Women who rule

Angela's otherworldly picks

Speculative fiction may be a new genre name to many of us, but Angela finds that many of the books she enjoys fall in this category. It's not bound by societal norms or physical laws, often taking place in unusual worlds where new things are possible, societies or situations can be set up to ask fascinating ‘what if’ questions. Speculative fiction can be used as a thought experiment to examine or argue positions on modern issues.

Books classified under this genre can be as otherworldly or as familiar as the author (and reader) wants it to be. Angela is drawn to imaginary beings and landscapes, to stories that stretch the limits of the real, to myths, and folklore. Depending upon her mood, she reads fantasy to escape the reality of everyday life, to examine and critique societal norms, and explore other ways of being in the world.

Here are a few of Angela's favorites:


American War
by Omar El Akkad
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift - a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of
its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay

Borderline (The Arcadia Project Trilogy)
by Mishell Baker
A cynical, paraplegic screenwriter with borderline personality disorder gets recruited to join a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland. Fully articulated, flawed, and fascinating characters combine with masterly urban fantasy storytelling.

A Discovery of Witches
(All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness
The All Souls Trilogy follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are.

The Fifth Season
(Broken Earth trilogy) by N.K. Jemisin
A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Invisible Library
(An Invisible Library Series) by Genevieve Cogman
"One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction..." Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen.

The Power
by Naomi Alderman
The world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power -- they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

Sorcerer to the Crown
by Zen Cho
The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman — a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar — as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain — and the world at large.

The Queen of the Tearling
(The Queen of the Tearling Trilogy)
by Erika Johansen
An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness -- the first novel in a trilogy.

Uprooted
by Naomi Novik
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers
at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.