2023 wasn’t a great reading year for me. Wow, what a jolly way to start a top 10 list huh? Simply put, I had a busy year, and unfortunately that ate into my free time. Sometimes life is like that. I read a total of 34 books, compared to 40 in 2022, with 12,935 pages read throughout last year. Out of those 34 books read, 1 was a short story, 1 was a novella, and 2 were manga volumes, meaning I read 30 novel length books.
However, what I did read I generally thoroughly enjoyed! With 23 five-star reads, 7 four-stars, 3 three-stars and 1 two-stars, it was a pretty good year in terms of quality.
But, out of those 23 five star reads, only 10 can be in my top reads of the year. Frankly, however, I’ve cheated a bit. Because there’s 16 books on this top 10 list (bear with me). But you’ll see why shortly…
Without further ado, here are my top “10” reads of 2023 (in order of when I finished them, I haven’t got time to rank them!)
Gothghul Hollow by Anna Stephens
Starting off the year strong, Gothghul Hollow is set in one of many realms within the world of The Mortal Realms, the main setting of tabletop miniature game Warhammer Age of Sigmar. A gothic horror tale with bestial creatures, vicious spirits and death magic, Stephens opens the book at a sprinters pace and never lets up. This is creepy, pulse-pounding and visually exciting.
The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan
Ol’ Swanny boy makes it onto my top 10 list two years running! The Tyranny of Faith is everything that the Justice of Kings is – a smart, character focused mystery with deep lamentations on justice, judgement and the scruples of Imperial rule (or I suppose you could say, The Trials of Empire! Why is no one laughing?) – but just dialled up to eleven. We get more of a look into the supernatural magic that threatens this world, a deep dive into the machinations of the empire, and a broader understanding of our chief characters, namely Helena and Vonvalt. I’m buzzing for book three, which comes out very soon!
Horus Rising by Dan Abnett
“’I was there,’ he would say afterwards, until afterwards became a time quite devoid of laughter. ‘I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor.’” And thus begins this epic, 54-book saga (not including the 10 book sequel series, the Siege of Terra), charting the meteoric rise and devastating downfall of one of the finest Primarchs to ever live, Horus Lupercal. The Horus Heresy is time that’s pivotal to the Warhammer 40k universe, and Dan Abnett kicks this off in an oddly philosophical fashion, but a fashion that’s a welcome surprise.
Suffer The Children by Craig DiLouie
Fuck me this was dark. Imagine if every child on Earth all suddenly, violently, dies at the same time, only to then rise again from their graves seemingly unchanged a number of days later. That’s the premise of Suffer The Children, in which DiLouie uses this to explore the depths of depravity and desperation that fills the lives of a cast of effected parents. It starts dark, gets darker, and ends bleak. And I loved it!
Wax & Wayne/Mistborn Era 2 books 1-3 by Brandon Sanderson
I HAVEN’T READ THE LOST METAL YET AS I NEED TO CATCH UP WITH SOME OTHER COSMERE BOOKS SO PLEASE NO SPOILERS. Anyway, I read The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning one after the other. The events that happen in these books all sort of blur into one for me, but my god were these three exciting! Feeling a lot like the best superhero movies, this was more light hearted, more adventurous than its older sibling (Mistborn Era 1) but the loveable cast, especially Waxillium & Wayne, the titular duo, who are like chalk & cheese, are all so much fun to follow. I don’t understand why some people give this series flak; it’s brilliant!
The Trouble With Peace & The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie
I’ve put off reading these for a couple of years, however I finally did it and have now finished all books in the First Law series. And what a way to end it. Abercrombie’s impeccable character work continues to uplift this series to masterpiece status, but his sarcastic wit, scathing satire and, of course, unseen twists, make The Age of Madness a trilogy that’s tough to beat.
House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klune
Bought this book on a whim despite it not being something I’d normally go for. Started reading it the day it was delivered. Finished it the next day. Cried my body weight in happy and sad tears. I love this book. I love straight laced homebody Linus, I love the eclectic cast of kids on their island orphanage, I love the quirky people that look after these kids. Sublime!
Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft
Bancroft continues to build upon one of the creative and inventive worlds I’ve ever experienced, painting this mystical, steampunk world where whatever you think you might encounter inevitably turns out to be something completely unique and surprising. Senlin and crew are a joy to follow and watch change, and where this entry in the Books of Babel series ends leaves me very excited for what’s to come next!
Of Darkness & Light/The Exile by Ryan Cahill
The biggest, most epic dragon rider fantasy currently going, book two of The Bound & The Broken series is head, shoulders, and most of the torso above book one in terms of quality. You simply cannot be missing out on this series, its scope is epic, characters incredible, action scenes visceral. Honestly I cannot praise OD&L more. The Exile, which is a novella charting key moments in the life of fan favourite Dayne, is devastating and, simply put, perfect in every way. I haven’t started Of War & Ruin simply because it’s FUCKING MASSIVE and my weedy wrists will snap in two if I try to pick up my hardcover copy! But this year I will read it, don’t you worry.
Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch
I listened to all three novels, which I see as basically one volume split into three key stages, in a whirlwind of about 2 weeks. I was excited for each commute to work, as I knew I’d be delving further into this mystery. However, the less you know the better with this one. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke wakes up just outside of the idyllic town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. He is injured, and has no memory of how he got there. You will never see the twists coming.
And that’s everything! What were your favourite reads of 2023? Let me know on Twitter (@chilcott_harry) or drop a comment below. Happy reading for 2024!