Brooke Davis’ story of a little girl named Millie Bird turns child abandonment into an adventure. After her father dies and her mother leaves her in the ladies’ underwear department, Millie finds two improbable helpers: Karl, who types out everything he says or feels with his fingers, and Agatha, who writes complaint letters and catalogs her aging body’s daily changes. Karl and Agatha, both in their 80s and widowed, have lived long lives but don’t quite know how to live now. Millie’s predicament gives them a reason to try.
“When you stopped trying to be one perfect person, you could be many.” A small-town Tennessee girl flourishes into a classic, yet never cliché, femme fatale in Rebecca Scherm’s provocative coming-of-age debut, Unbecoming.
O. Henry Prize winner Jan Ellison’s debut novel is a puzzle with the outside pieces finished. Reading it is like compulsively fitting all those revealing middle pieces together. Annie Black, a happily married 40-something San Francisco businesswoman, delves into her careless youth after her 21-year-old son is injured in a car accident. Spinning a tale of the three drunken months she spent in Europe in 1989, she demonstrates how the past can shape the future.
Will’s entire world exists inside the walls of his house. Raised by an agoraphobic mother, he’s taught to fear the world outside—and the world inside, too, wearing a helmet constantly and donning body armor just to change a light bulb. He feels safe. Then he goes outside, and everything feels strange.
In Michael Crummey’s novel, Sweetland, a Newfoundlander named Queenie offers some literary criticism. Concerning books about her province, she says: “It was a torture to get through them. They were every one depressing. . . . Or nothing happened. Or there was no point to the story.” She adds that they are unrecognizable and probably written by outsiders.
The members of the Last Death Club are kicking the bucket one by one, some of them practically under the nose of irascible Victorian detective Sidney Grice, in The Curse of the House of Foskett. It’s the second book in M.R.C. Kasasian’s intriguing new series that debuted in 2014 with The Mangle Street Murders, featuring Grice and his young ward, March Middleton, who narrates the books in a most unusual fashion.
Reading the setup of The Just City can itself floor you. That’s how big Jo Walton, a writer already known for ambitious fantasy storytelling, is going with this particular novel, something she says she’s imagined writing since her teenage years.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion famously wrote. In Rachel Cusk’s inventive novel, Outline, a parade of characters tell the sketchily drawn narrator their stories, and as these conversations or episodes unfold they weigh in on all manner of life’s issues, large and small—love and marriage, parenthood, aspirations and failures, even the...
Set in the early 20th century, poet Greer Macallister’s hauting first novel is a compelling mystery. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, the Amazing Arden, one of the first American female illusionists, mesmerizes her audience with the classic “saw through man in a box” trick. On this particular night, she decides to use a fire ax rather than a saw. Was she simply altering her illusion, or carrying out a murder?
We’ve all been there, wondering late at night: Is that tap-tap-tap sound we’re hearing coming from the radiator pipes, or are those footsteps on the stairs? For Evie Jones, the cub reporter and amateur sleuth at the center of Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s chilling psychological thriller, anxious moments like these have become a way of life. The Devil You Know takes readers on a rollercoaster ride through Evie’s desperate efforts to rid herself of the childhood horrors that have followed her into adulthood.