NaNoWriMo’s Literary Triumphs: 3 Books That Defied the Deadline

Each year, authors worldwide embark on the grueling 30-day marathon of NaNoWriMo. In this edition of Three to Read, we’re recommending three remarkable books to read, that survived, thrived, and outpaced the ticking clock, embodying the spirit of creativity under pressure.

Community Publishing Recommendations Three To Read
Books The Davenports by Krystal Marquis, A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow, and The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas, against a fall background

Every November, a global phenomenon known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, takes flight. This is when thousands of aspiring writers face the ultimate challenge: completing a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. In this test of will, creativity, and sheer determination, these authors push themselves to their limits as they sprint toward a finish line that, for many, is only a distant dream. But amidst the frenzy and fervor, literary gems are born. In this week’s Three to Read, we unearth three exceptional books that were not just written during NaNoWriMo but were also nurtured, polished, and celebrated after the challenge.

Join us on this literary journey as we delve into the world of NaNoWriMo and discover why these books are special.


The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

The Davenports by by Krystal Marquis, book cover depicting a black couple dressed in regency wear in shades of yellow.

This book centers around the Davenports — one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in a changing United States, whose fortune was made through the entrepreneurship of William Davenport, a formerly enslaved man who founded the Davenport Carriage Company years ago. The Patterson family’s real-life tale serves as the inspiration for The Davenports, a captivating young adult historical romance. This novel delves into the lives of two sisters, Olivia and Helen Davenport, alongside their childhood-friend-turned-maid, Amy-Rose, and Olivia’s closest confidante, Ruby. As the four Black women navigate the complexities of life and love, their stories unfold within the backdrop of history.

This was our obvious choice for its unique historical authenticity, compelling characters, young adult appeal, and captivating romantic element, all set against the backdrop of the Patterson family’s real-life story. The novel’s NaNoWriMo origin adds an exciting creative dimension, making it an obvious winner, while its universal themes promise broad reader engagement and potential for cinematic adaptation, making it a surefire hit in the world of young adult historical romance literature.


A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow

A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow, book cover depicting a young girl holding a glowing item in front of an ominious portrait of a mermaid

Narrated from alternating viewpoints, this story tells the tale of Kela, a sorrowful young woman enduring the pain of her mother’s passing. Set against the backdrop of Caribbean folklore, Kela stumbles upon the comb of a mermaid, and a single magical wish is granted to her. The unforeseen and dire repercussions of this wish remain hidden as the centuries-old mermaid harbors vengeance against all humans.

This is a gripping blend of fantasy and emotion. The alternating perspectives add depth to the characters and their motives, making it engaging for readers seeking a compelling and thought-provoking story to savor over a cup of coffee. The mix of heartbreak and magic is the perfect complement to the cozy ambiance of a coffee shop, allowing readers to immerse themselves in a captivating world while enjoying their favorite brew. A great read for those who loved Kacen Callender’s Hurricane Child or Christian McKay Heidicker’s Scary Stories for Young Foxes.


The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda by Isabel Canas, book cover depicting a Hispanic woman in a red dress before an old castle in the desert.

Within the pages of this book, readers will be drawn into the haunting world of Beatriz, a mestiza woman, as she confronts the chilling mysteries of the hacienda she unexpectedly inherits. Cañas masterfully intertwines a story that delves into the primal fears of darkness and weaves in the profound impacts of colonialism and Catholicism during Mexico’s post-War of Independence era, resulting in a compelling and eerie tale.

This book skillfully combines elements of suspense and horror with a deep historical and cultural exploration of Mexico’s post-independence period. Its ability to merge these diverse aspects creates a reading experience that defies expectations, making it an unexpected gem for those seeking a captivating and thought-provoking story. The Hacienda’s ability to transport readers into a world of both supernatural fear and historical significance ensures that it will capture the imagination of those who discover it, making it a perfect dark horse in the literary landscape.

NaNoWriMo, with its high-pressure deadline and exhilarating sense of community, has become a catalyst for countless writers, birthing extraordinary stories in the most challenging circumstances. The books we’ve explored here in this week’s Three to Read demonstrate the incredible power of NaNoWriMo — one that turns deadlines into launchpads for literary success. As you embark on your own NaNoWriMo journey, remember that, in the face of pressure, you may just create your own masterpiece! These three novels are not just a testament to the writers who penned them but to the idea that every November holds the potential for a novel — scratch that and make it MANY MASTERPIECES — waiting to be written.

With that, you’re all covered for this week. We hope you enjoy these reads, and we’ll be back next week with three more recommendations for your reading pleasure.

For more Three to Read recommendations, check back here every Tuesday, and for all things NaNoWriMo, click here.

To get these and more such books handpicked by the Bookstr team, head to the Three to Read section in our Bookshop, here.