Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ten SFF must-reads from the 2010s

At Book Marks Leah Schnelbach tagged ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, including:
The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
(Spiegel & Grau, 2017)

I reviewed Victor LaValle’s The Changeling upon its release, and I said then that it was one of the best books I’d read that year. In the years since, I can say that there are few books that have stuck with me the way that one has. Two scenes in particular are such indelible setpieces—but hang on, let me give you a plot synopsis. Apollo Kagwa and his wife, Emma Valentine, are sharing a storybook romance. She’s a librarian, he’s a rare book dealer—one of two Black men working in that trade in New York City (the other one is his best friend, Patrice). Apollo and Emma have a beautiful baby together—but then everything falls apart. Emma seems to turn into a different person, distant and filled with rage. Apollo is so haunted by his own father’s abandonment that he’s overcome with an almost obsessive love for his son. And when tragedy hits the young family, Apollo finds himself in the sort of dark, blood-drenched fairy tale that Vikings used to tell around the fire.

At heart this book is a classic bildgungsroman, but it’s a bildungsroman set in a starkly modern New York City, and it centers on a Black man who has to spend as much time grappling with his city’s racism as with all the classic tropes of a quest. It’s about parenthood and emotional labor and how social media destroys our identities. But leaving all the critical analysis aside, what makes this book a must-read is that it’s a beautiful love story tangled together with one of the scariest horror novels I’ve ever read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Changeling is among T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring domestic terrors and C.J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring missing, mistaken, or "changed" children.

--Marshal Zeringue