Best SFF Books of 2022 So Far: Picked by the GDM Team

Last Updated on September 17, 2022

The Grimdark Magazine review team are pretty widely read, and every six months or so we ask each of them what book they’ve loved the most recently. So far in 2022 there have been some absolutely cracking books released across fantasy and sci-fi. With a focus on grimdark and dark SFF, we know you’ll find plenty of books below to add to your TBR in this list.

THE MALEFICENT SEVEN BY CAMERON JOHNSTON

PICKED BY ELIZABETH TABLER

Cover for The Maleficent Seven by Cameron JohnstonThe Maleficent Seven is a fun, thrilling, and bloody novel filled with interesting characters and a unique world. If you are after the fantasy version of The Magnificent Seven with a bunch of bitter villains then this is the book for you.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees… Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory.

40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke – the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before.

Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope. 

REAd THE MALEFICENT SEVEN BY CAMERON JOHNSTON

A RIVER ENCHANTED BY REBECCA ROSS

PICKED BY BRIGID FLANAGAN

Cover for A River Enchanted by Rebecca RossAbout the book: Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

Read A RIVER ENCHANTED BY REBECCA ROSS

THE HAND THAT CASTS THE BONE BY H.L. TINSLEY

PICKED BY CHRIS HAUGHT

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About the book: Alone in a city on the cusp of revolution, separated from his allies and with nothing to his name, former mercenary John Vanguard finds vigilante life can be a poorly paid gig. When an influential aristocrat’s death causes a sudden shift in the balance of power, Vanguard finds himself once more caught in the crossfire between dangerous men with murderous ambitions.

From his tower far above the city, Captain Sanquain seeks to tighten his iron grip on the capital and its citizens. Amidst the chaos of the Black Zone, a deadly turf war is brewing between the crime lords. Outside the city, libertarian Argent Cooke struggles to gather support for the uprising. And from the smog-stained rooftops, Vanguard’s former protégé Tarryn Leersac is watching all.

With any hopes of redemption fading, Vanguard finds one last shred of hope in the form of an old friend, risen from the dead and promising the chance for atonement.

REad THE HAND THAT CASTS THE BONE BY H.L. TINSLEY

THE MARTYR BY ANTHONY RYAN

PICKED BY AARON JONES

Cover for The Martyr by Anthony Ryan

The Martyr continues the brilliance of The Pariah with more grit and adventure that Anthony Ryan fans and newcomers will devour. An intriguing tale with commentary on the difficulties that face the common man when those in power think only of themselves. With a charismatic lead and a grim world full of interesting characters, this book is destined to be on many readers’ top ten lists by the end of the year!”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: Times have changed for Alwyn Scribe. Once an outlaw, he’s now a spymaster and sworn protector of Lady Evadine Courlain, whose visions of a demonic apocalypse have earned her the fanatical devotion of the faithful.

Yet Evadine’s growing fame has put her at odds with both Crown and Covenant. As trouble brews in the kingdom, both seek to exploit her position for their own ends.

Sent to the Duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellion, Alwyn must rely on old instincts to fight for his new cause. Deadly feuds and ancient secrets are laid bare as war erupts, a war that will decide the fate of the Kingdom of Albermaine and, perhaps, prevent the coming of the prophesied Second Scourge.

Read THE MARTYR BY ANTHONY RYAN

DRAGONS OF DECEIT BY MARGARET WEIS AND TRACY HICKMAN

PICKED BY JODIE CRUMP

Cover for Dragons of Deceit by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

“The story was fast-paced and exciting, the sort of adventure I love reading about. It ended with a bang and left me wishing I had a Device of Time Journeying of my own, so that I could travel forward and read book two. Unsurprisingly, Dragons of Deceit was incredible.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: Destina Rosethorn–as her name implies–believes herself to be very much a favored child of destiny. But when her father dis in the War of the Lance, her carefully-constructed world comes crashing down. Not only does she lost her beloved father, but the legacy he has left her: a wealthy fiance, and rule over the family lands and castle. With nothing left in the world to support her but wits and determination, she hatches a bold plan: to secure the Device of Time Journeying she read about in one of her father’s books and prevent her father’s death.

The last known holder of the Device was one of the Heroes of the Lance: the free-spirited kender, Tasselhoff Burrfoot. BUt when Destina arrives in Solace–home not only to Tas, but to fellow heroes Caramon and Tika Majere–she sets into motion a chain of events more deadly than she had ever anticipated: one that could change not only her personal history, but the fate of the entire world, allowing a previously-defeated evil to once again gain ascendancy.

Read DRAGONS OF DECEIT BY MARGARET WEIS AND TRACY HICKMAN

A TOUCH OF LIGHT BY THIAGO ABDALLA

PICKED BY RAI FURNISS-GREASLEY

Cover for A Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla

A Touch of Light is highly recommended for fans of nuanced character-driven fantasy who wish to get lost in a richly detailed new world full of intrigue and action.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: The world of Avarin is tearing itself apart. The Domain worships life, its leaders lead eternal lives and death is a shame that must not be mourned. But, for the clans to the south, death is all that keeps the Earth alive.

Adrian is a prince of one of the Domain nations. Church teaching says his grief is forbidden, but he will stop at nothing to return his loved ones to worthiness. Even if it means sacrificing his own.

Lynn is a rogue elite warrior hiding from her past. But now, an old enemy is rising, and running is no longer an option.

Nasha is a gifted hunter hiding a terrible secret. A lifelong outcast, she desperately fights for belonging in the Ronar, a proud southern clan. Yet a changing world threatens more than just her status in the community.

But now a terrifying foe creeps nearer, and the people of Avarin must fight to save it.

Before death comes for them all.

Read A TOUCH OF LIGHT BY THIAGO ABDALLA

AN END TO SORROW BY MICHAEL R. FLETCHER

PICKED BY TOM SMITH

Cover for An End to Sorrow by Michael R. Fletcher

About the book: THE OBSIDIAN PATH IS IN RUINS

Abandoned by his god and chained in the bilge of Iremaire’s war galley, Khraen has lost everything.

His only friend is dead, his wife beheaded and thrown into the ocean.

In an act of true self-destruction, a shard of Khraen’s heart stalks the islands destroying the others.

His sword calls him home to PalTaq, where it all began.

Only there can Khraen find an end to sorrow.

 

 

REad AN END TO SORROW BY MICHAEL R. FLETCHER

BOOK OF NIGHT BY HOLLY BLACK

PICKED BY HANNAH HOLMES

Book of Night by Holly Black

“The twists seemed to come out of nowhere, yet when I traced back the scenes in the book, the clues were right in front of me… Book of Night is an exciting urban fantasy from an author who can easily conquer any genre she chooses to write in.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

Read BOOK OF NIGHT BY HOLLY BLACK

THE JUSTICE OF KINGS BY RICHARD SWAN

PICKED BY ADRIAN COLLINS

Cover for The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

The Justice of Kings is a brilliant book 1, with intrigue, excellent character arcs, a brutal magic system, and a story I just could not put down. There’s plenty in there for grimdark fans to enjoy, and I feel confident in telling you that The Justice of Kings needs to be in every dark fantasy fan’s TBR pile for 2022.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get most any job done.

When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire.

Read THE JUSTICE OF KINGS BY RICHARD SWAN

THE GIRL AND THE MOON BY MARK LAWRENCE

PICKED BY JOHN MAURO

Cover for The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

“There are so many good things about The Girl and the Moon that is impossible to detail them without risking spoiling parts of the novel. It is a spectacular piece of writing and demonstrative of the consistently high standard readers have come to expect from Mark Lawrence.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: On the planet Abeth, a narrow Corridor of green land is surrounded on all sides by ice plains where only the strong survive. Ice triber Yaz has completed a perilous journey and arrived at the Corridor, and it exceeds and overwhelms all of her expectations. Everything seems different but some constants remain: her old enemies are still two steps ahead, bent on her destruction. She makes her way to the Convent of Sweet Mercy, where nuns train young girls who show the old gifts, but like the Corridor itself the convent is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz has much to learn from the nuns—if they don’t decide to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those laboring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centers on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.

Read THE GIRL AND THE MOON BY MARK LAWRENCE

THE RUSH BY SIMON SPURRIER

PICKED BY MATT DAVIS

Cover for The Rush by Simon Spurrier

“It establishes the tone, stakes, and premise while setting the hook and drawing the reader in. It gives you enough to chew on so that when the close of the issue does come, you’re chomping at the bit for more. More blood in the snow, more horror in the freezing cold, more of humanity on the brink of madness.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills.

1899, Yukon Territory. A frozen frontier, bloodied and bruised by the last great Gold Rush. But in the lawless wastes to the North, something whispers in the hindbrains of men, drawing them to a blighted valley, where giant spidertracks mark the snow and impossible guns roar in the night.

To Brokehoof, where gold and blood are mined alike. Now, stumbling towards its haunted forests comes a woman gripped not by greed — but the snarling rage of a mother in search of her child…

From Si Spurrier (Way of X, Hellblazer) and Nathan Gooden (Barbaric, Dark One) comes THE RUSH, a dark, lyrical delve into the horror and madness of the wild Yukon.

Read THE RUSH BY SIMON SPURRIER

THE GARDEN OF EMPIRE BY J.T. GREATHOUSE

PICKED BY JAMES TIVENDALE

Cover for The Garden of Empire by J.T. Greathouse

“The last 20% (…) is superb and on par with the finest moments I’ve read in SFF so far this year. The characters and the world at the end of The Garden of Empire are almost unrecognisable from what we’re welcomed to at the start and I’m all-in for the final novel in this series,”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: WAR MAKES MONSTERS OF EVERYONE.

Foolish Cur, once named Wen Alder, finds that his allies in the rebellion might cross any line if it means freedom from the Empire. But he can’t overcome a foe as strong as Emperor Tenet alone.

REBELLION HAS UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

Koro Ha, Foolish Cur’s former tutor, discovers the Empire is not so forgiving of those who raise a traitor. And their suspicion may cost him and his people more than he can imagine.

THE GODS ARE LURKING IN THE SHADOWS.

As war against the Empire rages, Foolish Cur knows there is a greater threat. The emperor plans his own coup against the gods, and they will wreak destruction if he tries. To stop him, Foolish Cur might have to risk everything – and resort to ancient magics that could tear the world apart.

Read THE GARDEN OF EMPIRE BY J.T. GREATHOUSE

AGE OF ASH BY DANIEL ABRAHAM

PICKED BY ANGELA GUALTIERI

Cover for Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham“This is my first experience of reading Abraham’s work but I have been told that this methodical and steady style is typical. So if you are approaching Age of Ash armed with this knowledge and do not need a large cast of characters or numerous stand out moments of action in your fantasy fiction, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this first foray in to Kithamar.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.

This is Alys’s.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why.  But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

Read AGE OF ASH BY DANIEL ABRAHAM

SPEAR BY NICOLA GRIFFITH

PICKED BY FABIENNE SCHWIZER

Spear by Nicola GriffithSpear by Nicola Griffith is a gorgeous queer Arthurian novella out from Tor.com in April 2022. And if it sounds even the slightest bit like something you’d enjoy, this is a book to preorder now. It blew my mind as I read it on the day I received it. This slim volume manages to capture its reader and tell a complete story in just under two hundred pages, something which many longer books don’t achieve.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.

And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.

Read SPEAR BY NICOLA GRIFFITH

STARS AND BONES BY GARETH L. POWELL

PICKED BY CHRISTOPHER NAPIER

Cover for Stars and Bones by Gareth Powell “Powell is an eloquent and engaging writer who manages to balance epic exposition, jaw dropping action (or horror) and introspective personal moments without ever losing control of the pace. Stars and Bones never drags, I found myself always caring about the outcome – even more for Eryn and company than the notional destruction of the human race.

All in all, Stars and Bones is a grand read, full of action and emotion.”

Read the rest of our review.

About the book: Seventy-five years from today, the human race has been cast from a dying Earth to wander the stars in a vast fleet of arks—each shaped by its inhabitants into a diverse and fascinating new environment, with its own rules and eccentricities.

When her sister disappears while responding to a mysterious alien distress call, Eryn insists on being part of the crew sent to look for her. What she discovers on Candidate-623 is both terrifying and deadly. When the threat follows her back to the fleet and people start dying, she is tasked with seeking out a legendary recluse who may just hold the key to humanity’s survival.

Read STARS AND BONES BY GARETH L. POWELL

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
The Warrior by Stephen Aryan
House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Mass
The Shadow of Glass by Josh Winning
Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons by Ben Riggs
The First Binding by R.R. Virdi

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James Tivendale

James Tivendale

Reviewer. Sober. Charity Worker. Pool Player. Poker Player. Fitness. Runner. Metal. Rap. Mario Kart. Zelda.