Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants were supposed to list their top new-to-me authors that they read in 2020, however, I am going to do something a little differently here at The Unseen Library. I have actually already completed and published this list a few weeks ago as I knew in advance that I would be doing an alternate list today. The reason for this is because 26 January is Australia Day, so I thought that I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the top pieces of fiction written by Australian authors that I read in 2020.
Each of year talented Australian authors produce an impressive and exciting range of amazing fiction from across the various genres, many of which I am lucky enough to get copies of from the local publishers. As a result, I tend to read and review a ton of novels by Australian authors, most of which turn out to be some outstanding reads that I deeply enjoy. While I have previously listed my absolute favourite pieces of Australian authored fiction, I thought that this year I would change it up and examine which Australian novels were the best in 2020.
To qualify for this list, a novel had to be released in 2020 and written by an Australian author, which I am defining as anyone born in Australia or who currently lives here (Australia is very good at adopting talented people as our own). This resulted in a surprisingly long list, including several novels that I considered to be some of the best reads of last year. I was eventually able to whittle this novel down to the absolute cream of the crop and came up with a fantastic top ten list (with my typical generous honourable mentions). I really enjoyed how this list turned out, especially as it features novels from a range of different genres, all of which ended up being very awesome Australian novels.
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham
Last Survivor by Tony Park
Where Fortune Lies by Mary-Anne O’Connor
Top Ten List:
Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke
Let us start this list on a very high note with Hollow Empire by Canberran author Sam Hawke. Hollow Empire was the exciting and much-anticipated sequel to Hawke’s epic fantasy debut, City of Lies, which continued the fantastic adventures of two poison-eating siblings as they attempt to save their city from war and intrigue. This second novel was an exciting and deeply compelling read filled with new dangers, new enemies and an amazing selection of clever twists and reveals. A deeply enjoyable novel that was one of the best fantasy novels of the year, I cannot talk up Hollow Empire enough.
A Testament of Character by Sulari Gentill
The second entry on this list is the 10th historical murder mystery book in Gentill’s long-running Rowland Sinclair series, A Testament of Character. This fantastic novel sent the titular protagonist and his bohemian friends on a captivating adventure in 1930’s America as they attempt to find out who killed an old associate of theirs. I always have a great deal of fun when I read the Rowland Sinclair novels, and A Testament of Character turned out to be an impressive and highly enjoyable entry in the series which I deeply enjoyed.
Stormblood by Jeremy Szal
Next up we have the exciting and creative science fiction debut, Stormblood, by brilliant new author Jeremy Szal. This great new novel serves as the impressive first entry in a bold new series that follows a former soldier who was purposely infected by alien biological enhancements as he attempted to uncover a massive conspiracy on an elaborate space station. Stormblood was an excellent and amazing read that perfectly sets up this cool series and which is really worth reading. A sequel, Blindspace, is set for release later this year, and I am rather looking forward to it.
Either Side of Midnight by Benjamin Stevenson
I only recently finished off this dramatic and compelling Australian murder mystery, but I had to include it on this list due to its clever mystery and complex characters. A fantastic sequel to 2018’s Greenlight, this is Australian crime fiction at its best and comes highly recommended.
The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson
One of the most unusual but extremely captivating pieces of Australian fiction this year was The Erasure Initiative by the infinitely talented Lili Wilkinson. Wilkinson, who previously wrote the exceptional After the Lights Go Out, produced another high-concept and darkly creative young adult science fiction thriller that sees several strangers will no memories of their past locked in a bus by someone with a strange and lethal agenda. Clever, intense and highly addictive, The Erasure Initiative was just amazing, and I ended up really loving it.
The Queen’s Captain by Peter Watt
One of my favourite historical fiction authors, Peter Watt, finished off his action-packed Colonial series on a high note with the amazing The Queen’s Captain. Serving as a great conclusion to the story featured in The Queen’s Colonial and The Queen’s Tiger, this latest novel took the protagonist on another set of deadly adventures in the Victorian empire and was a very awesome book to read.
Hideout by Jack Heath
I had to include the fantastically fun and incredibly exciting Hideout by another Canberran author, Jack Heath. This was the third novel in Heath’s fantastic Timothy Blake series. It follows a cannibalistic protagonist as he attempts to kill and eat a house full of sociopathic killers. An excellent read that you can really sink your teeth into, this is an awesome one to check out.
Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
If you are in the mood for an exceedingly fast-paced science fiction read, you need to check out the latest outstanding young adult read from the dream team of Australian authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The epic sequel to 2019’s Aurora Rising, this latest novel continues an impressive tale that follows several cool teen protagonists on a wild adventure in space with the entire universe gunning for them. Thanks to the epic cliffhanger at the end, I will have to grab the third entry in this series when it comes out, and I cannot wait to see how it ends.
The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold
The Last Smile in Sunder City is a sensational fantasy thriller that follows a depressed private investigator as he attempts to find a missing girl in a city tragically devastated by the destruction of all magic. Arnold’s debut was pretty damn awesome, and he has already followed it up with a sequel, Dead Man in a Ditch. A clever and inventive read from a fantastic new author, this is a great book to check out.
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
Last, but certainly not least, was the moving and dramatic thriller The Night Swim, by acclaimed up and coming Australian author Megan Goldin. Goldin is a talented and dramatic writer who previously wrote the bestselling thriller The Escape Room. This latest novel from Goldin was a clever and powerful read that examined two haunting crimes taking place over two generations. The Night Swim was an impressive novel, and I cannot wait to see what Goldin will come up with next.
Well, that is the end of this latest list and I am really happy that I got a chance to highlight some of the cool Australian releases of 2020. The above books represent an outstanding collection of fiction from talented Australian authors, and each of them comes highly recommended by me. I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I plan to examine my favourite Australian novels of 2021 this time next year. Until then, stay tuned for more epic reviews and lists, and make sure you let me know who your favourite Australian authors are in the comments below.