Megha Jain is an eBook Production Editor for Berkley and NAL’s InterMix imprint. She likes cats, Netflix, and misanthropes.
A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
Dr. Diana Bishop is no ordinary historian. As the only child of two gifted witches, she possesses a power so great that all creatures—human, faerie, daemons—are automatically drawn to her. Diana suppressed her powers after she was orphaned at the age of seven. But now, two decades later, strange forces (and a very attractive vampire) will compel Diana to face who and what she really is.
Deborah Harkness transforms the sleepy, dreamy city of Oxford into a magical place filled with supernatural beings and otherworldly adventures. Danger stalks Diana through the ancient streets as she tries to grapple with dark creatures and her power. Thankfully, that very attractive vampire is along for the ride too. Fun, sexy, and a little scary, A Discovery of Witches is a thrilling start to an amazing series.
The Necromancer’s House, by Christopher Buehlman
Razor-sharp wit and creepy suspense make The Necromancer’s House an incredibly fun ride. Our flawed protagonist and the fantastic supporting cast of creatures face off against Baba Yaga, an ancient Slavic creature, using modern magical warfare in a fight to the death. Along the way, you’ll be sucked into these unique characters’ backstories, all of which are richly drawn and provide layers of detail that you’ll be obsessing over long after you’ve completed this book.
The Necromancer’s House isn’t easy to classify—and that’s a good thing. It’s by turns romantic, suspenseful, horrific, and hilarious. If you are looking for a tale that will occupy your imagination to such an extent that nothing else will get done, this is the book for you. Just be prepared to sleep with the lights on.
American Supernatural Tales, by various authors
The stories are collected by ST Joshi, a hardcore atheist who has made weird literature his life’s work. He’s got good taste, that’s for damn sure. It’s called American Supernatural Tales because all of the authors are American. In fact, this book could easily be the only required text for any high school course on American literature. And why not? The quality is superb and the fears expressed and surprises uncovered reflect the wonders and anxieties of the authors’ times.
I strongly recommend this book for fans who prefer their entertainment weird. There’s more to ghost stories than shitty Blair Witch knockoffs and torture porn. It’s high time people remember good horror is good art.
The Movement of Stars, by Amy Brill
The book is inspired by Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to spot a comet with a telescope. The main character, Hannah Gardner Price, has almost all the same traits: Quaker astronomer, learned from her father, earned a reputation as a comet hunter through hard work. Unlike Mitchell, Price has significantly fewer siblings, only one, and she falls in love with a whaler seeking to improve his own station. The endless waiting (to hear from her brother, to hear from the whaler, to spot a comet) drives her. The adults’ need to control her drive them.
There’s a line that really got me: “Altair, Deneb, Vega. Eagle, Swan, Lyre. Three constellations any child could pick out of the night sky.” About the time I was reading this, those stars were bright in the western sky, but the rest of the constellations were hidden—hazards of city-living. Well over 100 years separate us from the main character, but we can still see what she saw. I didn’t read that, I felt it, and it felt amazing.
Great book for the budding astronomer. It should quickly relieve them of the idea that this lifestyle is easy. I believe it’s the author’s first book; hopefully it won’t be her last.
Still Life with Shape-Shifter, by Sharon Shinn
Melanie Landon has spent most of her life trying to keep her sister Ann’s shape-shifter secret safe from the world. But when Ann goes missing for months and a writer shows up on Melanie’s doorstep looking for information about Ann—and shape-shifters—their fragile existence shatters. Shinn weaves in a second story about Janet, a human who falls in love with a shape-shifter, while exploring love and loss in a moving and heartbreaking way.
This is one of those books that may cause uncontrollable sobbing in public places, like on the subway. You’ve been warned.
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