The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Fantasy

All That Consumes Us by Erica Waters

An October Read This Next! Book

Erica Waters never disappoints with her dark and queer tales. I loved every bit of this dark academia story. I was on the edge of my seat and couldn’t stop reading. Don’t let this one pass you by!

All That Consumes Us by Erica Waters, (List Price: $19.99, HarperTeen, 9780063115965, October 2023)

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

Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch

My favorite aspect of this book is the way magic works in this world. It takes inspiration from paganism and I love how this book shows the real aspects of witchcraft through fantasy. It’s always very refreshing to see a book portray magic in a way that showcases real traditions and spiritual beliefs. I also loved how this book also stayed true to the historical aspects of when it was written. Even though this is a fantasy it’s set in a world that reflects our own and it takes place in the Holy Roman Empire which means that a lot of history is strewn across the book. I also love how the book doesn’t back down from discussing some of the harsh realities that people had to face during the period, especially when it focused on the catholic church and how its reign murdered hundreds of innocent people by burning them at the stake. It criticized the way the church was corrupted at that time by mentioning how paying the church got on out of accusations, and how the people burned at the stake did nothing wrong, other than be accused. This is a topic that is not often talked about in books like these so it was nice to have such information acknowledged.I loved reading about how magic in this world was used. I’m excited to read more from this series and its authors.

Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch, (List Price: $18.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728272160, October 2023)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Spotlight on: Lo que el río sabe por Isabel Ibáñez

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Isabel Ibañez, photo credit the author

“Amo, amo, historias que cuentan del amor. Creo que más que nada, es la emoción detrás de cada palabra, cada personaje, cómo puede inspirar a alguien a sentir amor y dolor, y alegría y reír a carcajadas o llorar. Hay algo tan hermoso en escribir una historia con la que muchas personas pueden relacionarse o apreciar. Quiero ser escritor porque quiero vivir en mi imaginación, y no en ningún tipo de estructura. Escribir me permite acceder al pozo de mi creatividad y a menudo me sorprende.”

― Isabel Ibañez, Entrevista, American Writers Museum

What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

Lo que dicen los libreros de What the River Knows

  • Una carta de amor a la historia, más específicamente a la historia egipcia. Una hermosa ficción histórica con una pizca de magia y la romalidad más deliciosa que jamás hayas leído, y por la que estarás un poco traumatizado. Isabel sabe lo que está haciendo, y todo lo que usted como lector necesita hacer es confiar en ella.
      ― Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Compra de Bookmarks

  • Inez Olivera tiene un toque de magia y un espíritu aventurero, pero va a necesitar más para sobrevivir a los peligros y engaños que rodean a sus padres perdidos. El ritmo rápido, muchos giros y personajes poco confiables, y un final de suspenso hacen de este un buen comienzo para una nueva serie.
      ― Jan Blodgett from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Compra de Main Street Books

  • “Primero, este libro fue una montaña rusa emocional que parecía que no podía dejar. La forma en que el autor escribió el personaje de Inez hizo que me gustara al instante. Cada personaje de la historia fue escrito con una personalidad tan única que las interacciones que tuvieron entre sí me hicieron querer más. En general, las mejores partes de esta historia fueron la forma en que las ambiciones, interacciones y deseos de los personajes fluyeron a través de la trama, haciendo que cada uno de ellos sea adorable (o extremadamente odiable). ¡No puedo esperar a la próxima!
      ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Compra de Page 158 Books

Sobre Isabel Ibañez

Isabel Ibañez es autora de Together We Burn (Wednesday Books) y Woven in Moonlight (Page Street), finalista del Premio William C. Morris, y figura entre los 100 mejores libros de fantasía de todos los tiempos de la revista Time. Ella es la orgullosa hija de inmigrantes bolivianos y tiene un profundo aprecio por la historia y los viajes. Actualmente vive en Asheville, Carolina del Norte, con su esposo, su adorable perro y una colección seria de libros. Manda tú saludo en las redes sociales en @IsabelWriter09.

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Following Simon and his friends, Rowell’s fantasy centers their fight against the Insidious Humdrum, an evil that’s sucking magic out of the world and Simon is prophesied to defeat (and they’re trying to finish their last year of magic school at Watford). Featuring a ghost story, a love story, and an epic arc, this book has everything a book should have! Inviting queer characters to the forefront of the fight, Simon Snow discovers himself and his limitations, tackles his worst fears, copes with the trauma that comes with being Chosen, and falls in love, working through the pitfalls of a relationship built in the rubble of a war. His journey is incredibly poignant for anyone who has had to face their nightmare and came away scarred, only to discover that wasn’t the end of it. A wonderful, approachable, and shockingly personal fantasy trilogy that’s completely different from what you’d expect, Carry On stole my heart from the first page, and I hope it makes your heart sing the way it makes mine.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, (List Price: $19.99, Wednesday Books, 9781250806918, July 2021)

Reviewed by Shae Jordan, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Spotlight on: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

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Isabel Ibañez, photo credit the author

“I love love love telling stories. I think more than anything, it’s the emotion behind every word, every character, how it can inspire someone to feel love and hurt, and joy and to laugh out loud or cry. There is something so beautiful about writing a story that many people can relate to or cherish. I want to be a writer because I want to live in my imagination, and not in any kind of structure. Writing allows me to access the well of my creativity and it often surprises me.”
― Isabel Ibañez, Interview, American Writers Museum

What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

What booksellers are saying about What the River Knows

  • A love letter to history, most specifically Egyptian history. A beautiful historical fiction with a sprinkling of magic and the most delicious rivalmance you’ll ever read, and be slightly traumatized by. Isabel knows what she’s doing, and all you as the reader need to do is trust her.
      ― Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • Inez Olivera has a touch of magic and an adventurous spirit but she’s going to need more to survive the dangers and deceits surrounding her lost parents. Fast pacing, plenty of twists and unreliable characters, and a cliffhanger ending make this a good start to a new series.
      ― Jan Blodgett from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • First, this book was an emotional roller coaster that I couldn’t seem to put down. The way the author wrote Inez’s character made me like her instantly. Every character in the story was written with such a unique personality that the interactions they had with each other had me wanting more. Overall, the best parts of this story were the way the characters’ ambitions, interactions, and desires flowed through the plot, making each one of them lovable (or extremely hateable). Can’t wait for the next one!
      ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

About Isabel Ibañez

Isabel Ibañez is the author of Together We Burn (Wednesday Books), and Woven in Moonlight (Page Street), a finalist for the William C. Morris Award, and listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Books Of All Time. She is the proud daughter of Bolivian immigrants and has a profound appreciation for history and traveling. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, their adorable dog, and a serious collection of books. Say hi on social media at @IsabelWriter09.

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Spotlight on: A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

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Ava Reid, photo credit the author

“I am always very interested in the deconstruction of fairy tales, the relationship between folklore and nationalism, and the role of stories in shaping identity on both the personal and political level. If The Wolf and the Woodsman is about the pain of being excluded from the narrative, and Juniper & Thorn is about the pain of being forced into a narrative against your will, then A Study in Drowning is about crafting an intricate, epic narrative of your own, in order to protect yourself from the pain of life’s daily, banal cruelties.” ― Ava Reid, Interview, Books Forward

A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

What booksellers are saying about A Study in Drowning

  • What’s more dangerous—a sinking mansion full of secrets, a vicious and enthralling Fairy King, or the forces that have historically silenced and subjugated young women in academia? Fans of Mexican Gothic and The Hazel Wood, this Welsh folklore-infused dark academia fantasy will sweep you under and leave you drowning in all its lush and eerie, mysterious and romantic, utterly immersive, gothic splendor.
      ― Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia | Buy from Underground Books

  • Ava Reid’s YA debut will surely be one of my favorite reads of 2023. Reid’s work is steeped in literary and folkloric reference, worth countless re-reads and further dissection. Their prose is unmatched; dark, delicious, and dreamy all at once. Reid is a remarkable talent—I will read anything they write.
      ― Reviewed by Isabel Agajanian, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida | Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • A haunting story full of magic and heart. I was hooked from the very beginning. I loved falling so completely into the world Ava Reid created.
      ― Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana | Buy from Blue Cypress Books

About Ava Reid

Ava Reid was born in Manhattan and raised right across the Hudson River in Hoboken but currently lives in Palo Alto. She has a degree in political science from Barnard College, focusing on religion and ethnonationalism.

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Spotlight on: Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

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Hannah Kaner, photo credit Hannah Kaner

“I remember being a furious child. Small and blonde, bookish and talkative, I hated how often I was “baby,” how often I was “cute.” I wanted to be loud, strong, and powerful. I wanted to fight my brothers and my cousins, strength to strength, arm to arm, bloody noses and bruises.

Worse was when they started getting bigger, taller, stronger. Worse is that being as loud as the lads was ‘annoying’ (them), ‘boisterous and unladylike’ (adults), ‘disruptive’ (teachers). I’m sure I was all of those things, but it was early that I understood that there was one expectation for ‘girls’, one for ‘boys’, and you were expected to fit neatly into one or the other.” ― Hannah Kaner, Interview, Fantasy Book Cafe

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

What booksellers are saying about Godkiller

  • Godkiller is an excellently written fantasy novel. We follow a host of characters as they reluctantly join together to solve their individual quests: saving the heart of a king, finding a shrine to call home, parting with a god of white lies, and god killing revenge. The characters are well developed and the world building is immersive with a digestible pace of folklore and history placed throughout. Godkiller also includes fantastic disability representation that fits seamlessly into the story. The final pages packed a punch and I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series.
      ― Madeline Newstead, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee | Buy from Novel

  • Godkiller is a cinematic masterpiece. Kaner’s world building is exquisite, and her characters vibrant and intriguing. The story concept had me hooked right from the beginning (I have a soft spot for plots built around complex religious systems) and Kissen’s narration pulled me right along. I really enjoyed the descriptive flow of the prose and Kaner’s ability to be flawlessly inclusive was a refreshing change as well. Absolutely devoured this book.
      ― Morgan Holub from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georga | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

  • Godkiller is like The Witcher and The Last of Us but for wlw. For the sapphics. For those of us craving a grumpy older sister instead of a grumpy father figure. Godkiller is a queer, dramatic, lush affair full of some of the most beautiful, unique world building ever seen on page. It’s sure to absolutely rock your world.
      ― Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina | Buy from Bookmarks

  • This is my #1 read of the year and I didn’t even see it coming. This book has the best vibes I have read in a long time, it transports you to a world that feels like the setting of The Witcher while having all the action and travel timeline of American Gods. It feels Nordic and Enchanting in all the best way like if a Viking and a Fairy had a child. Hands down a 5 star read for me, and one of the only times I have actually enjoyed multiple POVs. The writing is captivating and the characters are both abrasive and loveable while the setting makes you feel like an adventurer.This book alone has added Hannah Kaner to my instant author purchase list!
      ― Reviewed by Charlotte Beck, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina | Buy from Main Street Reads

About Hannah Kaner

Hannah Kaner is the #1 internationally bestselling author of Godkiller. A Northumbian writer living in Scotland, she is inspired by world mythologies, angry women, speculative fiction, and the stories we tell ourselves about being human.

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Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle

Curious Tides centers a lush magic system unlike anything I’ve seen before. The celestial lore was beautifully crafted, and Lacelle’s prose is as captivating as a high tide. I deeply appreciated the subtle LGBTQIA rep and the care with which each interpersonal entanglement was treated. I’ve no doubt that Curious Tides will become a staple in the dark academia/fantasy niche, and I cannot wait for the sequel.

Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle, (List Price: 21.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665939270, October 2023)

Reviewed by Isabel Agajanian, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Spotlight on: The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

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Andrew Joseph White, photo credit Alice Scott

“I think the best horror is a combination of the fear of something inside themselves and something external, especially when one of them inherently feeds the other. However, external horror is what speaks the most to me as both a writer and reader. I can’t speak for all marginalized identities, obviously, but external horror for a lot of marginalized identities is terrifying because it’s real. The world is always lurking, waiting to make a horror movie of our lives or the lives of those we love. It doesn’t care about your internality. You’re different, and therefore a target. For me, the best horror acknowledges that, illustrates that, and allows the internality of both the character and the audience to expand from there.” ― Andrew Joseph White, Interview, Scifi Pulse

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

What booksellers are saying about The Spirit Bares Its Teeth

  • White’s brutal tale of a reimagined 1880s London where some people can commune with the dead is harsh and captivating. Silas wants nothing more to escape his family’s plan to marry him off to the highest bidder and force him to behave like the girl they think he is. But he has other plans. However, when his plan blows up and he’s sent to a sanitarium/finishing school to heal his sickness, he finds that things can always be worse. But there are a few bright spots in the cast ugliness.
      ― Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • Andrew Joseph White’s phenomenal debut, “Hell Followed With Us,” would seem like a tough act to follow but White’s fans won’t be disappointed: “The Spirit Bares Its Teeth” is just as incredible. White tackles the overlapping ways in which misogyny, transphobia, and ableism manifest in society through a ghost-infested finishing school where protagonist Silas Bell must work with the spirits of deceased students to expose the school’s medical and psychiatric abuses and break free of the system’s tyrannical rule. Gut-wrenching yet gorgeous, “The Spirit Bares Its Teeth” is a necessary and impressive addition to both LGBTQ and horror lit.
      ― Charlie Williams from Square Books in Oxford, MS | Buy from Square Books

  • Absolutely amazing gothic exploration of ableism and transphobia in a Victorian context. Heartwarming, vindictive, and vicious.
      ― Minna Banawan from Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC | Buy from Park Road Books

About Andrew Joseph White

Andrew Joseph White is a queer, trans author from Virginia, where he grew up falling in love with monsters and wishing he could be one too. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University in 2022  and has a habit of cuddling random street cats. Andrew writes about trans kids with claws and fangs, and what happens when they bite back.

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The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

A September 2023 Read This Next Book!

Andrew Joseph White’s phenomenal debut, Hell Followed With Us, would seem like a tough act to follow but White’s fans won’t be disappointed: The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is just as incredible. White tackles the overlapping ways in which misogyny, transphobia, and ableism manifest in society through a ghost-infested finishing school where protagonist Silas Bell must work with the spirits of deceased students to expose the school’s medical and psychiatric abuses and break free of the system’s tyrannical rule. Gut-wrenching yet gorgeous, The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a necessary and impressive addition to both LGBTQ and horror lit.

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White, (List Price: 19.99, Peachtree Books, 9781682636114, September 2023)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Bring Me Your Midnight by Rachel Griffin

This book is stirring, evocative, gorgeous, and compulsively readable! I was drawn in by the strong, clear voice of the heroine from the first page. This book weaves together themes of magic, power, nature, duty, safety, love, wildness, and passion. A beautiful story extremely well told. I can’t wait for the next installment, because I am left with the conviction that Tana’s story has only just begun.

Bring Me Your Midnight by Rachel Griffin, (List Price: 18.99, Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728256153, August 2023)

Reviewed by Ruth Goldstein, E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Ghost Book by Remy Lai

Remy Lai continues to be one of the best and most thoughtful creators working in children’s literature today. In her graphic novel Ghost Book, Lai gives us the loveable characters of July Chen who can see ghosts all around her and William, a boy whose not quite dead. Filled with vibrant images, mythology, and heart – Ghost Book proves once again that no one can weave together fun and deep emotion like Remy Lai!

Ghost Book by Remy Lai, (List Price: 14.99, Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks, 9781250810434, August 2023)

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Bonesmith by Nicki Pau Preto

Wren wants nothing more than to be a valkyr, a highly trained warrior who protects reapyrs as they make sure the dead stay dead. But when a betrayal sabotages her qualifying trial, Wren finds herself disgraced and shunned with only one chance to redeem herself: rescue a prince from a wasteland of the dead. Harrowing and thrilling, with a richly imagined world and magic system, Bonesmith is the start of a duology that should be at the top of every fantasy fan’s reading list.

Bonesmith by Nicki Pau Preto, (List Price: 21.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781665910590, July 2023)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Misfit Mansion by Kay Davault

This graphic novel was such a delight to read. It acknowledges the importance of being able to see the many different make ups of family. Family is so much more than the people we are related to, it can be friends, community and sometimes we find it in the most unexpected places. I love how it shows that sometimes we are afraid of things we do not understand and once we take the step to look a little deeper our fear begins to diminish.

Misfit Mansion by Kay Davault, (List Price: 14.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781665903073, July 2023)

Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley

Elodie was going to be queen, until her youngest sister was born. The third daughter of a third daughter has been prophesied as the second coming of their deity. But there’s tension between the crown and the church, and Elodie, wanting to save her kingdom, accidentally puts her sister into an eternal sleep. The apothecary who sells her the potion, Sabine, is the only one who can help Elodie save her sister and the country, and the two set off to do just that. But while Sabine and Elodie grow closer, secrets have a way of coming out, and all is not as it seems among the clergy. An emotional adventure full of court intrigue that’s sure to appeal to fans of other YA royal reads like Three Dark Crowns and Dance of Thieves.

The Third Daughter by Adrienne Tooley, (List Price: 18.99, Christy Ottaviano Books, 9780316465694, July 2023)

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

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