Tag: angela carter

5 Authors Who Invite a Touch of Magic into the Everyday World

It’s important, especially in these turbulent times, to appreciate what makes each day special, and what better way to do that than through reading! We’ve rounded up five authors who invite a touch of magic into the everyday world. So read on! And invite a little magic into your day.


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Kerry Anne King is exactly the sort of writer who unleashes the extraordinary in the ordinary. Best known for her acclaimed novel Whisper Me This, which was an Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller, King is back with the life-affirming Everything You Are. 

Barbara O’Neal, author of The Art of Inheriting, “loved every magical word,” of Everything You Are, while Terri-Lynne DeFino, author of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) notes that “Love and sorrow, regret and hope are woven into every aspect of the story by music—not just any music, but the magical kind that leaves both creator and listener, for better or worse, irrevocably changed.”

“Kerry Anne King writes with such insight and compassion for human nature,” says Barbara Taylor Sissel, bestselling author of Crooked Little Lies, and she’s right!

So without further ado, check out the blurb for Everything You Are, and bring a little magic to your day, today!

One tragic twist of fate destroyed Braden Healey’s hands, his musical career, and his family. Now, unable to play, adrift in an alcoholic daze, and with only fragmented memories of his past, Braden wants desperately to escape the darkness of the last eleven years.

When his ex-wife and son are killed in a car accident, Braden returns home, hoping to forge a relationship with his troubled seventeen-year-old daughter, Allie. But how can he hope to rescue her from the curse that seems to shadow his family?

Ophelia “Phee” MacPhee, granddaughter of the eccentric old man who sold Braden his cello, believes the curse is real. She swore an oath to her dying grandfather that she would ensure Braden plays the cello as long as he lives. But he can’t play, and as the shadows deepen and Phee finds herself falling for Braden, she’ll do anything to save him. It will take a miracle of forgiveness and love to bring all three of them back to the healing power of music.

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win Everything you Are, an amazing pair of headphones and more magical prizes! 


Tana French


Images Via The Irish Times and Amazon


So, okay— Tana French may be best known for her Dublin Murder Squad series, and that may not sound too magical, or too ‘everyday’, for that matter. However, while the wider DMS series is about detectives solving murders, each book is about something more than that. I want to talk specifically about her novel The Secret Place, which is the fifth DMS novel, but focusses heavily on a group of teenage girls who are potentially involved in the murder of a boy on the grounds of their boarding school. The girls have a strangely supernatural bond, one the hardened detectives haven’t seen before, and the tender and raw exploration of this magic and the girls’ relationships with each other, is wonderfully woven together with all the page-turning suspense of a good murder mystery.

Not all of French’s books contain magical elements, but the ones that do are imbued with an extra spark that will hook you from the start.

Check out the blurb of The Secret Place and get excited!

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.

Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.

Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.

Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear.


Angela Carter


Image Via The Irish Times and Amazon


If you read Angela Carter’s feminist reimaginings of fairytales, The Bloody Chamber for school, then you’ll know that the 80s surrealist and feminist writer took a vivid delight in imbuing the everyday with a twisted magic all of her own. When I first read her novel The Magic Toyshop at sixteen, I nearly lost my mind I was so excited by her strange descriptions of a girl climbing an apple tree at night in her mother’s wedding dress, of her uncle’s toyshop, her mute aunt, the lifesize chess set and the giant swan puppet… Throughout the book, nothing distinctly magical happens, everything is possible, but so fascinating, imaginative and unlikely as to add up to much the same thing as magic.

Her novel Nights at the Circus is also one of my favorites, following a journalist who goes on tour with a traveling circus, the star of which is a supposedly winged woman, Fevvers, who alleges she is half swan.

Here’s the blurb for The Magic Toyshop!

One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the home of her childhood, she is sent to live with relatives she has never met: gentle Aunt Margaret, mute since her wedding day; and her brothers, Francie and Finn. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip, who loves only the toys he makes in his workshop: clockwork roses and puppets that are life-size – and uncannily life-like.


Joanne Harris 


Images Via The Guardian and Amazon


A woman and her little girl move to a French village and open an intoxicating chocolate shop which causes a stir in the village. Vianne’s mysterious arrival and the effect of the chocolate on the villagers are both imbued with an undefined magic that intrigues and delights.

Chances are, you’ve seen the Oscar-nominated movie starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, but did you know the story continues in three more books featuring Vianne and her chocolate? Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur le Cure, and The Strawberry Thief are all part of Harris’s gorgeous series that brings so much good and lighthearted magic to the everyday!

Check out the blurb for Chocolat!


When a mysterious stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet with her daughter and opens an exotic chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud denounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock – especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial.

As passions flare and the conflict escalates, the whole community takes sides. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the sinful pleasure of a chocolate truffle?

Chocolat was Joanne Harris’ first book about Vianne Rocher,and was turned into a popular Oscar-nominated film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. The story of Vianne and her daughters was continued in Lollipop Shoes, and then in Peaches for Monsieur le Cure, and now in her new novel, The Strawberry Thief.


Alice Hoffman


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Alice Hoffman is probably best known for her novel Practical Magic which was adapted for the big screen, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, but pretty much all her books, from old works like Property Of, to her latest novel, The World That We Knew, have magic woven into them.  In their starred review of The World That We Knew, a holocaust novel featuring threads of magic realism, Booklist calls it “An exceptionally voiced tale of deepest love and loss…one of [Hoffman’s] finest. WWII fiction has glutted the market, but Hoffman’s unique brand of magical realism and the beautiful, tender yet devastating way she explores her subject make this a standout.” 

Inspired by a true story told to Hoffman by a fan at a book signing, The World That We Knew explores the ‘hidden children,’ Jewish children sent to live with non-Jewish families to keep them hidden from Nazis during World War II.


In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman.

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

The Lohan Twins

5 Books to Read If You Love ‘The Parent Trap’ a Lot…a Lot-a Lot

Can you quote The Parent Trap word-for-word? Did you, like me, live in a country where there is no such thing as two month long residential summer camps in forests, and dream about going to one and finding your long lost twin? Does your father still refer to Lindsay Lohan as ‘the Lohan twins’? The nostalgia of Lohan’s breakthrough movie never wears off, but in order to get you ready for watching it fourteen times, as I know you will, over the coming holiday season, here are five books to read if you LOVE The Parent Trap.


1. Lisa and Lottie by Erich Kästner


Image Via Amazon

Image Via Amazon


This is the book upon which your all-time favorite movie, and the original 1961 adaptation starring Hayley Mills, are actually based! Published in 1949, the book has essentially the same plot as the movies: two little girls meet at summer camp, discover they are twins and hatch a plot to reunite their estranged parents. Kästner, who was German, was a pacifist and he apparently wrote for children because he believed in “the regenerative powers of youth.” He was opposed to Nazism and was interrogated by the Gestapo and excluded from the Nazi-run writers’ guild. His books were burned during the book burning ordered by Josef Goebbels, but he survived the war. He died of natural causes in 1974, at which time the Bavarian Academy of Arts founded a literary prize in his name. Also named after him is the asteroid 12318 Kästner. I read Lisa and Lottie by chance as a kid, having picked up an old copy in a second-hand bookshop, not realizing that it was actually the book that inspired my favorite film. I just thought the plots were weirdly similar and at the time we only had dial up internet so I didn’t actually google it until recently. Ya live, ya learn, eh?


2. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield


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Image Via Amazon


Twins Kate and Violet have always experienced premonitions. Though Vi embraces her psychic abilities, Kate does her best to ignore them and live a normal life. As adults, both return to their native St. Louis. Vi has become a psychic medium, while Kate has two children and a quiet, suburban life. However, a minor earthquake occurs and Vi is certain another, devastating one is yet to come.


Amazon calls the book “Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking,” saying “Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.”


While this isn’t quite the ‘laugh-a-minute’ precocious-tween extravaganza that The Parent Trap is, it does take a closer, more grown-up look at the power of sisterhood and loyalty, and what it means to share with someone the closeness and intimacy of twinhood. 


3. Sweet Valley High 1: Double Love by Francine Pascal


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Image Via Amazon


Did you love the Sweet Valley High books growing up? Nah, me neither. I never had them, but a lot of people seemed to! So much so that they became New York Times bestsellers and are considered classics. I’m tempted to revisit the youth I never had and embark on the Sweet Valley journey, following twin sisters Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and all they get up to, or, as the book cover rather hilariously puts it, “their laughter, heartaches, and dreams.”


Elizabeth is sweet and good-natured, while Jessica thinks the world revolves around her. In this book, the first in the series, Jessica sets her sights on Todd, the one boy Elizabeth really likes. While Sisterland is adult literary fiction, Sweet Valley High goes back to the YA vibes of The Parent Trap, encompassing themes of teenage angst, sisterhood and loyalty, much like our beloved movie. 


4. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh


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Image Via SLJ Blog Network


So, Harriet’s not a twin, but she is a precocious tween, partial to more than a little deception, much like The Parent Trap gals. If you haven’t read the book, or seen the 1996 movie starring Michelle Trachtenberg and Rosie O’Donnell, then you really ought. The story follows eleven year old Harriet M. Welsch, an aspiring writer, who, encouraged by her nanny Ole Golly, keeps meticulous notes about her day-to-day life and the people in it in her notebook. She follows a spy route each day, documenting the people she observes such as various shop workers, classmates, and friends. However, Harriet’s ruthless note-taking gets her into hot water. 


5. Wise Children by Angela Carter 


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Image Via Amazon


This is one of my favorite books, and also happens to be about twins. The sisters, Dora and Nora Chance, share a great bond, much like the twins in the movie and have a pretty mad family situation. (Their family tree is actually mapped out on the Wikipedia page for the book, but don’t go there until you’ve read it, for fear of spoilers.) Dora and Nora are former chorus girls who recount the bizarre and hilarious exploits of their tumultuous theatrical family. This was Angela Carter’s last novel and she went out with a bang, employing elements of fairy-tale, magical realism and surrealism in this unique book. Upon her death in 1992, shortly after Wise Children‘s publication, Salman Rushdie wrote an obituary for The New York Times, in which he said:


[Wise Children] is written with her unique brand of deadly cheeriness. It cackles gaily as it impales the century upon its jokes. Like all her works, it is a celebration of sensuality, of life. More particularly, it celebrates wrong-side-of-the-tracksness, and wrong-side-of-the-blanketness too. It is a raspberry blown by South London across the Thames, a paean to bastardy (and the novel is a bastard form, never forget, so novelists must always stand up for bastards). Angela Carter was a thumber of noses, a defiler of sacred cows. She loved nothing so much as cussed — but also blithe — nonconformity. Her books unshackle us, toppling the statues of the pompous, demolishing the temples and commissariats of righteousness. They draw their strength, their vitality, from all that is unright eous, illegitimate, low. They are without equal, and without rival.


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