The best literary novels with elements of fantasy

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.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Beloved

D.M. Cameron Why did I love 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!

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked Beloved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…

Book cover of Everything Under

D.M. Cameron Why did I love 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. 

By Daisy Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Weird and wild and wonderfully unsettling... Dive in for just a moment and you'll emerge gasping and haunted' Celeste Ng, bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

It's been sixteen years since Gretel last saw her mother, half a lifetime to forget her childhood on the canals. But a phone call will soon reunite them, and bring those wild years flooding back: the secret language that Gretel and her mother invented; the strange boy, Marcus, living on the boat that final winter; the creature said to be underwater, swimming ever closer.

In the end there will be nothing for Gretel to…

Book cover of The Essex Serpent

D.M. Cameron Why did I love 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 Sarah Perry,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Essex Serpent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major Apple TV series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston


'A blissful novel of unapologetic appetites ... here is a writer who understands life' JESSIE BURTON, author of THE MINIATURIST

London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.

On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once…

Book cover of Skin

D.M. Cameron Why did I love 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.

By Ilka Tampke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A visceral tale of ritual, magic and violence' - The Sunday Times

Imagine a world where everyone is born with a 'skin' name. Without skin you cannot learn, you are not permitted to marry, and you grow up an outsider amongst your own people.

This is no future dystopia. This is Celtic Britain.

It is AD 43. For the Caer Cad, 'skin' name determines lineage and identity. Ailia does not have skin; despite this, she is a remarkable young woman, intelligent, curious and brave. As a dark threat grows on the horizon - the aggressive expansion of the Roman Empire…

Book cover of The River Wife

D.M. Cameron Why did I love 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.

By Heather Rose,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The River Wife is a simple and subtle fable of love. It tells the story of the river wife - part human, part fish - whose duty is to tend the river, but instead falls in love with a man. Tender and melancholy, it speaks of desire and love, mothers and daughters, kinship and care, duty and sacrifice, water and wisdom. There is a great sternness and sadness here, coupled with gentleness. A love story, an environmental fable, a retelling of the Orpheus myth, The River Wife is grave, tender and otherworldly.

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Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

Book cover of Deep Roots

Sung J. Woo Author Of Deep Roots

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Tennis fan Cinephile Gamer

Sung's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

After solving her first case, private eye Siobhan O’Brien is hired by Phillip Ahn, an octogenarian billionaire with his own personal island in the Pacific Northwest. Ahn, a genius in artificial intelligence, swears that Duke, his youngest child and only son, is an impostor. Is Ahn crazy, or is Duke really someone else? As Siobhan attempts to arrive at the truth, her biggest challenge will be dealing with Ahn’s family, who all live under the same gilded roof: his current wife, his two ex-wives, and their awful, privileged children.

What is the real reason that Siobhan was brought to this isolated estate? If she can keep her head – literally and figuratively – she’ll learn that family secrets have some very deep roots.

Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

What is this book about?

After solving her first case, Siobhan O’Brien faces her biggest challenge yet – Thanksgiving!  With her lawyer boyfriend Craig in tow, Siobhan travels to Minneapolis to endure small talk with the extended O’Brien clan and chow down on some seriously delicious turkey and dressing.  Everything’s swell until her sister-in-law Gwen tells her about her brother Sven's frequent late-night meetings with his co-workers.  Since Siobhan’s next case is just a ferry ride from their house in Washington state, she asks for Siobhan’s help.
Big sister is happy to oblige, though she’s got her hands full.  Hired by Phillip Ahn, a Korean…

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