Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Suzanna Clarke
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a fantasy novel that takes place in the early 1800s in England. Mr. Norrell steps into society as the first practical English magician (meaning he practices magic rather than simply studying the history of it) in hundreds of years, and he intends to bring magic back to England. Jonathan Strange, an animated young man, soon joins him, and becomes Mr. Norrell’s pupil. Like any good tutor and pupil they are soon competing for mastery of the craft, and the story that follows is dramatic and engaging. This was published in 2004, but the feel of the writing reminds me a good deal of novels actually published in that era, particularly Jane Austen. This book was also recently made into a TV series, and I have not watched it yet but have heard that it is excellent.
Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern
Eye Contact is a thriller about the murder of a young autistic boy named Adam who witnesses the murder of his school friend. After the trauma of his friend’s death, he withdraws from the world around him, to the great frustration of his loving mother Cara. The mystery of the murder was certainly intriguing, but my favorite part about the novel was reading about the relationships in this book: the bond between Adam and his mother Cara, the long history between Cara and Adam’s absent father, the broken friendship between Cara and her best friend… this book takes a bit of patience, but I enjoyed the slow reveal of the murder as well as the web of connections between all the seemingly unconnected characters in this book.
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Bitter Greens is a historical fantasy novel, the retelling of the Rapunzel story, as told to Charlotte-Rose de la Force, a French author from the 1600s. Charlotte-Rose has been sent to a convent as punishment for her public behavior, and is recounted the Rapunzel story by a mysterious Italian nun who takes Charlotte-Rose under her wing and teaches her about herbs and gardening. The story itself starts out similar to the story as told by the Grimm brothers, but the characters are fully fleshed out, their motives are well explained, and the additions to the story are well worth reading. This book was rather long, and at first I didn’t understand why it was told through Charlotte-Rose’s eyes, but I decided to be patient, and it was well worth the read.