This one had been on my TBR list since I read The Changeling. It’s delightfully creepy. Yet, it’s also a serious commentary on police brutality and systemic racism that is incredibly timely for a book set in the 1920s. Tom is a young hustler from Harlem who gets caught up in a rich white man’s gambit to unleash an eldritch horror. For a novella, it has a lot of plot twists and some seriously sad events. Overall, it is a great read.
This Was Our Pact, by Ryan Andrews
This graphic novel is soooo good. A friend gave it to me for my birthday more than a year ago and it’s been sitting on my shelf. The cover does nothing to explain what the book is about, which is probably why I didn’t read it earlier. Ben and his friends vow to follow the lanterns released on the river for the autumn festival until they reach the sea or they turn into the Milky Way, which is what the stories say. Ben’s friends veer off, except for Nathaniel—the class misfit. From there, he and Ben follow the river meeting a talking bear, a witch and her dog, find a cavern filled with stars, and have more dream-like adventures. Beautiful artwork, super imaginative, and filled with delight, I wish I had read this sooner.
Strange Weather in Tokyo, by Hiromi Kawakami
A quirky romance between a 30-something woman and her retired former high school teacher. Tsukiko and her teacher, Sensei, wind up drinking at the same bar and strike up a friendship (even though she had been a terrible student). Over the months and years, they become more than drinking buddies. Tsukiko dates a man she went to school with, but never feels like she fits in his world. Subtle and understated, this is a gem of a story. I’m not generally a fan of May/December romances, but here, Tsukiko has all the agency which makes this romance more palatable (for me).
Skein Island, by Aliya Whiteley
So, this book. I started it last December, but it was just too scary for me. I was enjoying the building horror, but had to have the heart to finish—and this past half year has not been in the least calming. However, I did finish and really enjoyed it. It takes on themes of male/female relationships—the mythos around them—and the mythological ideal of hero, victim, sage, sidekick, and heroine. Basically, the stories we tell ourselves to make the world work. This book is not for everyone. In fact, I’m not sure who I’d recommend it too and that’s what I love to do. But it does make you think.
Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson
A fun YA fantasy about a series of libraries that hold all the grimoires of sorcery in the country and the girl who grew up among their magic. In this world, sorcerers are evil but their books of magic—which are practically alive—are important works of knowledge, so kept safe by librarians. Elisabeth’s greatest desire is to be a warden, a protector/soldier of the libraries. When her library’s most evil book is unleashed, she battles it to the death, but is then accused of setting it free and sent to trial in the city, escorted by a young sorcerer, Nathaniel Thorn, and his demon servant. Once there, they have to stop a plot that seeks to unleash the greatest demon. Sorcery of Thorns felt a bit derivative to me. It takes a lot from Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series, the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle, and several other stories—and doesn’t shy away from acknowledging those influences—but it does make the story its own in a completely enjoyable way.
Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter, by Atelier Sento
Another graphic novel, this time on one of my favorite subjects, Japanese Yokai. Yokai are spirits or ghosts. This story follows two siblings from France as they explore some of Japans most haunted places trying to get pictures of yokai. This story uses a lovely compilation of drawn comics and altered photography to tell a fun story.