Authors often get asked what some of their favorite series are. I guess maybe people think that, if they like the same books as a particular author, they might also like books by that author? I don’t really know. Maybe people think that authors must know which books are good because we know about books in general. The thing is, taste is truly subjective. I mean, there are objective qualities to “good” writing: proper punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure, for example. So maybe it’s more accurate to say good stories are subjective. What one person likes in a story (including what we call “voice”), another will not.
But that’s not the point of this post. I really just planned to list a few of my favorite book series so I would have something to point to when people ask. As they so often do.
Here goes. (In no particular order.)
The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French
I received a review copy of In the Woods during my time as a critic on Blogcritics. And I devoured this book. Later, I was also sent the second book in the series, The Likeness. But when I opened it up and discovered the main character was no longer Rob, I was so mad, I tossed it aside. It took me years to forgive that book and pick it up again, but I’m so glad I did. By then, there were several in the series, and I went through them like a box of bonbons. Each book focuses on a new main character, someone who was only a side character in a previous one. Once you are willing to accept that the characters you’ve fallen in love with (Rob!) have moved on, and open your heart and mind to whoever is next, you’re sure to enjoy this series. The prose is beautiful, and the plots and people who inhabit it are all somewhat dark and twisted—not in a bad way, but like gnarled old trees, fascinating and a little foreboding.
Rivers of London (Peter Grant) series by Ben Aaronovitch
Depending on where you live, the first book in this series is titled either Rivers of London or Midnight Riot. This one follows the progress of PC Peter Grant of the Metropolitan Police as he is conscripted to track down and deal with cases of a supernatural nature. He’s also learning magic because, hey, how can he be expected to hold his own against practitioners if he isn’t one himself? Peter is a witty narrator, and a colorful cast of characters fills the roster here. Though the first few books were strong, there did seem to be a bit of a dip in later volumes as (a) it became increasingly difficult to keep track of all the characters, and (b) more focus on Peter’s romantic relationship caused me to lose some interest. Still, I continue to pick up the new ones and read them. (I’m actually behind, as I’ve not yet read False Value, but it’s on my Kindle, ready and waiting.)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Loved these ones so much, I read all four books in the series inside of a week, then immediately re-read them. This is a YA (young adult) series about four boys at a private school who are working together to find the final resting place of an ancient Welsh king. Helping them is a girl named Blue, daughter of tarot readers and psychics, yet lacking any of those abilities herself. I fell in love with the characters, and the overarching plot is fantasy-meets-reality at its best.
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
An oldie but goodie, as they say. I first picked up Interview with the Vampire as a freshman in high school; I borrowed it from the school library so my parents wouldn’t know I was reading it. After buying The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, and Tale of the Body Thief at used-book stores, I waited for and bought every new novel as it was published. Though I couldn’t finish the more recent Prince Lestat and didn’t even try to read the one about Atlantis, I can say that up through Blood Canticle, it’s a highly entertaining (if sometimes uneven) series. Some of the books I re-read semi-regularly; others I will probably never open again. But they all stay on my bookshelf, and the brightly drawn characters remain vivid in my mind’s eye. Rice is sometimes lambasted for her sentiment and flowery language, but—whether you consider it for good or ill—no one writes quite like she does. And no one else could have told these stories.
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
YA? Middle grade? I’m not sure how these are classified, but they are a lot of fun. And they each stand alone, so you can read any one of the four and not really miss much. But I recommend all of them. I read them years ago, and then read them aloud to my children. These are absolute gems.
I’m sure there are other series I love. Hercule Poirot mysteries, for example. The George Smiley books that influenced Peter Stoller. And certainly there are many manga series I adore, but I feel like that should be a separate list. For now, these will suffice. They are the books that immediately spring to mind when I’m asked about favorite series, so that must mean they’re my true favorites, right?
What about you? Favorite book series? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!