Becca's Staff Picks
The classic and utterly haunting Stephen King serial novel. Things are not right in Cold Mountain Penitentiary and death row prison guard Paul Edgecombe is about to experience the strangest and most terrifying events yet. When John Coffey-- a man accused of horrible crimes--arrives on the mile, things get very strange very quickly! A thrilling and terrifying read!
Sarah Waters' sapphic historical fiction novel Fingersmith is a captivating whirlwind through the Victorian criminal underworld. Sue Trinder: an orphan raised by a found family of thieves, must make her family's fortune by helping a family friend seduce the young heiress Maude. But nothing is ever as it seems and Maude catches Sue off-guard. As always, Waters' prose is impeccable and engaging.
Catherynne Valente's new book is an absolute tour de force and possibly one of her best books yet. No review of mine could do it justice. Join Tetley Abednego, the self-described "most hated girl in Garbagetown," at the end of the world in this uncannily prescient novel of the climate crisis and its aftermath. Per usual for Valente, I read the book in four hours and cried for half of it.
In this unique and experimental collection, Campbell McGrath relates through varied form and verse, a quasi-linear re-telling of the twentieth century in the voices of influential figues and moments. With beyond-the-grave guest appearances from Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, and Mao, this pulitzer finalist will appeal to historians and poetry lovers alike.
The first book in one of my top favorite fantasy comfort-read series! If you like A.J. Hackwith's Hell's Library books, think of The Invisible Library as its more whimsical older sibling. What if all that stood between chaos and order, dragons and fae, was an inter-dimensional library and its team of heisting librarians? Genevieve Cogman seeks to answer that question with this love letter to classic genre fiction tropes and libraries of all stripes.
The First Sister is a breath of Queer-Space-Operatic fresh air on the Science Fiction scene. Linden Lewis' debut novel follows the lives of "First Sister," a voiceless comfort woman on a warship; Lito: an underdog among the military elite; and his non-binary partner Hiro, the unruly heir to a vast fortune. With hints of Atwood, Butler, and Le Guin, if you like feminist genre fiction or socially aware SFF, this book is for you!
This isn't my most original pick, but it's a must for any fans of the vampire genre. Ms. Rice needs no introduction, but if by chance you’ve never read (or seen) Interview with the Vampire, allow me to acquaint the two of you. It’s pure gothic horror, with all of the delectable and opulent prose that goes with the genre. These are the vampires of nightmare!
Is it wrong to be obsessed with a morally-ambiguous professor who has a murder side-gig? Probably... and yet, here I am, totally obsessed. Layne Fargo's They Never Learn is a super satisfying thriller; think Jennifer's Body meets Gone Girl meets Law and Order meets If We Were Villains. If you love media about vengeful ladies, this is a must read.
Found family! Bashing space fascists! Explorations of alien gender and sexuality a la Ursula K. Le Guin! If a funny, tender, and fantastical YA space romp sounds like your kind of thing, you have to read Victories Greater Than Death. Nobody is doing Young Adult Science Fiction like Charlie Jane Anders. As an added bonus, this book is absolutely beautiful and it looks amazing on my book shelf.
I've dreamed of doing this staff pick for years, before I even worked at Towne. This book is my whole heart and it means everything to me. I'm of the belief that Catherynne Valente is a genius, but don't just take my word for it. Read Deathless and you'll understand. The story follows the Russian folkloric heroine Marya Morevna in a retelling of the story of Koschei the Deathless (amongst other assorted Russian fairytales and myths) set during the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the various governmental regimes of Soviet Russia. Alternating between the mythical Isle of Buyan and Leningrad/Petrograd/Stalingrad, Marya Morevna is unforgettable and Valente cements her place as one of the best fantasy writers living today.