Need more books on your TBR?
Marianne Gordon, author of our November book, The Gilded Crown, is here to add six books to that ever growing list. Marianne has five books and one comic book to recommend today and they are brilliant!
1. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
This is about three sister witches - the three witch archetypes; mother, maiden, crone - who use their magical talents to empower themselves and the women around them in New Salem.
The eldest sister, Bella, is a bookish type and historian; she's my favourite character, and develops a relationship with the strong-willed journalist Cleopatra Quinn, the leader of the Black Witches of Salem.
It does an amazing job of exploring the different facets of womanhood without giving into stereotype, I felt empowered after reading it!
2. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Cambers
This book reminds me a lot of the series Firefly, but with a pacifist undertone. It follows the multi-species crew of the Wayfarer, a hodgepodge of characters each with their own backstories, as they encounter different alien environments and adversaries.
Because of the crew's diversity, it is the perfect space to explore questions of identity, gender, and non-conformity, in an open and accepting atmosphere, rather like in Star Trek.
I really enjoyed the optimism in the book; the main character, Rosemary, is delightfully open to new experiences, even finding cross-species love.
3. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
The book follows two agents, enigmatically named Red and Blue, who alter time across universes in an attempt to win the Time War. As each seeks to undo the machinations of the other on behalf of their respective rulers, they begin to leave messages for the other to find, and gradually love evolves into something to defy empires.
You can tell the book is written with the input of a poet (Amal El-Mohtar); the imagery and language is beautiful and lyrical, almost experimental. Although it's quite a short book, it's really well-crafted and the payoff at the end is very fulfilling.
Although the characters use she/her pronouns, I really loved how they seem genderless for so much of the book, often adopting different bodies and completely without stereotype.
4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
A novel from 1987 about an old woman recounting the stories of her youth in Whistle Stop, Alabama, and the café run by her sister-in-law, Idgie, and her friend, Ruth. A main plot arc follows Idgie and Ruth as they grow up, bonded by a tragedy. Their adoration for each other is written beautifully and delicately; spoiler alert, but the way Idgie swoops in to save Ruth from her abusive husband and brings her home had me in tears.
You can hear the Alabama drawl in the tone throughout the book, it's just lovely. I'm a sucker for the Alabama accent.
One of the most heartwarming books I've ever read. It explores themes of racism and bigotry as well as the struggles of growing older.
5. The Girls by Emma Cline
Loosely based on the women involved in the Manson Murders, this book explores how a young, alienated woman, Evie, becomes involved in a group of girls who are devoted to a charismatic musician, which results eventually in murder. Evie becomes drawn to Suzanne, a girl in the cult, and their relationship is oddly innocent despite the grim perversion around them.
I was working in Waterstones when this was made book of the month, and I can see why it was chosen. It's raw, seductive, and brutal, exploring themes of manipulation and grooming.
6. Sunstone by
Yes, it's a Sapphic kink comic! This is a graphic novel about two women grappling with questions of sex, their relationship and fetishism. It's cute, quirky, and despite the subject-matter manages to be extremely heartfelt, exploring themes of trust and healthy communication.
It completely bypasses any sense of sexual stigmatisation to explore what is essentially a character-led romantic comedy.
It's written by a bloke, but manages to capture lesbian representation very well (I believe his wife helped him to write the women), and has been endorsed by members of the communities it represents.
If you haven't picked up The Gilded Crown yet by Marianne, make sure you do!
The Witch’s Heart meets The Foxglove King in this debut novel about a woman who can bring people back from the dead, and the princess — and only heir to the throne — that she must protect, no matter the cost.
The first time Hellevir visited Death, she was ten years old…
Since she was a little girl, Hellevir has been able to raise the dead. Every creature can be saved for a price, a price demanded by the shrouded figure who rules the afterlife, who takes a little more from Hellevir with each soul she resurrects.
Such a gift can rarely remain a secret. When Princess Sullivain, sole heir to the kingdom’s throne, is assassinated, the Queen summons Hellevir to demand she bring her granddaughter back to life. But once is not enough; the killers might strike again. The Princess’ death would cause a civil war, so the Queen commands that Hellevir remain by her side.
But Sullivain is no easy woman to be bound to, even as Hellevir begins to fall in love with her. With the threat of war looming, Hellevir must trade more and more of herself to keep the princess alive.
But Death will always take what he is owed.