This slender masterpiece takes place in the span of time it takes a 16-year-old Black girl to walk down the stairs of her grandparents’ house to her party, wearing the dress her teen mother never got to wear – but it braids memories and voices across three generations to tell a powerful story of an American family, the legacy of the Tulsa massacre, and the wealth and weight of what we inherit. -Ruth
I loved this audaciously clever Scrabble thriller. The formerly married world champions in Spanish- and English-language Scrabble narrate their triumphs and betrayals in alternating chapters as they play one last game while hiding out from the deadly Scrabble mafia, in an oddly plausible alternate history where televised Scrabble had big money in it in the ‘90s and was even briefly, disastrously, an Olympic sport (in Esperanto, naturally). The wordplay is top-notch, laced with anagrams and multilingual puns. – Ruth
With a satisfying mix of gritty Victorian mystery and folklore, this eerie and atmospheric romp through the dark underbelly of medical experimentation and the burgeoning field of forensic science in 19th-century London will keep you guessing until the end. Rife with macabre humor, Sherlockian intrigue, and boasting a truly unique cast of characters; I picked this up on a whim and couldn't put it back down. – Jessica
Based off Russian folklore, this dark fairytale is all at once cozy and freezing cold. It is a satisfying coming of age tale about a not-yet witch named Vasya. What will she do when a priest comes to her village and exhorts her people to abandon their household spirits? – Nathan
A reimagining of the Sherlock Holmes character and narrative archetype with playfully Lovecraftian overtones. This book is written in a delightfully dry, threateningly British tone that hilariously juxtaposes itself to the descriptions of the fantastical and otherworldly. – Justice
Considering the current state of the country and the planet, I didn't think I'd be into a dystopian future/political satire featuring a ruined environment and people oppressed by what's left of the government. But it was hilarious and vivid and clever. Plus a talking goat. – Kate
An old man finds himself unexpectedly the legal guardian of his 11-year-old grand-nephew he’s never met, on the eve of a long-planned trip to his childhood city of Nice. Donoghue has a remarkable knack for character and dialogue, and it’s a delight to see the evolving odd-couple friendship between the erudite old man and swaggering, street-smart kid as they investigate a family mystery from WWII.
Looking for the perfect escape read? Try this: Pirates crash into a dinner party in 18th-c England, kill the host, and abduct his chef – who, held prisoner aboard the ship of the notorious pirate queen, must cook a gourmet meal for her every week. Much of the fun is watching him scrounge up elaborate feasts from strange ingredients, while carefully tending to a bit of sourdough like it’s a pet. A satisfying tale of swashbuckling adventure and romance, with surprising depth.
"Literally skydiving into the apocalypse." This is escapism that makes reality look like sunshine and daisies. Gory, gritty, claustrophobic, scary thrill-ride. So much fun. Fans of the Alien films will love this series. – Kate
A mysterious woman arrives riding an orca to a geothermal-powered city in the Arctic Ocean. This creative post-climate-apocalypse novel has crime syndicates, family bonds, Indigenous and immigration issues, a mysterious affliction ignored by authorities in a clear parallel to the early years of AIDS, and some fun far-fetched technologies. Think Snow Crash for the next generation.
In this weird, slyly funny novella, the end of the world is just the beginning when benevolent aliens invade Earth in the form of pervasive interconnected consciousness, ending war and scarcity and ushering in an era of creativity and transformation. Turns out utopia can be really annoying. Trina is a curmudgeon hankering for a cheeseburger and grieving her wife’s decision to be reborn as a baby, and the aliens’ desire to make everyone happy has failed to account for the human need to just be miserable sometimes.