Although I tend to be more of a Halloween episode television watcher than someone who looks for seasonal reads, there are some books that have a distinctly autumnal, or at least slightly spooky, vibe. Looking for something appropriately seasonal? Here are a few suggestions:
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen
It takes a lot to get me into a non-fiction book, but Devil in the White City hooked me. Juxtaposing Daniel Hudson Burnham, the architect of Chicago’s world fair, with serial killer Henry H. Holmes, Erik Larsen shows both sides of nineteenth-century Chicago. The book drags a little in the middle, as Holmes’ crimes become repetitive, but is still very much worth reading. The Devil in the White City will make you both marvel at what mankind is capable of achieving and shudder at the depravity of Holmes’ actions.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
“It is the first of November and so, today, someone will die.” reads the first line of The Scorpio Races. Admittedly I went through a prolonged horse phase as a girl, so it was obvious this would be right up my alley, but this atmospheric tale of beautiful, but dangerous, water horses and an annual high-stakes race on a vaguely Ireland-inspired rural island is sure to capture your attention. A moving story about the connection between man and beast, Stiefvater brings Thisby and its characters, especially determined Puck, quiet-spoken Sean, and Corr, the red stallion he loves, to vivid life.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Exploring the boundaries between art and life, If We Were Villains focuses on seven young actors at an elite school, the Dellescher Classical Conservatory. Living in the enclosed bubble that the campus provides, the actors study and perform Shakespeare exclusively, playing the same roles onstage as off. When casting decides to shake things up in their final year, jealousy rears its ugly head and violence invades the make-believe, leading to tragic consequences. This atmospheric tale is undoubtedly a perfect fall read.
And I Darken/Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Kiersten White’s gender-swapped historical fiction take on Vlad the Impaler is the perfect seasonal read. Reimagining the young Vlad as Lada Dragwlya, White tells the story of an angry, brutal princess wrenched from her homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by her father. With only her gentle younger brother Radu for company, she bides her time until she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. While Radu finds a home and religion in the Ottomon Empire. Lada’s plans are put into jeopardy by her emerging passion for Mehmed, son of the Sultan.
King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
I haven’t actually read this standalone historical fiction novel yet (I’m planning to do so in December), but the subject matter certainly fits the bill! Set in eleventh-century Scotland, King Hereafter is the story of an Earl called Thorfinn, but his Christian name is Macbeth. Impeccably researched, this is a fictionalized account, based on fact, of the real Macbeth. Like author Dorothy Dunnett’s other novels, this appears to be a dense read, but one that is worth persevering through.
Are you a seasonal reader? What Halloween or autumn books would you recommend?