By Jarrett Seto
Alchemy for the Soul
In the midst of a global pandemic, the monotony and horror of our day to day lives can be overwhelming, and understandably so. Sometimes it’s pleasant (ad infinitum) to escape from the endless cycle of Covid, conspiracy theories, and climate change (and let’s not forget the global resurgence of authoritarianism and fascism). It is exhausting. But what’s not exhausting, is diving into new worlds and realities where we can leave the unwanted mess of our own planet behind. Each of these fantasy novels brings something unique and different to the table, and hopefully you’ll want to read other books by these wonderful authors after you finish The Empire of Gold, The Rage of Dragons, and The Essex Serpent.
The Empire of Gold By S.A. Chakraborty (2020)
The dramatic final book of the SA. Chakraborty’s renowned Daevabad Trilogy. You’ll enjoy the intelligent characters who are able to talk things out without the average doses of miscommunication or comedy of errors. The characters have evolved from the first book, and the expansive world building does not take away from the plot. The Empire of Gold is a solid mixture of fantasy, romance, and politics, so readers will enjoy this amalgamation.
The Rage of Dragons By Evan Winter (2019)
Book One of the Burning series by Canadian author Evan Winter is unlike traditional fantasy narratives. Containing African revenge fantasy influences, this installment thrusts you into a society living in a state of perpetual warfare with a brutal caste system. Join our young protagonist Tau Solarin as he prepares for his warrior trials. The stakes are incredibly steep and his choices aren’t great, and things do not go according to plan. Be prepared to stay up late, reading page after page of this epic revenge fantasy.
The Essex Serpent: A Novel By Sarah Perry (2016)
In 1893, after the death of her abusive husband, Cora Seaborne retreats from bustling London for the coast to take up amateur paleontology. When a nearby earthquake occurs, it’s rumoured to have woken up the mythical Essex Serpent. Is it a myth? Is it a long lost dinosaur, somehow surviving undetected? Or is it a gigantic serpent? Perry uses the Gothic novel to frame concerns about morality, medicine, science, and religion. The Essex Serpent is an empowering novel, about a strong female character who plays by the beat of her own drum in an excessively patriarchal society.
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