In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re full-on into shopping mode in time for the festive season. One of the best presents, in my opinion, that you can give is a book.
I suppose I would say that as a writer, but I’m not flogging my own novel in today’s blog post. Instead, I want to share nine novels that have stayed with me long after I turned their final page.
For children and teens
The Graveyard Book begins in a very dark way – murder. It introduces us immediately to the assassin, the man Jack and the peril that our protagonist, Bod is in.
Gaiman’s portrayal of Bod as a child, at different ages, is completely believable. In fact, the whole book, although strange on the surface (a child living in a graveyard among ghosts and ghouls) uses the familiarity of family, childhood, and growing up to bind the story together.
I was introduced to the ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ books when my son found the first book in the series at our local library. Back then, I would still read to him on a night-time. I think I probably enjoyed the book as much as my son did.
Skulduggery Pleasant is the dead wizard detective pictured on the cover who, along with 12 year old Stephanie, investigate her late uncle’s death.
Magic, danger and, well, more danger and magic. What more could you ask for?
This is the first in the Word & Void trilogy and tells the story of a 14 year old girl called Nest who has strange powers, magical animal friends, and a quest to protect the children in her neighbourhood from demons and the like.
Running alongside Nest’s story is that of a Knight of the Word, John Ross, come to Nest’s town to protect her and the world from the encroaching Void.
For fantasy lovers
I love novels where an adult remembers what befell them as a child, and that is exactly what happens in this fantasy novel.
‘Ocean’ has Gaiman’s quiet, beckoning tone of storytelling, drawing you in until you have to know what will happen to the characters.
It’s a story of regret, bitter-sweet reminiscence, and the courage of a child who is wonderfully but terrifyingly out of his depths in a discovered world of magic.
This is a novel of magic, illusion (magical, mechanical and emotional), gameplay and love, set at the turn of the twentieth century in Europe and the USA which leaves you with more questions about the circus than you started with.
The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The ‘Word Wizard’ Terry Pratchett is no longer with us but his writing was so brilliant and prolific that I’m sure he’ll continue to have and attract an audience for decades more, if not forever.
‘The Colour of Magic’ tells the adventures of unlikely hero and terrible wizard, Rincewind.
I love the world that Pratchett created in his Discworld novels. I mean, who wouldn’t want luggage with legs and a mind of it’s own?
For those who love the classics
I came across this book through my studies and it has stayed with me as an example of great writing ever since. Mary Shelley became an inspiration to me too, not only as a writer, but as a creative pioneer, and an incredibly strong woman.
Forget the Boris Karloff Frankenstein’s monster or Herman in the Munsters, this classic novel is a story of arrogance, struggle, abandonment, and heart-break.
I’m on the monster’s side, by the way.
‘The Moonstone’ is told through the eyes of members of the family affected by the Moonstone’s seeming curse, their elderly butler Gabriel Betteredge, the family solicitor and the retired policeman Sergeant Cuff.
Considered to be the first detective novel, ‘The Moonstone’ describes the days and events before, during and after the theft of the fated diamond.
This novel is, if you’ll excuse the pun, a gem of a read whether you enjoy crime fiction or Victorian novels or both.
My final book is an old battered copy of the last ever Hercule Poirot novel. This book belonged to my parents but I didn’t read it until I was an adult. This is by far my favourite Agatha Christie novel, if the only one that ever moved me to tears.
Set in the same country house as the first Poirot novel, ‘Curtain’ sees Hercule old and ailing as his loyal and long-time friend Arthur Hastings does his best to help his friend discover ‘whodunnit’ before Poirot takes his last breath.
So there you have it, my nine recommended books to buy for your friends or family, or just for yourself, this Christmas.