While in 2022 the escapist impulse remains strong, there is more than solace to find in the pages of the best fantasy books. As Lloyd Alexander has said, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality - it's a way of understanding it.” In this section, we keep an eye on new fantasy publications in 2022, as well as shortlisted books and winners of prestigious prizes in fantasy like the British Fantasy Awards — which celebrated its 50th anniversary in February 2022—and the World Fantasy Awards, whose winning books will be announced in November. However you like your fantasy—epic or short, high or low, dark or comic, contemporary or historical—it's a great time to be an avid reader in the realms of the imagination. Let’s hear it for unreality as a route to the real!
Part of the best books of 2022 series
by Nghi Vo
After The Chosen and the Beautiful (see Fantasy 2021), Nghi Vo is back with another mesmerising mashup of historical reference and culture clash, with a heady dose of the supernatural. Doesn’t every American girl want to grow up to be a movie star? Difficult enough in pre-Code Hollywood if your name is Norma Jeane Mortenson, but what if it’s Luli Wei, and you’re a Chinese American from Hungarian Hill? In the phantasmagorical Hollywood of the Siren Queen, the magic resides behind the silver screen, behind the glamorous facade of an industry which works on blood, sweat and tears. Here we are talking about actual blood, human and monstrous, and the screen contracts, Faustian bargains that are signed in blood.
Book of Night
by Holly Black
Shadowboxing of a distinctive kind takes centre stage in the adult debut of this acclaimed YA author. What if a person’s shadow can be manipulated for fun and profit? What if your shadow were not entirely under your control? What if it housed your hopes and fears and aspiration, and some of your darkest secrets, too. And what if there was a secondary market in shadow-trading, including yours? Protagonist Charlie Hall takes up bartending in the hope of getting some distance from less sun-lit environs, only to find that that her shady past comes back to haunt her. Fasten your seatbelts for a wild ride, and keep your own shadow close.
Moon Witch, Spider King: The Dark Star Trilogy, Book 2
by Marlon James
We loved the delirious mashup that was this Booker prizewinner’s first foray into fantasy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf. So it’s with great delight that we dove into the second book of the Dark Star trilogy, set in an imaginary Iron Age Africa replete with wondrous hallucination and historic reference. Here, James returns to the story of Black Leopard, Red Wolf from another perspective. The protagonist here is Sogolon the Moon Witch herself, an adversary to Tracker, the hero of the first instalment, and a woman. The narrative arc unfolds an almost ideological showdown between two different visions of empire, as Sogolon tells her story of a century of blood feud with the powerful Aesi, the chancellor to the king. A heady witch’s brew.
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr
by Filipe Andrade (Illustrator) & Ram V
Laila is the goddess of death. Or she was, until she got fired once the afterlife was discontinued. So she’s left to her own devices as a mere mortal. Not exactly a core competence of Laila’s. Fortunately for her, with a little help from her friends, she can twist the mortal coil to come back to life again, as many times as is needed to complete her vendetta versus the prophet who foretold the end of death forever. That’s after all where the trouble begins in this tale of magical (sur)realism. Trippy story by writer Ram V and ravishing visuals by illustrator Filipe Andrade, a dynamic duo in graphic novels.
by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Art Work)
After a long wait, the charming space fantasy Saga is back! Without missing a beat, and with a doule-length issue to boot. We picking up where we left off with the team of Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples, another dynamic duo in comics, who continue to give us mind-bending narrative and stunning illustration, respectively. Hazel and family continue their death-defying and bizarre adventures across time and space. Heartbreaking in places, graphic throughout, parental discretion is advised.