The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson:
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.” So begins one of literature’s most celebrated and terrifying reads – Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. I’m wrapping this one up in celebration of the recent holiday and because re-visiting the classics is always fun. The terror within is mostly subdued and quite tame if you compare it to more recent entries into the lexicon of horror novels, yet, in its own quiet way, it manages to get under your skin and frighten you with the possibility of terror rather than any overt showing of monsters and ghouls. This one is a foundational work of the genre and is necessary reading for anyone that calls themselves a horror aficionado. I can’t recommend it enough.
City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty:
I’m still recovering from all the sleep I missed while racing to finish this incredible book. It starts with Nahri, a con artist living on the streets of 18th century Cairo, accidentally summoning a mysterious and sly djinn warrior who introduces her to a magical world she never knew existed – and one she might belong to. The City of Brass is rich with ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern history and mythology and features complex and fascinating characters and wish-granting djinn. It’s absolutely dazzling, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, multiple narrators, and broody men.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy:
Don’t let the extreme length of this book discourage you. It’s been on my to-read list for a long time, but the 817 pages always distracted me. Big mistake. This book is amazing. The Russian language can be hard to translate properly, but this specific translation by the Pevear/Volokhonsky team brings Tolstoy’s original words to life. Anna Karenina is a beautiful & enchanting socialite in late 19th century Russia. Vronksy is the dashing officer who stops at nothing in his passionate pursuit of her. Anna turns away from her empty life as a married woman to be with Vronsky, only to face devastating results. A fine example of the classic Russian novel, Anna Karenina is the book that, once you reach its 817th page, will make you want to start it right back over again.