”. This book just came out, so I can’t spoil it for y’all in this short review section, but literally everything happened so much. I’m talking unexpected conclusions to a long-running plot, the return of everyone’s favorite teenaged apprentice (Abigail), and the next installment in the “what the entire shit is wrong with Lesley” show. In Lies Sleeping, some of the foreshadowing Aaronovitch has been putting together in the previous novels finally played out and there are Important Characters pulled from the graphic novels for the series. It’s an excellent bridge between the two parts of the Rivers of London series and, seven books in, I’m still as captivated by the series as I was from back in the beginning. (Also: the last chapter and epilogue made me SCREAM so… yeah.)
Now that you’ve read my list, what are some of your favorite urban fantasy novels published in 2018?