Best SFF books of 2020 so far: picked by the GdM team

There have been some magnificent books released this year. We asked the GdM team what they thought the best SFF books of 2020 so far were, with each member of our reviewer team putting forward their favourite. As with each of these lists we publish, they generally span the gamut of dark fiction to full blown grimdark, but I’m sure readers will be happy to see some laughs in this list as well–because bugger me we could all use some!

We’ve got plenty to look forward to in fiction over the second half of 2020, but if you’re itching for something new to read right now, you could do a lot worse than the below books! We have plenty of action, intrigue, stories close and personal alongside the epic and grandiose, and all well worth looking in to.

Happy browsing!

Along The Razor’s Edge by Rob J. Hayes

(Picked by Chris Haught)

At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.

Our review: Click here

Interview with Rob J. Hayes: Click here

Sample chapter: Click here

Read in the US: Along the Razor’s Edge (The War Eternal Book 1)
Read in the UK: Along the Razor’s Edge (The War Eternal Book 1)

Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings

(Picked by Michael Dodd)

In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers—a note that makes question her memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure.

A beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun, Flyaway introduces readers to Bettina Scott, whose search for the truth throws her into tales of eerie dogs, vanished schools, cursed monsters, and enchanted bottles.

In these pages Jennings assures you that gothic delights, uncanny family horror, and strange, unsettling prose can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun.

Our review: Click here

Read in the US: Flyaway
Read in the UK: Flyaway

Stormblood by Jeremy Szal

(Picked by Adrian Collins)

Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper, a biosoldier fighting for the intergalactic governing body of Harmony against a brutal invading empire. Now, he fights against the stormtech: the DNA of an extinct alien race Harmony injected into him, altering his body chemistry and making him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. It made him the perfect soldier, but it also opened a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.

But when Harmony tells him that his former ally Reapers are being murdered, Vakov is appalled to discover his estranged brother is likely involved in the killings. They haven’t spoken in years, but Vakov can’t let his brother down, and investigates. But the deeper he goes, the more addicted to stormtech he becomes, and Vakov discovers that the war might not be over after all. It’ll take everything he has to unearth this terrible secret, although doing so might mean betraying his brother. If his own body doesn’t betray him first.

A vibrant and talented new voice in SFF: alien technology, addictive upgrades, a soldier determined to protect his family, and a thief who is prepared to burn the world down . . .

Our review: Click here

Read in the US: Stormblood
Read in the UK: Stormblood

Camelot by Giles Kristian

(Picked by Edward Gwynne)

Britain is a land riven by anarchy, slaughter, famine, filth and darkness. Its armies are destroyed, its heroes dead, or missing. Arthur and Lancelot fell in the last great battle and Merlin has not been these past ten years. But in a small, isolated monastery in the west of England, a young boy is suddenly plucked from his simple existence by the ageing warrior, Gawain. It seems he must come to terms with his legacy and fate as the son of the most celebrated yet most infamous of Arthur’s warriors: Lancelot. For this is the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son – the reluctant warrior who dared to keep the dream of Camelot alive . . .

Our review: Click here

Read in the US: CAMELOT (working title): the epic new novel from the author of Lancelot
Read int he UK: Camelot: The epic new novel from the author of Lancelot

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

(Picked by Fabienne Schwizer)

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Fabienne’s review at libridraconis.com: Click here

Read in the US: The Once and Future Witches
Read in the UK:The Once and Future Witches

A Time of Courage by John Gwynne

(Picked by James Tivendale)

Battle the dark
Reclaim the world

The Demon-King of the Otherworld is finally free. And armed with mighty new starstone weapons, Asroth prepares to lead his demonic war-host south. With the help of his dark bride Fritha, he plans to crush the warrior-angels and their allies.

In the shadows of Forn Forest, Riv and the surviving Ben-Elim hold a war council. After the catastrophic events at Drassil, they are desperate to unite those who would stand against Asroth and his army. So they fly west, to join the Order of the Bright Star. But Drem and the Order are besieged by a demon horde – and their fragile defence may soon shatter.

Across the Banished Lands armies are heading south, to settle ancient grudges and decide the fate of humanity. Drem, Riv and the Bright Star’s warriors will need every ounce of their courage if they are to join the final battle. But will their combined forces be enough to face down their greatest foe?

In A Time of Courage, angels, demons and heroes face the ultimate fight for the Banished Lands. Thousands of years of enmity will be put to the test, in the epic conclusion to John Gwynne’s mighty trilogy.

Our review: Click here

Read int he US: A Time of Courage (Of Blood & Bone Book 3)
Read in the UK: A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone)

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

(Picked by Mike Myers)

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Our review: Click here 

Read in the US: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
Read in the UK: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

(Picked by Elizabeth Tabler)

A former soldier turned PI tries to help the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in a world that’s lost its magic in a compelling debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold.

Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:
1. Sobriety costs extra.
2. My services are confidential.
3. I don’t work for humans.

It’s nothing personal—I’m human myself. But after what happened, to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help.

Walk the streets of Sunder City and meet Fetch, his magical clients, and a darkly imagined world perfect for readers of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.

Our review: Click here
Interview with Luke Arnold: Click here

Read in the US: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives (1))
Read in the UK: The Last Smile in Sunder City (Fetch Phillips Book 1)

Assassination Protocol by Andy Peloquin

(Picked by CT Phipps)

Nolan Garrett is Cerberus. A government assassin, tasked with fixing the galaxy’s darkest, ugliest problems with a bullet to the brain.

Armed with cutting-edge weapons and an AI-run cybernetic suit that controls his paralyzed legs, he is the fist in the shadows, the dagger to the heart of the Nyzarian Empire’s enemies.

Then he found Bex on his doorstep…

A junkie, high on the drug he’d fought for years to avoid, and a former elite soldier like him. So he takes her in to help her get clean—Silverguards never leave their own behind.

If only he’d known his actions would put him in the crosshairs of the most powerful cartel in New Avalon.

Facing an army of gangbangers, drug pushers, and thugs, Nolan must fight to not only carry out his mission, but to prevent the escalating violence from destroying everything he loves.

Cerberus: Assassination Protocol is the riveting, heart-pounding first book in the epic military sci-fi Cerberus series. If you like fearless heroes, non-stop futuristic action, and neck-breaking plot twists, you’ll love Andy Peloquin’s thrilling space opera series.

Buy Cerberus: Assassination Protocol now to watch an assassin fight to protect the innocent!

Charles’ review at Booknest.eu: Click here

Read in the US: Assassination Protocol: A Military Space Opera Thriller (Cerberus Book 1)
Read int he UK: Assassination Protocol: A Military Space Opera Thriller (Cerberus Book 1)

The Headlock of Destiny by Samuel Gately

(Picked by Nate Aubin)

Some say titans are descended from giants. Others say they are risen from men. But there’s never any debate about where to find them. They will be in the center of a roaring crowd, beating the hell out of each other. From contenders like the Savage and Scott Flawless to pretenders like Richard the Living Portrait and Troll-Blooded Thom, a titan’s lot in life is the same: To wrestle for dominion and glory in the squared circle.

Van, a quiet titan from the brewery town of Headwaters, wants no part in this. He’d prefer to be left alone with a beer. But destiny has him in a headlock, and it is prepared to drag him into battles that will shake the land and change his world forever.

Step into the ring with this one-of-a-kind novel, brewed special for fans of epic fantasy, fans of professional wrestling from the Golden Era and beyond, or simply fans of a good tale.

Our review: Click here

Read in the US: The Headlock of Destiny: An Epic Fantasy / Pro Wrestling Mash-up (Titan Wars Book 1)
Read in the UK: The Headlock of Destiny: An Epic Fantasy / Pro Wrestling Mash-up (Titan Wars Book 1)

Share this

James Tivendale

James reviews fantasy books, is a pretty good pool player and likes the musical Hamilton.

Blog Comments

[…] BEST OF THE FIRST HALF. Grimdark Magazine presents its list of “Best Sff Books Of 2020 So Far: Picked By The GDM Team”. Includes […]