Sometimes, I need a break from long series, and that’s what standalone books are for.
The trouble is that you have to find good ones, though, ones that really know how to tell a single story and end it. Sometimes, it’s tricky to find them. Hopefully today’s T5T topic, though, set by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads, will help you find some new standalone books to give you a break from series, especially if you’re a fantasy reader like me.
And I have to admit, sometimes, it’s really nice not to have to follow-up to know how the story ends.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
As far as standalone books go, this is where I’ve set the bar. Sorcery of Thorns is entirely self-contained, with brilliant banter, peak pacing, and characterization that would make me green with envy if I wasn’t so busy trying to scrape my jaw off the ground while admiring it. And then to top it with a finale that actually brought me to tears, when I’m not a book crier?
Ruthless. Gold star. Would allow this book to punch me square in the face again.
(On a less intense note, there’s sentient libraries, a really cool sword, and a cat who is perhaps not a cat. He is, however, very fluffy. No downsides.)
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones
Normally, zombie stories just don’t do it for me. I’m not a fan of gore and the like, and I feel like people only know how to draw so many different conclusions from them. It starts to feel very same old, same old sometimes.
The Bone Houses, though, is anything but ordinary. It drapes its setting in Welsh-inspired details, and turns zombies not into a horror story about desperate, ruthless survival, but a story about familial love and dedication. It’s also got some lovely representation of living with chronic pain, a stubborn and gruff heroine, and also a goat that will capture your heart, almost 100% guaranteed.
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
I am still bitter this book did not get the recognition it deserved when it came out in 2019. Descendant of the Crane is one part murder mystery, one part political intrigue, and all parts incredible. The plot twists are rock solid, and the main character is so incredibly easy to root for and empathize with. I need to reread it soon, refresh my memory on the details, but there’s no doubt that I love this book. It’s outstanding and worth the time spent to read it.
Plus, the cover is well and truly a work of art!
The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
You want a messed up book? The Echo Wife is a messed up book. Following a scientist who discovers her ex-husband has married a clone of her, a clone that is the perfect housewife she will never be, it roars through a journey of science, murder, and the messy ins and outs of autonomy and ethics.
It’s also a novella rather than a full blown novel, so the pace is snappy, and you’ll be done in no time. Y’know, provided this book doesn’t leave your head spinning in the best of ways.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
I feel like I should talk about Sawkill Girls more than I do. I’m very picky about the horror books I read, since I’m a big chicken when it comes down to it, but this is one of my absolute favorites. The secluded island setting, the eldritch powers at work, and the unshakeable queerness of the main characters all appeal to me in ways I sometimes find hard to describe.
I also think about Zoey a lot. She was one of the first characters I’ve ever seen named asexual right there on the page, and while her overall experience is a hell of a lot different than my own, it never fails to bring my some comfort, seeing myself on the page like that.
As a fantasy reader, I don’t run across nearly as many standalone books as contemporary readers. I stand by these five, though, with all my heart. They pack so much into their pages without sacrificing any quality, and anyone in search of more standalones to read should give these a try.
What do you think, though? Do we share any favorites? Or do you think I’ve missed some of the titles that belong in this group?