These are my absolute favourite reads from 2023. They were all exceptionally good, and I will re-read them fully or partially in the future.
I read 38 books in 2023 which is below my average of 45-50 per year, but there were definitely more than the usual number of doorstoppers in there, so I’m okay. I gave up on 4 books; stopped reading them after around 100 pages.
As always, the most dominating genres were horror and dark fantasy, but I’ve read some epic fantasy, non-fiction, sci-fi and literary fiction too.
My favourite horror titles were:
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
A chilling novel blending folklore with modern horror. It offers a unique twist on the concept of witches and a cursed town. One of the best depictions of grief I’ve read anywhere. Heart breaking stuff.
The Black Maybe by Attila Veres
My fellow Hungarian author Attila Veres was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award with this collection. I don’t think you need more recommendation than that. I’ve read most of these stories in Hungarian, but they work very well in English too.
IT by Stephen King (Reread)
This year I returned to Derry to refresh my memories. This book is a masterclass in horror storytelling. I think I loved IT even more the second time. Nothing else needs to be said here.
The Beast You Are by Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay continues to redefine the horror genre with his unique blend of psychological depth and narrative inventions. I really enjoy how he tries to tell a story differently than just 3rd person past tense.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca
The viral horror sensation, Eric LaRocca’s THGWSWLS. I’ve finally got around to read it. It was disturbing; I have to admit. Masterpiece? Not sure, but I can guarantee you’ve not read anything like this before. Great stuff.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Lovecraftian horror with a fresh perspective that addresses historical racial injustices. This story is both a tribute and a critique. Wonderfully done. A must read modern horror novella.
My favourite Dark/Grimdark Fantasy books:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Reread)
Another reread. It was so good to enter Neil Gaiman’s magical graveyard again. Dark, cold yet heartwarming. Whimsy and profound at the same time. Only Neilhimself can pull off a tale like this.
The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
People have been recommending this trilogy to me for a long time. Now I understand why. It’s gritty, darkly humorous, bloody, and gut-wrenching. I went through all 3 books in one go. Highly recommended for fans of the Song of Ice and Fire. I think it was even better. What? Blasphemy.
Baltimore Deluxe Volume 1 by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Mike Mignola’s signature gothic art style with Christopher Golden’s gripping storytelling. Very atmospheric, a great blend of horror, history, and fantasy. I loved this one, and I will definitely get Volume 2 as well.
The next two are not horror, but I loved them a lot. I highly recommend them.
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
An amazing high fantasy novella. Short and punchy, yet deep. The magic system is unique and intriguing. The story is full of thought-provoking observations about identity, art, and the nature of the human soul. Recommended.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
This timeless classic offers insights into the personal reflections of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. I found it profound how relatable his thoughts were despite the distance in time and life experience. Who knew an emperor struggled with procrastination and getting out of bed in the mornings just like you and me? A must read.
This is it. I hope some of these sparks your interest and you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. I wish you a New Year filled with happiness, great books, thrills, successful rituals, and terrifying manifestations.