SpecSisters Best of 2016:


My kids are using the Christmas-New Years hiatus to read Harry Potter 7 and Black Light Express (Railhead sequel), build Lego, persuade their father to take them to see Rogue One (twice!) and binge on the entirety of Trollhunters. And eat all the candy canes off the tree.

I’ve been working (sobs) but have briefly borrowed the Amulet of Daylight to (virtually) award to my favourite speculative fiction of the year. Mostly kids, because I run a book club and many new diverse books featuring kid protagonists of colour (because that’s what I’ve been reviewing) and (hangs head) all fantasy because where is the science fiction for kids? Where?

So here in categories entirely of my own devising:

Best YA Fantasy: The Reader by Traci Chee


This had me utterly gripped, from start to finish. Full review here

Best Children’s Fantasy:

The Girl of Ink and Stars (The Cartographer’s Daughter  US) by Karen Milwood Hargrave

The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee

Three exquisitely written fantasies. All with gripping plots, layers of resonance and meaning and set in original, beguiling worlds (Victorian UnderLondon for AMMG and a floating island for TCD/AGOIAS) with two out of three protagonists girls of colour and   sidekicks including tiny dragons, trolls (again!) and aged chickens.

Aside to publishers. STOP. PUTTING. GIRL. IN. TITLES. Thank you.

Unexpected Delight from a Classic Author(1):

The Whispering Mountain by Joan Aiken




For some odd reason, though I’ve read and reread Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles, I’d never read this offshoot. It’s now one of my favourites: with a boy hero (Owen Hughes), a fearless traveller girl Arabis and her tame hawk and a memorably barmy Aiken-esque villain in the Marquess of Malyn.

Unexpected Delight from a Classic Author (2):

The Northern Lights Graphic novel by Phillip Pullman

These are a stunning addition to any children’s literature collection.

Here’s  a look inside the first volume courtesy of the Guardian, but the second is even better. The third is already published in France and tygertale gives us a peek in his best of 2016.

My own very personal wishlist for 2017:

More boy protagonists

More science fiction for middle grade

More diversity especially ownvoices

Heres to hope and 2017


About g.r.del

reading, writing and the rest. @storyvilled on twitter.
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