Blurring the lines between memory and fantasy, Deane's Reading in the Dark, takes you through Ireland's Troubles, mapping a boy's experiences as he learns what divides his country and his family. A dark secret hangs over his house—whispers of murder, ghost stories, a criminal's flight to America—and the only people willing to him anything all seem to have ulterior motives. This book isn't for people who want to read a good story: it's for those who want a gripping story told to them like it's a deathbed confession.
The Seep is unlike any alien invasion novel you've ever read. It follows Trina as she processes the loss of her wife—who recently accepted their new alien co-habitor's offer and was reborn as a baby. Now washing away the memory of her wife with alcohol, Trina searches for a young boy, hoping that by helping him, she'll discover she has been worthy of love all along. Yes, there are microscopic hive-mind aliens and rapidly-evolving AI, but at its core, Chana Porter's novel is about loss and the path of acceptance. The aliens are pretty sick too though.
In this collection of short stories, Helen Oyeyemi crafts a world where magic and folklore creeps out from the corners of our homes and the venom in our words. Each story is centered around the idea of a key, sometimes real, sometimes metaphorical, with each feeling like a modern-day fairy tale. "Is Your Blood as Red as This?" is a personal favorite, which focuses on a blooming love square at a school of puppetry, where ghosts are real and the marionettes have souls. Oyeyemi's writing feels like the stories your mother recited to lull you to sleep; entrancing and always leaving you demanding more.
Following in the footsteps of classic dystopian novels like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, The Memory Police shows us a world long controlled by authoritative forces—on this island, things will randomly disappear and with it, all of our memories of them. However, instead of an action-packed novel about fighting the powers that be, Ogawa delivers a far more introspective look of resistance. The unnamed narrator is not one of the select few who retains her memories of lost items, but she nonetheless shelters a man who is, hiding him away from the memory police. I will warn you, The Memory Police is not about overcoming corrupt systems or toppling regimes; it is about survival, in any way we can manage it, regardless of how small the act may be.
Tony DiTerlizzi, author of the acclaimed Spiderwick Chronicles, takes a step back from fantasy to write a stunning sci-fi trilogy. The first, The Search for Wondla, feels like a futuristic fairy tale, a coming of age story, and The Wizard of Oz all wrapped up in one. Whimsical aliens dot the page and Eva Nine is the tenacious, but compassionate, hero we all need today. DiTerlizzi also illustrates the book, bringing the incredible world of Eva Nine to life before your very eyes. A personal favorite of mine, this juvenile epic is for all ages—the characters and text grow with you.
Machado's memoir is like no other. Closest in form to Safekeeping by Abiligal Thomas, In the Dream House is told through vignettes, showing differing views of her trauma, like reflections in a shattered mirror. The text grapples with the real and the imaginary, interweaving historical accounts with folklore motifs and pop culture. Machado herself is trying to understand her situation, with the legacy of queer domestic abuse appearing nonexistant in historical corpus. In the Dream House is altogether beautiful and bloody and raw: it is the ghost in the dream house that humans haunt.
The format of This Is How You Lose the Time War is simple: Red, a time agent for the Agency, sabotages the imposing side and then finds a letter from—Blue, a time agent for the Garden, who sneaks past enemy lines to find a letter from—Red, a time agent... and back and forth it goes, rival agents fueled by a desire to best the other. Well, at least, at first. The nature of Red and Blue's never-ending battle forges a relationship that is both new to this world and as old as time itself. Could the war keep these two apart? Could Atropos herself? Beautifully written, feeling like both a long-form poem and a dream, El-Mohtar and Gladstone have crafted a text that would make Sappho and Dickinson blush proudly. A stunning sci-fi novella for the ages.
A fantastic novel for young audiences (and older!), Maddigan's Fantasia is about Garland, the daughter of a ringmaster, who must travel with her circus across a dangerous land to deliver an important relic. Aided by two boys from the future—one hiding a dark secret and the other able to perform magic—Garland must fight against evil towns, people she called friend, and even time itself. Woven through with the importance of solar technology and history, Mahy crafts a book for all ages!