Delightfully fictional

Reading Retrospective

My 2022 Reading Retrospective

The end of the year is close, so I decided to post my reading retrospective for 2022. I’ve read around 60 books this year, of which I selected the ones I loved the most. Since all of these books brought me joy and touched my heart as a reader, and the authors’ writing styles and themes were quite different, I decided to post them in the order I read them. So this is not actually a top of my preferences.

Let’s begin.

Lady Sherlock Historical Mysteries by Sherry Thomas

I adored all the books in this series, which, to me, came as a huge surprise. I was familiar with Sherry Thomas’ writing because we had to translate a lot of her books for work, but all of them were historical romances, a genre I confess I don’t read in (simply not my cup of tea). This is also how I’ve heard about the first book in the Lady Sherlock series (A Study in Scarlet Women, whose translation in my native language I had to manage for work). Many months later, I happened to stumble upon this book on Amazon and paid more attention to it. The overall idea intrigued me, so I decided to buy and read it. The beginning was a bit slow, but after the first half I binged the entire series (my favourite is The Hollow of Fear – the third book). Excellent writing and masterful storytelling, and the characters were all fresh and unique, especially the MC, Charlotte. She is not your average Victorian woman, but rather the complete opposite. Her mind is brilliant, her actions scandalous, and her appetite unstoppable. Interested in the Sherlock trope with a twist? Then these are the books for you. Sherlock is a woman, a very intelligent and atypical one, whose genius when it comes to deduction is a marvel to discover.

The London Charismatics by Jacquelyn Benson

I read this book at the end of February, during a very difficult period for me. Back then I said that this was my favourite series of what I’d read until then. Many months later, I still stick to this statement. This is not intended as a top, but The London Charismatics was my favourite read in 2022. I’ve already written about it here.

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

When I started reading this book, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Certainly, I did not expect to love it so much, especially since I am not very fond of fae-fantasy and usually avoid such books. But this one is not your average fae-fantasy. It’s an excellent blend of fantasy and historical accuracy. A very catchy story depicting a fairy-tale-like Regency England which, nonetheless, doesn’t lack its share of dark sides. The characters are lovely and one of the main reasons to enjoy the book. The protagonists (Dora Ettings and Elias Wilder) make an adorable pair, and their clever banter is my favourite thing in the book. If you fancy Regency romance with a faerie touch, this is definitely THE book. And if it’s not enough, Ten Thousand Stitches (the second book in the series) is another lovely story delivered by Olivia Atwater in the same witty manner as Half a Soul, only that this time we have an interesting retelling of Cinderella.

Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mysteries by Lynn Messina

An excellent Regency mystery, with an interesting and likeable main character. What I loved the most in these books was the perfect chemistry between Beatrice (the MC) and her crime-solving partner (and later love interest), the Duke of Kesgrave. Taken individually, they don’t shine as much as when they work (and, most of all, TALK) together. The interactions between them in their chase to catch the villains make for some very exquisite scenes, which equally make you laugh and keep you on the edge of your seat. I loved the heroine and her journey of self-discovery throughout the books. The mysteries are rather predictable, but the storytelling and the likeability factor of the main characters totally make up for that.

The Regent’s Devices Trilogy by Shelley Adina and R.E. Scott

Returning to Shelley Adina’s Magnificent Devices universe was a heart-warming treat which I thoroughly enjoyed. This time, we meet new characters, in a different historical setting – Lady Claire’s great-grandmother Loveday and her friends Celeste, Emory and Arthur, having their own adventures in alternate Regency England. I loved the authors’ depiction of this alternate historical period, whose Prince Regent is obsessed with tinkering and engineering amidst Napoleonic Wars. Though the books keep a lot of historical accuracies, the authors added new and fresh steampunk elements, such as, of course, airships. Betrayal, war, high stakes, adventures on (or rather above) the sea, and unwanted incursions into enemy territory – this is, in a nutshell, the Regent’s Devices trilogy, a kind of steampunk which Shelley Adina expertly termed as Prinnypunk.

The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries by Kerrigan Bryne

This series ranks high in the top of my preferences for this year. Gripping and dark, the story revolves around Jack the Ripper – I read it precisely for this reason, as I am researching Jack the Ripper and I was curious to read something else besides the non-fiction books stacked on my work desk. Fiona Mahoney, the main character, is among my favourite MCs ever, perhaps because of her many flaws and the fragile grey line between right and wrong she must walk on. I loved the realism of these books, the dark world they describe, which I found much closer to the real Victorian period than what is usually depicted in historical romances. The characters are as realistically presented as the setting, without being romanticised. All of them have scars difficult to heal, which prompt or explain their actions. Unfortunately, there is still no news about the third book, but I am patiently waiting for it.

Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries by C. S. Harris

I spent a good part of the autumn reading the Sebastian St. Cyr books. This series had been on my TBR list for a very long time and although the reason I started reading it is rather fickle (the main character of my future Gaslamp fantasy series is also called Sebastian and I impulsively bought the first book based on that only), I’m happy I did it. Quite dark and lacking the hilarious notes of the other Regency mysteries I’ve read, the stories in each book are masterpieces. Based on real historical events, with many small details that together depict a rather grim panorama of Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars and their devastating effect, the stories are all centred on gruesome crimes which Sebastian must solve, each of them helping him in his own journey of atonement and coming to terms with himself. I haven’t read all the books yet (I have three left, which are on my list for the beginning of 2023), but this is one of my favourite series of 2022.

I'm an indie author, translation industry professional, and former magazine editor, with a passion for steampunk, cyberpunk, and historical fiction. My debut novel Laevium, a steampunk story set in Neo-Victorian London, is available from most major online bookstores.

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