The Cool Kids' Fantasy Club discussion

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General discussion > The best SFF book nobody has heard of....

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message 1: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs (pooks) Let's share undiscovered or little-known SFF books that we feel deserve more readers. [Not a place to rec our own work!]

I'll start off with The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. I read it during a push to read more diverse fiction that resulted in diverse fiction being something I look for all the time. No longer do I need a special push to find it.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

It may be more widely read than I realize as it was nominated for several prestigious awards in 2014, but I never see it mentioned in the circles I observe so I thought it worth a push. It's based on the Chinese superstitions and beliefs that the Chinese diaspora of colonial Malaya still believed, so it is rich in both Chinese and Malayan textures and culture. I found it riveting.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

And thus, our tale through spirit world and the Chinese world in Malaya begins.

I'm thrilled to know that Yangsze's next book was with the editors last I heard, as I really can't wait to see what she writes next. Have you already read it?

More to the point, which book do you recommend that nobody else seems to know of?


Cupcakes & Machetes (hybridcreature) | 35 comments I recently read American Hippo and loved it. It's new so I don't know whether to consider it little known or not but one - hippo mounts. Two - historical fiction at it's finest. Three - LGBTQ characters.

The world building AND characters are wonderful. There is also a non-binary person which is a perspective I don't think I've seen yet in a fantasy book.


message 3: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs (pooks) Hybrid Creature (devours books instead of brains) wrote: "I recently read American Hippo and loved it. It's new so I don't know whether to consider it little known or not but one - hippo mounts. Two - historical fiction at it's finest. Thr..."

Sounds like it's hitting a number of my buttons. Thanks for the rec.


message 4: by Sam (new)

Sam Hawke (samhawkewrites) | 20 comments Hybrid Creature (devours books instead of brains) wrote: "I recently read American Hippo and loved it. It's new so I don't know whether to consider it little known or not but one - hippo mounts. Two - historical fiction at it's finest. Thr..."

I loved River of Teeth, and I am likewise expecting the second half to be great. I am a big fan of Sarah Gailey's. Just so much fun.


message 5: by Sam (new)

Sam Hawke (samhawkewrites) | 20 comments My favourite 'no-one has heard of these but they're great' series is Tamara Siler Jones's Dubric Byerly mysteries, starting with Ghosts in the Snow. They're forensic serial killer stories set in a fantasy world, and though the first one won the Compton Crook that year they sort of disappeared without further attention, which I think is a big shame.


message 6: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs (pooks) Sam wrote: "My favourite 'no-one has heard of these but they're great' series is Tamara Siler Jones's Dubric Byerly mysteries, starting with Ghosts in the Snow. They're forensic serial killer stories set in a ..."

Oh wow, what a mashup.l You've certainly got my attention. Off to add it now.


message 7: by Ted (new)

Ted Cross | 5 comments Some sci-fi that I think is terrific yet never seems to be mentioned by anyone include The Risen Empire and it's sequel by Scott Westerfeld and Chasm City by Alistair Reynolds.


message 8: by Steve (new)

Steve | 109 comments An old historical fantasy from the 70’s. The Far Arena by Richard Sapir. Only book of his I’ve read.
Story of a Roman Gladiator brought back to life in Cold War Europe. A touching description of how he adjusts to the 20th century having lost all he knew and loved. A streetwise and intelligent character that could fit into Grimdark novels for sure! And a friendly nun brought in for her colloquial Latin skills. Straightforward story, not complicated, keeps moving along, great central character.


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark | 174 comments The Sword and the Satchel is missed by lots of readers, I highly recommend it, please give it ago.


message 10: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Jones | 13 comments the darkness that comes before by R Scott Bakker, you don't hear much about it but it is an excellent read. So are the Malazan books of the Fallen which I don't hear much about


message 11: by Sam (new)

Sam Hawke (samhawkewrites) | 20 comments Kevin wrote: "the darkness that comes before by R Scott Bakker, you don't hear much about it but it is an excellent read. So are the Malazan books of the Fallen which I don't hear much about"

LOL you don't hear much about Malazan? I don't think I've ever seen a recommendation thread on any of the fantasy communities I frequent that doesn't have a Malazan devotee on it! :)


message 12: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithdale) | 1 comments The Wings of War series by Bryce O'Connor! These are really good. The first one is Child of the Daystar


message 13: by Ed (new)

Ed McDonald Kevin wrote: "the darkness that comes before by R Scott Bakker, you don't hear much about it but it is an excellent read. So are the Malazan books of the Fallen which I don't hear much about"

I think that this is an interesting learning point about how we exist within echo chambers on the internet, and how often we assume that what *we* hear a lot about are what others hear about too. For instance, in your experience Bakker and Erikson aren't so well known, but within my news feeds and on Reddit they are two of the most talked about series. In fact, Malazan is talked about so much on Reddit that there's a running joke that no matter what someone asks for (e,g, "Hi, can someone recommend me a book that features a gentle protagonist who loves balloons?"), somebody will immediately recommend Malazan. Similarly, in any grimdark themed group, Bakker is considered to be one point of the quintessential grimdark reading triangle.

However, evidently that isn't the case everywhere. Sometimes it's interesting to hear that other people have not had the same experience and reminds us how small these echo chambers are, and how tiny the vocal online minority of fans really is.


message 14: by Ed (last edited Jun 17, 2018 11:13PM) (new)

Ed McDonald Kim Hunter's The Red Pavillions
Jane Welch's Runes of War
Paul Kearney's The Monarchies of God
Paul Crilley's Poison City

J.V.Jones' Sword of Shadows doesn't receive much noise anymore, despite being one of the best realised (maybe the best) worlds in fantasy. This is principally because book 5 has been 8 years in the writing (due to the author's very understandable personal reasons) and I think that without a new book, and without a series finale, it jumps into fewer people's minds. Hence we normally write one book per year.


message 15: by Joseph (new)

Joseph | 98 comments I haven't read them since they first came out, but I really liked Thomas Harlan's Oath of Empire series (four books beginning with The Shadow of Ararat) -- alternate history with magic where the Roman Empire never fell and now (takes place in what would be about the 6th Century AD, I believe?) full-scale, magic-assisted war is breaking out between the Persian & Roman empires, and some very nasty beings from Outside are starting to take notice.


message 16: by Joe (new)

Joe Dorrian | 1 comments I've recently finished The Eagle's Flight: The Chronicles of Adalmearc by Daniel E Olesen and thought it was excellent, free from the authors website.


message 17: by Tracy (last edited Jun 18, 2018 08:56AM) (new)

Tracy | 7 comments Ed wrote: "Kim Hunter's The Red Pavillions
Jane Welch's Runes of War
Paul Kearney's The Monarchies of God
Paul Crilley's Poison City

J.V.Jones' Sword of Shadows doesn't receive much noise anymore, despite be..."

I love J V Jones - but you're right she is rarely mentioned, same as Juliet McKenna - often ignored but a good read


message 18: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Billings | 24 comments I came across a self published (< I think) guy at Tewkesbury medieval festival and bought his books just because...books!
They were the Shadow Lands series. I'm pretty sure that they're not well known because there isn't much on Goodreads about them.
They're based on the Arthurian legend and set in a future post apocalyptic world. I thought they were brill and really well written, they're now one of my favourite series!


message 19: by Shae (new)

Shae | 69 comments Oh yes, I too love the writing of J. V. Jones - so pleased to hear she is slowly getting back into it - Sword of Shadows series is pretty awesome!

Her earlier series, The Book of Words, is really good too - and it's complete :-)

Yet, very few of my reading buddies have read these :-(


message 20: by Molly (new)

Molly Ison | 4 comments China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh was a Hugo and Nebula nominee and well known enough to have made it onto a SFF Favorites list that I read through, but I can't recall seeing anyone talk or post about it other than the one list.

Same with Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith. It won the Philip K Dick award.

IMO, neither book fits neatly into SFF categories (which doesn't make them better or worse), since "urban fantasy" tends to mean werewolf sex, and that makes them easy to forget about or leave out of conversations.


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