Top Ten Best Books I Read This Year, Not From This Year!

Welp, it’s that time of year again, when the “Best-Of” lists start showing up and people dissect each and every choice. It’s a tough slog. So far, as of writing this post, I’ve read 220 books this year and I’ll probably finish another dozen if things go well.

Now, I will be featuring a Top Ten list over on Kendall Reviews as well, but I’ve decided to switch it up and to two different lists. The one that will be on Kendall Reviews will be featuring the top ten books I read this year that released in 2020.

The list here? The top ten books I read this read that didn’t come out this year!

I know we all want the brand new and most recent books all day everyday, but just because a book didn’t come out in 2020 doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading!

So, without further wait – here are my Top Ten Books I Read This Year, Not From This Year!

1. The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper.

the killing circle

Released January 1st, 2008, I read this earlier in the year to be featured in my May Pyper-May-Nia! celebration. I was left gobsmacked. To the point that this release is easily my all time favorite book from my all time favorite author. The story follows a writer who joins a group in an attempt to write his first novel. Things fall apart when members begin to disappear. This book left me breathless.

2. Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire.


Released back in 2016, McGuire’s first entry in the Wayward Children series was a superb read. Telling the story of a group of children sent to a special school, McGuire deftly crafted a true gem of a release. I had been meaning to get to reading this book far sooner than I ended up and since then I’ve also read Book Two and will start Book Three shortly! Outstanding work.

3. The Ritual by Adam Nevill

the ritual

Released back in 2011, Nevill’s story of a group of friends frantically trying to survive in the woods was tailor made for me. This is one of the very few times I’d ever watched the movie before reading a book and I have to say – while both are excellent – the book was far and away a more chaotic, pulse-pounding experience. This was one of the best books I’ve every read, let alone this year.

4. The Guardians by Andrew Pyper

the guardians

Another 2011 arrival, The Guardians was read right before The Killing Circle and left me stunned. While it might have been best to not feature two Pyper books on a list of only ten, I simply couldn’t leave this coming-of-age/haunted house story off because it is so friggin’ good. Set in small town Canada, a group of friends is forced to return to where they grew up when one of their friends passes away. The haunted house that they all avoided as kids seems to be linked to his death. Pyper really delivered another fantastic release.

5. The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

the toy thief

Flame Tree Press released this stellar read in 2018, and after loving his most recent release One by One, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer to read The Toy Thief. The story follows a young kid who accidentally video tapes something slinking into their house one night and steals a toy that has significant sentimental value. What Gillespie does after is a truly phenomenal mix of dark fiction and fantasy. Loved this one so much.

6. The Old One and The Sea by Lex H. Jones

the old one

Released in November 2019, The Old One and The Sea by Lex H Jones just snuck under the wire to qualify. Saying that, this book reads like the stories you grew up on. Written for younger readers and adults alike, this follows our young main character Howard who finds a friend with a creature in the water when a mysterious reef arrives. The illustrations are gorgeous and the narrative was fantastic.

7. Where the Woods End by Charlotte Salter

where the woods

Released in August 2018, this was a book I stumbled upon in a Shoppers Drug Mart up here in Canada. I snagged a stunning hardcover on sale, and then purchased the Kindle copy so I could read it. I ended up buddy reading this with Jen aka BookDen on Twitter. The story follows Kestrel as they live in a mysterious place deep in the woods. Always wary of the Grabbers that come, there is a lot to unpack in a truly enjoyable read.

8. At the End of the Day I Burst Into Flames by Nicholas Day

at the end of the day

Nicholas Day’s 2018 release At the End of the Day I Burst Into Flames was a book that kept being suggested to me by a number of friends and after I read it, I started recommending it to everyone who’d listen. A story about dealing with grief and how to process life’s events, Day doesn’t let the reader off the hook. Outstanding work.

9. The Cold by Rich Hawkins


Released in July, 2019, Hawkins The Cold is a story that features a world suddenly plunged into a frozen wasteland while cosmic beasts descend to ravage those unfortunate enough to survive the first frost. Told with a pedal-to-the-metal narrative, Hawkins delivers a truly fantastic apocalyptic story.

10. The Damned (The Darkest Hand Trilogy Book #1) by Tarn Richardson

the damned

Originally released in 2015, but re-released in 2019, Tarn Richardson’s book The Damned is a historical fiction werewolf story that introduces one of the best main characters to ever grace the pages of a book; Poldek Tacit. Richardson crafted a really fantastic story here which makes me excited to dive into Book Two at the start of 2021.

There we have it! Let me just say it was incredibly difficult to whittle this down to only a top 10 and truthfully the amount of amazing books I read shows just how alive and well dark fiction really is.

Book Review: Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill


Title: Apartment 16

Author: Adam Nevill

Release date: May 21, 2010

2020 has been the year of discovering Adam Nevill. So far, I’ve read Last Days, The Ritual, The Reddening, Wyrd & Other Derelictions and his two mini-collections Before You Wake and Before You Sleep and all have been fantastic reads. While falling in love with Last Days, I made sure to pick up his back catalog so that everything was locked and loaded on my Kindle so I could dive in ASAP. Of course, ASAP meant it took me a few more months longer to get to Apartment 16 than originally planned, and, this being a pleasure read for me, I took a little longer to let this soak in.

So, knowing that I had all of the previous Nevill books at my disposal, why this one? Why Apartment 16?

Near the end of last year, a friend of mine read this book and messaged me to say that this had been the most frightening book they’d ever read. It made me curious. So, that was the decision maker. If it scared my friend, it would surely make me keep my feet tucked in at night, yeah?

What I liked: One thing I’ve quickly discovered is that it’s almost impossible to accurately review a Nevill book because there are so many layers, so many textures added to with each passing chapter that when the books really take off, once the base layers have been poured and the foundation has settled, you can’t speak of them in the review as it’ll be 100% spoilers.

Apartment 16 starts off with the familiar ‘haunted house’ narrative of a rich aunt has passed away, leaving her apartment in a prestigious part of London to her sister and niece who live in America. They’ve not seen each other in many, many years and had though the aunt had died long before. The niece travels to London to review the apartment and get it set up to sell, but once there finds out her aunt was eccentric and the apartment itself features a number of oddities.

It’s from that synopsis that Nevill showcases why he is a master storytelling and, while I’m no scholar on older works, harkens back to the time when story and setting where told over a number of pages, not blasted at us in thirty second sound bites. Nevill really took his time to create a number of working pieces that when they all came together left me stunned and breathless. Even the two characters I hated and wished were not in the book for a solid 90% of the story were paramount to the story and at the ending were necessary for how things occurred.

Nevill really does have a way of crafting a story and as I mentioned, layers the narrative with in-depth and intriguing plot points. Much like how things happened with Last Days, Apartment 16 has some fantastic ‘additional’ back story which really elevated our antagonist. Loved the eccentric meeting with fans of this character as well as how those who’d previously known this character had ‘evolved.’ Again, really tough to describe these workings while staying spoiler free!

What I didn’t like: I mentioned it briefly, but there were two characters I loathed. I’ll briefly say that the young boy was necessary, but I found his arrivals at the beginning distractive and I wasn’t sure of the need (until later on) and Miles. For someone who stated they wanted to learn so much more about our antagonist he sure seemed to be a bit wishy-washy on learning more later on.

Why you should buy this: If we go all the way back to my initial introduction where my friend told me how scary it was, the logical question now would be; did this book scare me? Answer. Absolutely! Again, much like Last Days, Nevill has a way of shaping the shadows in the corner of the room so that they move and slither while you read. The apartment itself is sneakily left with limited descriptions so when we do spend time in there, it creaks and groans and makes you wish a light was on or that you were reading the book in a crowded space. Safety in numbers is best while enjoying a Nevill book. Apartment 16 may be ten years old now, but there is nothing about it that feels dated. It’s a modern classic that gives us a new spin on how haunted places can act and the lengths the space will go to get what it needs.

I absolutely loved this one and think you will as well.


If you’d like to buy direct from Adam (with signed options available) you can do so here;

Ritual Limited Shop

Amazon link;