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LLA Reads: Magic and Marriage

At Louisville Literary Arts, we all love to read. But our interests in literature are as varied as hats on Derby Day. Some of us gravitate toward poetry, while others prefer an epic novel. A few of us love reading creative nonfiction. In this space, we recommend recent books we've read, and hope that you'll find something just right for your reading list.

Alice recommends: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab (Tor, 2015)

​Genre: Fantasy

"Three Londons sit side-by-side, in parallel universes with varying degrees of magic. Only Travelers, like Kell, can cross between the human Grey London ruled by mad King George, which has forgotten magic; Kell’s own Red London, where magic is in perfect balance; and cold White London, where magic is a dangerous and coveted power. On one of Kell’s regular trips as an envoy for his king, he picks up a shadow stone, a relic from a fourth London, sealed off centuries ago after dark magic consumed all of its humanity. Kell and spunky Lila from Grey London are quickly caught up in a powerful chase as the dark magic threatens the future of the remaining Londons.

Crafting one of the best fantasies I’ve read in the past few years, Schwab deftly uses magic to paint these overlapping worlds, allowing them to develop in the reader’s mind much like characters. While Lila Bard is a familiar (and much beloved) strong female character bent on rebellion and dashing expectations, Kell is something different, a more reserved adventurer, which intrigued me. I loved seeing the duo interact in this beautiful setting, and can’t wait to read the sequel, A Gathering of Storms, releasing on Tuesday, February 23."

Kim recommends: FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books, 2015)

Genre: Fiction

"Novelist Lauren Groff was on the shortlist for the 2015 National Book Award for Fates and Furies, described by the National Book Foundation as an “audacious novel [and] an astounding portrait of a marriage.” Though I usually scoff at the hyperbole of book blurbs, I would agree— this novel is audacious. Bold, daring and plucky. The writing is lyrical. There is abundant adventurous sex in the first section that, at first, seems gratuitous until one travels into the story. The structure is inventive. A point-of-view shift deepens the story and adds complexity to characters and plot events. There are small important moments of redemption.

Interviews and book blurbs describe this book as the story of a 24-year marriage. Such a description oversimplifies a complex story. This is a book about secrets, subterfuge and psychic wounds. The reading experience creates as many questions as answers, such as: 'Do you really know the person you married?' and 'Can you recover from childhood tragedy?'

Lauren Groff will attend the Louisville Literary Arts’ 2016 Writer’s Block Festival, as the University of Louisville Anne and William Axton Keynote Reader, on Saturday, November 5. Ms. Groff will read, answer audience questions and sign her books. This event is free and open to the public."

Amy recommends: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman (Viking, 2009)

Genre: Fantasy

​​"High school senior Quentin Coldwater’s favorite books are the ones about Fillory, a Narnia-esque world of clock-trees and talking animals. When he’s invited to study magic at Brakebills, Quentin discovers that the land he’s obsessively read about all his life is real and needs his help, as well as that of his friends.

Lev Grossman cleverly combines tropes from the Harry Potter books and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales, while at the same time asking deeper questions – what would you do if you discovered that the magical land you read about as a child turned out to be real? Would that be a place you should visit – and if you did so, what would the repercussions be?

Grossman continues his meditations on magic with two other books as well – and now there’s also a television series on SyFy you can enjoy called The Magicians. "



If you would like us to consider recommending your book, please contact LLA Reads editor Alice, who will let you know how to get your book to our readers.

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