Friday, July 20, 2012

Read Alike: Deborah Harkness

Historian Deborah Harkness's first novel, A Discovery of Witches, proved to be very popular with readers, despite the seeming glut of quirky paranormal novels and romantic vampires. An academic world with a magical twist populated with intriguing characters, a historical mystery that opens in Oxford's Bodleian Library, this book is more than a steamy romance.

Frustratingly, as you can read in Amy's review, A Discovery of Witches ends on a shocking cliffhanger. Happily, the sequel, Shadow of Night, has arrived on the shelves of Carnegie-Stout (or at least the Hold Shelf!). If you've found yourself waiting for A Discovery of Witches or Shadow of Night, you can kill the time by looking through Deborah Harkness's website ( or looking through the publisher's Pinterest Board for the series, and while you're on Pinterest, you can follow Carnegie-Stout!

Or if you've already devoured both books and are anxiously awaiting book three, you might enjoy one of these titles:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
First published in 1991, Ms. Gabaldon's popular Outlander series features time travel, complex characters, romance, and a suspenseful plot. Her writing is beautifully descriptive, and if you find a series where the shortest book is still more than 500 pages daunting, the audiobook versions are top notch. The series starts with Outlander, Claire Randall, a nurse, is on a trip to the Scottish Highlands in 1945, when she finds herself thrown suddenly into the Scotland of 1743, and the attention of soldier James Fraser

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Ms. Clarke seamlessly blends history and fantasy in her richly detailed and intricately plotted novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Set in an early 19th century England, where magic is a serious, but strictly academic, course of study. However magic's more practical applications, and the danger involved in such practice, are rediscovered by Mr. Norrell and his apprentice, Jonathan Strange who displays a remarkable natural talent. Though this book lacks the more romantic focus of Ms. Harkness's writing, readers will find much to enjoy in this fully realized alternate world, right down to the footnotes.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Ms. Howe's first novel is the story of Connie Goodwin, Deliverance Dane, and the Salem witch trials. Connie is a doctoral candidate in Harvard's history department, but her studies are interrupted by the need to sort through her deceased grandmother's belongings. While sorting, Connie stumbles onto the mystery of Deliverance Dane, whose life in the 17th century is told in alternate chapters. This compelling page-turner explores historical research, herbal lore, the strength of family ties, and the fear of magic with a touch of romance.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Ms. Kostova writes novels of psychological suspense with a gothic atmosphere, as she explores the darker side of humanity. Her stories are fast-paced and filled with detail, her characters are well drawn and often academics. Try The Historian, set in the Cold War Europe of the 1970s, where a teenage girl stumbles across hints in her father's library that Dracula might not be so mythical after all.

Even more books worth checking out:
Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts
Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
The Alchemyst by Michael Dylan Scott

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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