The best books about fate dealing its infamously fickle hand

Why am I passionate about this?

It’s natural for humans to wonder who or what might have power over our actions. We’ve clawed our way to the top of the food chain, channeled the power of the elements, and tamed much of nature to our whim. What if something out there was the architect—or more—of our successes and failures? It’s something I’ve explored since I first began writing: fed by the adventures of living as an “Army brat” with a new life every two years, in keeping with my natural inclination to solve puzzles, and spurred by my fear of death and the equally frightening possibility that someone is or isn’t pulling the strings…


I wrote...

Down by the Sea: and Other Tales of Dark Destiny

By Michelle Mellon,

Book cover of Down by the Sea: and Other Tales of Dark Destiny

What is my book about?

What do a drunk driver, serial killer, new mother, and young thug have in common? A dark and deadly destiny. This collection of 13 stories examines whether deeds alone define who we are and how we live or if we are forever subject to the capricious hand of Fate.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

Michelle Mellon Why did I love this book?

The main reason I’m recommending this book is “The Little Mermaid” (the original version, not a sanitized later edition or off-the-mark Disney interpretation). I loved fairy tales as a kid and “The Little Mermaid” is my favorite because it doesn’t have a happy ending. (Not for the mermaid, at least.) I loved that just because we think things should happen a certain way doesn’t mean they will. The mermaid thought she was fated to be with the prince. But all her planning and sacrifice and suffering didn’t change the possibility that the prince was fated to be with the woman he chose. It was an early and valuable lesson for me on seeing things from a different perspective, and inspiration for one of my own short stories.

By Hans Christian Andersen, Isabelle Brent (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A new collection of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales. There are 12 stories which include old favourites such as "The Ugly Duckling", "The Princess and the Pea" and "The Snow Queen", as well as some less well known tales such as "The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep" and "The Shadow".


Book cover of Ghost Story

Michelle Mellon Why did I love this book?

There are certainly many different types of lists on which this book belongs. I always tell people Ghost Story is the scariest thing I’ve ever read. I was fortunate enough to relay that to the late great Peter Straub at a horror writers’ conference many years ago. Though I’m sure he would have liked praise for a more contemporary work, there’s a timelessness in the terror he evokes in this book. But that’s not the reason I include it here. It’s because I think ghosts are a form of Fate. Violence, injustice, visceral reactions—these are the things we associate with ghosts, and these are the elements that are central to the story of the punishing hand of Fate in this novel. 

By Peter Straub,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Peter Straub’s classic tale of horror, secrets, and the dangerous ghosts of the past...
 
What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?
 
In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.
 
But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying accident. And they are about to learn that no one can bury…


Book cover of Spaceling

Michelle Mellon Why did I love this book?

As a speculative fiction fan, I love to read horror, science fiction, and fantasy, and Spaceling is one of my favorite science fiction escapes. I first read it as a teenager and immediately connected with the idea of having a power that could literally transport me to another world. I was already a bit of an outsider, but I wanted to be an outsider like Daryl—wisecracking, resourceful, and fearless when it came to taking the leap and letting Fate’s cards fall where they may. This book is sometimes labeled YA fiction, but Doris Piserchia once said she wrote what she liked and had no specific aged audience in mind. I re-read it whenever I want to feel that rush of endless possibilities.

By Doris Piserchia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spaceling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ability to see other-dimensional rings that float in Earth's atmosphere was a late mutation of a few space-age humans. Daryl was under the care of the institution for muters, and she had discovered that if you jumped through the right ring at the right time it would land you in another dimensional world and another shape.

Spaceling is the story of Daryl's desperate efforts to unravel the mystery of why she was being held captive and of what was really going on in a certain alien dimension. Because she was sure it was all bad and that someday everyone…


Book cover of The Heart of a Devil: A Horror Villains Anthology

Michelle Mellon Why did I love this book?

This is an anthology that falls most recognizably into the theme of this list. It’s the “what if…” premise that examines how villains are made. Nurture versus nature. Fate at its most cruel and cunning. There are 33 stories in this book by different authors working to show you what is and make you wonder what might have been. (And spoiler alert: this collection includes my origin story for the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel.)

By Amber M. Simpson (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Heart of a Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes someone a villain? What makes a person "evil"? What drove them to their actions? Were they good once, or have they always had a heart full of darkness? See things from the other side as these 33 stories explore just what makes a villain tick.

Featuring 33 stories by Steven S. Hood, Devin Lagasse, T.C. Cumberland, Jesse Weiner, Michelle Mellon, M A Smith, Alex Collingwood, Eddie D. Moore, Jesse Sprague, A.P. Sessler, Helen Mihajlovic, Lionel Ray Green, J.G. Formato, Ville Merilainen, Nicole Tanquary, J. Patton, P.J. Reed, Kristyl Gravina, Chad A. Clark, S. Locke, Jared Zygarlicke, Paul Tanner,…


Book cover of Jane Eyre

Michelle Mellon Why did I love this book?

From the first time I read Jane Eyre it became, and remains, my favorite novel. Charlotte Bronte is an expert at drawing you into the characters while weaving in symbolism that makes each subsequent read one of discovery. It may seem a strange choice given the other books on my list and the nature of my own book, but there is a small supernatural element to Jane Eyre, and there are a lot of key elements of the story that are dictated by Fate. Don’t let the fact that this book may have been required reading in school put you off. Jane Eyre is a master class in character development, empathy, female empowerment, tragedy, love, and the intricacies of Fate’s web.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

37 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…


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Sea Change

By Darlene Marshall,

Book cover of Sea Change

Darlene Marshall Author Of Sea Change

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Romance Reader Regency Romance Fan History Buff SF & Fantasy Fan

Darlene's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

David Fletcher needs a surgeon, stat! But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs must, and Captain Fletcher takes the prisoner back aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he’ll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott’s medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation, Charley’s life as well as the patient’s. Even if she can save the American privateer's brother there will still be hell to pay—and maybe a plank to walk—when Captain Fletcher learns Charley…

Sea Change

By Darlene Marshall,

What is this book about?

High Seas, #1

David Fletcher needs a surgeon, stat! But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs must, and Captain Fletcher takes the prisoner back aboard his ship with orders to do his best, or he'll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott's medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation, Charley's life as well as the patient's. Even if she can save the pirate's brother there will still be hell to pay--and maybe a plank to walk--when Captain Fletcher…


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