The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Dark Fantasy

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

The powerful combination of otherworldly magic with this world’s grit gets me every time, in every Wayward Children novella. This one’s for anyone who’s ever experienced loss as a kid, been a lost kid, or lost their innocence—for all of us in one way or another. For Antsy, it’s the loss of her father and all the loss that occurs in its wake, and then Antsy finds the Shop Where the Lost Things Go and a vast series of doors to incredible and unusual places—but it’s easy to lose track of yourself when you’re busy finding new things, new people, and new worlds…

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire, (List Price: $21.99, Tordotcom, 9781250213631, January 2023)

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

This is an absolute gem of a book! Part science-fiction, part romance, Shea Ernshaw delivers another YA novel that is a delight to read. For lovers of stars and post apocalyptic literature!

A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw (List Price: $19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781665900249, December 2022)

Reviewed by Hallie Smith, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Lucky Girl by M. Rickert

Rickert packs a lot of horror in just over 100 pages! Four friends meet up in a diner on Thanksgiving and start a tradition of getting together for Christmas dinner and telling scary stories. Ro, an aspiring writer, learns that sometimes the scariest stories are so terrifying because they stem from fact – and no one is safe!

Lucky Girl by M. Rickert, (List Price: $15.99, Tordotcom, 9781250817334, September 2022)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat

Wren Warren is one of the four founding families of Hollow’s End that holds one of the mysterious crops that tourists flock to. Everything in her life was perfect until the corruption started seeping into the town. Now they’re all trapped in quarantine trying to fight back the “Blight” with no help from a mysterious government agency. Wren will have to ask her ex Derek for help before it’s too late for her and the farms. This was a delightfully dark and delicious read. Not only do we have a very good doggo named Teddy, we also have real and raw characters that leap off the page into your heart. If you like your horror with a bit of small town gothic, this is for you and it’s perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat (List Price: $18.99, Delacorte Press, 9780593382165,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. Cooney

I snagged the book because of the necromancy, but the tagline of “fun, froofy, and glorious: a coming-of-age story” is absolutely correct. The comparisons to Gideon the Ninth will be inevitable, but the tone of this book tends more towards the cheerful morbidity of the Addams family than the grimness I felt at the core of Gideon.The story follows Miscellaneous Stones, a necromancer born with an allergy to violence into a house of assassins and murderers as she grows into her power. As important to the book as her growing necromancy is the way she comes to terms with her family’s legacy and the burden of their sins. Despite the solemnity of the topic, Lanie herself has such a joyous attitude that infects the book and makes me smile even now. I really enjoyed the entire book and look forward to reading her continued adventures. In particular, I can usually predict story beats long before they happen but the author managed to surprise me with the depth and complexity of the characters, especially the antagonists.

Saint Death’s Daughter by C. S. Cooney, (List Price: $27.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781786184702,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly McLeod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Gallant by V. E. Schwab

Olivia Prior has grown up in an orphanage, unable to speak, the only one able to see the ghouls around her. Her mother’s journal is her only link to her unknown past, until she gets a letter from an uncle she didn’t know she had, summoning her to her family home, Gallant — a place her mother had warned her against in her journal, even as her words spiraled into madness. But Olivia longs for a place to belong, and so she goes. It turns out, though, that Gallant is more than just a house. When Olivia crosses the crumbling garden wall, she finds herself in a shadow Gallant, ruled by death, and she has to decide which world she really belongs in. Schwab has a way of telling stories that really gets to the root of the story — yes, this is a story about family and loss, life and death, a doorway between them, and a girl who can live in both worlds, but Schwab makes it so much more, breathing life and meaning into everything Olivia is and does and wants to be. A beautiful book for fans of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman..

Gallant by V. E. Schwab, (List Price: $18.99, Greenwillow Books, 9780062835772,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet by A.A. Balaskovits

Strange folk populate these dark tales, fevered nightmares, and twisted fairytales. Readers beware, things most definitely go bump in the night here, and sometimes they bite. Lots of body horror and lots of gore, but if you like your stories fairly bloody, this book is for you!

Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet by A.A. Balaskovits, (List Price: $14.95, Santa Fe Writer’s Project, October 9781951631130)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia


Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

Jade Fire Gold is debut novel from June CL Tan and what a debut it is! Described as a dark romance, I found it to be so much more. I fell in love with Ahn and Alton from the start, and the PINING and ANGST was top tier between the battling and the magic. This is perfect for everyone who miss Avatar the last airbender or other East Asian inspired stories, and will certainly fill in that gap. There’s lots of nice LGBT representation too, no “bury your gays” here, thank goodness! And I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan, (List Price: $17.99, HarperTeen, 9780063056367, October 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia


Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Ellerie with her twin brothers and sisters live in the peaceful Amity Falls that sit on the edge of a dangerous wood. Bells and great pyres keep the darkness at bay, but when strangers appear and Ellerie’s brother Sam starts acting bizarre and hostile, Ellerie finds herself wondering what she would trade to have her parents home and everything back to normal. But in small towns, darkness often isn’t outside, but within the hearts of its residents. Wow. just wow. This is a stunning sophomore novel from Craig, author of House of Salt and Sorrows. I was blown away by the build-up and the dark atmosphere. I stayed up late, laundry sat unwashed, and I was utterly entranced by all the characters in this story. I loved Ellerie and her courage as well as the mysterious Whitaker who stole my heart along with hers. This is going to be one of the most popular books of 2021, so don’t miss out!

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig, (List Price: 18.99, Delacorte Press, 9780593306741, July 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

“Barely visible, Riley knelt up in his seat to drape his arms around it, flashing white teeth at Andrew. He made for an iconic, hungry gleam in the settling dark beneath tree shadows and open sky, more animal than boy. It was dumb, deliciously reckless, and that compelling energy struck Andrew with the force of a punch.” Imagine FAST AND FURIOUS as a book, but make it a Southern Gothic, give it a hefty dose of dark academia, and make every character queer. Oh, and also have them haunted by ghosts who may be trying to kill them. That is Lee Mandelo’s Summer Sons, a queer horror that sneaks up on you and then tries to possess your body, forcing you to see truths you’d rather ignore. My only complaint is this group would never let me join their pack. Content warnings for general horror, possession, death, drug and alcohol abuse, racism, discussions of past mistreatment of enslaved persons, death of a loved one

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo, (List Price: 26.99, Tordotcom, 9781250790286, September 2021)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

For fans of love triangles and fierce heroines that kick butt, These Hollow Vows is a dark fantasy full of twists and betrayals. I found it a delightful story that I couldn’t help but tear through. The author’s writing is engaging as much as it is enchanting and I have a feeling that Brie is going to charm many readers. I can’t wait for the next installment!

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan, (List Price: 17.99, HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780358386575, July 2021)

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story On the Square in McDonough, Georgia

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