Magic — yay or nay?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in a library, it’s that people tend to have very strong feelings one way or another on whether they like books with magic or just fantasy in general. Even with our tween book club, for which the average age is ten, most of our members already have pretty firm opinions on the subject, with some really enjoying escaping into another world entirely and others strongly preferring that their fiction is rooted in realism.
If you’re in the first group, you probably won’t have any problem finding a book for this challenge. But if you’re in the latter and are still stumped for something to read or if you just are looking for something to read in general and don’t mind a walk on the fantastical side, here are some suggestions for you!
If you want a Western:
Michelle Modesto’s Revenge and the Wild (2016)
If you love genre-defying work, you might really like this fantasy western YA novel that was released earlier this year. It follows a young teenager, Westie, as she fights to save her town from insidious monsters of all varieties. This book has werewolves, leprechauns, and cannibals. . . . (I feel like your automatic reaction to that sentence is a good gauge of whether or not you’ll enjoy this book.)
Unlike many other fantasy novels, which are intended as part of a series, this one is a standalone, so you can enjoy it without feeling like you have to commit to a seemingly unending number of subsequent books.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly.
If you like historical fiction:
Mark Tompkins’s The Last Days of Magic (2016)
If fantasy Westerns about cannibals aren’t really your thing, consider instead this fantastical work of historical fiction, set in medieval Ireland. The first in a projected series, this book weaves traditional Irish mythology into its story of the goddess Aisling, who is the rightful ruler of both the physical and spiritual realms. However, outside forces are conspiring to drive magic from Ireland entirely. Mark Tompkins takes his time letting his story unfold and packs in ample fantastical and historical detail. So, if you’re looking for a fast-paced page-turner, you’ll probably be disappointed. However, if you like being immersed in another time and place, you might really enjoy this one.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology and Diana Gabaldon’s work.
If you prefer alternative history:
Harry Turtledove’s The House of Daniel (2016)
If you like your magic a little more blatantly rooted in alternative history or a little more contemporary in setting, try Harry Turtledove’s The House of Daniel. It is the story of a young man touring America with a barnstorming baseball team in the midst of the Great Depression. This version of the Great Depression also includes zombies and vampires. As he does with his other alternative histories, Turtledove provides a well-researched setting for his novel. In addition, given the story’s baseball-driven narrative, the story is also immersed in details from that sport. So, if you’re not a baseball fan, this one might get tedious quickly, but if you like baseball and don’t mind a story with a more supernatural bent, you’ll probably like this book.
Recommended for those who enjoy Eric Flint’s work.
If you enjoy gothic-tinged mysteries:
Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway (2016)
This novella introduces readers to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a boarding school for misfits. Right now, you’re probably thinking, “Oh like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children?” Well, yes and no. This book has a much darker turn, which makes sense considering it is adult fiction and not YA, as the Miss Peregrine books are. At Eleanor West’s, the students are those who have fallen through portals, experienced magical lands, and now have been returned to the real world. Returning home is not a relief but instead an inescapable burden as most of the students long to return to the otherworldly places they left behind. On top of that, someone is murdering the students. . . .
Recommended for those who enjoyed Charles De Lint’s work, Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning, L.J. Smith’s Dark Powers, and Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
If you love YA:
Lindsay Ribar’s Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies (2016)
If you enjoy paranormal suspense, try this YA novel that has been garnering positive reviews for its unique, thought-provoking story. Aspen Quick has an odd family –they have the power to prevent their hometown from being destroyed by the rock cliff that looms over it. And Aspen himself has some unusual abilities–he can steal people’s innermost secrets and emotions. But then he meets someone who, for the first time, can resist him. He then starts to wonder about the origins of his family and their abilities.
Recommended for those who enjoyed Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap.
For more information on any of the books, follow the link to our online library catalog.