Right in the middle of the semester, a good book is just the distraction a lot of students need to get away from the monotony of textbook readings and endless Zoom classes. This October, Arts & Entertainment brings you a selection of three enthralling reads with mysterious or magical themes to help you enjoy the spooky season.
“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir
In Sabaa Tahir’s 2015 debut novel, Ancient Rome meets “The Hunger Games” meets “Game of Thrones.” Winner of the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Fantasy of 2015, “An Ember in the Ashes” is set in the fantasy world of the Martial Empire and follows protagonists Laia and Elias as they fight against a tyrannical regime. Laia is a Scholar who becomes a rebel spy after her brother is arrested for treason. Elias is at the top of his class at the Empire’s military academy, but secretly wants no part of it. Both take turns narrating this genre-bending tale full of expert world-building, political intrigue, mysterious supernatural occurrences and love triangles. Whether you’re looking for a bit of magic this Halloween or you just want a worthy protagonist to dress up as, “An Ember in the Ashes” has you covered. And if you love this book, there are two more that follow it and a fourth and final book in the tetralogy coming out this December.
“I Am Watching You” by Teresa Driscoll
For a slightly creepier vibe this Halloween, try Teresa Driscoll’s 2017 psychological thriller “I Am Watching You.” Mother Ella Longfield wonders if she should alert someone when she overhears two young men just out of prison flirting with two teenage girls but decides against it, only to discover the next morning that one of the girls — Anna — has gone missing. Fast forward to one year later, Anna is still missing and Ella is still racked with guilt and has begun to receive threatening letters. This book alternates between several different perspectives related to the missing girl, each of them hiding their own secrets, plus the extra-tense anonymous perspective of Ella’s stalker. A fast-paced thriller full of suspense and enough creepiness to spice up your October, “I Am Watching You” is a fun read that is perfect for procrastinating on midterm studying.
“Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo
If you can’t decide between the fantasy novel or the creepy mystery novel, then go for a bit of both with “Ninth House,” Leigh Bardugo’s scary good — pun intended — dark adult fantasy novel. One of NPR’s best books of 2019, “Ninth House” centers around college freshman Galaxy “Alex” Stern, a homicide survivor mysteriously offered a full ride to Yale University on the condition that she investigate its secret societies, only to discover that they are far more sinister than they seem. “Ninth House” is skillfully written with vivid description, a suspenseful plot that unfolds through three different timelines and an engrossing mixture of reality and fantasy. This novel can get pretty dark at times, with a fair amount of violence and a protagonist whose past and present are both riddled with trauma. However, if you can manage the darkness, and you’re interested in magic, mystery, corruption, occult occurrences and a dash of horror this spooky season, then “Ninth House” might just be for you. Stephen King praised it as "the best fantasy novel [he’s] read in years, because it's about real people. Bardugo's imaginative reach is brilliant, and this story ― full of shocks and twists ― is impossible to put down.”