Writer's Grove

My underrated list

April 6, 2015

Somehow I landed myself on a Buzzfeed list today, which would normally be a WOOHOO I HAVE ACHIEVED A POP CULTURE BROWNIE type thing, but it kind of wasn’t. I’m always turbo grateful for publicity and stuff, but this one was a bit of a head scratcher because of its title and its contents and yeah, basically everything.  It’s called 29 Underrated Book Series Every YA Lover Should Read. There are some really great series listed there and I don’t want to throw shade on any of them. But I’m perplexed about the use of the word “underrated” here since many of the listed series are NYT bestsellers and in several cases have had movies made about ’em. I mean, the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini? Great stuff. And a great guy! But it’s sold 15 million copies according to an article in Rolling Stone a year or two ago, plus a movie and such, so that’s not really underrated. That’s holy-shit-I’m-gonna-buy-me-some-damn-yachts money for books that clearly many people enjoy. And Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan? Yep, that’s millions of copies and a couple movies too. How’s that underrated when it’s so super-duper popular? Reading through that list of “underrated” series made me think of Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In my particular case I was more perplexed by the YA title. I don’t consider myself a YA author. It’s true that younger readers have read and enjoyed my stuff, but I wouldn’t give HEXED to an 11-year old and tell ’em to enjoy the hot scratchy sex between Atticus and the Morrigan. Younger readers can obviously read whatever the heck they want, but I’m not shelved in YA and can tell you when I’m writing I’m not thinking, “Ha ha! Those younger readers sure are going to appreciate my use of ‘monstrous fuckpuddle’ here!”

So I thought I’d provide my own unsolicited list of underrated series, albeit mostly for adult readers and much smaller than 29—I’m only throwing out five, a manageable list. And when I say underrated I mean they haven’t hit the NYT list yet, but damn it, they should because their stories are fabulous and deserve to be read. I’ll provide the series name and the first book to get you started. These are series, mind, not single books, and in no particular order.


1. The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest. Start with MAPLECROFT. I’ve said it before and will say it again: This is genius-level work. Should be a movie. Cherie should be bathing in cash and wearing money to the gym.

2. Prospero’s War by Jaye Wells. Start with DIRTY MAGIC. What I wrote for the cover blurb remains true: Kate Prospero is my favorite heroine.

3. The Eric Carter books by Stephen Blackmoore. First one is called DEAD THINGS. Urban fantasy LA noir with a necromancer fond of using a straight razor. Fast reads, punch-in-the-gut stuff, and I would whisper sweet nothings in Stephen’s ear and nibble on it too if I could get the third book tomorrow. Or the next day.

4. The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone. Begin with THREE PARTS DEAD. Max writes some beautifully complex shit. And when you talk with him you realize you haven’t been doing a hell of a lot with your brain. He’s wicked smart and almost illegally nice.

5. Anything by Diana Rowland. She has two different series going and they’re both great. I dig the White Trash Zombie books in particular. The main character, Angel, has to become a monster to become a better human, and it’s brilliant. Start with MY LIFE AS A WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE.

Obviously there are metric fucktons of other deserving but underrated series out there to read—this is by no means a comprehensive list, just five series off the top of my head that I think should be getting far more attention than they currently are. So give ’em a gander, try one or all of ’em, and see what you think.

Hey, regardless: Thank you for reading anybody’s work, period. I’m super grateful to everyone who’s given my work a chance.

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