Northernmost by Peter GeyeWhat it's about: the parallel narratives of two members of a Norwegian family living a century apart -- tundra-stranded 19th-century fisherman Odd Einar and modern day Minnesota journalist Greta Nansen -- and their shared struggles with isolation, grief, and marital problems.
Series alert: This is the 3rd and final entry in Peter Geye's series following the Eide family, preceded by The Lighthouse Road and Wintering.
The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne RindellStarring: Violet, a resourceful young woman who grew up in a San Francisco orphanage and has recently married a wealthy man; Violet's new husband Harry Carlyle, who says first wife Madeleine died in the massive earthquake that recently hit the city (in 1906).
For fans of: Daphne DuMaurier's classic novel Rebecca, which inspired this novel's gothic tone and Violet's suspicious curiosity about her husband's first wife.
Jack by Marilynne RobinsonSeries alert: Jack is the 4th novel starring the characters from the Gilead series, which began as a letter from dying Presbyterian minister John Ames Broughton to his son and spans events from the Civil War to the 1950s.
This time with more...moving, star-crossed romance (it's 1957 and the titular Jack's love interest is Della, a Black woman he met in St. Louis); well-crafted dialogue (much of the story unfolds in conversations between Jack and Della); and reflections on faith (in the divine and in each other).
Here We Are by Graham SwiftWhat it is: an engaging, character-driven story set in postwar Brighton, where a dying artform has one last great summer thanks to an equally doomed variety act.
The players: show emcee Jack Robinson, the "Compere Comedian"; Jack's army buddy Ronnie Deane, who performs sleight-of-hand as "The Great Pablo"; Evie White, newly hired as the proverbial magician's "lovely assistant" until she becomes much more than that to both men she shares the stage with.
Breath of Earth by Beth CatoThe setting: an alternate version of the early 20th century, where magic is real and geopolitics are centered around the United Pacific alliance, a pact between Japan and the U.S. to oppose China and Great Britain respectively.
Read it for: the gutsy heroine Ingrid, the first woman geomancer who finds herself neck-deep in the conspiracy that allowed the catastrophic 1906 San Francisco earthquake to occur.
The City of Brass by S.A. ChakrabortyThe setting: Eighteenth-century Cairo, where a young woman who survives as a con artist accidentally summons a djinn, who takes her back to the parallel world of the djinn to face her destiny.
Reviewers say: "This lyrical historical fantasy debut brings to vivid life the ancient mythological traditions of an Islamic world unfamiliar to most American readers" (Library Journal).
Hystopia by David MeansThe setting: A version of the late 1960s where John F. Kennedy survived not only the attempt on his life in Dallas but several subsequent assassination plots, and is now in his third term in office.
What goes wrong: the president's Vietnam strategy flounders, and the influx of returning vets leads him to create a new government agency called the Psych Corps, dedicated to erasing their wartime experiences from their memories.
First Cosmic Velocity by Zach PowersThe setting: It's 1964 and the USSR is completely trouncing the West in the space race. Or at least that's what the determined, inscrutable chief of the Soviet space program wants the world to believe.
The plan: to use pairs of twins (one sent on the mission and one left behind) to hide the fact that no one makes it safely back to Earth, and never tell anyone -- not even Khrushchev himself, who so believes in the program that he volunteers his own pet dog for an upcoming spaceflight.
The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadThe setting: an antebellum South that looks quite like the one in our reality, only the Underground Railroad literally has train tracks, inspiring the slavecatchers to create increasingly bizarre, elaborate, and disturbing obstacles between escapees and their freedom.
Reviewers say: "Imagine a runaway slave novel written with Joseph Heller's deadpan voice leasing both Frederick Douglass' grim realities and H.P. Lovecraft's rococo fantasies" (Kirkus Reviews).
Contact your librarian for more great books!