Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This weekly list feature uses topic prompts to inspire readers/bloggers to share the best (or worst, or most Interesting) of their bookshelves, be it the TBR section, personal favourites or books that have caught their attention.
So, this week’s prompt is a love freebie. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I guess that was inevitable. Thing is, though, I’m not one for celebrating this holiday, to say nothing of the fact that I’m perpetually single. But I still wanted to find some sort of a theme for this week’s list, so I’ve gone with Not Your Typical Romantic Love!
From weird sisterhood to the best of friendships to found family and platonic love, there is a spectrum of love out there, folks. I’m here to highlight some of my favourite fictional examples. So get comfy, pick a chocolate from the box because I know what’s really important about Valentine’s Day, and let’s talk* about …
*With some spoilers! Be warned…
October & May (October Daye series)
Family can be a strange thing, even when someone in it didn’t start out as an omen of death. When October Daye thwarted her own fate, that left her death omen at a bit of a loose end. So she moved in and changed her name, like you do, and the rest is wonderfully weird and fiercely loyal history. As an example of fictional (and indeed, fictional) sisterhood goes, this is one of my favourites. And it’s also one of my favourite plot twists in this wild and wonderful series from Seanan McGuire.
The Dregs (Six of Crows)
I love a good use of the found family trope. I love it even more when there’s an ambitious heist involved (Leverage, anyone?). With Six of Crows I got both of those things, in the most delightfully messed up way. I mean, I could count a number of ways this book comes up with heartwarming/utterly maddening ways to interpret that crazy little thing called love. Wylan walking away from his despicable dad to stay with people who actually appreciate him. Those first flutterings of Feelings between him and Jesper. Nina and Matthias. Kaz and Inej. Kaz and his vengeance. Matthias and his bad mood. Love is love – even when it’s a bit grubby and twisted and covered in angst.
The Wayfarer crew (The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet)
Becky Chambers took the found family trope and turned it into a wonderful, weird, genuinely moving and thought-provoking exploration of life and love. In space. There are so many reasons I love this book of hers, and if for some reason you haven’t read it yet, then you know this drill.
The Rocinante crew (The Expanse)
Same trope, similar result – only with way more politics and MUCH bigger explosions. And many, many more wrecked emotions. Whatever this series is doing, it’s doing it damned right.
(I salute you, Captain Draper.)
The O’Kanes (Beyond series)
Arguably, there is considerably more “traditional” love in this nine-book series than this list might be focused on. And to be fair, it does belong somewhere on the romance-novel spectrum. But “traditional” is definitely relative, and by that logic it also belongs on the post-apocalypse/SF adjacent spectrum too, so let’s forget those labels for a minute. For one thing, the BDSM force is strong here. So is the queerness. Strongest of all, though, is the family bond between this mismatched and messed up gang of lovers and fighters. Imagine Sons of Anarchy, but with way more happily-ever-afters.
Whatever may be going on in various bedrooms and/or war-torn sector streets, the tie that binds them all is made clear with the ink on their skin, and their motto: “O’Kane for life”. This family comes first, and when you’re willing to live AND die for it, that’s a strong bond indeed.
Cullyn & Jill (Daggerspell/Deverry series)
This is a much more complicated entry on a list like this, and if you’ve read Daggerspell, you will understand what I mean. But I’ve included it as an example of the kind of (literally) unbreakable family bond that always hits me in the feelings.
Fate has given Cullyn of Cerrmor plenty of chances to redeem himself – quite literally, as he and those whose fates are linked with his live several reincarnated lives, as tangled together as they are divergent. But it’s Cullyn’s eventual redemption, scraped out of several lifetimes of bloody damnation, and his fatherly love for Jill that makes it possible, that ultimately won me over with this book. I’m embarking on the rest of the journey through this series on the strength of its first entry, and I can’t wait.
Karou & Zuzana (Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy)
Let’s move on to some beautiful friendships! And I’m starting with Karou and Zuzana, from Laini Taylor’s gorgeously epic trilogy, because Zuze is exactly the sort of tiny but fierce and eternally loyal (and downright clever) friend everyone deserves to have. I mean, when you’re on an epic quest to save the world (and the one next door to boot), you want your best friend along for the ride, right? Whether she’s lifting Karou’s spirits or keeping her down to earth, Zuzana is always right there for her, and I love everything about their friendship.
Will & Temeraire (Temeraire series)
I love dragons. I love them even more when they are as human and adorable and flawed as Temeraire. But I love it best when they have a friend who loves them as much as Captain William Laurence loves Temeraire.
By the end, I found I had some insurmountable problems with this series – but this central friendship was never ever one of them. It gave me so many feelings. So many. And their ending was perfect. I still get emotional when I think about it.
Aziraphale & Crowley (Good Omens)
It doesn’t get much more night-and-day in terms of friendship than an angel and a demon. And maybe this one seems a bit ‘done before’, but I am planting my flag firmly in this camp – before Michael Sheen and David Tennant came along and gave me major fangirl squee for an adaptation, there was this book. The writer team of Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman may not have been a terribly prolific one in terms of output, but come on now – their book-child has grown up right. Makes me want to listen to Queen, every time.
Wydrin & Sebastian (The Copper Cat trilogy)
You may have worked out that I have a thing for mismatched BFF personalities. Between that and a deep and abiding love for epic fantasy adventure (I mean, I play D&D, come on now), there is a little starry-eyed place in my heart for these two chalk-and-cheese adventurers. She’s a scrappy mercenary. He’s a righteous knight. Together, of course they’re going to save the world. And in Jen Williams’s hands, they give me wonderful humour, delicious flaws, and heartbreak in the best way.