Seven years after The Night Circus won our hearts, Erin Morgenstern returns with an equally riveting sophomore novel full of magic, lush imagery, and secret societies. The incomparable Danielle Steel is also back with a World War II spy tale, and in his debut novel, rocker Pete Townshend brings us an operatic, psychedelic meditation on creativity. If you’re not ready to leave behind the thrills and chills of late fall, look no further than Gwendy’s Magic Feather, by Richard Chizmar (with a foreward by Stephen King).
The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
In this love letter to books and the power of stories to transform and make sense of our lives, The Night Circus author introduces us to graduate student and bibliophile Zachary Rawlins, who discovers a magical underground library that’s in danger of being destroyed. Soon Zachary is following clues that relate to an incident from his childhood, somehow captured in a book he never wrote. Painted doors that lead to lost cities; masquerade parties; secret societies; and a love story to call his own await him. Morgenstern’s masterful ability to immerse readers in fantastical realms will enchant and delight.
Spy, by Danielle Steel
Fans of Steel’s historical fiction (particularly Silent Honor and A Good Woman) will devour this World War II-set espionage tale about a young woman living a life of subterfuge and risk. Alexandra Wickham is a classic beauty, fluent in French and German, and born into privilege in Hampshire, England, but she refuses to remain on the sidelines while her fellow countrymen put their lives on the line. Her volunteer work as a nurse in London quickly springboards to a position as a secret agent. But can she keep her true identity hidden from everyone she’s ever cared about?
Final Option, by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison
Juan Cabrillo, leader of “The Corporation” and captain of the Oregon—a disgusting clunker of a steamer that’s secretly the most high-tech ship in the world—is back for a 14th adventure. Sent to extract two American spies who’ve been exposed in Brazil, Cabrillo finds himself scrambling to avoid a trap. Worse, someone has duplicated the formerly one-of-a-kind Oregon in a bid to beat Cabrillo. He’s never faced such a formidable opponent, nor had more to lose if he and his crew fail in their mission.
The Age of Anxiety, by Pete Townshend
The Who’s lead guitarist and songwriter (who once owned a bookstore!) has written a novella, an autobiography, and a short story collection in the past, but this month he debuts something entirely new: an “operatic rock novel” ten years in the making. A sprawling, at times hallucinatory meditation on what it means to be creative (and the fine line between brilliance and madness), the book pulls back the curtain on certain aspects of the music industry while following two generations of a London family and the artistic—sometimes broken, sometimes damaged, always fascinating—people who surround them.
Gwendy’s Magic Feather, by Richard Chizmar
In Gwendy’s Button Box, Chizmar teamed up with Stephen King for a novella set in the iconic fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Now Chizmar is flying solo for this full-length sequel that finds Gwendy (the once-hapless girl entrusted with the nightmarish button box) all grown up into an accomplished, happily married woman with political aspirations. Gwendy returns to her hometown when two girls go missing in a storm. Perhaps she’s meant to use the contraption to help aid in the search—or perhaps the contraption is using her.
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Sword of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell
If you miss A Game of Thrones, why not dive into this bloody, battle-heavy, medieval history of England? In the twelfth book of the series (which inspired the Netflix show The Last Kingdom), 10th-century monarch King Edward sees power slipping from his grasp. He’ll need to rely on Uhtred of Bebbanburg—our narrator—to secure a proper heir by killing the heir’s main two rivals. Reluctant though he is to leave Northumbria (remind you of a certain Stark?) Uhtred is bound by oath and reluctantly up to the task, his sword “Serpent-Breath” by his side.
The Glittering Hour, by Iona Grey
At twenty-two, wealthy British socialite Selina Lennox and her wild ways are the talk of the town. But a chance encounter with penniless artist Lawrence Weston changes all that when he and Selina fall in love, although both are aware that their star-crossed romance will be frowned upon. When tragedy forces Selina to make a difficult decision, she chooses safety over passion. Years later, Selina’s nine year old daughter Alice has been left with her grandparents while her parents travel abroad. To keep her entertained, her mother sends Alice letters, and clues which lead her on a consequential treasure hunt. With its twists and turns, unforgettable characters, and lush period detail, this gorgeous historical saga of family, love, and loss will keep you spellbound.
Africaville: A Novel, by Jeffrey Colvin
This unforgettable debut follows the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family, whose ancestors, former slaves from the Caribbean and United States, settled in Nova Scotia, where they managed to build a thriving community, despite facing devastating hardships, from harsh winters to racial prejudice. No stranger to these same hardships, Kath Ella is nevertheless disappointed when her defiant son Omar leaves Canada behind for the US, eventually settling in the deep South, where he has a son of his own. He may have left Africaville behind, but Omar still finds himself forced to confront and come to terms with his roots, his identity, and his past in an epic story that weaves together family, history, and identity, against the backdrop of tumultuous historical events over the last century.