The best literary novels with elements of fantasy

D.M. Cameron Author Of Beneath the Mother Tree
By D.M. Cameron

Who am I?

I hold a master's in writing modern stories based on ancient myth and have always been fascinated by the power of mythology and the idea of the archetypal subconscious, combine this with the wonders of the natural world and beautifully constructed sentences, and you have my dream read. All the books on this list, even though two are historical, have a modern sensibility, all celebrate the power of nature, and all are masterful in their execution. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Beneath the Mother Tree

By D.M. Cameron,

Book cover of Beneath the Mother Tree

What is my book about?

A gothic tale incorporating Irish mythology within a wild Australian landscape. This spine-chilling mystery is wrought with sensuousness, as these unforgettable characters take you on a dark and dreamlike journey into the boundaries of love and the concept of belonging.

The books I picked & why

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By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Beloved

Why this book?

"124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom." These are the brilliant opening lines of Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—and yes, we soon realize she is talking about a house. This was the first novel I read which blew my mind open in regards to the limitless possibilities of fiction. Plus, there is now an audio version of the book available in which Morrison narrates—absolute gold. Check it out!

Everything Under

By Daisy Johnson,

Book cover of Everything Under

Why this book?

Johnson’s debut novel, longlisted for the Man Booker, takes place in a half-dreamlike state, exploring the complexities of a mother, daughter relationship. The writing is so visceral and exquisite, there were certain sentences I lingered over for hours. Her descriptions and linking of the characters with the natural world, while firmly rooted in reality are mythological and otherworldly at the same time. Astounding debut. 

The Essex Serpent

By Sarah Perry,

Book cover of The Essex Serpent

Why this book?

Forget the mini-series. Read the book! Perry’s The Essex Serpent is gothic and atmospheric and oh so beautifully executed. It contains one of the best-written sex scenes I have ever read. Nominated for both The Women's Prize and The Costa Book Award, it explores the boundaries between science and superstition, friendship and love. Highly recommend. 


By Ilka Tampke,

Book cover of Skin

Why this book?

This beautifully written debut, set in Iron-Age Britain on the cusp of the Roman invasion explores connection to country through the magical lens of druidism. Not only that, it is a page-turner and a love story and left me wanting more…which was good, because Tampke followed up with a sequel—Songwoman. If you are of Celtic heritage, this is a must-read.

The River Wife

By Heather Rose,

Book cover of The River Wife

Why this book?

In the words of the writer herself, "this is an adult fairy tale about rivers, time, and the mystery of love." I have never read anything like this little gem of a book that immerses you in the natural world to such an extent, I felt like I became half-aquatic during the reading of it. It made me want to run away and live in the Tasmanian wilderness by a river, but then again, I’m not half woman, half fish, like the protagonist of the book. A strange and wonderful read.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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