Menna van Praag’s stories, The House at the End of Hope Street, The Dress Shop of Dreams, and her newest novel, The Witches of Cambridge, all invite readers to a Cambridge where magic lurks around every historical corner. These three novels are not a series, although it makes perfect sense that an enchanted bakery, dress shop, and rooming house would all coexist perfectly with the tourists and academics of Cambridge, so readers can start with any book without confusion.
The House At The End of Hope Street might be my favorite. This is the story (or rather, one chapter of a long history) of a Cambridge boarding house that takes in women who need ninety days to transform their lives. When Alba, a brokenhearted and disgraced academic, becomes the newest resident, the house creates a library of fiction and perfect reading spots to take her mind away from her failed research. For Greer, a struggling actress, the house creates a costume closet for her, nudging her away from giving up hope and becoming a waitress. With the comfort of a snarkily magical home behind them, all the women of Hope Street begin to make changes in their lives. But, as the resident housemother warns, the house also has some terrible failures…
|Recommended by Meg Stivison||Thursday, February 4th, 2016||No Comments »|
In Janina Matthewson’s novel Of Things Gone Astray, her characters—and the readers—learn what is truly important in life. Thanks to a dash of magic, some of Matthewson’s characters all wake up and realize they’ve lost something, whether it is their sense of direction, their work place, or their piano keys. Meanwhile, a young boy named Jake finds himself oddly attracted to the things that people have lost, although he’s oblivious to the fact that what matters most to him is slipping away.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, March 30th, 2015||No Comments »|
Dana Walrath’s Young Adult novel Like Water on Stone blends haunting magical realism and free verse poetry to create a heartbreaking story that will haunt readers long after they have read the last page.
The story begins in 1914 when the Ottoman Empire is beginning to crumble and readers are introduced to three siblings: Shahen, Sosi, and Miriam. The former has dreams of moving to New York, however his twin sister wants to stay put since she has fallen in love. After all the Armenians are ordered to leave and a terrible attack leaves them orphaned, the three siblings are forced to flee into the mountains where they spend their days hiding and their nights on the run. Their only comfort is an eagle they name Ardiz, who watches over their perilous journey and gives them hope as they attempt to find freedom.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, January 7th, 2015||No Comments »|
Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster King adds a touch of magical realism in a lonely fishing village ruled by an aging patriarch with a fiery daughter. Somewhat based off of the Shakespearean play King Lear, Cordelia is the eldest daughter of Woody Kings, who is the reigning patriarch of the lonely fishing village Loosewood Island in New England. Even though the Kings family has been prosperous, there’s a curse on them: each generation’s fated to watch their first-born sons die. As the elderly ruler becomes more and more absent-minded, it’s up to his daughter to keep her beloved island out of the reach of the meth dealers who threaten to destroy the peace and keep her two younger sisters from making mischief, all while attempting to not suffer the same fate as her literary namesake.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, July 29th, 2014||No Comments »|
Suzanne Palmieri’s novel The Witch of Belladonna Bay is a fascinating tale that blends one dysfunctional family with the ancient tides of magic.Bronwyn Whalen is the descendant of New England witches and magic runs through her veins, but she’s been successfully avoiding her hometown of Magnolia Creek, Alabama for the past fourteen years thanks to the death of her mother. However, her father reaches out to inform her that not only is her brother in jail for the murder of her BFF, but her niece Byrd is running wild and needs to be watched after. Bronwyn’s return kicks off a paranormal mystery when she decides to stop running from her past and face her demons instead. With the help of a few ghosts, Bronwyn makes the decision to embrace the magic inside of her in order to help her family.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Thursday, July 3rd, 2014||No Comments »|