I love this tag, and if felt about time I got involved again. It’s simple: Pick a popular book and recommend a lesser-known title that it brings to mind. The idea is that, if you enjoyed one, you’ll likely enjoy the other as well. Let’s get started!
Do you like historical fiction set in creepy, haunted mansions? How about a thick, brooding atmosphere, a tangled web of secrets to unravel, and a resourceful female protagonist eager to get to the truth, whatever the cost? If so, you could do far worse than these gothic delights, both of which I loved.
The Pisces is undoubtedly polarising, and was easily one of the most controversial picks for this year’s Women’s Prize. I can see Animals Eat Each Other causing the same divide, as both books focus on a complex and not wholly likable heroine as she uses her body to seek validation and meaning, and to distract from her own self-loathing. Bold and unflinching, they really pack a punch.
The recent (not very good) film adaptation of The Silence drew inevitable comparisons to Bird Box, but Lebbon’s book stands as its own valid offering. Both are horror novels that use sensory deprivation to tap into our fear of the unknown. In Bird Box, people must blindfold themselves against a mysterious force, the sight of which causes instant insanity. In The Silence, the discovery of deadly prehistoric creatures that hunt using sound forces survivors to live in complete quiet.
Both of these titles tackle the topical issue of reproductive rights, from a speculative, quasi-futuristic, yet highly plausible perspective. In the first, scientists have established a way for two women to conceive a child, using ovum-to-ovum fertilisation. In the latter, the development of artificial, external wombs allows anyone to carry a child. Gender equality, the pursuit of family, and the moral dilemma of scientific advancement are at the heart of both stories.
I’ll leave it there for now, but will hopefully put together another of these posts sometime in the not too distant future. Since I wasn’t officially tagged this time around, I’ll leave it open to anyone who’d like to take part. Let me know if you do it, so I can check out your recommendations! And if any of the books I mentioned caught your eye, just click on the title and it will take you to Book Depository, where you can pick up a copy with free shipping. Huzzah!