Every year, there are books that catch me be surprise, and today’s the perfect day to talk about them, since Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm Blog chose surprising reads as this week’s T5T prompt!
But the question is, do these surprises surprise you too? 🤔
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Normally, Alice in Wonderland is one of my least favorite things to read or watch retellings of. I’ve yet to put my finger on it, but there’s something about both the original story and most of the adaptations that just doesn’t click with me.
This time, though, I was completely invested. You won’t see my review until later this month, but A Blade So Black was PHENOMENAL, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find an Alice retelling that I actually enjoy! I’ve also got the sequel sitting on my shelf right now, thanks to my library, and you bet I’m going to read it as soon as I can!
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
Since The Luminous Dead was picked up for publication, I feel like I’ve seen a thousand posts about how scary it is, how incredible. And while I can’t deny that Caitlin Starling has an excellent grasp on her writer’s mechanics and techniques, I was really surprised to find that this was not a book for me. Turns out it’s more psych horror than anything, and I found myself pretty bummed out and not especially scared.
Maybe I should have read it after dark to invite more of the scare factor, but I didn’t, and now I have to live with the surprise (and disappointment) that this didn’t do it for me.
Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland
I knew going into Beyond the Black Door that it had OwnVoices asexual rep, but I had no way of preparing myself for just how close to home it would come. You can read my review of it here, but if you want the short version, just know this: Beyond the Black Door is the very best ace rep I have read in my life, and it brought me to tears more than once with how sincere it felt, how true to my own experience it rang. Easily one of the best surprises of 2019!
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
I was gifted Wicked Saints by a friend who was really excited to hear what I thought of the religious aspects of the book and the moral and philosophical implications, which meant I was expecting, at the very least, worldbuilding I could sink my teeth into.
Instead, I got the first one star review I’ve ever shared on the blog because I was so APPALLED by this book on every level, and I’m still sad I didn’t get to have a more cheery conversation with my friend about it. Wicked Saints was a disappointment on all levels, and that’s never a fun feeling when it’s a book received as a gift.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
When a book is an 800 page brick and you’ve seen some mixed reviews about it, diving in can be a little scary. But The Priory of the Orange Tree blew me out of the water with an f/f romance, dragons, a friendship that had me in tears, the most aro character I’ve ever seen in my life, and hope in the face of the end of the world. It was so much more than I could have anticipated, and the only thing stopping me from rereading it right now is my own lack of time and weighty to-do list.
So, there you have it! A few of my most surprising reads this year, from the good to the bad (and a little bit of the ugly). What reads caught you by surprise in 2019, though?