Monthly Recommendations is a GoodReads group, where each month we are asked to recommend books on a specific theme. This month’s topic, underrated reads. I’m going to be more specific, here are five fantasy series I think more people should check-out.
Doctrine of Labyrinths Quartet by Sarah Monette
This is the shakiest of my recommendations since I read these a number of years ago. It is at the top of my re-read list.
Set in the fantasy world of Meduse, it tells the story of the adventures of Felix Harrowgate, a wizard, and his half-brother Mildmay the Fox, a former assassin.
Neither Felix or Mildmay are nice guys, yet they are incredibly interesting to read about. While I remember there being a few eye-rolly moments, I also remember interesting politics and a great cast of characters with varied magical abilities. This series contains a character death I am still not over.
Dubric Bryerly Mysteries by Tamara Siler Jones
Mystery-solving in a fantasy landscape.
I have never heard anyone talk about this series — I bought the first book as a cover buy. In a world where sorcery is illegal, Dubric Bryerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, uses his ability to see ghosts and his love of forensic science to solve mysteries. Jones creates an absorbing atmosphere for her world. They are also solid mysteries with great characters. I am sorry to see the series seems to have stalled, but highly recommend reading the three books published (as well as the novella “Fire”).
Warning before picking these up, these are dark mysteries — they get gruesome in places and there is one section in Threads of Malice where a main character is tortured. Still awesome reads … highly recommend!
Cainsville Series by Kelley Armstrong
Kelley Armstrong has written many a great series. I could also add to this list Women of the Otherworld or Nadia Stafford. Armstrong recently released a collection of short stories centred around Cainsville — Portents — which I hope to read soon, but the main story arc is complete. We follow Olivia, a debutante, who discovers that she is actually the biological daughter of two notorious serial killers. Fleeing the press, she ends up in the town of Cainsville, Illinois, which is run by Welsh fae. While there she discovers that she is also the reincarnation of Matilda, a legendary figure doomed to choose between two men and two groups of the fae. This is not your typical paranormal romance. The romance very much secondary to everything else, Liv starts digging into her parents’ crimes and discovers some inconsistencies. There is fae politics, The Wild Hunt, and a love triangle that refuses to be one.
While this series is a little slow to get going, it is definitely worth the wait.
InCryptid Series by Seanan McGuire
A lot of people are familiar with her Wayward Children Series, which is excellent, but this is where I first met Seanan McGuire. In this series, we follow a family of cryptozoologists. What’s a cryptozoologist, you ask? A person who studies and attempts to preserve cryptids
A Cryptid – Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
We primarily follow the three Price siblings, Alex, Verity, and Antimony. These books are easy reads, funny and generally lighthearted. They also pull off what all good urban fantasy does, and make the fantasy elements seem perfectly normal. I like how all the characters are familiar with the cryptid world — there is none of that “discovering a new world I didn’t know existed” trope which gets used a lot in the genre. The books are written from one of the sibling’s point-of-view and they all have their own distinctive style, yet you can tell they all grew up in the same house.
I highly recommend this series if you are a fan of urban fantasy or McGuire’s other series.
Agent of Hel Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey
The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.
Daisy is an incubus, fathered by a demon, raised by a single human mother. She acts as Hel’s enforcer and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department. This trilogy follows her adventures as she walks the line between the fae and the humans and attempts to maintain good relations (it’s bad for tourism when the tourists start getting eaten). In this book, all the pantheons are real — Persephone makes a guest appearance.
Daisy is a great protagonist. She is spunky and independent, and yet also self-conscious and vulnerable at times.
Carey is probably better known for her Kushiel’s Series, which is also great. I wanted to highlight this trilogy though, as it is one of my favourites.
Here are five series, which I don’t think get enough hype. Have you read any of them? What did you think? What books do you not think got enough notice?