Honor Roll // Vol. 4

I’m certainly not one to declare the book review dead (but did anyone even see my Bring Out the Dogs review, I think not…), however I do think it’s the type of post that’s less engaging, less likely to be clicked on, less likely to be read… You get the idea. And, dear readers, I’m secure enough in my insecurity to admit I do want people to read what I write, if only to continue to share my love of whatever wonderful/quirky/clever/delightful/daunting/terrible book I just read. These are a few that made my honor roll, and here are the ones I don’t think you should miss.

The Widow of Pale Harbor // Hester Fox. I absolutely loved The Witch of Willow Hall (Fox’s first novel) and I’m happy to report her sophomore novel is equally as entertaining. Sophronia Carver, widow and town pariah, is the immediate suspect when a series of escalating town pranks strike Pale Harbor, Maine. When the pranks turn deadly, she begins to fear she’s being targeted. Gabriel, the town’s new preacher, is enchanted by the widow, and seeks to prove her innocence. With a bit of romance, Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of Gothic-ky goodness (yes, that’s the technical term), The Widow of Pale Harbor is a delightful October read.

Last Ones Left Alive // Sarah Davis-Goff. Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff surprised me. I was expecting a run of the mill zombie novel – perfect autumn reading – but not a thoughtful story of survival and loneliness. Living on an island off the coast of Ireland, Orpen’s childhood has been as idyllic as possible, given the skrake (zombies left to roam the countryside of mainland Ireland). Orphaned after the death of her mother and her partner Maeve, Orpen leaves the island in search of someone, anyone else left out there. She scours the country, her journey fueled by tantalizing scraps of decades old newspapers and flyers, searching for the banshees. Who and what they are? She has no idea. Davis-Goff’s novel is riveting, a tense road trip through a ravaged Ireland. Orpen grapples with isolation, loneliness, and fear, determined to find out if she’s the last one left alive. A solid addition to post apocalyptic literature.

The Bear and the Nightingale // Katherine Arden. This novel is an absolute delight. In the same vein as Spinning Silver and Uprooted, The Bear and the Nightingale was pure reading pleasure. Arden’s novel in rooted in Russian fairytales, following the Petronova family. Vasilisa is the primary character, though a few of her siblings are prominently featured, I enjoyed it from the first page until the last, and I can’t wait to read the next two in the trilogy.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs // Katherine Howe. This one has everything that appeals to me in an autumn novel: witchcraft, academia, cursed romance, and family secrets. The greater Boston area setting is just a bonus. In this novel we return to the world of PhD Connie Goodwin, her steeplejack Sam, and archives of the greater Boston area (Salem, Marblehead, etc.). If you enjoyed The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, pick this one up, it’s such a lovely follow up.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest // J. Ryan Stradel. This one languished on my shelf for too long, and now since reading it, my review of it has been suffering the same fate. This charming novel, starring the once in a generation palate of Eva Thorvald, is a punchy, satisfying story of family in all its messy forms. It’s hard to say more than that, but Eva’s culinary adventures with her unique family will stick with me for a long time. It was an unexpected delight and I highly recommend it.

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