The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Fantasy

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is absolutely breathtaking! I had just been complaining to a colleague that I feel like too many books these days have lost a sense of lightness and whimsy in the canon. While this novel would be far from whimsical, there’s a lovely balance of humor and sweetness to the characters that balance out the darkness within the world and the story. Ultimately a story of deciding one’s birth isn’t what’s important, but what you choose to do, I fell in love with all the characters and had to immediately contact everyone I knew as soon as I finished to tell them to put this on their TBR. Katyani is relatable, talented, and has a sense of humor that had me smirking and laughing to myself without even realizing. Don’t miss out on this wonderful Indian inspired fantasy!

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra, (List Price: $18.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250823687, October 2022)

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

Fraternity by Andy Mientus

These chaotic passage of events and writing style reminded me a lot of the novel I Love You, Beth Cooper. Plot-wise, as a YA book, it is extremely insightful in regards to the AIDs epidemic, despite the allure of occult fantasy in this queer coming of age story. It was an entertaining read. I appreciate the tribute to notable gay figures within American history, as well as the representation of queer people of color. In all, it was extremely chaotic, and at times cheesy, but I would still read this and would recommend to those who enjoyed the Haunting of Jake Livingston.

Fraternity by Andy Mientus, (List Price: $19.99, Amulet Books, 9781419754708, September 2022)

Reviewed by Yarah Elshaer, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Ithaca by Claire North

Ithaca takes place in a time while Odysseus is away, and is narrated by Hera, the goddess of women. Many suitors have arrived to try and take the hand of a could-be widow. It’s up to Penelope and her band of women to hold things together, not just for her, but for the sake of the entire kingdom. From unexpected visitors, suspenseful skirmishes, and a lust for power, this is the story of the not so quickly told, unsung protectors of Ithaca. What an amazing, gorgeous take on what was going on while Odysseus has been gone. Spoken from the viewpoint of Hera, this captivating story brings up many people that are usually left by the wayside as far as Greek mythology is concerned. There were a lot of characters, and at first it was a bit difficult to remember which person was which. For the most part, North solves this by giving insight into what each one of them is doing whenever mentioned. From traitors of the kingdom, to a coming of manhood for my personal favorite character, Telemachus, the suspense and build up never failed. The marathon of the middle was exactly that for me, but that is North’s beautiful attention to detail, pulp, and background building that I love from her writing. The ending was a shot out of nowhere. Wondering who would come out on top at the end was something I questioned during the entire read. All I know is, like with almost all of her books, the last five or six chapters tie everything together and are somehow always better than the rest of the book, if that’s even possible. All of my questions, answered. All loose ends, tied.Six stars out of five; I suggest everyone grab this book when it comes out if you are a fan of Greek Mythology, fiction, suspense, and all around good writing. This is the setup of a series, and it was extremely captivating the way North went out of her way to have all the geography, gods, and goddesses of ancient Greece historically accurate. She definitely showed the conflict between them and how some, if not all, are more “humanly” than I had considered when I went through school learning about Greece. It was really nice to have a change of pace from North’s usual writing, but this had her style all over it. Will be grabbing a physical copy in September, to add to my collection of Claire North books and I cannot wait to see what happens next in the story of Penelope.

Ithaca by Claire North, (List Price: $28, Redhook, 9780316422963, September 2022)

Reviewed by Doloris Vest, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Spotlight on: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

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Sunyi Dean Photo Credit: Richard Wilson of Richard Wilson Photography

I’ve never (yet!) set fire to a large Scottish mansion as Devon does, nor numbered my body count in the dozens as Devon has. (Though hope springs eternal, as they say.) But I did grow up reading fairy tales and believing in false happy endings, as she did, and my life has been irrevocably altered by parenting, single or otherwise, as hers was.

Out of personal apocalypse and a total collapse of hope, good things eventually came about—for me, and for Devon.

The Book Eaters is both a love letter to fairy tales, and a critical examination of their flaws. Above all, it is a story about family love in the midst of ruination: how we define it and defend it, how we find it and fight for it.” –Sunyi Dean, Letter to readers

 

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

What booksellers are saying about The Book Eaters

  • This has definitely become one of the books that I wish I had written! Sunyi Dean manages to perfectly capture the feeling of wanting to devour a good book, in all of its fantastical glory. Between the morally grey characters, English moor setting, and enviable prose, Dean has written a modern fairy tale for the ages, where the girl saves herself and monsters are not the ones you would expect. A truly stunning debut novel! ―Hallie Smith from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • This dark and at times disturbing debut novel is an exploration of the depths that a mother will go to in order to protect her son. Devon Fairweather is a book eater – a secret race that literally consumes the written word – and has a privileged but strictly controlled life. All that changes when her son is born a mind eater, and she’s forced to rebel against her upbringing to ensure his survival. Perfect for anyone in need of a Gothic fantasy fix.
      ―Jude Burke-Lewis from Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi
    Buy from Square Books

  • A truly dark and fantastical read that is rich with an assortment of literary references and gothic elements. The Book Eaters is a deliciously unique take on vampirism that you’ll really want to sink your teeth into.  ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • A wonderfully fantastic story about a secret line of people who do indeed eat books, and their unfortunate brethren who are doomed to consume minds. I quickly found myself rooting for the main character Devon, who is a book eater princess and mother fighting to help her mind eater son. There are some creepy bits, but not too bad for this non-horror reader. Inventive worldbuilding and compelling read!  ―Serena Wyckoff from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida
    Buy from Copperfish Books

About Sunyi Dean

Sunyi Dean is an autistic SFF writer, and mother of two. Originally born in the States and raised in Hong Kong, she now lives in Yorkshire. When not reading, running, falling over in yoga, or rolling d20s, she sometimes escapes the city to wildswim in lonely dales. The Book Eaters is her debut, and you can find her online @Blind_Nycteris.

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Talli, Daughter of the Moon Vol. 1 by Sourya

I love it when the first volume of a series catches your attention and leaves you wanting more. When I started Talli, I wasn’t sure what to expect. At first, I thought it was going to be a normal run-of-the-mill Shonen-like manga where nothing crazily drastic happens to characters. Boy was I wrong. The second limbs start to fly and characters have intense personal issues/trauma means that what you are reading is going to have some meat to it. Really excited to find out more about the lore and characters!

Talli, Daughter of the Moon Vol. 1 by Sourya, (List Price: $19.99, Oni Press, 9781637150825, September 2022)

Reviewed by Ethan Davis, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Mandanna’s novel is reminiscent of timeless stories like Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee, and Practical Magic. It’s heartfelt, hilarious, vulnerable and cozy. The characters in Nowhere House are sure to make you smile and believe in magic again. It made my nostalgic, witchy cottagecore heart so happy.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, (List Price: $16.00, Berkley, 9780593439357,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Miriam Meeks, Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi

Over My Dead Body by Sweeney Boo

I love dark academia. My love for it started with Harry Potter as a child and has only grown since then. I was delighted to dive into a school of witches and warlocks that’s brimming diversity opposed to the same old tired tropes. When her friend Noreen goes missing in the cursed forest, Abigail will stop at nothing to unwrap the truth and save her mentee. The art is beautiful. This is going to be the perfect recommendation for Halloween and beyond!

Over My Dead Body by Sweeney Boo, (List Price: 17.9, HarperAlley, 9780063056305, August 2022)

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

Spotlight on: Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

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Sarah Gailey

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes something scary. I think that there’s a lot to be said for danger, for the unknown, for hostility to life. Crocodiles are scary because they want to eat you. The dark is scary because it wants to hide things from you. Outer space is scary because it wants nothing from you at all, it is not even aware of you, and yet it can take everything from you with less conscious effort than you and I spend on a heartbeat. But the scariest thing, I think, is not a thing but a place; that place isn’t really a place so much as a relationship. The scariest thing is the space under your bed.” –Sarah Gailey, Letter to readers

 

 

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

What booksellers are saying about Just Like Home

  • Just Like Home is a splendidly twisted story that left me both delighted and disturbed in equal measure. Sarah Gailey checked all of the boxes with this one, and I couldn’t be happier. ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Sarah Gailey leaned all the way into the truism that haunted house stories are a way to talk about how horrifying domesticity can be. How families can be a confusion of unkindness and violence and complicity. How home isn’t always something safe (that last one is something Gailey especially makes haunting amoeba strips from). Gorgeous; dark, and glistening. Like soul chemotherapy.
      ―Kyra Rathmann from Letters Bookshop in Durham, NC
    Buy from Letters Bookshop

  • Home is not always where the heart is! Gailey terrifies and amazes with the tale of Vera, who has been summoned back to her childhood home to watch her mother fade away from cancer. The old house is full of memories of Vera’s serial killer father and has become a shrine to his crimes, visited by gawkers, crime writers, and artists who want to get into the wicked mindset of a killer. Vera swore never to return but she just can’t escape the pull of home – and all that it contains. This is chilling and impossible to put down!  ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Sarah Gailey’s books are wildly imaginative and addictive. Just Like Home is a deeply twisted horror novel about the Crowder family and the symbiotic relationship they have with their house. The horror of the story lies in facts (Vera knows that her father was a serial killer) and in things too disturbing to be real (is there something living under Vera’s bed?) Where reality and the supernatural meet is the brilliance of this novel.  ―Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, South Carolina
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Sarah Gailey

Hugo Award Winner and Bestselling author Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe. Their short fiction credits include Vice and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was a 2018 Hugo and Nebula award finalist. Their bestselling adult novel debut, Magic For Liars, was published in 2019. Their most recent novel, The Echo Wife, is available now. You can find links to their work at sarahgailey.com and on social media at @gaileyfrey.

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Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey leaned all the way into the truism that haunted house stories are a way to talk about how horrifying domesticity can be. How families can be a confusion of unkindness and violence and complicity. How home isn’t always something safe (that last one is something Gailey especially makes haunting amoeba strips from). This is the kind of book that’s hard to summarize because ultimately very little happens; or a lot happens but it’s all hinted-at and spoilers. Just memories and remembrances looping around and around in both a slow lead-up to the past and a constant questioning. You spend a lot of time basically knowing what’s likely around the corner, but still being lured in by how twisty it gets – until you don’t know who to root for, or if you’re supposed to be rooting for anyone, or if the serial killer is the villain. Gorgeous; dark, and glistening. Like soul chemotherapy.

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey, (List Price: $26.99, Tor Books, 9781250174727, July 2022)

Reviewed by Kyra Rathmann, Letters Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

The closeted son of a nobleman has his life completely up-ended in one day. After being informed of his betrothal to a noblewoman of a neighboring country to cement a trade alliance, Val is forcibly outed by his abusive ex-lover in the worst possible way. Fortunately for him, the neighboring country is much more accepting than his own and the ambassador’s response to this new information is to switch Val’s intended marriage partner to the brother of the previous woman. The story from there unfolds on two plot lines: the very sweet romance between Val and his husband-to-be and the very bloody political intrigue that erupts due to objections to the political alliance their marriage represents. Overall excellent and I highly recommend it.

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows, (List Price: $27.99, Tor Books, 9781250829139, July 2022)

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

Flash Fire by TJ Klune

Nick has gone from writing about an Extraordinary boyfriend to actually having one, and is the best thing ever. Except now more Extraordinaries are showing up in Nova City, and of course it’s up to Nick and his friends (old and new; just wait until you meet Miss Conduct!) to figure out what’s going on and who are good guys and who are bad guys. Not to mention all the family secrets that Nick is uncovering. I love Nick so much, in all his awkward glory, and this book just cements that. If you haven’t read The Extraordinaries yet, do that, then run right out and get Flash Fire, because it is just as good.

Flash Fire by TJ Klune, (List Price: $10.99, Tor Teen, 9781250203694, July 2022)

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

The Darkening by Sunya Mara

Vesper Vale, the daughter of failed revolutionaries, is on her quest to save her father from the storm. Vesper must lie about everything, including her feelings, to get inside the prince’s cold and unfeeling heart. However, when armed with her own choice, will she choose trusting the prince, or the storm? Interesting, heartbreaking, and fast paced, with plot twists you’ll never see coming, this one is a perfect choice for fantasy, action, and romance readers.

The Darkening by Sunya Mara, (List Price: $18.99, Clarion Books, 9780358561989, July 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty

A standalone epic mystical murder mystery fantasy novel. Blood and Moonlight kept me on my toes the entire time, all the way to the bittersweet ending. Catrin, our protagonist, has a very unique gift: a type of sight where she can spot flaws in architecture. Perfect for someone who is tasked with watching over this spired city. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read and it was fantastic. It can be gruesome at times, so fantasy fans and true crime fans find a perfect blend here, but be a little wary if you’re sensitive to gore.

Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty, (List Price: $19.99, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 9781250755810, June 2022)

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hall, M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings has absolutely burst onto the scene with this vibrant and completely singular work. Image and sound practically leap off of the page via Jennings’ cacophonous, but specific language. The version of New Orleans he’s created is fantastical, to be sure, but also accurately depicts the very real spirit of this complicated city. Plotting is muddled and over-complicated in parts and one can get a little lost, but it’s undeniable that a special mind produced this work. I’m excited to see what he does next.

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings, (List Price: $28, Redhook, 9780759557192, June 2022)

Reviewed by Carroll Gelderman, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg

Perfect for preteens and teens who want to read Outlander but probably shouldn’t. When Klara accidentally hits a mysterious Scotsman with her car, she has no idea the true intensity of the situation. Callum has stepped out of the 1500s to protect Klara, the last Pillar of Time, at all costs. An evil force is murdering the Pillars, greedy for the powers of the gods, and Klara and Callum are the only thing in his way. This was an amazing story that sucked me in. Alsberg uses imagery that truly puts the beauty of Scotland in your mind. She also writes character development extremely well. She does a great job building Callum’s acclimation to the modern world at the right pace, without making it cringey or a joke. Klara also has great development through the story, and you can see her heal and strengthen bonds she left unattended because of her mother’s death. Klara, despite having a man fated to protect her, is also allowed to be strong and fiercely independent. Throughout her relationship with Callum, she grows stronger, not weaker and submissive, like some YA main characters in a protected/protector situation.

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg, (List Price: $19.99, Inkyard Books, 9781335284891, June 2022)

Reviewed by Scarlett, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

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