Angelfall and the books that are to follow are a series of YA post apocalypticUrban Fantasy books. Next to all this kitschy angel literature à la Alexandra Adornetto's Halo, the steamy angel sex novels and all the The Hunger Games wannabes they really stand out - they're gritty, they're beautiful, Penryn, the heroine, can kick so much ass, the angels see themselves as a Superior Species, the hero can cope with the loss of his wings (Not a spoiler, it even says so in the blurb) instead of transforming into a weeping wreck or "cold" Jerkass, the writing is beautiful, there is suspense, there is drama, action, romance, even a realistic schizophrenic mother! Plus, the cover is gosh-darn awesomely beautiful. What's not to like about it?
Avalon: Web of Magic by Rachel Roberts. Has a talking ferret. Enough said.*
The Spirit Gate, by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. A fresh approach to fantasy, without reusing many of the standard tropes, brilliantly crafted, and has complex characters. Also painfully obscure.
Paolo Bacigalupi is a fantastic dark sci-fi author, probably the best since Gibson. Unfortunately, other than The Windup Girl, his work is nary to be found.
Hey, we've all seen the How to Train Your Dragonmovie...but did anyone here know that there was a book? One that came out a solid eight years beforeThe Film of the Book? Well, there is, and it's just one out of a large series. They're for children, but they're filled with quirky humor and clever writing, and can be enjoyed by teenagers and adults too.
The book Truancy displays a war between a totalitarian city where the educational system acts as a bully to students (from deliberately making students late to locking bathrooms) and a resistance that tries to overthrow the schools. Sadly, nary a copy can be found in bookstores.
Ex-Heroes is a great example of combining superheroes and zombies for something original and fun.
Anything Jasper Fforde has written, in particular the Thursday Next series. Anyone with a love of stories and books should read them, but few people have ever heard of them.
Douglas Coupland doesn't get enough love. His books are incredible and full of little insights about life that we all feel. He's just really good at explaining them succinctly.
Katharine Kerr's Polar City books - there's two of them, Polar City Blues and Polar City Nightmare. Difficult to find in bookstores, and Kerr apparently doesn't even have her own page here — just the Deverry page. Humanity is a tiny republic trapped between two alien powers who hate each other, and the possible appearance of a new species in human territory has the potential to start a war. Interesting setting and genuinely likeable characters, particularly the first book.
The Dragaera books. An excellent, inventive, long-running fantasy series, and almost the only people I know who've read them are the ones I introduced it to.
The Lighthouse Trilogy, by Adrian Mc Kinty. It's three books that are more teen-oriented, but it's really just a well-written book. It's a shame it doesn't have it's own page here.
The book Finding Darwins God by Kenneth Miller. It goes into the debate between evolution and creationism and talks about how one can find a happy medium in between them. For some reason, it's not getting the love that it should for some reason. I guess there are still people who refuse to think science and religion can coincide with one another.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: The book more so than the movie. After the movie came out it faded into obscurity, and the book gets very little recognition. The book focuses more on characterizing the eponymous characters; both of which are funny, eccentric, and emotional, and connects them through their love of music. They're surrounded by an equally strong cast of supporting characters: Tal — Norah's Jerkass ex, Tris — Nick's Alpha Bitch-but-still-rather likable ex, Caroline — Norah's inebriated best friend, and Dev and Thom— Nick's gay and wildly funny band mates. It's like an indie movie in book form.
Eddie and the Gang with No Name: This is the most addicting book trilogy I've ever read! Colin Bateman made it funny, suspenseful, clever, and original to boot.
Really anything by Robin McKinley, but Sunshine is one of her best works.
At least in the U.S., Sara Douglass is underappreciated. Her six-book series The Wayfarer Redemption is one of the most human fantasies I've read in years. The main characters are trapped in a prophecy they want to escape, the villain is hell-bent on using said prophecy to forestall his own doom, and the hero has to be warrior, politician, and father in only the first two books. Faraday and Azhure are polar opposites in their role and their disposition, but somehow they both work their way into the heart of the man they love - if only he could choose between them. There really isn't any doubt about how the story will end, but the fact that Douglass has created her own world instead of modeling on someone else, and then taken her characters and made them human and worthwhile, has forever made me a fan.
Zilpha Keatley Snyder: Beautifully poetic writing (or plain Nightmare Fuel if you're talking Witches of Worm), prolific, but most folks only talk about The Egypt Game. She also made a big contribution to gaming. The game of Below The Root is better known than the books it's based on, but it was Genius Programming (a choice of the age, race, and gender of avatar with game stats and NPCs reacting accordingly... in 1984!) and possibly the first game ever to be considered a Canon sequel to something started in another media.
Seconded one thousand times over. Of the books that I will never loan or sell, The Unseen was the first on the list. And The Egypt Game is fifth or so.
In a similar vein to The Wayfarer Redemption—an Australian work that is underappreciated—I have to recommend The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman. It is set in the world of the Eleven Domains - lands which were conquered by the people of the warlord Acton 1000 years ago, forcing the original inhabitants of the lands to wander as 'Travellers' (similar to gypsies), mistrusted and hated by the blond-haired Actons (similar to European conquerers) who now rule the lands. While the series is a fantasy, it doesn't rely on cliché conventions - no monsters, spellcasting battles or elaborate sword duels. Fantasy elements are incredibly subtle, making them feel muh more real-world. The real draw in the story is the Grey and Gray Morality which prevents either the Actons or the Travellers from being straight-out heroes or villains - there are very few true villains in the story, with only a couple for contrast. The three protagonists — Bramble, Ash, and Saker - are all sympathetic, compelling and likeable. In additon, the series has a powerful collection of 'stories' — First-Person-POV tales which, in addition to deeply developing the supporting or minor character they focus on, also add a greater layer of depth to the world as a whole. It all comes together in the most subversive, unexpected sort of climax in the last book, which does not fail to deliver. Definitely a series which deserves greater attention, the critics who have reviewed it has given high praise for its originality, unconventional storytelling, world-building and deep characterisation - all while telling an old story in a new formula. READ IT!
The Clouded World, a series of books by Jay Amaro about a race of Bad Assangel-like evolved humans living on a series of massive cities built on pillars to keep them above the turbulent cloud cover that hides them from the Crapsack World below.
The Schwa Was Here is a delightfully offbeat young adult novel by Neal Shusterman. It's about a kid who's "functionally invisible" and his friends. The book gets relationships in teen social groups wonderfully right, and is often quite bittersweet, poignant, and mature, especially for something that's narrated in pure Buffy Speak.
In a similar vein, "The Seems" by Michael L. Wexler and John Hulme is a great series about a secret organisation outside the universe that keeps the world running on time. It has great new ideas, good writing, and a solid plot. Worth checking out.
Malice, Broken Sky, Storm Thief, and The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, all by Chris Wooding. The man has a genius for crafting fascinating, wondrous, unique (hellish, nightmare-driven) worlds. His books are also damn near impossible to find (at least on my local shelves), despite usually winning fairly good critical acclaim. The plots vary, but usually follow the pattern of a boy and a girl getting mixed up in fantastic and highly life-threatening circumstances, and he seems fond of the ambiguous ending. Apart from that, the plots are very different, and are extremely well-written.
The Hamish X trilogy is a very deep and detailed story with very well-written characters, settings, and footnotes, and still manages to be hilarious the entire time. Come on, people, you're lying if you say you didn't like it.
Persuasion by Jane Austen tends to get overlooked thanks to her more famous work, but is arguably better than those novels.
In the same vein, L. Frank Baum really did write books that weren't about Oz, even if most of them ended up being connected years later by having a character or two show up in Oz. How many people know that Trot and Cap'n Bill were in two of their own books before appearing in The Scarecrow of Oz?
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld is a really cool novel that puts a different spin on vampirism — instead of being a fantastical condition, it's a parasite and people with the parasite, parasite-positives, are called "Peeps". It didn't make the bestseller list, but it's extremely inventive and informative, including factual data on parasites and an interesting main character.
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill currently does not have a page on this wiki, but it is a very good work of realistic fiction that was well written enough that it can be mistaken for nonfiction.
The Elemental Logic series by Laurie J. Marks. Well-written, character-driven fantasy with prominent LGBT themes and an egalitarian society that still has more than its share of troubles. Unfortunately kind of hard to find the first two books at this point.
The Hero.com and Villain.net series by Andy Briggs are an interesting Deconstruction of the superhero genre. The eponymous websites offer powers for download, but ultimately come at a high cost. Will it's relatively easy to find them online, the Barnes and Noble website only has the first two of each series available and they don't seem to be favorites for libraries.
The Fire Within series by Chris D'Lacey. Its an engaging and well written series,yet it seems relatively obscure for the most part.
The Gandalara Cycle is sci-fi/fantasy series from the 80's that's not only very well written and set in an intricate world but has an edge-of-your-seat plot right from the get-go which beautifully mixes action and adventure with drama and romance. Some of the more engaging elements include: a species of huge telepathic sentient warcats used as riding mounts for an elite warrior caste in a desert wasteland, well-justified Laser-Guided Amnesia regarding a stolen powerful gemstone, a search for a lost city, a racial collective-subconscious god-figure, epic swordplay, witty dialogue, and the most amazing Earth All Along twist ending ever. It spans over seven novels (or the alternate printing of two compilations and an 'epilogue') and was completed and published despite initial Author Existence Failure. But, in spite of all its impressiveness, it is very difficult to obtain the whole series without going through multiple book-sellers (and don't expect to find new copies at all).
The Three Worlds Cycle by Ian Irvine is fantasy at its greatest. It spans 11 books (2 quadrilogies and a trilogy) so far with another book or two still to come, and around 200 years of history, with a vast mythology and history backing everything up. It treats magic (or 'the Secret Art') with intelligence, giving it a pseudo-scientific background and drawbacks that stop it being the game-breaker it is in most high fantasy settings. The main characters are relatively believable, being generally normally skilled people out of their element (with a few legendary people playing more background roles), and the stories are gripping: the protagonists end up in seemingly hopeless situations that they only manage to escape by the skin of their teeth, and the cliffhangers, dear god the cliffhangers. The guy ends the last book of the second quadrilogy on a massive cliffhanger and basically says, 'whelp, better wait a couple of years for the next book to come out to find out what happens!' Go read them. They're long and imposing, but well worth the time.
Anything by Tamora Pierce. She's a brilliant writer and her works are epic, but virtually no one I know outside my immediate family knows about her.
The Dark Touch series by Amy Meredith. Teenage girl fighting demons and no sparkly vampires in sight.
Villains by Necessity is a great book that should have never been taken out of print. It deconstructs the fantasy genre, but not in a "here's why this sucks" way. If you can find a reasonably priced used copy of the novel, or if you can download it from a site that won't put your computer at risk, then it's well worth your time to read.
The Nancy Drew Files and The Hardy Boys CasefilesSpin-Off series are considered some of the better books in either franchise by fans of the characters. A Darker and Edgier teen series designed to try and keep hold of fans of the series as they aged, they removed the previous rules on the main series, such as Never Say "Die", No Hugging, No Kissing, and such, which had the side effect of giving the writers a little more freedom to write better stories. They had a very respectable run of about 12 years and around 120 books each (from roughly 1985 to 1997.) Sadly, nowadays they're mostly forgotten by people who only remember the blue and yellow hardback versions of the books.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte, whose sister Charlotte deliberately sabotaged the novel's success. It was also awkwardly controvertial at the time, what with all the feminism and stuff.
Anything by Storm Constantine besides Wraeththu, which is often the only work of hers that both fans and non-fans are familiar with. This is not helped by the fact that her other books tend to be difficult to find.
After Man: A Zoology of the Future is a very interesting book with cool illustrations and creative creatures. The book, however, has pretty much faded into obscurity, as almost no one remembers it, or talks about it much.
It's still more popular than The New Dinosaurs or Man After Man, though.
How To Become King is a not-well-known Dutch children's book featuring a boy's quest to become the king of his country — by actually going to different regions and solving their supposedly unsolvable problems. Between the hilarious situations involved in the problems he solves, the idiosyncratic bureaucrats setting tasks they hope he can't complete, and the genuinely serious (but not anvilicious) lessons to be learned, this book deserves to be way better known than it is. I'm not sure if it was ever more popular in the Netherlands, but here in the US the only people I know who've ever read it are in my family.
Year of Rogue Dragons is a series of three high fantasy books set in the Forgotten Realms. The pace is excellent, the characters are charismatic and the scenes are well described. However, it doesn't get mentioned often.
Michelle Sagara (often published as Michelle West), particularly The Sun Sword. Sprawling, scaled out to the massively epic and down to the lives of the servants and slaves caught up in events. Very hard to describe—Better Than It Sounds, but it's hard to make it sound like anything! Full of gods and magic and politics and demons in a world that has power the way D&D does, sort of, but owes very little to D&D or Tolkien. Just read the books.
The DragonCrown War Cycle by Michael Stackpole. Why the prequel and trilogy are so overlooked is a mystery; his nuanced fantasy world subverts a number of fantasy stereotypes. Elves are different, but not necessarily better - including Fantastic Racism against a magically-created winged elf race. The closest you have to dwarves are a race of gnome-like pseudo-shapeshifters who are tunneling experts. The Mooks train and even ride raptors (the dinosaur kind) into battle. Magic is a well-developed system of equivalent exchange and enchantments. The setting develops gunpowder weaponry and explores its impact on fantasy warfare. The characters, dialogue, and descriptions are all excellent, and the Big Bad absolutely qualifies as a Magnificent Bastard.
The Bartimaeus Trilogy It has great humor, plot, and characterization that resonates strongly, with all this it is criminal that it isn't on the list yet.
The Roar by Emma Clayton. The premise is interesting, sort of like TRONmeetsEnder's Game. The protagonist is likable and deals with some tough conflict for a 12-year-old. The Big Bad, Gorman, and The Rival (because he doesn't necessarily qualify as The Dragon), Reuben, are both legitimately threatening villains. A sequel called The Whisper recently came out, so it has to have its following somewhere.
Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Apocrypha. If you like science fiction with really thorough world-building, memorable Bad Ass female characters, Bio Punk and/or war, with thought-provoking themes having to do with gender politics, classism and religion...you're going to love these. (I can't seem to find anyone else who has read this trilogy, which is why I'm currently the only troper working on the page.)
Legend by Marie Lu. It may come of as a cash-in from The Hunger Games, but it sort of combines the Dystopian lit tropes with a detective story with legitimately surprising twists.
The entire output of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who were the undeniable flagship of Soviet science fiction. Really, it has everything a science fiction fan could wish for: quite strict scientific accuracy, with the early novels being on the rock-hard end of the scale (it helps that one of them was an astronomer with a strong background in physics and computer science as well), which however never got in the way of a good, intelligent story; interesting, well-thought out plots with strong social/political commentary (their main body of work is rather "hard social science" than classic hard SF, while nowhere near as soft as Space Opera); deep levels of characterization; excellent writing; their trademark humor, which has more or less become sort of a brand name in Russian SF circles, and even more. Their early works were a SF version of Socialist Realism, singing praises to the state and the party, but they evolved very quickly and the later books contained massive amounts of criticism of the Soviet system (almost all their latest books were censored, some could not be published), and generally went into Darker and Edgier territory, but from a philosophical/intellectual point of view. In short: "the thinking man's" SF, always interesting, always thought provoking, often dark and sad, yet never devoid of hope and, ultimately, love for humanity, quite often funny and written exceedingly well. However, outside of Russia, the Strugatskys are known mostly only in the other former Soviet republics and some other states of the former Eastern Bloc (Poland, the Czech Republic and those parts of Germany that used to form the GDR stand out here). They are hardly read anywhere else. There are some translations into English, but a) they don't do justice to the original work and b) are often based on the censored versions (in Russia itself, new editions have been released after the fall of the USSR, based on the original author versions). Anyone with a good command of Russian and a certain interest in SF should definitely pick up one or two Strugatsky novels and see if they won't get hooked on them - odds are that they will. Sadly, Boris died in 2012 (and Arkady about 20 years before him), so no more books will be forthcoming.
The Mediochre Q Seth Series. The one book released so far has never gotten a non-flattering review - but, on Amazon at least, it so far only has six reviews at all. It didn't even have a page on This Wiki until the author himself put one there.
Satyrday starts with the moon getting stolen from the sky by the great old owl and his army of ravens. A boy and a satyr set off to her rescue through now dark and cold world. For whatever reason, the book is largely unknown.
The Zaregoto series. Another work of Nisio Isin brimed of his philosophical trickery, passion for deconstruction and witty plots and twists, likely the only reason it doesn't get the popularity it deserves is because it never got adapted into anime like hisotherworks. If you are fond of his other works like Bakemonogatari, then you really should enjoy it.
The Jack Blank trilogy of books by Matt Myklusch. Everything one could love about superhero fantasy wrapped up in one neat package, loaded with eye candy, action, and a great story with plenty of cool characters. Somehow it's not as popular as such a great series deserves.
The Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans. It has an interesting premise, where a group of kids who were born around the same time had an in-utero experiment performed on them, giving them electric-based powers. However, instead of the typical lightning powers you see in shows like One Piece, each kid has their own unique power that involves electricity in some form or another. The protagonists are likable, relatable, useful in their own right, and go through a lot of great Character Development. The Big Bad, Dr. Hatch, is probably one of the cruelest, manipulative in literature history. He might be a bit Obviously Evil, but when he fools the characters into thinking he's good, you can buy why they believe him.
Kage Baker's Company series. In the future, they invent time travel. But, to test it, they invent immortality (by means of transforming people into cyborgs). They travel back, find a kid who's going to die, and turn them, then return to the future to see whether they're still there. History, Sci Fi, Romance, and Intrigue/Spy novels all rolled into one. How does everybody not know about these?