Ayanna Lloyd Banwa’s When We Were Birds casts a soulful spell as it tells the interlocked stories of a young man, Darwin, who’s newly arrived in a Trinidadian city to work as a gravedigger, and Yejide, a young woman with ancestral gifts. At once gritty and soaringly mythic, it explores estrangement, death, grief, and the unbreakable bonds of lineage with haunting power. The mythic mood is set by Yejide’s Granny Catherine telling her a magical story of “talking animals and a Great War” followed by the coming of a fierce storm. With the world ripped asunder by death, corbeaux carrion birds restore order through devouring the dead, performing “a sacred duty to stand at the border between the living and the dead”. This tale, told to her in childhood, remains with Yejide through her life. In the present day, when she dies in the family home outside the city of Port Angeles, Yejide’s mother leaves her daughter the ability to talk to the dead, positioning her between the living and the dead, like the corbeaux. Their strained relationship is poignantly portrayed, and framed in the raw truth of the cycle of life, motherhood and death: “Is the daughter who makes the mother an ancestor when she die”. Meanwhile, Darwin arrives in Port Angeles to work as a gravedigger, against his mother’s wishes, against the Rastafarian code he was raised to follow, vaguely hopeful he might happen upon the father he’s never met. When he and Yejide encounter each other in the ancient graveyard, elemental forces are unleashed — storms of emotion and need, with luminous light and calm coming in its wake. “The air soft and clear and all the living and the dead settle themselves like an old lady in a rocker on her front porch settling her skirts” — this novel is blessed with writing that sears the soul. It’s a tale that unsettles before gathering you in, releasing, and healing. Magic.
As the first in what is setting itself up as an epic magic realism series, this captivating debut thrills with a fabulous cast, intriguing plot and fascinating exploration of magic. Anna is just about to turn 16, her Aunt is arranging a ceremony to bind her magic but when Anna meets Effie and Attis she begins to question everything she has known. The main characters are teenagers on the brink of adulthood, due to the content I would say this is balanced between a read for older teens, and adults. Cari Thomas has made the magic in Threadneedle feel age-old and real, and while the teenagers release themselves to the wilds of experimentation, dangerous undercurrents swirl through the book. The characters are vibrant and relatable, even when throwing spells around. Abuse and bullying run as a theme alongside the fantasy element, and are explored with empathy and compassion. As I read, I believed, even though this is a new take on magic, it immediately settled in my thoughts. This is such a beautifully easy yet all-consuming read, I swam in its depths before coming up for air and back to reality. The ending sets itself up nicely for the next in the series. Threadneedle, the first in the Language of Magic is just wonderful, I wish it all the very best as it deserves to fly.
This gloriously bittersweet and intensely dark novel swims into the very depths of emotion and takes you with it. Tartelin’s new job on near deserted island Dohhalund off the East Anglian coast tests her own grief and the secrets of her employers past. Polly Crosby’s debut novel was the stunning LoveReading Star Book The Illustrated Child. This, her second novel more than lived up to my high expectations, Polly Crosby is most definitely an author to watch. She isn't afraid to slice open, peel back and expose layers of pain, and she does so in the most beautifully eloquent way. I advise taking your time with this novel, step into and soak up the words. A hushed quiet descends, and yet the island, the tone, the words, create a powerful and vivid reality. A sense of unease kept me company as I read, alongside that unease something else embraced me in welcome as I settled in and explored with Tartelin. The two time frames shimmered and almost flexed into one as I read. The story hides, remaining watchful and patient before revealing itself, and oh, that ending! Captivating and uniquely atmospheric, The Unravelling has been chosen as both a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month.
You are invited to join Zachary on the starless sea: the home of storytellers, story-lovers and those who will protect our stories at all costs. Discover the enchanting, magical new bestseller from the author of The Night Circus. When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood. Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover - a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth. When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.
A fascinating take on an age old story that led me on a compelling and unique dance. Two of the children spirited away by the Pied Piper of Hamelin escape his clutches centuries later and find themselves attempting to survive in a world they no longer recognise. Maxim Jakubowski has previously written novels that span various genres, here The Piper’s Dance spins between legend and myth, fantasy and relationship (and contains moments of erotism), with Maxim himself describing it as: “hardboiled fantasy”. What awaits is an absorbing, delicious feast of a read. From the first sentence I was hooked, I truly loved where this tale took me, it’s a journey of discovery and I found myself exploring alongside Tristan and Katerina. The brilliant vivid characters feel entirely real, I didn’t stop to question, I just believed. Innocence, experience and knowledge join together in a heady mix that sent my thoughts in new directions. A different, potent and exhilarating read, I’ve chosen The Piper’s Dance to feature as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. Pre-order the signed hardback or the paperback of Piper's Dance from telos.co.uk and get a 20% discount using the code: lovereading
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a sweeping romance rich with love and betrayal, with more than a dash of magic. They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail's most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina's chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina's debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip - malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse. But Nina's life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina's talent blossoms - as does her love for the great man. But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina - and himself - that threatens their courtship. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.
A gorgeously simple yet heartbreakingly complex debut that strays into magic realism and explores the meaning of family. Tito and his grandmother probe the magic of family bonds, as they grow older, their struggle to keep loved ones close takes its toll. Fairlight Moderns are little gems of books, small and compact, beautiful inside and out, each story packs a punch. J T Torres writes with a compassionate and thoughtful yet penetrating and provocative pen. A chain reaction of emotions ran through me as I joined Tito and his Nana and echoes of Cuba slid into Florida and Alaska. It feels as though the magic of Taking Flight will release a totally different experience to each person who steps between the pages. While readers always take a part of themselves into a book, here that piece of me stayed within it. With a devastating delicacy, Taking Flight delves into the intricate complexities of family, migration, and mental health and has been chosen as one of our Debuts of the Month.
From reading the synopsis, you wouldn’t think ‘Post-Midnight Blues’ by Rae Toonery would be filled with humour, one aspect of the book that really stood out to me was it’s witty back and forth, albeit in his mind, between Heathcliffe and his owner Con. Clearly affected by a workplace incident, Con has retreated into herself, not straying far from her caravan until darkness falls, with her dog Heathcliffe and friend Sandeep her only companions. This story is full of heart, and I found that the characters were really well constructed, unique and likeable. Con is relatable and it was very easy to form a connection to her and want her to work through her troubles. Sandeep is a caring and empathetic friend Heathcliffe is always there to break up any serious moment with his wry thoughts and requirements. There seems to be so much covered in a relatively small number of pages, I was able to whiz through it in one sitting. ‘Post-midnight Blues’ is a heart-warming tale of redemption with a bittersweet ending. It’s a book that will make you smirk while also bringing a tear to your eye and the characters will stay with you for a while after you’ve finished reading.
WINNER of the Republic of Consciousness Prize Winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction Lush and frothy, incisive and witty, Shola von Reinhold's decadent queer literary debut immerses readers in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty, while interrogating the removal and obscurement of Black figures from history. Solitary Mathilda has long been enamored with the 'Bright Young Things' of the 20s, and throughout her life, her attempts at reinvention have mirrored their extravagance and artfulness. After discovering a photograph of the forgotten Black modernist poet Hermia Druitt, who ran in the same circles as the Bright Young Things that she adores, Mathilda becomes transfixed and resolves to learn as much as she can about the mysterious figure. Her search brings her to a peculiar artists' residency in Dun, a small European town Hermia was known to have lived in during the 30s. The artists' residency throws her deeper into a lattice of secrets and secret societies that takes hold of her aesthetic imagination, but will she be able to break the thrall of her Transfixions? From champagne theft and Black Modernisms, to art sabotage, alchemy and lotus-eating proto-luxury communist cults, Mathilda's journey through modes of aesthetic expression guides her to truth and the convoluted ways it is made and obscured.
Available in Hardback Paperback and Kindle. A pacy espionage thriller, with a science fiction twist and a whole squad of strong female characters. ‘Killing Queens’ by Raechel Sands introduces us to Nearby, an MI6 intelligence officer who tells the reader about her connections and experiences with other agents she calls, the Black Queen, the White Queen and the Red queen. In a world of MI6, spies and modification to make “purple blood” super-assassins, this is the first of the Killing Queens saga. The Irish dialect used by Nearby to tell this story seems authentic although it sometimes seems to seep into the perspectives of the other characters, which I found a little jarring. I loved the author’s use of imagery throughout, “stopped with the sound of snow coming to rest” was a particular favourite. The author certainly manages to pack a lot into the book, even creating and referencing a playlist that can be listened to in accompaniment. This is a detailed story that combines noir, espionage, adventure and satire; those that enjoy the irreverence of Villanelle in ‘Killing Eve’ will find similar characters here. The plot switches between past and present in order to include all three of the queens in the story, providing the reader with backstory while also continuing the action. The author has done well to structure the book so that you can follow the characters and the timelines without getting lost. One slight niggle I do have about the structure is the use of footnotes. I personally prefer any information that’s vital to the plot to be woven through it, not tagged on as a footnote, and would have preferred to not be pulled out of the action to read additional and potentially unnecessary explanations. ‘Killing Queens’ is an interesting story with a cast of strong female characters. This is an entertaining book for someone looking for a slightly unconventional action and espionage thriller with a sci-fi/fantasy twist and filled with dark humour.
Though complex, subtle, and rich in history and myth, Violet Kupersmith's Build Your House Around My Body makes an instantly potent impression. Her writing is at once measured and vivid, infused with the elemental power of Vietnamese folklore, and with the histories, fates and desires of its protagonists. Following the lives of two fearless women who both went missing (though decades apart - one in 1986, the other in 2011), and who both seek revenge, Build Your House Around My Body is hauntingly poetic, playful, and a puzzle, of sorts. A multi-layered Russian doll of a story with magic realist elements - ghosts, time travel, snake monsters. Indeed, the whole novel might be described as a coiled serpent that spirals and springs when you least expect it. Despite their very different backgrounds, the women are bound by the past, and by ancestors and ghosts. It’s a mystery, a mythic epic, a slippery history that defies classification, and I loved it.