These are the books that have inspired my year. If you’re a fan of fantasy, folklore, and history with a magical edge, you might enjoy a good few of these!
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
A dark spin on the magical school concept. I loved this so much more than Harry Potter.
Fen by Daisy Johnson
A collection of stories set in the gothic landscape of the fenlands of coastal England. Contemporary, atmospheric, and evocative.
The Foundling by Stacy Halls
A historical fiction novel set in London in the mid-1700s. Don’t expect magic in this one, but its Georgian Britain atmosphere and gothic vibes make up for it.
The Golden Key by Marian Womak
Blends the folklore of the Norfolk Fens with Victorian mediums. A strange, misty kind of book.
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
There are enough hints of magic in this historical fiction telling of Shakespear’s family for speculative fiction fans to truly enjoy this one, even folks who don’t often go for historical stuff.
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley
A sequel to Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, set in a gothic Japan filled with ghosts and electrical storms.
Scottish Myths and Legends by Daniel Allison
The best book of Scottish folklore I’ve found (and I’ve read lots). Filled with Allison’s retellings of classic as well as little-known Scottish fairy tales.
Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
A 1970s classic horror novel filled with good old fashioned creepy Midwestern vibes, a magical carousel, and a villain that makes you look twice at the dark corners of your room.
Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffani Angus
A haunted garden holds the secrets of a family’s history. Read this if you love the gothic, plants, and old houses riddled with ghosts and history.
Vickery’s Folk Flora by Roy Vickery
An encyclopedia of plant lore of Britain and Ireland. A beast of a book with a fascinating introduction and 900+ pages of detailed folklore of British plants.
Angie Spoto is an American fiction writer and poet living in Edinburgh. In 2020, she completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Her doctoral thesis was a fantasy novel, called The Grief Nurse, and a collection of essays on grief, madness and language. The Grief Nurse has been shortlisted for the First Novel Prize 2021 and The Bridge Awards Emerging Writer Award in 2020. Angie is represented by Robbie Guillory from Kate Nash Literary Agency.