After looking at last year’s top mysteries, it’s time to check out which fantasy novels were the most popular in 2016. The following list includes a mix of high fantasy, urban/paranormal fantasy, and steampunk titles, all of which are shelved in the Fantasy section at the library where I work. Based on circulation figures, these were the most checked out fantasies in 2016.
10. A Study in Sable by Mercedes Lackey— The 12th book in the Elemental Masters series features the residents of 221C Baker Street: Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary. The couple who are elemental masters of Water and Air take on “the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains.” Together with psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White, they will investigate the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square and a case involving a German opera star.
9. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky— While walking her dog along the banks of the Hudson River, Selene DiSilva discovers the gruesome corpse of a woman “wreathed in laurel.” Selene’s “ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago—when her name was Artemis.” In this debut novel, the Greek gods live on in modern day Manhattan.
8. A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly— The passage of the 18th Amendment outlaws magic in the Roaring Twenties. Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer, and Alex Danfrey, a Federal Prohibition Unit trainee, go undercover to infiltrate a notorious crime syndicate dealing in criminal magic. An intriguing blend of fantasy, mystery, and romance. And can I just say, I love the cover!
7. Closer to the Heart by Mercedes Lackey— This is book two of The Herald Spy trilogy, a part of the larger ongoing series of novels set in the fantasy realm of Valdemar. Mags, the first official Herald Spy of Valdemar, is to wed Amily, the King’s Herald, but their wedding may be derailed by a plot in the neighboring Kingdom of Menmellith, which is raising a rebel army threatening war. More importantly someone in Valdemar is supplying them with weapons, and Mags and Amily will have to ferret out who.
6. Uprooted by Naomi Novik— The price of keeping Agnieszka’s village save from the malevolent, encroaching Wood is to allow the wizard, known as the Dragon, to choose a young woman to serve him for ten years. This fantasy novel echoes the Polish fairy tales and stories of Baba Yaga the author grew up with.
5. Silence by Mercedes Lackey & Cody Martin— In book nine novel of the SERRAted Edge series, teenager Staci arrives to stay with her alcoholic mother in the Maine town of Silence. But a gaggle of geek gamers in town are involved in a strange game that Staci will become part of.
4. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin— Subtitled “Being the Adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, and his squire, Egg,” this collection of three interlocking novellas is set 100 years before the events told in A Game of Thrones series. Ser Duncan is a humble hedge knight “often at odds with the schemes of the royals who rule the Seven Kingdoms.”
3. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson— Though this epic fantasy debuted in 2005, a 10th Anniversary edition with additional content gave it a boost in 2016. A prince stricken by a curse struggles to help the wretches of the once proud capital of Arelon while his former betrothed, the Princess Sarene, uses her “widowed” status to counter the machinations of a group of religious fanatics.
2. Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs— A collection of ten stories from the world of shapeshifter Mercy Thompson and the Alpha and Omega series featuring news faces and old acquaintances. Also includes outtakes, think deleted scenes, that were cut from their respective novels.
And the Number One Fantasy Novel of the Year is …
1. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher — From the author of The Dresden Files and Codex Alera series comes this first book in the steampunk fantasy series, The Cinder Spire. “Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity” from an ancient enemy that begins to stir. Captain Grimm commands a ship loyal to Spire Albion, but a vital mission he undertakes reveals secret horrors beneath the conflict between the nation-like Spires.
And there you have it, the most popular fantasies read in 2016. A few titles were published in late 2015, but continued in popularity last year. And prolific authors Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and especially Mercedes Lackey once again ranked highly, following appearances on 2014’s list and 2015’s list.
So are you delighted or disappointed? How many have you read? And which books would make your top ten list?