We’re kicking off May with a short list of magical reads to celebrate the start of summer.
For more exciting reads, check out our Overdrive, New and Noteworthy, and Current Literature collections.
Enchantée by Gita Trelease.
A compellingly beautiful tale of magic, intrigue and deception, set against the backdrop of eighteenth-century Paris on the cusp of revolution.
Paris is a labyrinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome young inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.
But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose – love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or magic – before Paris burns.
For similar books, check out Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, and Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.
City of Crows by Chris Womersley.
Set in seventeenth-century France – a country in the thrall of dark magic, its social fabric weakened by years of plague – Chris Womersley’s City of Crows is a richly imagined and engrossing tour de force. Inspired by real-life events, it tells the story of Charlotte Picot, a young woman from the country forced to venture to the fearsome city of Paris in search of her only remaining son, Nicolas. Fate (or coincidence) places the quick-witted charlatan Adam Lesage in her path. Lesage is newly released from the prison galleys and on the hunt for treasure, but, believing him to be a spirit she has summoned from the underworld, Charlotte enlists his help in finding her child.
Charlotte and Lesage – comically ill-matched but nevertheless essential to one another – journey to Paris, then known as the City of Crows: Charlotte in search of Nicolas, and Lesage seeking a fresh start.
Dazzlingly told, with humor and flair, City of Crows is a novel for readers who like their fiction atmospheric, adventurous, spine-tingling, and beautifully written. Pre-revolutionary France, with all its ribaldry, superstition, and intrigue is mesmerizing, and Charlotte Picot’s story – the story of a mother in search of her lost son – holds universal appeal.
Chris Womersley has also written The Low Road, Bereft, and Cairo. A collection of his short stories, A Lovely and Terrible Thing will be released in Australia this month.
Half-Witch by John Schoffstall.
In the world in which Lizbet Lenz lives, the sun still goes around the earth, God speaks directly to his worshippers, goblins haunt every cellar, and witches lurk in the forests. Disaster strikes when Lizbet’s father Gerhard, a charming scoundrel, is thrown into a dungeon by the tyrant Hengest Wolftrow. To free him, Lizbet must cross the Montagnes du Monde, globe-girdling mountains that reach to the sky, a journey no one has ever survived, and retrieve a mysterious book.Lizbet is desperate, and the only one who can help her is the unpleasant and sarcastic witch girl Strix. As the two girls journey through the mountains and into the lands of wonder beyond, on the run from goblins, powerful witches, and human criminals, Lizbet discovers, to her horror, that Strix’s magic is turning Lizbet into a witch, too. Meanwhile, a revolution in Heaven is brewing.
Half-Witch was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018. Check out NPR’s Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction and Young Adult lists.
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett.
In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself – the first in a dazzling new series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.
Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.
But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic – the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience – have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.
Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.
To have a chance at surviving–and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way–Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.
One of my favorite authors, Tamora Pierce, remarks that Foundryside has “Complex characters, magic that is tech and vice versa, a world bound by warring trade dynasties: Bennett will leave you in awe once you remember to breathe!”
The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang.
Fallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.
On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.
The Red Threads of Fortune is one of a pair of standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” We have its twin novella, The Black Tides of Heaven.