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Thursday, December 29, 2022

2022 Review / 2023 Preview - Sunyi Dean


2022 Review/2023 Preview — Sunyi Dean

Best of 2022

My reading has been pretty sporadic in 2022, mostly because I go through cycles of binge reading, then critiquing, then writing. I'm currently writing (with some critiquing on the side) and have barely scraped 20 books plus a few arcs this year! However, I definitely have some fun ones I'd love to recommend, which are maybe a bit more on the unusual side, and which I felt were ambitious and interesting. 

Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo - A truly original historical fantasy, with a heavy slice of horror and a good dose of romance. Grounded heavily in the Chinese/Malay afterlife and rich with complex mythology, the novel centres around the practice of "ghost marriages" (a real thing which still happens today). 

Li Lan is a young woman from an impoverished family, who is asked to marry the ghost of a young man from a wealthy family. Such marriages are often good ways to placate restless spirits, and the arrangement is beneficial for both families. However, as marriage arrangements get underway, Li Lan soon finds her dreams haunted by her fiance. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy realm of the undead, and the tangled web of horror that lies across his whole family. 

Eversion, by Alastair Reynolds - This book is really hard to describe. Goodreads has it as a gothic SF thriller, but I almost feel like it's a tribute to science fiction through the ages. It starts out with a historical feel--a ship's doctor, on an expedition by boat, to the Arctic--but the story changes and evolves in ways that you will not expect. it's a puzzle-box story where nothing is what it seems, and the main character is unreliable as they come. 

I will borrow this excellent goodreads summary: "In the 1800s, a sailing ship crashes off the coast of Norway. In the 1900s, a Zepellin explores an icy canyon in Antarctica. In the far future, a spaceship sets out for an alien artifact. Each excursion goes horribly wrong. And on every journey, Dr. Silas Coade is the physician, but only Silas seems to realize that these events keep repeating themselves. And it's up to him to figure out why and how. And how to stop it all from happening again."

Looking ahead to 2023

Weyward, by Emilia Hart - A gorgeously written, haunting feminist fantasy spanning the lives of three women across five centuries as they struggle to navigate magic, trauma, love, heartbreak, and the generational legacy of domestic violence. The stories interweave and interlace, tracing the threads that run between generations and families. 

I try not to say too much about this one without spoiling it, but give the first chapter a go and see how it finds you! I read this one as an ARC, but it should launch in Feb 2023. 

Ascension, by Nicholas Binge - Another ARC! This one I requested because I loved the premise and the Annihilation style vibes. It is a scifi-esque thriller told in epistolary (letter) format, and follows the adventures of a doomed exploration team through the eyes of Harold Tunmore, a scientist.  Should be out April 2023!

A mysterious mountain appears in the ocean, vastly higher than anything else on earth. Those who camp on it experience strange shifts in time and place; those who climb it often do not return, and the ones who do return appear to be insane, and/or have special powers. As Harold and his team ascend, he grapples with the nature of time, family, love, fatherhood, and much more. 

Tyranny of Faith, by Richard Swan - The sequel to Justice of Kings, which I adored. If you like your epic fantasy dark, witcher-esque, and with a main character who is a travellin judge Dredd + Sherlock Holmes rolled into one (with some necromantic powers) then grab that first book and get on the hype train. I hear Tyranny of Faith is more cool stuff and also has a dog companion, so I'm leaping on that one when it's out in July 2023. 

On The Horizon for Sunyi Dean

I am currently writing a historical "Asian Gothic" fantasy set in post-WW2 Hong Kong, featuring its lush outlying islands and the legendary Kowloon Walled City. Rife with ghosts, gods, demonic triad bosses and sapphic heartbreak, this story deep-dives into generational trauma, the lasting impacts of war, and the 'ghosts' we all carry with us. 


Sunyi Dean is a biracial fantasy author who was born in Texas, grew up in Hong Kong, and now resides in the UK. She writes speculative fiction with a weird slant, and has both too many books and too many children. 

Her highschool was originally a mission house built on the edge of the Walled City before it was torn down, and her grandparents lived in Hong Kong through both World Wars



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