The best whimsical books brimming with magic

A.I. Winters Author Of Strange Luck
By A.I. Winters

Who am I?

I’m an American horror and fantasy writer, addicted to reading dark fiction and Gothic literature. I’ve always loved the spookier things in life and wrote my first horror story when I was nine. When not writing books, I love breaking a sweat in Jiu-Jitsu class, baking desserts, and traveling. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have.


I wrote...

Strange Luck

By A.I. Winters,

Book cover of Strange Luck

What is my book about?

Beneath the coastal charm of Sea Salt, California rests a strange world where wizards, fairies, time-altering portals, and dark magic looms. A world where memories can be your greatest currency—and weapon. A world where you can never reclaim what's been taken from you. After stumbling into the mysterious world, Daisy's memories begin to rapidly disintegrate, but she doesn't even know she's losing them. As if things couldn't get any worse, Daisy learns she is the only one who can save herself. Daisy's very identity is at stake, but the odds aren't in her favor. Can she discover the secret to win back her freedom before it's too late?

A spine-tingling fantasy, Strange Luck will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes fairy tales.

The books I picked & why

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The Neverending Story

By Michael Ende, Ralph Manheim (translator),

Book cover of The Neverending Story

Why this book?

I grew up watching The Neverending Story. It simultaneously scared the hell out of me and enthralled me, so when I discovered that the movie was based on a book, I immediately picked it up. As most people argue, the book is always better than the movie and in this case I felt that the movie didn’t even come close to doing it justice. In fact, I found it interesting that the story itself is spread across movie sequels, whereas everything is in one book. There’s also so much more emphasis on the strange creatures, ever-changing world, and magical components with plenty of twists in between. Overall, I was surprised by how much I loved it even as an adult, and I found myself smiling while reading it. If you’re looking for something fun and fantastical, look no further.     


Chocolat

By Joanne Harris,

Book cover of Chocolat

Why this book?

This was actually the book that inspired me to become a writer and was the springboard for me writing my own book. Having only seen the movie (which I greatly enjoyed), I didn't know what to expect when I picked up the book nearly a decade ago, but I instantly fell in love with it. At the time, it was like nothing I had ever read. I absolutely adored the quirky and welcoming world that Joanne Harris created, the hints of forbidden magic, and especially the sweetness she sprinkles throughout. I ended up reading everything Joanne Harris ever wrote and then finding similar authors like Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman. Chocolat will forever be close to my heart, and hopefully close to yours. Be warned though, you will get hungry!


The Sugar Queen

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of The Sugar Queen

Why this book?

This book is full of quirky characters, mouth-watering food, fairy tale elements, and magical realism. It was the first book I read of Sarah Addison Allen’s, and it wasn’t the last. All her books are amazing, but quite simply The Sugar Queen is my favorite. Not only is it cute and clever, it’s also a charming, quick pleasure read. Be warned though, you will get hungry, so have snacks nearby.


Coraline

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Coraline

Why this book?

This dark fairy tale is deeply imaginative and unique, with a hint of creepiness. Although it’s meant for children, I enjoyed reading this as an adult but found myself wondering if this would’ve freaked me out as a kid. Those button eyes sure paint a spooky image! I love Gaiman’s other books as well, and as a result, he was a major inspiration for me to start writing. I used to read his interviews on how to get started in the industry and what makes a good writer. Coraline is a great example of a well-written, magical, and original tale that has left an impressionable mark on readers. I can only hope that my books do the same.


Rhymes from the Wicked Nursery

By J.D. Estrada,

Book cover of Rhymes from the Wicked Nursery

Why this book?

Although this isn’t a novel, this poetry collection simply sounded magical with a hint of spooky – my favorite! I met J.D. Estrada years and years ago when we were both starting out. We worked together on several projects, including panel discussions and interviews about publishing and writing. He has since produced eighteen books. I need to catch up! Rhymes From the Wicked Nursery is his latest. I love that this collection focuses on poetry inspiring fear instead of relief. That in a sense is its own kind of unique magic. All in all, this is a great, quick read full of thought-provoking and fun prose that I greatly appreciated.   


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