For the Indie Next List:
The City & the City by China Mieville
A labyrinthine mystery as well as a visionary look at identity, politics, and geography, The City & the City is simply stunning. Mieville juggles a murder, two cities’ mysterious pasts, and a tense political situation with deft prose and compelling characters. Mieville’s latest is utterly enthralling, absorbing, and, ultimately, unforgettable.
Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi
After her parents’ divorce, a move away from her friends in Boston, and a horrific first day at her new school, Maddy seeks refuge in her manga and the game world of Fields of Fantasy, where she can be powerful, beautiful, and beat back the bullies with her spells. Mancusi handles the ups and downs of high school, family, and virtual reality with zest, uniting books and the online world in a fun-tastic novel.
Drood by Dan Simmons
Spell-binding and macabre, Drood introduces us to a never-before-seen Charles Dickens and his London, both hiding dark secrets. Wilkie Collins is an engrossing narrator, alternately adoring and dismissing his friend and mentor, unable to extricate himself from the developing web of Dickens’ strange schemes yet never fully crediting what is happening before his own eyes. A magnificent blend of literary fiction and unsettling thriller, Drood will keep you up at night.
Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting by Kitty Burns Florey
Tracing the story from the earliest cave scribblings to the Palmer Method to today’s text-message-composed novels, this is a great read for anyone who has ever agonized over their signature, wondered what the slant on their ‘l’ means, or deplored the state of penmanship in today’s typing world.
Captivity by Deborah Noyes
Beautifully written, with frequent surprises in plot and character, this novel tells the story of two women meeting at the crux of their untenable, yet inescapable, paths. Noyes reminds us of the importance of pure feelings, regardless of their soiled context, and the reader becomes grateful for the reminder.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
Step back, Faust, there’s a new game in town. Johannes Cabal is the necromancer with the heart of gold, determined to get his soul back whatever the price — to others, that is. Morbidly hilarious, dry, and with few illusions about the nature of humanity, Howard spins an excellent gothic tale with an unexpectedly uplifting ending.