Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood has established herself as one of the most visionary and canonical authors in the world. This collection of fifteen extraordinary stories–some of which have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine–explore the full warp and weft of experience, speaking to our unique times with Atwood’s characteristic insight, wit and intellect.
The two intrepid sisters of the title story grapple with loss and memory on a perfect summer evening; “Impatient Griselda” explores alienation and miscommunication with a fresh twist on a folkloric classic; and “My Evil Mother” touches on the fantastical, examining a mother-daughter relationship in which the mother purports to be a witch. At the heart of the collection are seven extraordinary stories that follow a married couple across the decades, the moments big and small that make up a long life of uncommon love–and what comes after.
The Curator by Owen King
It begins in an unnamed city nicknamed “the Fairest”, it is distinguished by many things from the river fair to the mountains that split the municipality in half; its theaters and many museums; the Morgue Ship; and, like all cities, but maybe especially so, by its essential unmappability.
Dora, a former domestic servant at the university has a secret desire—to find where her brother went after he died, believing that the answer lies within The Museum of Psykical Research, where he worked when Dora was a child. With the city amidst a revolutionary upheaval, where citizens like Robert Barnes, her lover and a student radical, are now in positions of authority, Dora contrives to gain the curatorship of the half-forgotten museum only to find it all but burnt to the ground, with the neighboring museums oddly untouched. Robert offers her one of these, The National Museum of the Worker. However, neither this museum, nor the street it is hidden away on, nor Dora herself, are what they at first appear to be. Set against the backdrop of a nation on the verge of collapse, Dora’s search for the truth behind the mystery she’s long concealed will unravel a monstrous conspiracy and bring her to the edge of worlds.
All That Is Mine I Carry with Me by William Landay
One afternoon in November 1975, ten-year-old Miranda Larkin comes home from school to find her house eerily quiet. Her mother is missing. Nothing else is out of place. There is no sign of struggle. Her mom’s pocketbook remains in the front hall, in its usual spot.
So begins a mystery that will span a lifetime. What happened to Jane Larkin?
Investigators suspect Jane’s husband. A criminal defense attorney, Dan Larkin would surely be an expert in outfoxing the police.
But no evidence is found linking him to a crime, and the case fades from the public’s memory, a simmering, unresolved riddle. Jane’s three children–Alex, Jeff, and Miranda–are left to be raised by the man who may have murdered their mother.
Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal
The wealthy island nation of Singapore seems like an oasis of luxury and order, but it owes everything to the immigrant women no one sees. Corazon, Donita, and Angel are Filipina domestic workers—part of the wave of women sent to Singapore to be cleaners, maids, and caregivers in its decadent homes.
A veteran domestic worker, Corazon had retired back to the Philippines for good, but she has returned to Singapore under mysterious circumstances. Now she’s keeping a secret from her wealthy employer, who is planning an extravagant wedding for her socialite daughter.
Barely out of her teens, this is Donita’s first time in Singapore, and she’s had the bad luck to be hired by the notoriously fussy Mrs. Fann. Brazen and exuberant, Donita’s thrown herself into a love affair with an Indian construction worker and started a lively social media account that says more than it should.
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
Darley, the eldest daughter in the well-connected, carefully guarded, old-money Stockton family, followed her heart, trading her job and inheritance for motherhood, sacrificing more of herself than she ever intended. Sasha, middle-class and from New England, has married into the Brooklyn Heights family and finds herself cast as the arriviste outsider, wondering how she might ever understand their WASP-y ways. Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t (and really shouldn’t) have and must confront the kind of person she wants to be.
Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly
Alexei Lebedev’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail begins with a single snake. And it is angling for the hot stranger who seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Lex is prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he isn’t prepared for is Ben Caravalho. But somehow—on a 2,500-mile trail—Alexei keeps running into the outgoing and charismatic hiker with golden-brown eyes, again and again. It might be coincidence. Then again, maybe there’s a reason the trail keeps bringing them together . . .
Ben has made his fair share of bad decisions, and almost all of them involved beautiful men. And yet there’s something about the gorgeous and quietly nerdy Alexei that Ben can’t just walk away from. Surely a bad decision can’t be this cute and smart. And there are worse things than falling in love during the biggest adventure of your life. But when their plans for the future are turned upside down, Ben and Alexei begin to wonder if it’s possible to hold on to something this wild and wonderful.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty
Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.
But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.
Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power…and the price might be your very soul.
The Farewell Tour by Stephanie Clifford
It’s 1980, and Lillian Waters is hitting the road for the very last time. Jaded from her years in the music business, perpetually hungover, and diagnosed with career-ending vocal problems, Lillian cobbles together a nationwide farewell tour featuring some old hands from her early days playing honky-tonk bars in Washington State and Nashville, plus a few new ones. She yearns to feel the rush of making live music one more time and bask in the glow of a packed house before she makes the last, and most important, stop on the tour: the farm she left behind at age ten and the sister she is finally ready to confront about an agonizing betrayal in their childhood.
The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell
Production for the tenth season of Bake Week is ready to begin at the gothic estate of host and celebrity chef Betsy Martin, and everything seems perfect. The tent is up, the top-tier ingredients are aligned, and the crew has their cameras at the ready.
The six contestants work to prove their culinary talents over the course of five days, while Betsy is less than thrilled to share the spotlight with a new cohost—the brash and unpredictable Archie Morris. But as the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.
The Last Beekeeper by Julie Carrick Dalton
It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind—find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated. There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as their own. While she initially feels threatened, the group soon becomes her newfound family, offering what she hasn’t felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it’s time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future.
But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honey bee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn’t understand, but she can’t shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father’s missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha’s fragile security and threaten the lives of her newfound family—or it could save them all.
The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner
1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.
Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…
Weyward by Emilia Hart
In 2019, Kate flees an abusive relationship in London for Crows Beck, a remote Cumbrian village. Her destination is Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great Aunt Violet, an eccentric entomologist.
As Kate struggles with the trauma of her past, she uncovers a secret about the women in her family. A secret dating back to 1619, when her ancestor Altha Weyward was put on trial for witchcraft…
At Sea by Emma Fedor
When Cara and Brendan first meet, she’s fresh out of college, recovering from the recent death of her mother and spending time on Martha’s Vineyard while trying to figure out her next steps. She’s swept away by Brendan’s humor and charm and intoxicated by his thrilling, dangerous secret: he claims that he can breathe underwater.
He shows Cara his gills. He dives beneath the waves for many minutes at a time. He offers her the most plausible of explanations: that he is a member of the United States Army Special Forces and has undergone top secret experimental surgery. And Cara, struck by the force of his devotion, his unstoppable charisma, and most of all, the casual truth of his claim, believes him.
Their summer romance quickly turns serious when Cara gets pregnant. When their son, Micah, is born, she is sure their happy ending is underway. Still, she is forced to contend with Brendan’s dramatic moods, and struggles to overlook his unexplained disappearances and the weight of his dangerous secrets. It must be PTSD, and Cara is determined to stay strong for her young family—until he and baby Micah unexpectedly vanish, leaving her desolate and alone.
Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice: on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.
But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker–or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?
Confidence by Rafael Frumkin
At seventeen, Ezra Green doesn’t have a lot going for him. He is shorter than average, gap-toothed, internet-addicted, and halfway to being legally blind. He’s also on his way to Last Chance Camp, the final stop before juvie.
Ezra’s summer at Last Chance turns life-changing when he meets Orson, brilliant and Adonis-like, with a mind for hustling. Together, the two embark upon what promises to be a fruitful career of scam artistry. But when they try to pull off their biggest scam yet–NuLife, a corporation that promises its consumers a lifetime of bliss–things start to spin wildly out of control. Searing and charming, Confidence is a story for anyone who knows that the American Dream is just another pyramid scheme.
Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova
Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago’s lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family’s decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses—though curbed by his biological and chosen family’s communal care—threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life.
River Spirit by Leila Aboulela
Leila Aboulela, hailed as “a versatile prose stylist” (New York Times) has also been praised by J.M. Coetzee, Ali Smith, and Ben Okri, among others, for her rich and nuanced novels depicting Islamic spiritual and political life. Her new novel is an enchanting narrative of the years leading up to the British conquest of Sudan in 1898, and a deeply human look at the tensions between Britain and Sudan, Christianity and Islam, colonizer and colonized. In River Spirit, Aboulela gives us the unforgettable story of a people who—against the odds and for a brief time—gained independence from foreign rule through their willpower, subterfuge, and sacrifice.
When Akuany and her brother Bol are orphaned in a village raid in South Sudan, they’re taken in by a young merchant Yaseen who promises to care for them, a vow that tethers him to Akuany through their adulthood. As a revolutionary leader rises to power – the self-proclaimed Mahdi, prophesied redeemer of Islam – Sudan begins to slip from the grasp of Ottoman rule, and everyone must choose a side. A scholar of the Qur’an, Yaseen feels beholden to stand against this false Mahdi, even as his choice splinters his family. Meanwhile, Akuany moves through her young adulthood and across the country alone, sold and traded from house to house, with Yaseen as her inconsistent lifeline. Everything each of them is striving for – love, freedom, safety – is all on the line in the fight for Sudan.
Rootless by Krystle Zara Appiah
On a Spring afternoon in London, Sam hops the stairs of his flat two at a time. There’s �1,300 missing from his and his wife, Efe’s, shared bank account and his calls are going straight to voicemail. When he finally reaches someone, he learns Efe is nearly 5,000 miles away as their toddler looks around and asks, “Where’s Mummy?”
When Efe and Sam met as teens headed for university, it seemed everyone knew they were meant to be. Efe, newly arrived in the UK from Ghana and sinking under the weight of her parents’ expectations, found comfort in the focused and idealistic Sam. He was stable, working toward a law career, and had an unwavering vision for their future. A vision Efe, now a decade later, finds slightly insufferable. From the outside, they’re the picture-perfect couple everyone imagined, but there are cracks in the frame.
When Efe and Sam are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, they find themselves on opposing sides. Fatherhood is everything he has dreamed of, but Efe feels stuck in a nightmare. And when a new revelation emerges, they are forced to confront just how radically different they want their lives to be. Already swallowed by the demands of motherhood and feeling the dreams she had slipping away once again, Efe disappears.
The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten
When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city.
Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan. Entire villages on the outskirts of the country have been dying overnight, seemingly at random. Lore can either use her magic to find out what’s happening and who in the King’s court is responsible, or die.
The God of Endings by Jacqueline Holland
Collette LeSange is a lonely artist who heads an elite fine arts school for children in upstate New York. Her youthful beauty masks the dark truth of her life: she has endured centuries of turmoil and heartache in the wake of her grandfather’s long-ago decision to make her immortal like himself. Now in 1984, Collette finds her life upended by the arrival of a gifted child from a troubled home, the return of a stalking presence from her past, and her own mysteriously growing hunger.
What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez
The Ramirez women of Staten Island orbit around absence. When thirteen‑year‑old middle child Ruthy disappeared after track practice without a trace, it left the family scarred and scrambling. One night, twelve years later, oldest sister Jessica spots a woman on her TV screen in Catfight, a raunchy reality show. She rushes to tell her younger sister, Nina: This woman’s hair is dyed red, and she calls herself Ruby, but the beauty mark under her left eye is instantly recognizable. Could it be Ruthy, after all this time?
The years since Ruthy’s disappearance haven’t been easy on the Ramirez family. It’s 2008, and their mother, Dolores, still struggles with the loss, Jessica juggles a newborn baby with her hospital job, and Nina, after four successful years at college, has returned home to medical school rejections and is forced to work in the mall folding tiny bedazzled thongs at the lingerie store.
After seeing maybe‑Ruthy on their screen, Jessica and Nina hatch a plan to drive to where the show is filmed in search of their long‑lost sister. When Dolores catches wind of their scheme, she insists on joining, along with her pot-stirring holy roller best friend, Irene. What follows is a family road trip and reckoning that will force the Ramirez women to finally face the past and look toward a future—with or without Ruthy in it.