When looking for my next read, there are certain buzzwords that makes me instantly intrigued and excited. Here are my top five:
Stories with a historical setting and occult or supernatural elements. The first book that comes to mind is The Diviners by Libba Bray. It’s equal parts fun and scary. While solving a supernatural problem it also includes fashion and trends from 1920’s New York, which I absolutely loved reading about. Another interesting book that fits is the second book in the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. It takes place in London in the year 1590, where we meet several historical figures while searching for a mysterious book. Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman is also an amazing historical fiction book filled with supernatural deliciousness. Set in the regency period in London, 18-year-old Lady Helen uncovers demons in every layer of society.
Portals to other worlds and alternate dimensions. The obvious choice for this one would be The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, but sadly I haven’t read them yet (I better get on that). My favourite series that deals with the possibility of other worlds is The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman. It defies a lot of the expectations usually associated with fantasy, it turns everything around and never becomes predictable. What I took from reading the trilogy was that life is though, don’t expect a magic solution, you’ll carry your demons with you and you have to learn to live with it and be satisfied with where you are and what you have. It’s a series I think about all the time. Another great portal fiction that deals with the aftermath of finding your place and being cast back to normalcy is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.
Fleshed out magic systems. The King Killer Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss is another favourite of mine and one of the reasons why is because it has such an interesting magic system. It makes sense, it had rules and I’m figuratively dying to find out more about it and everything else that’s going to happen in The Doors of Stone, which as I am writing this does not have a release date yet *crying*.
Hades and Persephone. This is a new one for me. Until recently I hadn’t paid much attention to anything Hades and Persephone, but after reading and loving The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi I have become obsessed. It is the first book in a companion duology, which follows a princess who must find herself in order to save the one she loves. It’s inspired by the Hades and Persephone myth as well as Indian folklore and mythology.
Morally grey characters. I love, love, looooove morally grey characters and my favourite cast of trash babies is definitely the squad from The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo. In real life things are rarely black and white and that makes morally grey characters more realistic than pure heroes or villains. I love when the lines are blurred and the difference between right and wrong is hard to distinguish. Kaz and his crew act for selfish reasons, but they are so strong, complex and utterly delightful, and most importantly they learn from their mistakes and grow with them.
The main characters of The Magicians are unlikable, but the way Lev Grossman has written them makes them more genuine, more alive on the page. Their decisions and reactions are tainted by selfishness, which breaks tropes within the fantasy genre and makes it feel as close to reality as it can get. If morally grey characters are done right, they are much more interesting to read about than anything else.
Those are some of my bookish buzzwords that almost always makes me want to read a book instantly!