I’m not sure I’ve read a book as simultaneously uplifting and horrifying as The Book Thief. Perhaps this is not too surprising as it’s narrated by Death himself.
Marjorie Burke was angry. Her little sister had married an Orthodox Jew and seemed to change overnight from a fun-loving, normal, naughty girl into a serious wife and mother—and a very religious one, in keeping with her new husband’s beliefs. As a grad student immersed in ancient stories of the White Rebbe, a Jewish holy man and magician, Majorie has an academic historian’s point of view on legends. She never expected them to come calling in real life or to have to face down a supernatural being called The Angel of Losses on her own.
There are all kinds of angels. There are the sort that make grand pronouncements from God—bright, shining beings that are meant to be obeyed. They usually say their piece, and then they’re gone, leaving humans to make the best they can of the situation. That wasn’t the kind of angel that followed Henry Bright home from the Great War. No. This was the kind of angel who hung around and made suggestions, pretty much constantly.
London Below is a dangerous, magical place. In Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Scotsman Richard Mayhew had just settled in with the upwardly-mobile routines of London Above. He had an office job that might be going places and a stunning if toffee-nosed girlfriend who was perhaps rather too keen on gallery-hopping for his taste. His lovely Jessica had plans for Richard’s life that did not include helping the bloody and broken young lady who lay across their path.
Rudyard Kipling, an amazingly gifted British writer who was born in India, tells stories of ghosts, gods, reincarnation, and the joys and madness of the human spirit in the collection, Tales of Horror and Fantasy.
How can a man maintain stability and order in a city where volatile race relations are about to boil over? In Thud! an installment of Terry Pratchett’s long-running Discworld series, Commander Vimes of the City Watch must deal with the erupting tensions between trolls and dwarves following the unexplained death of Hamcrusher, a high-ranking dwarf. Like most of Pratchett’s entries in this series, the humor in Thud! is self-contained and does not require knowledge of prior novels. It offers a mixture of satire of fantasy tropes with real-world issues and conflicts. Reliant on verbal humor and character development, the book is a good choice for fans of British genre satire such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I spied Ant Colony from about fifty feet away and knew that I had to at least give it a try. Regardless of what its pages contained, I knew there was something special about a book with such a bizarre cover. Bright colors meld with violently jagged edges over an inconspicuous ant hill, hinting at a darkness lurking beneath. I was not wrong.
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Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins: "Jitterbug Perfume is an epic. Which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn't conclude until nine o'clock tonight (Paris time). It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left."
If you enjoy novels similar to this one, you may enjoy the following texts:
Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
In Asleep, Yoshimoto spins the stories of three young women bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning for a lost lover, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, who has embarked on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake. A third finds her sleep haunted by a woman against whom she was once pitted in a love triangle.
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
The highly original satire about Oedipa Maas, a woman who finds herself enmeshed in a worldwide conspiracy, meets some extremely interesting characters, and attains a not inconsiderable amount of self knowledge.