I loved a lot of books in 2021, almost from the beginning. Then August was an incredible month, with so many wonderful releases, but honestly, the whole year was fantastic for me as a reader and reviewer. I won’t even pretend that I tried to keep the list short. A Top Ten or even a Top Twenty felt like tearing up my soul. With someone like Milena McKay releasing three books – starting with her debut novel in January – in 2021, all three belonging on this list in their own right, how am I supposed to choose? And she might be this year’s phenomenon (there’s actually no might about it, she definitely is), but she’s not the only one making choices heartbreaking. KJ released two very different books, both very good. So did Anna Burke. Katia Rose had two novels and a novella, all very enjoyable.
Last year I managed to select a Top 16. This year, it will be a Top 12 (or so) and a bunch of more books I can’t not recommend too, with a little cheating: when an author has released more than one book I feel belongs in this list, they’ll share a spot. I’m not choosing. It’s my party, I get to make the rules! And while I’ll stick to listing them all in chronological order of when I reviewed them, I do have a favourite this year (like in 2019 with Lise Gold’s Living): The Headmistress by Milena McKay. I loved everything about it, from the cover to the last word.
Time to get the party started, here’s the Top 12:
#1 Night Tide & Sea Wolf by Anna Burke
#2 The Delicate Things We Make & The Perfect Match & The Headmistress by Milena McKay
#3 Pyotra and the Wolf by Elna Holst
#4 Worthy of Love by Quinn Ivins
#5 How to Become a Planet by Nicole Melleby
#6 The Murder Next Door by Sarah Bell
#7 Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
#8 Ignis by KJ
#9 Dead Lez Walking by G Benson
#10 Guardian by Jen Lawrence
#11 The Tell Tale by Clare Ashton
#12 Unbreakable by Cari Hunter
And the bunch, in no particular order: Unchartered by Alli Temple; Holding Fire by Annelise Sorrell; An Unlit Candle by Caren J. Werlinger; Love Kills Twice by Rien Gray; Come Away With Me by Rachel Lacey; Captive in the Underworld by Lianyu Tan; The Henderson Helios by Beatrice Crowl; Masquerade by Anne Shade; Modern English and Thrust by Rachel Spangler; The Secrets We Keep by Donna Jay; One Weekend in Aspen by Jaime Clevenger; Catch and Cradle by Katia Rose; On the Rocks by Georgia Beers; Not Guilty by Brit Ryder; The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers #4) by Becky Chambers; Gretel on Her Own by Elna Holst; In the Long Run by Haley Cass; AITA? A Modern Fairy Tale by Cassie Alexander; Go Around by E.J. Noyes; Worth the Risk by Crystal Chard; House of Agnes by Fiona Zedde; Change of Plans by KJ; The Awkward Truth by Lee Winter; In the Shadow of the Past by J.E. Leak; Courage by Jesse J. Thomas; The Club Revisited by A.L. Brooks; There’s Magic Between Us by Jillian Maria; Power Play and Grounded by K.R. Collins; The Clinch by Nicole Disney (added on December 30th).
I also want to mention two fanfics I loved this year: Where I’m Going Now, I Don’t Know by missparker (which will become a book next year) and How the Mouth Changes its Shape by breathedout.
2022 is shaping up to be another exciting year for sapphic fiction readers. Huge thanks to all the authors who bring these awesome stories to my life.