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It's an established fact that the success of books like The Time Traveler’s Wife, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell, A Discovery of Witches and The Night Circus have made the literary/fantasy mash-up catnip to publishing professionals. Here's your guide to some of our favorite debuts with a touch of the fantastic:
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Perhaps the standout in this category for the year, Wecker's intelligent blend of Arabic and Jewish folklore has had readers spellbound. Bonus: the book's fantasy elements are grounded by Wecker's vivid depiction of the streets of 1890s New York City, which is a real treat for historical fiction fans. A perfect blend of the literary and the page-turning, Wecker's first novel signals a major new voice in fiction.
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley. Perhaps the novel on this list that is the most reminiscent of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Riley's sensitive debut is less about magic than it is about the pain and reward of loving someone who you will never completely understand: in this case, a man who perhaps isn't a man at all. Set in 1920s North Carolina and starring an independent heroine who isn't afraid to challenge convention in pursuit of personal happiness, this is a powerful look at the strength of family bonds.
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway. Fans of A Discovery of Witches should flock to this fast-paced, Regency-set tale of time-travel, international intrigue and secret societies. Nick Falcott's life was scheduled to end on a Belgian battlefield in 1812, but instead he was spirited away to the modern world on the condition that he never return. Resigned to blue jeans and air travel, Nick is shocked when he's told that—surprise—he's being sent back to 1815, where he must track down a mysterious talisman that two rival societies are desperate to get their hands on. Needless to say, it's not that simple.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. On sale today, Shannon's ambitious debut is the first in a projected seven-book series. Set in 2059 Britain, a world where psychic abilities are commonplace—and illegal—the book stars 19-year-old Paige Mahoney. Part Lisbeth Salander, part Oliver Twist, Paige is part of an underground gang of clairvoyants who try to undermine the authority of the security force currently in charge of the country, Scion. The pace seldom slacks off, and the strong and resourceful Paige is a memorable heroine.
Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill. The faeries most definitely have teeth—and claws!—in this briskly plotted and imaginative first novel from a film critic and screenwriter. When Ewan, a human child, is swapped for changeling Knocks, his parents meet gruesome fates. Years later, a third child, Colby, finds his fate mingled with those of Ewan and Knocks after a reckless wish for the ability to see the otherworldly beings around him. Cargill expertly builds his supernatural world along with the suspense as the three boys draw closer to each other—and to danger.
What's your favorite magical debut?