Hi everybody! Amber here. I’ve been having trouble deciding what to read right now and, in addition to several research books I’ve been enjoying, I am in the middle of four different paranormal novels. Here’s a little introduction to each one and what I love about it. Maybe you’ll find one that’s not too hot and not too cold, but just right for you.
Time Travel: The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
I downloaded this book from Audible.com when I was looking for something set in the middle ages. It’s epic—something like twenty-five hours long—which I like in an audiobook. Fellow ParaUnbounder Angela Quarles recommended it and it doesn’t disappoint. Thanks, Angela!
The story is set in the 2050s and the 1300s, in a future when historians study the past by traveling back in time. Willis has a wry sense of humor and her satire of academic life in Oxford is surprisingly one of my favorite parts of the story. It has wonderfully skillful and subtle characterization, the Sci-Fi world building is cool, even though she wrote it thirty years ago and so she is imagining some technologies we actually have now (like video phones), and the suspense around what went wrong when the heroine went back in time has kept me hooked through a slow-building, engaging, literary-style plot. I’m on the edge of my seat worried that she’s going to change human history by introducing the plague to England twenty-years early at the same time I am worried that loveable professor Dunworthy is going to have to deal once again with the helicopter mom who gives him a rash.
Suspense: The City & The City by China Mieville
My friend Mark Pritchard who writes awesome, eyeball-burning erotica (be warned, it’s not romance) gave me his paperback of this book because he knows I have a bit of a fetish for Eastern Europe. Set in an imaginary, formerly soviet city, this noir-style mystery captures the gritty, bleak feel of my favorite books set in that culture.
But the reason Mark knew I would like it is the absolutely fascinating world building. I’m less than halfway through this one too, but I adore the way Mieville hints at the way the two cities exist in the same place, but in two separate worlds. I don’t yet know the way this works—is it a paranormal, or simply a deeply woven psychosocial, phenomenon. Either way, I love that the world building itself means something and through it Mieville is telling us something about human nature, even as he writes great character and plot with super-smart but accessible prose.
Light Paranormal/UF: The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
I picked this one up for free on Amazon because I knew Angie had finaled in the Prism contest for another book, Immortally Yours. I don’t read a lot of light paranormal, but this book is a hoot from the opening page when the heroine’s estranged grandma appears on her doorstep in full-blown biker gear. Seriously, who could resist a coven/biker-gang of grandmas?
I’ve been reading books about witches lately because I am interested in all the various takes on magic and witchcraft, and I love the way the granny witches mix spells into pickle and jam jars and then throw them like Molotov cocktails. If my Southern grandma has been a witch, she would have used mason jars too. The book is cute and funny with just the right amount of romance, and since it’s written in the heroine’s POV, it has one of those sexy heroes whom you never know if you can trust because you aren’t privy to his thoughts. And his name is Dimitri, which plucks the strings of my Eastern European fetish 🙂
Literary Paranormal: The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston
I picked up this NY Times bestseller on the recommendation of Smart Bitches Trashy Books when it was on sale a few months ago and I’ve just gotten around to it. I’ve just begun, and so far it’s the story of a witch, long on the run from persecution. Brackston does a great job imagining the way a traditional witch might integrate with, but a keep a low-profile within, the modern world—she sells herbal teas and oils at local farmers’ markets.
The writing is solid and the conflict feels compelling. And personally, I’m fascinated by any author’s serious attempts to reconstruct ancient religious practices. During seminary, I took classes with neo-pagans and Wiccans and I was astonished to learn that we really don’t know much about the practices and beliefs of these ancient religions that got squashed by Christianity. So I appreciate the way Brackston, clearly building on research, slowly and carefully postulates a system of magic in the same way I adored the TV show Vikings’ imaginative reconstruction of ancient Norse religion. I don’t presume any of these writers are really saying “it was like this,” but the world building is plausible and intriguing and satisfies this geeky student of religion.
That’s what I’m reading. How about you? Anything good to recommend?
@AmberBelldene recommends four paranormal reads on @ParaUnbound <—Click to Tweet
What We’re Reading: Get a taste of four paranormal reads on @ParaUnbound <—-Click to Tweet