With the new year, I’ve seen so many people talking about their favorite underrated books of 2018! I didn’t want to limit myself to just books I read in 2018, so this list will include books I’ve read a long time ago. One thing I want to note before getting to the books is that these are books I think are underrated, meaning I don’t often hear people talking about these books. For some of them, it could be because they are older books, but generally I don’t see anyone talking about them!
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
At this point, this book made my top 10 of 2018 and was such an enjoyable fantasy! I do have a full review of this one if you want more in depth thoughts, but it follows a noble named Everleigh (Evie for short) who is 17th in line for the throne of her kingdom, when her cousin the crown princess murders basically the entire royal family. Evie then goes on the run and joins a gladiator troupe, and becomes determined to get revenge for her family. Evie is such a sarcastic, speak her mind kind of character and anything with murder, elemental magic, and gruesome fight scenes is right up my alley! I think that if your taste in books is pretty in line with mine, you will really enjoy this book.
The Wolf of the North by Duncan Hamilton
Another book I have a full review for, this one follows a boy who, in his society, is looked down on because it is very clear that he will never become a warrior like his father was. He is constantly bullied by the other boys in his village, but when his bullies make fun of the girl he loves, he decides that he doesn’t want to be pushed around anymore. What follows is the fantastic character development of the main character from pushover to famous warrior. It feels like this was inspired by the Vikings which was something that saw a lot of popularity recently. It’s a shorter fantasy story at just over 300 pages, so it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t want to commit to the 500+ fantasy books that are dominating the genre.
Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan
If you like fantasy that has sarcastic humor to it, this is the book for you! This particular series is six books long, but they are published in bindups of two books each, and in this case, this book is just over 600 pages meaning each book is roughly 300 pages, so this is another shorter fantasy. Royce and Hadrian are two mercenaries who were framed for the murder of their king, and their adventures to escape their fate are so fun and there are so many interesting characters along the way! Another bonus point for this series is each book is episodical, meaning each book has it’s own internal plot while the series as a whole has an overarching plot. Again: funny. Mercenaries. Epic Quests. Cool fight scenes. What more could you want?
Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but if you don’t know how amazing these two books are I don’t know what you’re doing. These are combined because I think I’ve talked about them enough by now that you should be familiar with them, but in case you aren’t I have reviews of both KotW and Bloody Rose on my blog. Think funny fantasy, mercenaries inspired by classic rock bands, past their prime mercs just out for one more tour (get it?!?!?) and a lot of depth and commentary and you have this series. Plus, it wouldn’t be a bookish list on my blog if I didn’t mention these two books.
King of Ashes by Raymond E Feist
I know that Feist is a well known author with many many books under his belt, but I’ve only heard of ONE other person talk about this book. While it definitely had its flaws (being just a little too long), it was still really enjoyable and is filled with political intrigue and hidden magic! Also, the main character starts off at a school for assassins. I again have a full review of this one up on my blog as well!
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
“But Katie, everyone knows about Sanderson’s books!” Well, yes, they do. But a lot of people go with his Mistborn series or The Way of Kings, but this is what I consider the hidden gem of his fantasy works! It has the characteristic Sanderson unique magic system (this one is based on breaths and color), funny characters (Lightsong, anyone?) and fantastic character development for each and every single one of the characters, main character or not. Oh yeah, and there is a talking sword. I also highly recommend listening to the audiobook of this, as the hilarity comes across a lot more that way!
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
This is one of the books on this list that I feel like I’ve seen more and more of recently, but nowhere near as much as it deserves. It follows a magic student and a banished warrior who band together to save their kingdom from the malevolent spirits that are found in every aspect of the world, from the water to the ground to the very air they breathe. It’s full of political intrigue, violent magic, powerful queens, and a highly likeable main character! I also have a review up of this book as well if you want to know more!
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Alright, so this is one of the older books on this list that may have been popular when it came out, but I don’t ever hear anything about it currently. This world is split into two parts: the Old Kingdom where magic is everywhere, and Ancelstierre where there is no magic. Sabriel is sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre, but when the dead refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom, she finds out that her father went missing and the only way to put the dead to rest is finding her father. This was such an interesting take on necromancy, where the goal is to put the dead to rest instead of raising them. It’s an older YA fantasy, but still holds up and oh yeah, there is a talking cat named Mogget.
Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies
This was one of my FAVORITE books growing up, mainly because it is told from the perspective of a deer. I feel like most people have either read or at least know of Watership Down, and this book is a retelling of that story but with deer, and instead of human development, they are running because of a prophecy that says the main character will one day rise to destroy the oppressive leaders that have taken over their herd. So basically, if you like Watership Down, give this book a chance!
Wild Magic (The Immortals) by Tamora Pierce
I feel like this series has been seeing a resurgence in its popularity with the release of Tempests and Slaughter, which is sort of a prequel/origin story for one of the characters in this series. This is another older series that I loved growing up and I think that we still need to talk about this series and mention it! We follow Daine, who can speak to animals (come on, who hasn’t wanted to do that?) Without giving too much away, she forges friendships with some very influential and powerful people and becomes the one person who can turn the tides of the war engulfing their world.
Tiger’s Curse (The Tiger Saga) by Colleen Houck
I had a very good friend of mine introduce me to this series not long before I started blogging (thank you Jax!) and I quickly saw why it was one of her favorite series. Kelsey never thought that her summer would be spent breaking a 300 year old Indian curse with a white tiger named Ren at her side, but that’s exactly what happens when she gets a part time job at the circus. Magic, curses, and Indian mythology are all combined in this series, plus Ren and Kishan are totally Rhysand/Rowan material! If you like Sarah J Maas but wish it was more diverse and had less cringy sex scenes, try this series out.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
This is the only book on this list that ISN”T fiction, but it’s underrated nonetheless. Some of you may know Caitlin for her Youtube channel Ask a Mortician. This is a memoir of her life learning all about death. I know, that sounds super morbid, but she discusses how American culture has this stigma surrounding death and dying. She has so many things to say about how we treat death, answers questions you never knew you had, and talks about the “Good Death”. It is such an eye opening read and will introduce you to the burial practices of other cultures. Don’t lie, you are secretly interested in death and want to know what this book contains. Everyone I’ve given it to loves it so much, it still hasn’t made it’s way back to me almost a year after I loaned it out. It’s out there in the world, educating people.
And there are all my underrated reads! Do you agree? Disagree? What would you add or remove? I’d love to chat!