The House of the Dead

Genre: Realism, Semi-Autobiographical Fiction, Classic Literature Setting: Siberia, Russian Federation, 1850s Pages: 368 The House of the Dead or Notes from the House of the Dead is a semi-autobigraphical work by Fyodor Dostoyevsky about life in prison in Siberian Russia. Dostoyevsky tells his story through the eyes of the convict Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov, a Russian nobleman who is sentenced to penal …

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Hild

Genre: Historical, Medieval Fiction Setting: 7th century Britain, Anglo-Saxon England Pages: 536 Hild is Nicola Griffith's astounding imagining of the origin of the historical and religious figure, St. Hilda of Whitby. When Hild is just 3, her father who is an aetheling (prince) is poisoned. As a result, Hild and her mother Breguswith join her uncle Edwin's court to gain …

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The Casual Vacancy

Genre: Fiction Setting: Pagford, United Kingdom Pages: 503 The Casual Vacancy is a witty and gripping social commentary on contemporary British society, played out in the fictional town of Pagford, an idyllic little village in England where various types of unrest are fomenting beneath the town’s sunny and charming exterior.   Barry Fairbrother, one of …

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The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror(ish) Setting: Alternate Universe, no specified time or place, landscapes similar to the American West Pages: 231 The first time I attempted to read the first title in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series I was probably 11 or 12 years old, which was way too young to tackle this …

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The Anatomist’s Wife

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction Setting: 1830s, Scottish Highlands Pages: 357 After reading Faulkner’s Light in August, I needed to relax with a book that was easy reading and had a lighter tone, so I picked up The Anatomist’s Wife. To what extent a murder mystery can (or should) be used to decompress is arguable, I suppose. Nevertheless, Anna …

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Light in August

Genre: modernist, southern gothic, classic lit, american lit Setting: rural Mississippi, 1930s Pages: 507 There are some books that leave a distinct mark, and boy is this one of them. William Faulkner's novel Light in August contains a cast of characters who collectively span the full spectrum of social outcasts. Anyone who loves brutally honest social commentary on American …

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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Genre: Fantasy, Alternative Historical Fiction Setting: 19th century England and Europe Pages: 1006 Magic has returned to England in this novel, spurred on by the determined will of two magicians who hold very different opinions on what English magic should look like. The Good: This novel is deeply imaginative and despite its mammoth volume it maintains relatively quick …

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Genre: non-fiction, true crime, very Southern Gothic Setting: Savannah, Georgia 1980s Pages: 386 The true story of how the author took up part time residence in Savannah, Georgia shortly before one of his most esteemed new acquaintances in the neighborhood is charged with murder. Berendt traces the case and the lives of those involved in intimate and entertaining  detail. …

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