Witchy Reads

Fiction has been awfully witchy this year, with strong showings across historical fiction, romance, and general fiction. For your reading pleasure, an incomplete list:

HISTORICAL FICTION

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”

Horror Comes Home

Alright, it’s spooky season people! Horror has a long tradition of scary houses and liminal spaces, and this year’s horror novels feature a great slate of haunted properties: from a former plantation in the American South to a condo in Chicago and cabin in Colorado, from an ancestral home in an historic England-like country to an abandoned mansion in Malaysia, to a seemingly quaint town in upstate New York.

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
Mexican American couple Thiago and Vera move into a Chicago condo beset by unexplained occurrences: cold spots; scratching in the walls; an unruly smart speaker. After Vera dies in a freak accident, Thiago moves to a remote cabin in Colorado, where once he realizes he‘s facing something cosmically sinister it’s already too late. Check this out for a dose of Lovecraftian horror, where the malevolent unknowable is knocking on the door of our reality. Continue reading “Horror Comes Home”

New Fiction Roundup – October 2021

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”

The End of Men

Not really! But this plot premise is popping up in recent fiction, usually as a virus that only targets men and leads to their widespread demise as the world collectively panics. Is now the best time to read about rampant viruses? Maybe not. But if you want to distract yourself from our current viral situation with some fictional versions then hey, why not? And it is intriguing to envision.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
In 2025, a lethal virus breaks out in Scotland which only impacts men. As the Great Male Plague spreads around the world, impacts ripple from the personal to the societal.
     Pick this one: to view the action through the perspectives and experiences of a large cast of characters, including a doctor, virologists, a historian on the run with her son, a nanny, plus smaller one-off vignettes from a wide swathe of characters. Continue reading “The End of Men”

New Fiction Roundup – September 2021

After a hiatus, we resume our monthly rundown of new fiction, with an exciting slate of September titles including new work from Anthony Doerr, Colson Whitehead, Sally Rooney, Ruth Ozeki, and many more.

9/7: Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney – Two friends, one a famous novelist and the other an editorial assistant, exchange emails musing about romantic escapades, political upheaval, and cultural reflections. By the author of 2019 breakout Normal People. A Peak Pick!

9/7: The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter – Musician and songwriter Ritter returns with the story of 99-year-old Weldon Appelgate and his free-wheeling life, beginning with the last days of the lumberjacks in tiny Cordelia, Idaho, and encompassing tales of murder, disaster, bootlegging and more. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup – September 2021”