Fiction has been awfully witchy this year, with strong showings across historical fiction, romance, and general fiction. For your reading pleasure, an incomplete list:
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen
In 1615 Germany, 74-year-old Katharina Kepler is accused of witchcraft, an accusation she shrugs off until it starts to stick. Told via Katharina’s dictation to a neighbor, court documents and witness testimony, this wry and witty novel is loosely based on a real witch trial (of physicist Johannes Kepler’s mother!).
Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
In 1660s Boston, headstrong Mary Deerfield petitions for divorce from her husband on grounds of cruelty, only to be ensnared by accusations of witchcraft from jealous neighbors and servants. As Mary tries to find an avenue to the life she envisions, the Puritan panic around her reaches a fever pitch.
The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore
Manningtree has been largely depleted of men since the beginning of the English Civil Wars. When Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, arrives, he starts poking around the margins of town life, looking for covens and general witchcraft. 19-year-old Rebecca West tries to quell the rumors and protect her neighbors, even as accusations land at her door. Continue reading “Witchy Reads”
October’s fiction release calendar finds plenty of new horror, from the slightly creepy to the gory; new titles by big names, such as Jonathan Franzen and Amor Towles; a debut from an astronaut; a posthumous release by a master of spy fiction; and much much more.
10/5: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman
In this final book in the Practical Magic series, three generations of the Owens family wage a final battle against the curse that has plagued them since the 17th century that has caused anyone who has loved an Owens to die. (fantasy/general fiction)
10/5: Cackle by Rachel Harrison
After a devastating breakup, Annie Crane starts over in a small town in upstate New York. She quickly makes a new friend in Sophie, who seems to lead a charmed life but also inspires fear in the townsfolk. Could she be … a witch? (fantasy)
10/5: Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
This first in a new trilogy introduces Midwestern family the Hildebrandts as Pastor Russ, wife Marion, and their children grapple with the preoccupations and dilemmas of the 1970s. (general fiction)
10/5: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
Practical, grown orphan Jane Lawrence has settled on a plan to secure her future, by marrying local doctor Augustine in a union of convenience. She agrees to his only stipulation, that he always spend the night at his ancestral home, and that she never do. But then comes an accident, and a breaking of the promise, and the discovery of the ghosts that Augustine has hidden. (horror) Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup – October 2021”
Fellow readers, let’s talk beach reads. Don’t be put off by the name – these can be read at the beach, sure, but also by a lake; in a park or on your lawn; on your couch – anywhere you’re taking some time for yourself. And any book can be a beach read*, so long as it is something you find gripping. To get started, here are suggestions for books across genres that grab you and don’t let go until you’ve turned the last page.
Looking to be kept on the edge of your seat? (or beach towel?) Go behind enemy lines with WWII spy Nancy Wake as she trains the French Resistance in Ariel Lawhon’s Code Name Hélène. Or enjoy a tale of revenge and ego as a film shoot in the Caribbean goes awry in The Sirenby Katherine St. John. The dark side of office politics are on display in The Other Black Girlby Zakiya Dalila Harris, as editorial assistant Nella realizes the new girl isn’t what she seems. And when her husband disappears, newlywed Hannah and her stepdaughter Bailey race against time to figure out his true identity in The Last Thing He Told Meby Laura Dave.
With the 2021 Academy Awards celebration coming up on Sunday, April 25, check out one of these recent novels with insider views of the film industry.
Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little – Film editor Marissa Dahl experiences the world filtered through her encyclopedic knowledge of film. Struggling to find film editing work after a longtime partnership falls apart, Marissa accepts a job on a project already underway and shrouded in secrecy. Taken to an isolated island off the coast of Delaware, she discovers she’ll be working with an infamously demanding director on a film that recreates a long-ago true crime. Marissa joins a film shoot plagued by accidents and staff defections, and when a dead body is found that mimics the original crime, Marissa is pulled into investigating by two intrepid teenage girls making a podcast. Prior to reading this I didn’t know anything about the role a film editor plays in the final product, but Little incorporates a lot of interesting career and process detail into her murder mystery.
Last week I suggested that reading shorter works could kickstart a reading habit stalled due to short attention span. But maybe you’re a reader who wants a loooooong read. Short novellas have fast pay off, but the reader does have to do the work of getting into the world created by the author. A long book lets you do that feat of imagination once and then reap the benefits for hundreds of pages. If you want to get lost in a long story, here are a few doorstops to immerse yourself in.
Vagabonds by Jingfang Hao – 100 years after Mars gains its independence from Earth, they send a group of Martian students to Earth, essentially as exchange students. Five years later those students return to Mars, and grapple with dissatisfaction over their return and questions as to why they were sent. Continue reading “Make It Long”