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Emily’s go-to books are Gothic fiction and horror. When not focused on things that go bump in the night, she enjoys historical fiction, short stories, fantasy, and plays. Emily recommends...
Though this book is set on the cusp of winter, it really is a perfect summer read. As far as I'm concerned, there's few better vacation reads than something that follows the premise of "Oh no, there's something in the woods! And it's coming closer!" Told in diary format, with interspersing interviews, readers learn about Greenloop, a green-living utopia nestled deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. But once Mount Rainier unexpectedly erupts, the residents' lives turn more...dystopian. Action-packed and thrilling, with a main character you can't help but root for to boot, this is a super fun read.
The Hacienda by
Following the end of the Mexican War for Independence, Beatriz's family is in shambles. In an attempt to make a better life for her mother and herself, she agrees to marry Rodolfo, a politician who splits his time between the capital and his family's rural hacienda. At first, the country house seems like a dream -- a dream that soon turns to a nightmare. Beatriz is plagued by spectral visions and strange noises. The household staff seem to be aware that something is going on, but Beatriz's new sister-in-law cruelly brushes off her fears and Rodolfo is similarly unconvinced. The only one willing to help Beatriz is a young priest, Andres, who has long had a connection to the spirits of the hacienda. I read this in one sitting; it was the perfect summery haunted house story!
The Island of Missing Trees by
Elif Shafak knocks it out of the park again. Told in a dual timeline, this novel follows Kostas and Defne's forbidden love in 1970s Cyprus and their daughter's life in London in the 2010s. Tensions mount in Cyprus due to the growing nationalism among the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. Unexpectedly, despite their differences, Kostas and Defne find themselves falling for each other. However, with the island on the brink of civil war, their romance poses danger. Torn apart, it is only by chance they find their way together again in the future. The link that ties them and their daughter to Cyprus once they are away is the fig tree that they smuggled into England with them. The tree provides comfort, love, and a connection to a troubled but moving family history.
A Touch of Jen by
Surrealism meets Instagram addictions. Remy and Alicia have become addicted to the social media exploits of Remy's former coworker, Jen. Her life seems so fun and exotic, especially in comparison to their own disappointing setup. When a chance run-in with Jen ends with Remy and Alicia being invited on a surfing trip, a series of events is set into motion that will have catastrophic results. Compulsively readable, Beth Morgan weaves Lovecraftian cosmic horror with the everyday humdrum of service jobs. Remy and Alicia are the best kinds of unlikeable characters. For fans of Mona Awad.
When I Sing, Mountains Dance by
Translated from Catalan, this novel follows a town nestled in the Pyrenees, right along the border between Spain and France. It opens with the unexpected lightning-induced death of a local farmer and follows his family and town in the aftermath in an unconventional family saga. Each chapter is told from a different perspective connected to the town, including townspeople, ghosts that roam the forest, animals, and even the mountain range itself. When I Sing, Mountains Dance is quiet and evocative. Because the story is more focused on characters, there is not a lot of plot. But the characters are so richly developed, you can't wait to see what happens to them next as you follow them on their journeys.
Strange Beasts of China by
Set in a fantastical city, Strange Beasts of China follows a cryptozoology-student-turned-novelist as she attempts to catalogue and tell the stories of the nine types of beasts that reside in the city. Teaming up with her old professor's new protégé, our narrator goes on many quests to uncover the truths that surround the ways of life and death for each of these other creatures. As she investigates, she gets pulled into conspiracies, mysteries, and tragedies. But she also uncovers the most fascinating stories about the beasts, even befriending a few along the way. After all, other than their slight differences, the beasts are just like regular people. For fans of Kazuo Ishiguro's genre fiction.
Emily's Favorite Offbeat Graphic Novels