genre fantasy

Vita Nostra

Vita Nostra — a cross between Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian is the anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.” -The Washington Post

Vita Nostra has the potential to become a modern classic of its genre, and I couldn’t be more excited to see it get the global audience in English it so richly deserves.” - Lev Grossman

Winner of Best Book from both Amazon & Paste Magazine

“The definitive English language translation of this internationally acclaimed novel—a brilliant dark fantasy combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.

Our life is brief . . .

Sasha Samokhina has been accepted to the Institute of Special Technologies.

Or, more precisely, she’s been chosen.

Situated in a tiny village, she finds the students are bizarre, and the curriculum even more so. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, it is their families that pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of . . . and suddenly all she could ever want.

A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Ukrainian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction—brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey—is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds.”

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Hard to be a God

“An enjoyable, exciting, and gratifying novel.”  —New York Times

“A thoroughly good book . . . robust, imaginative, satisfying.”  - Ursula K. Le Guin

“Don Rumata has been sent from Earth to the medieval kingdom of Arkanar with instructions to observe and to save what he can. Masquerading as an arrogant nobleman, a dueler, and a brawler, he is never defeated, but yet he can never kill. With his doubt and compassion, and his deep love for a local girl named Kira, Rumata wants to save the kingdom from the machinations of Don Reba, the first minister to the king. But given his orders, what role can he play? This long overdue translation will reintroduce one of the most profound Soviet-era novels to an eager audience. ”

Note: This translation by Olena Bormashenko is the one we recommend. Other versions are English translations of a bad German translation.

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Night Watch

"Night Watch is an epic of extraordinary power." - Quentin Tarantino

“Brace yourself for [an adult version of] Harry Potter in Gorky Park. . . . The novel contains some captivating scenes and all kinds of marvelous, inventive detail.” -The Washington Post Book World

“An international bestseller [as] potent as a shot of vodka. . . . [A] compelling urban fantasy." -Publishers Weekly

“They are the ‘Others,’ an ancient race of supernatural beings—magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers—who live among us. Human born, they must choose a side to swear allegiance to—the Dark or the Light—when they come of age.

For a millennium, these opponents have coexisted in an uneasy peace, enforced by defenders like the Night Watch, forces of the Light who guard against the Dark. But prophecy decrees that one supreme ‘Other’ will arise to spark a cataclysmic war.

Anton Gorodetsky, an untested mid-level Light magician with the Night Watch, discovers a cursed young woman—an Other of tremendous potential unallied with either side—who can shift the balance of power. With the battle lines between Light and Dark drawn, the magician must move carefully, for one wrong step could mean the beginning of annihilation.”

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The Dragon Seller

“Dystopian science fiction meets the most beloved fantasy creatures! In a future where dragons are real and live in our homes as pets, a young dragon breeder finds the egg of a unique species and tries to raise it.

As the drought of the century hits the United States, legendary creatures appear on Earth: Dragons. Like one of the famous tv commercials says: ‘Thanks to advancements in genetic engineering, Dragons are finally out of myth, and in your local pet stores!’

From playful Outbacks to unpredictable Jade Tangs, these little dragons usually don't burn much, they love fruit and don't molest young virgins. But they are still monsters, and Jack Ports knows this very well. He sells all kinds of varieties in his Flight Garden including the most dangerous of all: the American Mustang, a species of battle dragon created by a failed experiment of the U.S. Navy.

Dumped by his fiancée before the wedding and short on cash, Jack just wants to put his life back together, but after a colleague mysteriously disappears, he finds himself with a dragon egg of unknown origins. Set on raising it, Jack discovers that the egg contains a Primus, the first dragon of a new species, whose genes hide a secret that many men are looking for. And some are willing to kill to have it."

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The Reign of Magic

“Mix the magical world of Harry Potter with the power struggles of Game of Thrones & you get a sense for The Reign of Magic.” - Anna Breitenfeld, journalist

The #1 bestseller in Germany since 2015 across multiple categories!

Nothing will be as it was.

Cities will crumble to ash. Ashen wastes will become lush and fertile.

Rulers will serve, and servants will rule.

Pentamuria, the world of five kingdoms, is in a time of change. The power of the nobles and mages is threatened. War is upon them, although they do not yet know when or with whom. Thus, the mages are gathering in their capital, Ringwall, to prepare together against any possible enemy.

At this time, the orphan boy, Nill, is found by the Druids. He possesses considerable magical skills so he is taken to Ringwall, where he is to be trained in the magical arts alongside his fellow students. Nill, who is an outsider, shows no respect for the traditions of the magical world, and challenges the ways of the mages. Soon, the mages start to ask themselves: Could this powerful boy bring the foretold end of their reign?

If yes, Nill has to be dealt with by whatever means...”

Penned by Wolf Awert, a good-humored German writer who’s spent years in Asia studying the sword & martial arts, this high fantasy novel with its unique system of magic will suck you in. What may surprise you is the author’s true name of Prof. Dr. Wolfhard Symader, an internationally recognized scientist known for his environmental knowledge, but it’s these two real life halves of the author that results in a masterpiece of a world.

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The White Castle

With elements of myth/historical fiction, literature, & fantasy, this very first novel of famed author Orhan Pamuk will remind you of the stories by Italo Calvino.

“From a Turkish writer who has been compared with Borges, Nabokov, and DeLillo comes a dazzling novel that is at once a captivating work of historical fiction and a sinuous treatise on the enigma of identity and the relations between East and West. In the 17th century, a young Italian scholar sailing from Venice to Naples is taken prisoner and delivered to Constantinople. There he falls into the custody of a scholar known as Hoja—’master’—a man who is his exact double. In the years that follow, the slave instructs his master in Western science and technology, from medicine to pyrotechnics. But Hoja wants to know more: why he and his captive are the persons they are and whether, given knowledge of each other's most intimate secrets, they could actually exchange identities. Set in a world of magnificent scholarship and terrifying savagery, The White Castle is a colorful and intricately patterned triumph of the imagination.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Julie Jacobs for the suggestion.)

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The Neverending Story

If you’ve only seen the movies, you’ll be astonished by how exponentially better the story actually is & how easily you’ll be swept away. It’s breathtaking originality has ensured that the novel continued to top a huge variety of bestseller lists for many years & consistently won awards.

"Every once in a blue moon, a book captures the imagination, providing a portal into magical places unknown. So it is with The Neverending Story.

Unicorns, dragons, sprites, will-o’-the-wisps: the inhabitants of an enchanted world. And into this world – through the pages of an old book – ventures a lonely boy named Bastian. But this land is slowly decaying, its Childlike Empress dying. Only a real human can set things right. Bastian takes up the challenge, and finds himself crossing the Swamps of Sadness and the Silver Mountains, meeting sorcerers and giants, bats and night-hobs, gnomes and racing snails. As he journeys bravely toward the Ivory Tower, Bastian’s quest is filled with all the wonders of myth and fairy tale. It is a fantasy adventure that will capture your heart – and recapture the magical dreams of childhood.”

"An instantaneous leap into the magical . . . Energetic, innovative, and perceptive."
The Washington Post

"A trumpet blast for the imagination." — Sunday Times

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Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In Takes Top Honors at Tribeca Film Festival and is now an Award-winning movie in both the U.S. and Sweden!

It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day. But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik's Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.

Sweeping top honors at film festivals all over the globe, director Tomas Alfredsson's film of Let the Right One In has received the same kind of spectacular raves that have been lavished on the book. American and Swedish readers of vampire fiction will be thrilled! Following the success in Sweden, this movie was remade starring Kodi Smit Mcpheem, Chloe Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins under the new title Let Me In. The story has continued to reach new viewers in a London Musical and the book remains a vampire favorite among its readers.”

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The Man Who Spoke Snakish

Winner of the Eduard Vilde Literary Award.

The Man Who Spoke Snakish is one of those important books that speaks to your soul in its own language and which marks a milestone in your personal reading history.” - des Bouquins

“A bestseller in the author’s native country of Estonia, where the book is so well known that a popular board game has been created based on it, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is the imaginative and moving story of a boy who is tasked with preserving ancient traditions in the face of modernity.

Set in a fantastical version of medieval Estonia, The Man Who Spoke Snakish follows a young boy, Leemet, who lives with his hunter-gatherer family in the forest and is the last speaker of the ancient tongue of snakish, a language that allows its speakers to command all animals. But the forest is gradually emptying as more and more people leave to settle in villages, where they break their backs tilling the land to grow wheat for their ‘bread’ (which Leemet has been told tastes horrible) and where they pray to a god very different from the spirits worshipped in the forest’s sacred grove. With lothario bears who wordlessly seduce women, a giant louse with a penchant for swimming, a legendary flying frog, and a young charismatic viper named Ints, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is a totally inventive novel for readers of David Mitchell, Sjón, and Terry Pratchett.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Linda Varick-Cooper for the suggestion.)

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The Blue Fox

Winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize

"Set against the stark backdrop of the Icelandic winter, an elusive, enigmatic fox leads a hunter on a transformative quest. At the edge of the hunter's territory, a naturalist struggles to build a life for his charge, a young woman with Down Syndrome whom he had rescued from a shipwreck years before. By the end of Sjón's slender, spellbinding fable of a novel, none of their lives will be the same. The Blue Fox is part mystery, part fairy tale, and the perfect introduction to a mind-bending, world-class literary talent."

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HWJN (aka Hawjan)

HWJN or Hawjan as it's sometimes known was the #1 selling Saudi novel in until it was banned for blasphemy. 

The Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue & Prevention of Vice raided bookshops pulling the book from the shelves because it treats jinn as beings that co-exist with humanity, & tells of a romance between a human & a jinn. (In Arabian mythology, a jinn is an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human & animal forms & to possess humans.) Translated into other languages, the book has become a favorite around the world & is now again available for purchase in Saudi Arabia.

"People often listen to the legends of spirits and genies (jinn) with awe and horror, but this story is different and redefines our understanding of the jinn world. Hawjan is a young jinni is in his early nineties who lives in a world which exists parallel to ours. As human populations expand, Hawjan and his family find their village invaded by the parallel human dimension forcing them to live in a villa now haunted by humans. Hawjan’s efforts to avoid the human family fail and he finds himself madly in love with Sawsan, a medical student who is gentle and brilliant...but also barely a quarter of his age and human. 

Living in a different dimension, Hawjan is unable to let Sawsan know about his feelings until he learns how to communicate with her through the Ouija board. He then discovers she has brain cancer. As Sawsan's health deteriorates, her father becomes easy prey for a sorcerer who tricks him into believing that Sawsan’s illness is the result of the "devils" who haunt their villa. A deadly battle ensues. Eyad, a colleague of Sawsan agrees to allow Hawjan to posses him in order to help save Sawsan & her family. But who will win?"

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The World of the End

International bestseller as well as winner of both the Geffen Award & the Kugel Award for Hebrew literature

"As an epilogist, Ben Mendelssohn appreciates an unexpected ending. But when that denouement is the untimely demise of his beloved wife, Ben is incapable of coping. Marian was more than his life partner; she was the fiber that held together all that he is. And Ben is willing to do anything, even enter the unknown beyond, if it means a chance to be with her again.

One bullet to the brain later, Ben is in the Other World, where he discovers a vast and curiously secular existence utterly unlike anything he could have imagined: a realm of sprawling cities where the deceased of every age live an eternal second life, and where forests of family trees are tended by mysterious humans who never lived in the previous world. But Ben cannot find Marian.

Desperate for a reunion, he enlists an unconventional afterlife investigator to track her down, little knowing that his search is entangled in events that continue to unfold in the world of the living. It is a search that confronts Ben with one heart-rending shock after another; with the best and worst of human nature; with the resilience and fragility of love; and with truths that will haunt him through eternity."

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The Devourers

"For readers of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, and David Mitchell comes a striking debut novel by a storyteller of keen insight and captivating imagination.

Named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post & a Lambda Literary Award winner. 

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion so he agrees to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents, spills the chronicle of a race of people more than human, ruled by instincts and desires ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in 17th century India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel."

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Tainaron

"The classic novel by an iconic Finnish author, a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Tainaron: a city like no other, populated by talking insects, as observed by the nameless narrator, who is far from home...

'Leena Krohn has given us a lens of words through which to consider reality, a microscope to reveal yearning and wonder, a telescope to look for what it means to be human, a window and a mirror and an eye other than our own.' - Matthew Cheney (from his afterword)"

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The Strange Library

"From internationally acclaimed author Haruki Murakami—a fantastical illustrated short novel about a boy imprisoned in a nightmarish library.
 
Opening the flaps on this unique little book, readers will find themselves immersed in the strange world of best-selling Haruki Murakami's wild imagination. The story of a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plotting their escape from a nightmarish library, the book is like nothing else Murakami has written. Designed by Chip Kidd and fully illustrated, in full color, throughout, this small format, 96-page volume is a treat for book lovers of all ages."

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Trafalgar

"Don't rush Trafalgar Medrano when he starts telling you about his latest intergalactic sales trip. He likes to stretch things out over precisely seven coffees. No one knows whether he actually travels to the stars, but he tells the best tall tales in the city, so why doubt him?

Angélica Gorodischer lives in Rosario, Argentina. She has received many awards, most recently the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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The Last Wish

The New York Times bestselling series that inspired the international hit video game!

"Like a complicated magic spell, a Sapkowski novel is a hodgepodge of fantasy, intellectual discourse, and dry humor. Recommended." -Time  

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer.

His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth. 

For fans of the video game and the uninitiated alike, The Last Wish is the opening chapter of The Witcher series."

"The universe of The Witcher is one of the most detailed and best-explored in modern fantasy, offering endless opportunities for fresh ideas. Complex character relationships enrich this already complex world; this is the sort of series fantasy fans will cherish." -B&N

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Ruby Red

Translated by Anthea Bell, the foremost translator of German literature in the world. And she thinks Ruby Red is just "charming!"

"'This book was so much fun! Magic, romance, and time travel. A great start to a series that will appeal to the awkward adventurer in all of us.' -Diana DeVault

'Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth who, in the middle of class, takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.'"

(I usually don't like YA, but this trilogy was a great set of light, fun reads. The narration is also good if you get it in audiobook form.)

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The Elven

“An international bestseller and epic adventure!

A fierce and merciless demon has been unleashed on the world, spreading destruction and bloodshed in both the human and the elven realms.

Northlander Jarl Mandred witnesses the ruthless attack on his men, and he seeks vengeance with the help of the elf queen, Emerelle. Despite Mandred’s barbaric human nature, the queen orchestrates an elfhunt joined by the two strongest warriors in Albenmark to pursue the beast. Farodin, the fiercest fighter in the land, and Nuramon, the healer, seize the opportunity to make history alongside Mandred in a life-defining series of battles waged in parallel universes.

The Elven is an international bestseller and epic tale, bringing heroes together across the boundaries of their worlds to avenge past losses and influence fates yet to be decided."

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Through the Looking Glass

"Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said: 'one can't believe impossible things.' 'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'

The 1872 sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland finds Carroll's inquisitive heroine in a fantastic land where everything is reversed. Alice encounters talking flowers, madcap kings and queens, and becomes a pawn in a bizarre chess game involving Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and other amusing nursery-rhyme characters."

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