The only thing worse than being in a book slump is having the time to read but not knowing which book to pick up. It doesn’t even matter if you own the book and haven’t started, because odds are you probably already have (at least) a genre you want to delve into for the time being, or at least an idea of what you’re currently interested in reading. A quick way to solve this would be to search for the book on Goodreads and check the similar recommendations section, but honestly most of the time those recommendations are far from what I’d perceive as “similar.” So, here’s the next best thing! “If you like this, then you’ll like this.” All synopses taken from Goodreads. Commentary from yours truly.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
- Scholarly boys/ Campus setting
- Everyone is secretly gay
- Corrupt and complex characters
- TSH is TRC in the future 100%
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
- Russian/ “Ravkan” setting
- Dark romance
- Strong heroines
- Whimsical themes
- Epic fantasy
- Alarkling = Koschei x Marya
- (No, literally, The Darkling was inspired by Koschie the Deathless.)
- THIS BOOK WAS LITERALLY INSPIRED BY THAT BOOK. SO READ IT.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valence
Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.
Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Circus setting
- Eerie plot
- Fantastic writing
Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a menagerie of human curiosities and misfits guaranteed to astound and amaze! But perhaps the strangest act of Mosco’s display is Portia Remini, a normal among the freaks, on the run from McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, that she could never leave. Free at last, Portia begins a new life on the bally, seeking answers about her father’s disappearance. Will she find him before Mister finds her? It’s a story for the ages, and like everyone who enters the Wonder Show, Portia will never be the same.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
- Strong heroines
- Ferocious romance
- Hades + Persephone vibes
- (Essentially TSTQ is both halves of the Nigh Court)
- Complex characters and settings
The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Psychotic main characters
- Not quite sure who is the protagonist
- Everyone has a morbid build-up
- Melancholy backdrop
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.
But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
- Indian folklore
- Corrupt empires
The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
In her latest novel, Turkey’s preeminent female writer spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire. In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota and befriends (and falls for) the sultan’s beautiful daughter, Princess Mihrimah. A palace education leads Jahan to Mimar Sinan, the empire’s chief architect, who takes Jahan under his wing as they construct (with Chota’s help) some of the most magnificent buildings in history. Yet even as they build Sinan’s triumphant masterpieces—the incredible Suleymaniye and Selimiye mosques—dangerous undercurrents begin to emerge, with jealousy erupting among Sinan’s four apprentices.
A memorable story of artistic freedom, creativity, and the clash between science and fundamentalism, Shafak’s intricate novel brims with vibrant characters, intriguing adventure, and the lavish backdrop of the Ottoman court, where love and loyalty are no match for raw power.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
- Strong heroines
- Villagers vying for a stranger’s affection
- Mysterious (handsome) stranger
- Compassionate leads
The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin
This moving adaptation of the classic children’s story Cinderella tells how a disfigured Algonquin girl wins the heart of a mysterious being who lives by the lake near her village.
The powerful Invisible Being is looking for a wife, and all the girls in the village vie for his affections. But only the girl who proves she can see him will be his bride. The two beautiful but spoiled daughters of a poor village man try their best to be chosen, but it is their Rough-Face-Girl sister, scarred on her face and arms from tending fires, who sees the Invisible Being in the wonder of the natural world.
The dramatic illustrations reflect the vibrant earth colors of the native landscape and the wisdom and sensitivity of the protagonist.