The best science fiction/fantasy books with the best nonhuman(oid) companions

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, my mother worked for a local vet, which means I got to live with diabetic cats, baby bunnies, parrots, a brain-damaged squirrel, a dog with a mobility device, and much more. As a reader and eventually a writer, I’ve loved stories about the relationships between humans and their nonhuman companions. For me, relationships are the heart of a story. Relationships between people are great, but you can do so much with relationships between, say, a goblin and a magical fire-spider, or a young girl and a sentient telepathic kite, or Cinderella and the glass sword that holds the spirit of her mother…

I wrote...

Book cover of Libriomancer

What is my book about?

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, gifted with the magic to reach into books and draw things from their pages. When Isaac is attacked by vampires who leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape.

Isaac soon finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. His companions are a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, and a fearless fire-spider named Smudge Their search will uncover dangerous secrets about libriomancy and its founder: Johannes Gutenberg.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Hellspark

Jim C. Hines Why did I love this book?

This is one of my favorite books, period. I love the warmth and heart Kagan puts into her writing.

Hellspark is a far-future science fictional murder mystery set on an alien world. Tocohl Susumo, an expert on languages and cultures, is sent to investigate. The suspects—the planetary survey team—are a powder keg of fascinating, but clashing, cultures and backgrounds.

Helping Tocohl is her ship’s AI, Lord Margaret Lynn, aka “Maggie.” Maggie is, quite simply, the best. She’s childlike in many ways, but also loyal and clever and so much fun. The relationship between Tocohl and Maggie reminds you of a loving parent-child partnership.

By Janet Kagan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hellspark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tocohl Susumo finds her plans to attend the festival of St. Veschke interrupted by her rescue of a young woman and her subsequent involvement in a mystery in Lassti

Book cover of Cog

Jim C. Hines Why did I love this book?

Cog, short for “cognitive development,” is the name of a robot built like a 12-year-old boy and programmed to learn about everything from lying to platypuses.

When he learns he’s considered property, he and some fellow robots set out to find freedom. There’s a robot dog named Proto, a trash disposal bot named Trashbot, a robot girl named ADA, and a robot car named, well, Car.

This band of bots is a delight. Trashbot is constantly asking about waste it can dispose of. Proto is a wonderful blend of dog and robot. You can’t help but care about and cheer for them all.

By Greg van Eekhout, Beatrice Blue (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Five robots. One unforgettable journey. Their programming will never be the same.

Wall-E meets The Wild Robot in this middle grade instant classic about five robots on a mission to rescue their inventor from the corporation that controls them all.

Cog looks like a normal twelve-year-old boy. But his name is short for "cognitive development," and he was built to learn.

But after an accident leaves him damaged, Cog wakes up in an unknown lab-and Gina, the scientist who created and cared for him, is nowhere to be found. Surrounded by scientists who want to study him and remove his…

Book cover of Hounded

Jim C. Hines Why did I love this book?

Hounded is the first book in the Iron Druid series, about two-thousand-year-old druid Atticus O'Sullivan, who lives in present-day Arizona.

Atticus is a fun character, with just the right combination of snark, power, and oh-crap-I’m-in-over-my-head-again panic. But his companion, an Irish Wolfhound named Oberon, steals every scene he’s in.

Oberon and Atticus share a telepathic bond, which means we get to hear Oberon’s thoroughly dog-centric perspective on everything from the great squirrel conspiracy to the eternal quest for treats. The author clearly has a love and appreciation for dogs.

Oberon is a great partner and a loveable character. In short, Oberon is a Very Good Boy.

By Kevin Hearne,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Hounded as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in the New York Times bestselling Iron Druid Chronicles—the hilarious, action-packed tales of a two-thousand-year-old Druid pursued by ancient gods in the modern world

“A page-turning and often laugh-out-loud-funny caper through a mix of the modern and the mythic.”—Ari Marmell, author of The Warlord’s Legacy

Atticus O’Sullivan is the last of the ancient druids. He has been on the run for more than two thousand years and he’s tired of it. The Irish gods who want to kill him are after an enchanted sword he stole in a first-century battle, and when they find him managing an…

Book cover of A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking

Jim C. Hines Why did I love this book?

Mona is a fourteen-year-old wizard with power over bread and other baked goods.

She has a sourdough starter named Bob for a familiar. Do I need to say more?

Well, there’s more. Mona creates animated gingerbread companions, bread golems, and more. It’s a fun and creative and thoroughly entertaining idea. The story can be dark at times, but how can you resist a book with lines like, “Death by sourdough starter. Not a good way to go.”

By T. Kingfisher,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn't like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can't control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt's bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona's life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona's city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of…

Book cover of Starbridge

Jim C. Hines Why did I love this book?

Starbridge is another old favorite. The book is written with heart and warmth. It’s the kind of story that always makes me feel better when I finish reading.

Mahree Burroughs is almost seventeen, and on her way to Earth from her colony world when their ship gets caught up in a first contact situation. As is often the case, secrets and misunderstandings abound, and things get messy.

While the alien Simiu is interesting, one of my favorite characters is the sentient fungus Mahree meets and names Doctor Blanket. Doctor Blanket doesn’t come along until later in the book, but he’s great: wise and curious and simultaneously old and youthful.

By A.C. Crispin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starbridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The students of Starbridge Academy--a training school for Earth's young diplomats, translators, and explorers--meet representatives from sixteen other races and, together, they journey across the universe

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The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

By John Winn Miller,

Book cover of The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

John Winn Miller

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The Hunt for the Peggy C is best described as Casablanca meets Das Boot. It is about an American smuggler who struggles to rescue a Jewish family on his rusty cargo ship, outraging his mutinous crew of misfits and provoking a hair-raising chase by a brutal Nazi U-boat captain bent on revenge.

During the nerve-wracking 3,000-mile escape, Rogers falls in love with the family’s eldest daughter, Miriam, a sweet medical student with a militant streak. Everything seems hopeless when Jake is badly wounded, and Miriam must prove she’s as tough as her rhetoric to put down a mutiny by some of Jake’s fed-up crew–just as the U-boat closes in for the kill.

The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

By John Winn Miller,

What is this book about?

John Winn Miller's THE HUNT FOR THE PEGGY C, a semifinalist in the Clive Cussler Adventure Writers Competition, captures the breathless suspense of early World War II in the North Atlantic. Captain Jake Rogers, experienced in running his tramp steamer through U-boat-infested waters to transport vital supplies and contraband to the highest bidder, takes on his most dangerous cargo yet after witnessing the oppression of Jews in Amsterdam: a Jewish family fleeing Nazi persecution.

The normally aloof Rogers finds himself drawn in by the family's warmth and faith, but he can't afford to let his guard down when Oberleutnant Viktor…

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Interested in robots, murder, and murder mystery?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about robots, murder, and murder mystery.

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