10. Angel of Death by J. Robert King
One of the creepiest serial killer books I've read primarily because it's extremely supernatural in nature. I think this year has been one for the creepy, though, and if you've got someone who likes dark fiction, then Angel of Death would be a welcome addition to their collection.
(I reviewed Angel of Death here.)
9. The Dragon Hunters by Paul Genesse
It's got dragons, dwarves, wicked monsters, and a fairly well-developed world, all packed into an adventurous, action-packed book. Genesse is the poster-child of small press fantasy authors for good reason. He writes a darn good fantasy yarn. But, if you know your loved one doesn't have the first book in the series (The Golden Cord), then you should grab that too.
(I reviewed The Golden Cord here and The Dragon Hunters here.)
8. Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry
I don't review graphic novels very often, but charming detective mystery with a hint of the fantastic is a must have for all fans of visual forms of storytelling. The artwork is unique and the story is both typical and thrilling. Definitely a must for fans of any of the aforementioned genres.
(I reviewed Britten and Brulightly here.)
7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy's novel is probably a little too obvious considering the movie is officially here to terrify us with its post-apocalyptic imagery. What makes The Road stand out from other books in the same subgenre isn't its story (one we've seen many times before, and in more elaborate form), but the feeling of the book as you read. It's a big page-turner and would be suitable for just about anyone with a taste for powerful, thrilling fiction.
(I reviewed The Road here.)
6. Terra Insegura by Edward Willett
One of the few science fiction novels I reviewed and loved this year, Willett's sequel to Marseguro is exactly what science fiction needs: action, awesome ideas, and good characterization. No more good vs. bad plots. There's so much grey in Willett's book that it makes you really think about everything, from what occurred in the previous novel to what happens by the end. It's absolutely a must for science fiction fans.
(I reviewed Terra Insegura here and Marseguro here.)
5. Last Days by Brian Evenson
You know how I said that this year seems to be one of dark fiction? Well Last Days is no exception, and is probably one of the most twisted, yet enjoyable novels I've read this year. Last Days chronicles the exploits of a one-handed detective in a cult of amputees. It's messed up in all the right ways, and an excellent gift for creeping out your loved ones.
(I reviewed Last Days here.)
4. Kell's Legend by Andy Remic
Perhaps your loved one is more into the hardcore fantasy and you need to get something that will wet his or her Kill Bill-loving appetite. Well, look no further than Kell's Legend, a no-holds-barred, twisted fantasy that would keep most Tarantino fans itching for me. Remic is...unrelenting. He's almost a genius, if you want to get right down to it, and it would make a perfect gift.
(I reviewed Kell's Legend here.)
3. Mind Over Ship by David Marusek
Whoever said that science fiction was out of ideas hasn't been reading Marusek's novels. If anyone is coming up with the SF goods, it's this guy. Mind Over Ship is everything that science fiction should be and is brilliantly complex both in plot and world. Fans of high-concept SF will love this one for sure, and seasoned and new science fiction readers will get a lot out of it. It deserves to be in every science fiction collection!
(I reviewed Mind Over Ship here.)
2. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
This is the only non-fiction book on this list and it deserves to be here precisely because it is the most amazing non-fiction book about books that I've ever read. Oh, and it's not so dull as to be just about books specifically, but about something much grander and more terrifying: book thefts. There's a huge mystery element to this book and the deeper you get into the history of book thefts, the more the book starts to read like a murder mystery, only...with books. It's an excellent choice for anyone with a love of books or a healthy appetite for crime.
(I reviewed The Man Who Loved Books Too Much here.)
1. The House of the Stag by Kage Baker
By far the best fantasy book I have read in a while, this is a must have for any fantasy fan, and might even be suitable for those book lovers who have more "sophisticated" tastes. You can apply all sorts of fun buzzwords to The House of the Stag, such as postcolonialism, postmodernism, etc. It's an amazing story with the kind of depth you don't get in fantasy very often, and if you've got a loved one who is into fantasy or complicated tales about identity and myth, then this is an excellent choice, and I think this book should be on any fantasy essentials list out there.
(I reviewed The House of the Stag here.)
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Technically I read this in December of last year, which is why it's not in the top ten. If you didn't see the movie, then you should at least read the book. Gaiman has a knack for storytelling and Stardust is a perfect gift for anyone with a Gaiman fetish or an appetite for reworkings of classic themes.
Survival By Storytelling, Issue One, edited by myself and Niyousha Bastani
Okay, so I'm a little biased about this one, and so I haven't put it on the top ten. But, SBS really does make a great gift. Really. Tell your friends. Info about SBS can be found here.
Waltz With Bashir by Ari Folman
Based on the movie, this graphic novel captures so much of the raw emotion presented in the film. Definitely a must for any graphic novel fans.
Seaborn by Chris Howard
I read this near the beginning of the year and it still sticks with me. It's a fantastic use of ocean scenery and magic in a slightly urban vein. If you've got any urban fantasy fans in your family, then this might be worth checking out.
And there you have it! I didn't read as much as I would have liked this year, unfortunately, but that's the way it goes, I suppose. Any particularly excellent books that I haven't included here?