2021 Fantasy Reading Challenge

Organized by BooksInWonderland

(The persons(s) involved may have quit hosting this challenge — I noticed the site was down at the end of July but it could have been earlier. Not sure what’s up but I hope they’re okay first of all! Second: I will continue with the reading challenge as is. (I just don’t have anyone to ask if Blue Mars by KSR can count as Fantasy! :P))


Here are the prompts for the 2021 Fantasy Reading Challenge:

  • January: A fantasy book inspired by mythology
  • February: A fantasy book by a black author
  • March: A fantasy romance
  • April: A fantasy book written over 50 years ago
  • May: A fantasy book set at sea
  • June: An urban fantasy
  • July: A fairytale retelling
  • August: An award-winning fantasy book
  • September: A young adult fantasy
  • October: A fantasy book with witches
  • November: A fantasy book by an LGBT author
  • December: A historical fantasy

Titles underlined are those that match with other (monthly) challenges or are titles I am considering reading. Books chosen will be marked in colour and/or include the date of completion.


Prospective books/ideas for each prompt:
  • January:
    • Tiamat #1: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
      • Completed: January 24th
      • Rating: 4 stars.
      • Review: Just slightly below 4, but on GoodReads I left 4 stars. It was quite good, very original and fascinating despite me not reading the original fairytale. Marks down for the ridiculous Sparks Dawntreader and how much I just wanted to punch his face. But high marks for feminist perspectives done in a strong but deft manner. Would recommend!
  • February:
    • Xenogenesis #2: Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler
      • Completed: February 13th
      • Rating: 4 stars
      • Review: This book series is still so far beyond my usual experiences that I often find myself thinking about it, still, over a month later, often at the, just…. oddest times. This is a sequel to the first of the Xenogenesis trilogy, Dawn, and reads much like a fantasy than the first, which is far more sci-fi in its setup. Dawn has a lot of outside pressure on the protagonist, and actually occurs on a space station in Earth’s orbit. There is also the threat of complete genocidal (humanity’s) annihilation hanging over Lilith’s head and demanding her obedience and for her to secure the obedience of the other survivors… to mix their DNA and those of the sort-of…. symbiotic alien race who are offering the ‘survival’ of the human race in the wake of them all but killing themselves with nuclear weapons and the following nuclear winter. The only way humanity can survive is by mixing their DNA with the aliens… but many would rather die than ‘lose what makes them human’ despite the survival and perfect health and the restoration through terraforming (for now) offered by the species called the Oankali.
      • Then there’s this sequel, which has far more inter-human (and human vs. human-Oankali and human vs. Oankali) and human (or near enough, hah) vs. nature conflict, giving it a much more fantasy feel to it than the first of the trilogy. The setting is more primitive and even magical, dealing with Akin, Lilith’s first human-boy/Oankali mix child (the rest being girls, as determined by the Ooloi leaders, blah blah) and how he was kidnapped by full humans who want human-only children — which they can no longer have, having fucked up their genetics with nuclear annihilation, followed by tampering by the Oankali to manipulate them — and to be left the fuck alone by everyone.
      • But it’s too late: the choice is merge their identities with the Oankali (as Lilith has agreed to…. though not without argument that still occurs)… or die out as a race.
      • But Akin has come up with a third option. One that will not be easy in the least, but that will grant humanity further freedoms. He just needs to convince the Oankali and the full humans both to trust each other just long enough to get there.
      • Maybe then they can be free — even if they can never have the ‘old humanity’ back.
      • A strong SFF sequel, even better than the first book, Dawn. I have a feeling Imago, the third instalment, will be far more SF than F, but to have this bit of Fantasy mixed into this series was a wonderful change of pace, and Lilith’s relationship(s) with her family always brings a fresh outlook and answer to the perpetual question: what IS romance; what IS family?
      • I will certainly finish this series sometime this year, though it is a VERY intense series with topics that twist and pull at your conscience and morals and what-the-fuck you’d do in the exact same situation as Lilith finds herself. Would I make the same decisions or, rather, the same lack of ability to make my own true choices for myself, let alone on behalf of humanity itself, that has the remainder of humanity viewing her as a traitor… as the embodiment of the name her true parents gave her: Lilith.
      • But Lilith is torn between what she was, wanting humanity back, wanting her dead husband and son back… and the new love she now has with a full and complex and beautiful family, filled with love and so much more. But not human, even though she will forever be — even if not in the eyes of the other humans.
  • March:
    • His Fair Assassin #1: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
      • Completed: March 28th
      • Rating: 3 stars
      • Review: Honestly? Meh.
  • April:
    • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
      • Completed: April 5th
      • Rating: 4.25
      • Review: Quite enjoyed it (especially as the audiobook reader, Jennifer Juniper on Youtube, did a divine job) because it just… oozed magic and myth and mysticism in a way a lot of books don’t do anymore. Classic fairytale but… not classic fairytale? Hah. Anyway, this was a joy!
  • May:
    • The Rolling Deep #1: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
      • Completed: May 1st
      • Rating: 5 stars heck yeah
      • Review: Truly unique. I am supremely afraid of water and not a great fan of horror, so to say I was surprised and delighted by this monstrous deep water nouveau-horror novel is an understatement!
  • June:
    • Soulwood #1: Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
      • Completed: June 10th
      • Rating: 5 stars
      • Review
  • July:
    • (Portions of the anthology) New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, edited by Nisi Shawl
      • At least four of the short stories/novellas were modern and/or futuristic retellings or remixes of fairytales
      • Completed: July 15th
      • Rating: 4 stars, perhaps closer to 4.5
      • Review
  • August:
    • Jade City by Fonda Lee
      • Completed: August 31st
      • Rating: 2.5 stars
      • Review: Just under the wire for the monthly challenge! The book was good but it just sorta… fell flat. It really does not stand up to what I expect with fantasy novels: world building. They had some, sure. But it didn’t go far enough. Characters were a little shallow and one-note too, and as soon as a young man called a woman a ‘she-male’, (and don’t get me started on the lack of female characters who THOROUGHLY FAIL the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests alike. I’m pretty sure I checked out with all that . The name thing wasn’t the first or last occasion of one-note characters but it’s the most egregious. sigh. Still okay enough but I recognize I’m a snob so this’ll be a 2-2.5 star from me.
  • September:
    • Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley
      • Completed September 1st
      • Rating: 2 stars
      • Review: It was a quick read, sure, but it really just didn’t click with me. At one point I just wanted it to be over and done with so I powered through the rest. Decent enough, but the world building, magic theory, mythology, history, characters, countries and more were just not very well-developed. too bad, because this is the second book in the last week which’ve thoroughly disappointed me in almost all ways but a few (Jade City being the other). I sure liked the female aspect of the book (unlike Jade which had basically zero) but it was…. Lacking emotion for something supposed to be becoming a relationship. Guess I’ll just have to roll up my sleeves and write good wlw!
  • October:
    • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
      • Completed October 3rd
      • Rating: 4.5/5
      • Review:
  • November:
    • The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
    • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
    • The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
    • The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
    • Black Wings Beating by Alex London
    • Dreadnought by April Daniels
    • Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
    • Huntress by Malinda Lo
    • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
    • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
    • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    • Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
    • Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire (try to read the rest of the series!)
    • Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica
    • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
    • When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai
    • The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
    • An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows
    • Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver
    • Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton
    • Sing For the Coming of the Longest Night by Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma
    • Inda by Sherwood Smith
    • The Compass Rose by Gail Dayton
    • The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff
    • The Deep by Rivers Solomon
    • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
    • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  • December:
    • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
    • When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai
    • His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
    • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
    • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
    • Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
    • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
    • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
    • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
    • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    • The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett

Books not read for their chosen month but still good options for another task or month. 🙂

  1. The Deep by River Solomon
  2. The Salt Roads by Nola Hopkinson
  3. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  4. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
  5. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
    • Attempted but set aside for later.
  6. Inked Magic by Jory Strong
  7. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
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