First off, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and start to the new year. In December, we picked up The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa, a whimsical low fantasy about a boy who meets a talking cat and embarks on a strange journey. While the book is sweet, fun, and poignant, it also delves into the feelings of grief and loss, and how people handle the situation in different ways.Throughout the story, we get to see Rintaro heal from his loss through helping others with his love of reading and literature that he originally gained from his late grandfather. For this blog, I wanted to dive a bit further into other fantasy stories that use books and literature as a source of inspiration and power.
The Shadow of the Wind is a modern translated classic by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Set in post World War Two Barcelona, a man comes across a strange book titled The Shadow of the Wind. Grieving, he takes comfort in the book and seeks out other books by the same author, only to discover that someone is destroying every last copy of the author’s work. As he digs deeper, he is sucked into a whole new side of the story, one that he may not come back from.
Nightbooks - perfect for Coraline fans - is a chilling twist on the tale of Scheherazade with a hint of dark magic. Alex is trapped in the gloomy clutches of a witch, forced to tell a new scary story every night to stay alive. Along the way, Alex begins to spin a different kind of ending, one that will hopefully earn him his freedom. With a recent Netflix movie adaptation, Nightbooks is targeted towards younger readers, but perfect for readers (and writers) of all ages.
The Midnight Library is all about possibilities: what would have happened if you had chosen a different path in life? In Matt Haig’s bestselling novel, Nora Seed is asked that exact question. In the afterlife, Nora lands in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death that allows passing souls to glimpse an entire collection of alternative lives. As Nora moves through the library, she is forced to come to terms with each outcome: what if she had done something differently? Would she be happier? Haig asks this of his main character, but also of his readers.
For fans of Erin Morgenstern: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow follows January Scaller, the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke. While living in Locke’s large, seemingly never-ending mansion, January finds a very peculiar book that spins a story beyond her wildest imagination - but begins to converge with her own. A combination of many classic stories - Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia - The Ten Thousand Doors of January is not to be missed.
The Binding by Bridget Collins boasts an alternate 19th Century England in which pain and bad memories can be trapped and stored between the pages of a book. Our main character, Emmett, is placed with a binder to learn the trade after an injury on his family’s farm. As he hones his craft and learns from his mentor, he watches the people that come in and out of the shop, curious about what their pasts hold, and why they’re leaving everything behind. When Emmett becomes entangled with one of these strangers, things get… messy. Part low fantasy, part mystery, part forbidden love story, The Binding is a tale unlike any other, and one that would be a great addition to any collection.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson carves a darker path than The Cat Who Saved Books, but is just as spell-binding nonetheless. Elisabeth, orphaned and raised as a library apprentice, hopes to become a warden for her community - someone who guards and controls the most cursed and demonic books in their great collection. When one of these books gets loose and Elisabeth is framed for the act, she has to align herself with a dark sorcerer, one that she has sworn to hate, to protect her own interests. As the story goes on, secrets are uncovered, alliances grow stronger, and Elisabeth is left to decide for herself what her future holds.
Thank you for checking out this list of recommendations for The Cat Who Saved Books! We look forward to January’s read: Be My Guest, by Priya Basil. Come back next month for books about food, family, and cultural inheritance. Have a great rest of the month and best wishes in the new year!