Last year, I compiled a list of my favorite books from 2022 which is the first time I had ever done that. Since I enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed reliving my favorite books throughout the year, I decided to do the same again this year and put together a list of my favorite books from 2023.
Note: I am not sponsored in anyway and what follows is my genuine opinion.
The Whistling by Rebecca Netley
The first book on the list is number one not because it’s my favorite of favorites, but rather because it was the first one I thought of when starting this list. The Whistling is in many ways a classic ghost story. It features a large, decrepit house on a Scottish island, a diminished family and plenty of creaks, groans and bumps in the night. The best part about it though is that it leaves the reader with the question of who is more evil? The living or the dead?
Gallant by V.E. Schwab
While Gallant isn’t a ghost story per se, it is very close to being one. The story follows an orphaned girl whose mother just disappeared one day leaving her with just a journal and a few vague memories. One day, a letter arrives at the orphanage where she had been living calling her to her family’s estate, Gallant. Her mother’s journal, however, warns her to stay away. Does it have something to do with her disappearance?
Of course, she doesn’t stay away because anything is better than the orphanage. In any case, things happen and it gets interesting. I enjoyed the story as it was very imaginative and unique. It’s kind of a “horror fantasy” book which is always an superb mix in my opinion.
Black Acres by Ambrose Ibsen
Ambrose Ibsen has quickly become one of my favorite ghost story authors. He has unique twists on true and tried tropes. This book is no exception. A couple buy their first house out in the middle of the woods and shortly afterwards, weird occurances start happening. So far, so normal. I won’t say anything more about what happens, but just believe me when I say it’s not as normal for a ghost story as it seems at first.
Stirrings in the Black House by Ambrose Ibsen
Two of Ambrose’s books have made this list because I loved them. Stirrings in the Black House is every bit as good as Black Acres even though it is significantly shorter. A man inherits a house in the middle of nowhere and weird occurances start happening shortly after moving in. That basic premise is, of course, very similar to Black Acres.
However, that is where the similarities end. Again, I won’t say much about what happened because it would be difficult to without giving too much away. Just trust me when I say it’s worth a read for fans of ghost stories.
The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates
Unless I run out of books to read by Darcy Coates, I doubt I’ll ever make a favorites list again without including at least one of hers. The Haunting of Gillespie House is an excellent ghost story that includes one of my favorite tropes: a big, haunted house in the middle of nowhere.
The book is very atmospheric and extremely engaging. While it doesn’t have an incredibly original take on the classic ghost story, that doesn’t make it any worse. A good, old-fashioned ghost story can haunt you just as well as a new-fangled one as long as it is vividly written and memorable: both of which are true for The Haunting of Gillespie House.
The Court of Shadows by Victor Dixen
The Court of Shadows is the last book I finished in 2023. Although I read its German translation (Der Hof der Finsternis), what I have to say about it isn’t language-specific. Originally in French, the book is part of the dark fantasy series Vampyria and as the name implies, it is a book about vampires.
In it, French King Louis XIV has been transmuted into a vampire and has ruled for 300 years by the time the book takes place. The protagonist’s family has been killed by the secret police and so she seeks revenge by pretending to be a noble lady and becoming a pupil at an elite school at Versailles, the King’s palace. Since it is only the first book of the series, not a lot more happens than that.
The book is well-written and engaging. It was an easy read, but hard to put down. I can highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of vampire or dark fantasy stories.
Ver-Kleiden by Barbara Vinken
This book is the only non-fiction book in the list this year. Unfortunately, it is only available in German, but for those of you who speak German, I can highly recommend it. The author dives into the topic of what clothing means for someone’s gender identity and vice versa. It is a well-written book on a very current topic that is highly relevant to today’s society and culture.
So those were my favorite books from 2023. I did read a few others and while they were mostly good, they didn’t quite make my list of favorites this year. All except the last one were novels and all but one of those were ghost stories. I think it goes without saying that ghost stories are my absoutely favorite.
What were your favorite books from 2023? Let me know in the comments below!