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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Preview/2020 Preview - T. Frohock

Either I read a lot more fiction this year than I have in previous years, or I’m just getting better about keeping up with it. And because the lists are always compiled before the year is officially over, I’m including some books that I finished in December 2018.

My list will be more eclectic than others, primarily because I rarely read in a single genre. Since I write historical fantasy, I also read a lot of non-fiction. The other thing is that 2019 isn’t quite over with yet, so I’d be remiss not to mention three books that I am currently reading and should finish by the end of the year.

Currently reading

I’ve got an ARC of Joel Dane’s Burn Cycle, futuristic military sci-fi, and so far, it’s full of superb action with the interesting set-up of a world and its army run by corporations. I’m also reading The Drowning God by James Kendley—a slow-burn Japanese horror novel that mixes a present day detective with an ancient horror. So far it is creepy and excellent. Finally, I’m reading Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott—a true story turned historical fiction/mystery, and I’ve reached the can’t-put-it-down stage of the novel.

2019 Favorites

If you read nothing else on this list, get a copy of Mary Soon Lee’s Crowned: the Sign of the Dragon, Book 1. It is an epic tale told in prose, and before you roll your eyes and skip down the list, Soon Lee’s style is absolutely captivating. Four princes, one crown, and they must barter with a dragon for her blessing. Here is the part where the fourth son meets her on the mountain:

He fell, pushed himself upright, saw a black cloud speed against the wind.

She landed beside him, her breath ash, snow steaming from her wings.

He knelt, but did not beg, and asked after his brothers.

"One slept. One fought. One pissed himself. They didn't taste like kings."

She laughed. "And you? What will you pay for a crown, little princeling?"

"Nothing. I don't want it." She flamed, and he saw himself reflected

in her scales, a kneeling, shivering boy. "Then why," she asked, "are you here?"

"Because they sent me." He stopped. "No." He was so tired, he couldn't think--

"Because the kingdom needs a king." He struggled to his feet.

"And what will you pay for the crown, little princeling? Gold? Men? A song?"

"My freedom!" he shouted at her. "Well," she said, "that's a start."

And what a start it is. You won’t look back and the book will fly for you as Soon Lee takes you through King Xau’s rule. I keep asking about book 2 and hope to see it published someday. It’s one of the few books that has remained with me throughout the year.

Horror: I went on a horror kick during the fall of 2018 and the winter of 2019. For brevity’s sake, I read several horror novels by women, but the two that stood out the most to me were We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson, who transfers the reader to a horror film being shot in South America. Inspired by the true story of an Italian horror film that landed the director in court, Wilson shows the reader what happens when Method acting is taken to the extreme.

If you’re looking for something more sublime, I recommend Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami. A young woman marries into a family that isn’t all that it seems.

Later in the year, I had the opportunity to read an ARC of John Hornor JacobsA Lush and Seething Hell, which contains the novellas The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky and My Heart Struck Sorrow—both of which blew my mind. Jacobs writes the kind of horror I live for: dark, descriptive, and with subtle twists and turns that lead to surprise endings.

Fantasy: K.D. Edwards’ Tarot Sequence series (The Last Sun and The Hanged Man) is absolutely marvelous! If you love urban fantasy, and even if you don’t, you’ll love Edwards’ vibrant characters and imaginative settings. I know I did. I laughed out loud in places, but Edwards doesn’t allow the snark to overshadow the story or the characters, all of whom have suffered from tragedy. Don’t tell anyone, but I even cried at one scene.

Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer is an engrossing retelling of Maid Marion’s adventures and a murder mystery to boot. Moyer stays true to the Robin Hood legend while putting her own unique spin on the story. They’re all older now and much settled down, except something sinister is stalking the Merry Men and leaving them for dead.

For epic fantasy readers, I highly recommend The Last Road, K.V. Johansen’s rousing conclusion to her Gods of the Caravan Road series. Johansen’s style lends itself well to world-building and a solid story with engaging characters. If you’re looking for immersive epic fantasy, she’s got you covered.

I’m currently in the middle of Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko and was enjoying it immensely when my tablet died. Like the others I listed above, I’ll probably finish it later this year, but if you’re into wizard schools, it’s a spooky weird twist on the experience and I recommend it.

Science Fiction: I was torn about where to put Caitlin Starling’s novel, The Luminous Dead, because while it had some excellent elements of horror, I couldn’t quite slip it into the horror category. Genre bending in the best of ways, The Luminous Dead mixes science fiction with horror to keep you flipping the pages deep into the night … just make sure you keep the lights on.

For fans of military science fiction, I recommend Planetside by Michael Mammay, which is a fast-paced military investigation that leads to a surprising end. I’m greatly looking forward to digging into the sequel, Spaceside, in 2020.

And for those who find noir detectives in a science fiction setting more their speed, I recommend Michael G. WilliamsA Fall in Autumn. Dark and imaginative, it’s a detective story set on a flying city filled with fantastic creatures.

Historical fiction: The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. This is the final book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, so I savored it and loved it and positively wept when it was over. It was a beautiful conclusion and I fell in with Alicia.

A pleasant surprise for me was Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadow Land. I’m not even sure why the story appealed to me so much, but Kostova has an elegant style that draws the reader in. This was a case of the right novel hitting at the right time and it worked beautifully for me.

K. L. Reich by Joaquim Amat-Piniella was positively heartbreaking but a necessary read. This book is one of the few accounts of Spaniards in concentration camps that slipped beneath the attention of Franco's censors. Written shortly after Amat-Piniella's release in 1945, he recounts his four-year internment in Nazi's Mauthausen camp through the voices of his fictional characters, which were all based on real people. .

I also read a lot of non-fiction for my own novels. If you want to see some of inspirations for Los Nefilim, I keep bibliographies on my website.

Looking ahead to 2020 

I’m never as good with this part as I am with what I’ve read. Book releases surprise me throughout the year; however, I’m definitely looking forward to reading Spaceside by Michael Mammay as well as the third part of Hilary Mantel’s excellent series on Thomas Cromwell. I absolutely adored both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and I may indulge in a reread of those two books prior to reading The Mirror and the Light. The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni is another one that is high on my list as well as Tripping the Tale Fantastic: Weird Fiction by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers.

On the horizon for T. Frohock

I’m extremely excited for my second Los Nefilim novel, Carved from Stone and Dream, which will be released in February 2020. It’s A Band of Brothers meets John Wick and our boys are fleeing the Nationalists. They find themselves lost in a pocket realm with sinister angels and old enemies. I’m really proud that it’s the second Los Nefilim novel to earn a starred review from Publishers Weekly: “Frohock raises the stakes in the battle between angels and demons by entwining their celestial warfare with the simmering human conflict, and the wildly imaginative plotlines are balanced by intimate family struggles as Frohock works toward an explosive ending. Series fans and new readers alike will be enthralled.” .

I’ll spend 2020 finishing up the last Los Nefilim novel in this series, A Song with Teeth. After that … the only thing that I know for certain is that there are always more stories to tell. .

About the author

Teresa Frohock has turned a love of history and dark fantasy into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and the Los Nefilim series from Harper Voyager, which includes the Los Nefilim omnibus, and the novels: Where Oblivion Lives, Carved from Stone and Dream, and A Song with Teeth. She currently lives in North Carolina, where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.


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