Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina GappahWhat it's about: The harrowing 1,500-mile, nine-month journey undertaken by the African servants of Scottish missionary Dr. David Livingstone as they transport his body to the coast of Tanzania.
Narrated by: Cynical Halima, the band's cook, and loyal Jacob Wainwright, educated by missionaries following his manumission.
What sets it apart: Livingstone is a minor character in Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah's novel, which "captures the diverse cultural milieu of colonial Africa with compelling detail" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Golden Wolf by Linnea HartsuykerWhat it is: The much-anticipated conclusion to the Golden Wolf trilogy, which began with The Half-Drowned King and The Sea Queen.
The Next Generation: While Ragnvald of Sogn and his sister, "Sea Queen" Svanhild, still play significant roles, Svanhild's daughter and Ragnvald's sons take center stage in this intricately plotted novel.
You might also like: Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales
The Shadow King: A Novel by Maaza MengisteEthiopia, 1935: Orphaned Hirut joins the fight against Italy's invading army by serving as bodyguard to the "Shadow King," a stand-in for exiled Emperor Haile Selassie.
What sets it apart: Not only does this lyrical novel depict a lesser-known conflict, Hirut's journey from servant to soldier offers a change from war stories that portray women exclusively as casualties or refugees.
The Secrets We Kept by Lara PrescottWhat it's about: The CIA's plan to smuggle copies of Boris Pasternak’s banned novel Dr. Zhivago into Moscow as anti-Soviet propaganda.
Starring: Russian-born secretary-turned-spy Irina; her handler Sally, with whom she begins an affair; and Pasternak's mistress, Olga, who refuses to incriminate her lover and lands in the gulag.
Want a taste? "Some of us spoke Mandarin. Some could fly planes. Some of us could handle a Colt 1873 better than John Wayne. But all we were asked when interviewed was, 'Can you type?'"
Focus on: Creepy Historical Fiction
The Hunger by Alma KatsuWhat it is: A chilling, often visceral retelling of the Donner Party's ill-fated overland journey, in which supernatural forces stalk the wagon train.
Is it for you? While this well-researched novel adheres closely to the known facts, the introduction of elements such as lycanthropy and ghosts may not be everyone's cup of tea.
For fans of: Menacing historical horror à la Dan Simmons' The Terror or Joyce Carol Oates' The Accursed.
The Silent Companions by Laura PurcellWhat happens: Pregnant Elsie Bainbridge travels to her late husband's ancestral home in the English countryside, where she encounters suspicious villagers, frightened servants, and life-sized, eerily lifelike 17th-century painted wooden figures.
Why you might like it: This haunting novel unfolds in parallel narratives that shift back and forth between the 1630s and the 1860s.
For fans of: the Gothic atmosphere of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black.
The Little Stranger by Sarah WatersWhat it's about: Upon arriving at Hundreds Hall in 1948, Dr. Faraday is alarmed to learn that the aristocratic Ayres family -- widowed Mrs. Ayres; her troubled son, former RAF pilot Roderick; and her "spinster" daughter, Caroline -- believe they're being menaced by supernatural forces.
For fans of: Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House
Reviewers say: readers will enjoy this "eerie ghost story mixed with piercing class commentary" (Booklist).
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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