Favourite Reads of 2022

Title in white on pale starry skies

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

This week’s theme handily fits in with what I always try to do around New Year – my favourite books of the year! As I’m pretty sure the year round up will show (I am writing this before that, helpfully!) my reading habits continued on a slow, long term shift, and I think the books on here show that shift well.

The rules for inclusion are:

  • An author can only be listed once, even if they published/I read several books by them this year
  • The book must be new to me, not a re-read

These rules are just to help make the task of putting this list together that bit easier (though not by much!) So without further ado, here are my top ten favourite reads of 2022.

10. THE LUMINARIES, by Susan Dennard

Genre: Paranormal/Contemporary Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Book cover for THE LUMINARIES: title in gold on graphic of a skull with

Though the general UK release date of THE LUMINARIES isn’t until later on in January, I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this, and absolutely loved it (no surprise, it’s a Susan Dennard book!)

This creepy, autumnal book about a forest full of monsters, and then secret society that protects the rest of the world from them, gain popularity as a “choose your own adventure” by the author on twitter during lockdown (based on a previously unsold book.) It then proved so popular that it was picked up as a trilogy, though the final book form holds little plot resemblance to that twitter fest.

9. THE EMBROIDERED BOOK, by Kate Heartfield

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for THE EMBROIDERED BOOK: title in white on blue that looks like a leather cover with embroidery

Sometimes you come across books that feel like they’re been written specifically to hit the intersection of your interests, and THE EMBROIDERED BOOK is one such book. It’s a chonker of a read, but that was great – more time to spend in this is story that takes real history and adds magic to it.

This is a historical fantasy that follows the lives of Marie Antoinette and her older sister Charlotte as they make political marriages. But they have a secret – they have a book of magic (the book of the title) and use that magic to further their own ends and engage with the shadowy societies of magicians operating in Europe.

8. KAIKEYI, by Vaishnavi Patel

Genre: (Historical) Fantasy retelling
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for KAIKEYI: title in white on gold-jewellery laden silhouette of a woman on orange

KAIKEYI is a brilliant reimagining of the Ramayana stories, placing the eponymous character Kaikeyi at the centre. She’s usually portrayed as a vicious, conniving step-mother to the hero Rama, scheming to bring him low and usurp his power in favour of her son.

This story adds so much more nuance to her character, portraying her attempts to protect the country from Rama’s ideals, spurred on by a religious bigot, and particularly her attempts to protect women. I also really loved how it had an ace woman as the protagonist.

7. THE KING IS DEAD, by Benjamin Dean

Genre: Contemporary/Thriller
Age Range: YA
Book cover for THE KING IS DEAD: title in white below yellow tape wrapped throne

THE KING IS DEAD came out at the perfect time. I was in the middle of edits on a book about constitutional monarchy, so a story about the a young Black, gay man coming to the British throne, and the disasters that follow thanks to the press taking a cruel interest in him and his “suitability” was so much fun (similar themes but totally different genre and age category.)

This book picks apart the institutional problems within the press around reporting on the monarchy and in the constitutional monarchy itself. It’s also a fun ride of a thriller as you follow James’ attempts to discover who in his inner circle has been passing information to the press.

6. ITHACA, by Claire North

Genre: Historical (Fantasy) Retelling
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for ITHACA: title in black on gold sun behind a white silhouette of a woman on orange

ITHACA is absolutely the book that surprised me the most this year. There’s a number of reasons why I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this one, but then I flew through it, unable to put it down – and immediately wanted the second book in this trilogy (out in August).

This is a retelling of Odysseus, focused not on him, but on his wife Penelope. Her husband has been gone for years, leaving her to hold the kingdom of Ithaca together in the face of raids and pushy suitors, all while not being able to appear like the person ruling (because she’s a woman.) This is a gorgeously written retelling with women at its heart, full of soft power and intrigue.

5. THE JUSTICE OF KINGS, by Richard Swan

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for THE JUSTICE OF KINGS: title in white on man sitting on white carved stone on black

The best way I can think of describing THE JUSTICE OF KINGS is a fantasy murder mystery that starts a noble, moralistic hero down the path to ruination. Except that the book it’s told from his perspective, but his clerk’s, meaning we can only see him through other’s eyes, coloured by their expectations and biases.

This book was just incredible – I love “fall arcs”, but often find myself disappointed, but this one sets it up so well. I cannot wait to see how it continues across the series (and also to find out what exactly it’s all going to lead to, as it’s clearly going to end with some terrible action taken by the hero. I just can’t work out what yet and I need answers!)

4. TWIN CROWNS, by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Book cover for TWIN CROWNS: title in gold on two girls back to back with crown held between them

At least from my perspective on social media and marketing campaigns in stores, TWIN CROWNS was the biggest YA fantasy release this year. There was a staggering amount of hype around this book, and it absolutely lived up to it. It is funny and swoony and epic.

As the title and cover suggests, this is about identical twin sisters. They’ve been separated at birth – one, Rose, raised as the heir to the kingdom, the other, Wren, taken by the persecuted witches. Now Wren is back and has kidnapped her sister to take her place and bring down the regime that persecutes witches. Except Rose is not taking this lying down.


Genre: Historical Romance
Age Range: YA
Book cover for THE AGENCY FOR SCANDAL: graphic of a girl in a big hat holding a finger to her lips

THE AGENCY FOR SCANDAL is Laura Wood’s latest YA historical romance novel (out this week, I got to read it early!) It is about Isobel, a member of an all-women agency fighting to help women in Victorian England when the law favours the men who abuse them. It is a standalone, but has cameos and references to A SINGLE THREAD OF MOONLIGHT, her other Victorian YA novel.

Isobel is on the track on a powerful politician who’s harming his wife, and seems to be implicated in a scheme to hurt the country. Unfortunately for Isobel, her secret crush works for said politician, and his path keeps crossing with hers.


Genre: Historical Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for THE CHILDREN OF GODS AND FIGHTING MEN: title in white on black with line drawing axe, sword, bird and flames in gold and blue leaves

THE CHILDREN OF GODS AND FIGHTING MEN is a stunning debut, a historical fantasy and start of a trilogy about tenth century Ireland. It is mostly a historical novel, with some magic woven into it, and I cannot wait for the follow up book! It is a female-focused reimagining of historical events and hooked me from the start.

Ireland is ruled by a shifting patchwork of Vikings, intermarried with locals, all vying for power. Underneath this mortal contest for power, a secret society of magicians are hunting down the last remnants of a long-lived people, and will stop at nothing to destroy them.

1. A RIVER ENCHANTED, by Rebecca Ross

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for A RIVER ENCHANTED: title in white in a blue paper-cut esque river with purple flowers around it

It took me a while to decide which book in this duology to include on this list, as both instalments (A RIVER ENCHANTED and A FIRE ENDLESS) were published this year (and I devoured both as soon as I got my grubby hands on copies!) However, the first book gets included in the end because it’s the first!

This is a Scottish inspired duology, the author’s first adult books, about a divided isle and the magic therein. It has four POVs, and they try to discover why children on the isle are going missing – and how to get them back. It’s a slow, lyrical book, and I absolutely adored it. I need more!

What were your favourite books this year?


3 thoughts on “Favourite Reads of 2022

  1. Wow, I need to read all these books 😍 thank you for the fantasy recommendations! I’m very curious about The Children of Gods and Fighting Men now!

    I’m glad you discovered many new favourites this year! Hope 2023 is a good reading year for you! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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