100 books like The Mermaid of Black Conch

By Monique Roffey,

Here are 100 books that The Mermaid of Black Conch fans have personally recommended if you like The Mermaid of Black Conch. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Zuza Zak Author Of Slavic Kitchen Alchemy: Nourishing Herbal Remedies, Magical Recipes & Folk Wisdom

From my list on wild foods and ancient ways.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Communist Poland, and when we emigrated to the UK, I craved the tastes of my childhood. More than that, I missed the culture of foraging, preserving, fermenting, and the stories that accompanied these processes–there was something deeply ingrained in my soul that I have been called to explore within my own work. I have written four books on East European cuisine. Slavic Kitchen Alchemy is rather different from the others because of its focus on herbs, healing, and mythology. The books on this list have inspired me in my own writing, and I will keep returning to them again and again.

Zuza's book list on wild foods and ancient ways

Zuza Zak Why did Zuza love this book?

I feel that this is a book that every woman should read because it delves into the deeper lessons behind the folk tales ingrained in our psyches, which have been twisted with time to fit a patriarchal narrative.

Estés is a master storyteller herself; therefore, this book stays with you and keeps giving throughout the challenges you face in your life.

By Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Women Who Run with the Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published three years before the print edition of Women Who Run With the Wolves made publishing history, this original audio edition quickly became an underground bestseller. For its insights into the inner life of women, it established Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes as one of the most important voices of our time in the fields of Jungian psychology, myth, and women's mysteries.

Drawing from her work as a psychoanalyst and cantadora ("keeper of the old stories"), Dr. Estes uses myths and folktales to illustrate how societies systematically strip away the feminine spirit. Through an exploration into the nature of the…


Book cover of Hamnet

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

From my list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

Ana Veciana-Suarez Why did Ana love this book?

I love O’Farrell’s use of language–the depth and the poetry—and have read most of her books. I especially liked this book because I read it shortly after my daughter died in 2020, and the maternal and complicated feelings of Hamnet’s mother (Shakespeare’s wife) are so well rendered.

O’Farrell also has a magical way of recreating a time and a place. I think she’s one of the best writers when it comes to getting into a character’s head, too.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION - THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER 2021
'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.

Neither…


Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Joseph Pitkin Author Of Exit Black

From my list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My science fiction and fantasy writing is concerned with the values I was exposed to growing up. As a lifelong Quaker, I have struggled—often unsuccessfully—to live out Quakerism’s non-conformist, almost utopian commitment to equality, simplicity, peace, and community. Not only have I tried to bear witness to those values in my writing, but those ideals led me to my career as an instructor at a community college, one of America’s great socioeconomic leveling institutions. My background as a speculative fiction writer has also made me into a teacher of science fiction and fantasy literature at my college, where I read and came to love the books I recommend here. 

Joseph's book list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality

Joseph Pitkin Why did Joseph love this book?

Haunting and beautiful, it gave me a new perspective on what science fiction can accomplish: Ishiguro’s book is subtle, humane, and deeply concerned with the troubles of the real world.

This story of Klara, an “artificial friend” purchased to keep a sick little girl company, takes up questions of eugenics, artificial intelligence, and, ultimately, what it means to be a human being.

Along the way, the book explores the gulf between economic and social classes with as much care and compassion as Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy—Klara and the Sun is some of the most inspiring science fiction I have ever read.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…


Book cover of Piranesi

Kevin J. Fellows Author Of At the End of the World

From my list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading The Enormous Egg as a child, I’ve been devoted to stories where the strange, the uncanny, and the magical are all elements of the worlds characters must negotiate. I’m most drawn to fiction containing seemingly unreal elements because, in my experience, that is reality. Those moments when the past suddenly feels present, or when you glimpse something at the edge of your vision that feels significant, but you can’t quite catch it. Moments when anything is possible. No surprise that I write fiction that explores those moments of uncertainty and leaves the reader unmoored, thinking about the people and their experiences long after they’ve left the book.

Kevin's book list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both

Kevin J. Fellows Why did Kevin love this book?

I love novels that evolve as I read them. I don’t want to feel I know exactly how a book will turn out from the first page. Give me the unknown and the mysterious, a strange setting and an otherworldly tone.

I also love novels with descriptive chapter titles. Piranesi satisfied all those impulses. The story begins by creating a deep, almost mythological atmosphere, which quickly reveals itself to be a mysterious epistolary, perhaps an ancient diary.

The unfolding mystery is intriguing, but the emerging and disturbing relationship between the novel’s two characters is the heart of the book. It drew me in by building a hidden history I could fall into, then slowly layering secrets and discoveries until masterfully revealing a devastating truth.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction
A SUNDAY TIMES & NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
__________________________________
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…


Book cover of The Golem and the Jinni

Alison Levy Author Of Magic By Any Other Name

From my list on a mythical creature’s point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love mythological creatures! I grew up gravitating toward fantasy books but because I have a narcissistic parent, I got teased for reading them. To avoid the teasing, I ended up reading a lot of mythology because that was a “safe” fantasy option; reading mythology was “educational” rather than “silly.”  When I got older, I discovered that there’s a whole category of fantasy books that retell myths from alternative points of view. This subgenre opened new doors of understanding and empathy for me. Reading old stories from new perspectives opens my eyes to a myriad of different types of people and broadens my view of the world. And I’ve been reading them ever since.

Alison's book list on a mythical creature’s point of view

Alison Levy Why did Alison love this book?

The story of two mystical creatures stuck in 1899 New York who have to make their own way in the world.  Despite their different natures, they become unlikely friends and have to work together to survive. 

While I enjoyed the perspective of both supernatural beings in this book, I found the golem especially engaging. Through her eyes, the reader gets an amazingly detailed view of turn-of-the-century New York as well as the intricacies of human behavior. 

The jinni faces different challenges—he’s lost a chunk of his memory—but he also has to adapt to life among people. Wrapped in a rich tapestry of historical details, the story walks us through their processes of acclimating to human society and facing the dangers of their pasts.

By Helene Wecker,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Golem and the Jinni as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of only two novels I've ever loved whose main characters are not human' BARBARA KINGSOLVER

For fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

'By far my favourite book of of the year' Guardian

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in…


Book cover of The Snow Child

Victoria Costello Author Of Orchid Child

From my list on realist that use magic to say hard things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like most children growing up with fairy tales and Bible instruction, I believed in miracles and magic. But it was the death of my father at age eight, then having his spirit return to my childhood bedroom to comfort and reassure me, that planted in me a core belief in dimensions beyond material reality. Other influences, including living as a neurodiverse woman and raising a neurodiverse son, working as a science journalist, and reading quantum physics, helped me re-embrace the liminal as part of my adult worldview. The most interesting novels to me often carry subtle messages and bring awareness to underrepresented people and issues, and many do this using magic and the fantastic.

Victoria's book list on realist that use magic to say hard things

Victoria Costello Why did Victoria love this book?

The Snow Child depicts a maybe real, maybe imaginary little girl bringing joy to a childless, homesteading couple in 1920s Alaska.

In this bestselling debut novel, released in 2016, a couple that yearns for a child of their own is visited by a nymph who appears and disappears in the snow drifts on their homestead. In her novel, Eowyn Ivy manages to sustain the reader’s belief that this girl could in fact be real, without directly saying one way or the other. 
Why do this in an essentially realist portrayal of hardscrabble life in rural Alaska? Again, I see it as a way to get past the character’s rational mind and open both the character and readers’ hearts to the ineffable.

Here, Mabel, the main character says it better. “You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact, Mabel had come to suspect the opposite.…

By Eowyn Ivey,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Snow Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska, Eowyn Ivey's THE SNOW CHILD was a top ten bestseller in hardback and paperback, and went on to be a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in…


Book cover of Things in Jars

Bridget Walsh Author Of The Tumbling Girl

From my list on crime set in the nineteenth century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lover of all things Victorian and an obsessive researcher. Academic libraries are my favourite places in the world and I like nothing more than uncovering some weird nugget of information that forces me to reappraise what I thought I knew. With a PhD in Victorian domestic murder and a fascination with the weirder elements of Victorian life, it was almost inevitable I’d turn my hand to writing crime fiction set in that era. The five books I’ve recommended are some of the best crime novels set in the nineteenth century, but written more recently.

Bridget's book list on crime set in the nineteenth century

Bridget Walsh Why did Bridget love this book?

Things in Jars is positioned at the meeting point of three Victorian obsessions: anatomy, entertainment, and spectacle.

It features Bridie Devine, a female detective tasked with finding a kidnapped child. But the child is not like other children. And Bridie, ‘the finest female detective of her age’ is not like other detectives. Not only is this an outstanding detective novel, at its heart lies a beautifully observed, genuinely moving, if somewhat unconventional love story.

By Jess Kidd,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Things in Jars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may…


Book cover of The Sealwoman's Gift

Melanie Golding Author Of The Hidden

From my list on folklore of the sea.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the idea that much of folklore is based on universal human stories that are still true today. Selkies may be mystical creatures but they are also women treated badly by men, then judged for their response by wider society. Because of this universality, as well as the compelling magical element, there are many modern novels that make use of selkie folklore, which in several ways shares roots with the folklore of mermaids. I’ve picked out a few that spoke to me. I hope many more readers will discover these sea-faring, shape-shifting, magic-realist tales.

Melanie's book list on folklore of the sea

Melanie Golding Why did Melanie love this book?

I love this book for many reasons. The Sealwoman is a passenger on the slave ship that takes our protagonist form her beloved homeland, and the ‘gift’ of the title is the story she tells of her shapeshifting roots. The voyage is hellish, and contains a terrifying birth scene among other unspeakable, unimaginable, only just survivable events. It’s based on a true story, which makes it all the more powerful, and it makes me wonder about the hidden truths in the folklore contained within it, especially the sealwoman’s story. 

By Sally Magnusson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sealwoman's Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A remarkable feat of imagination... I enjoyed and admired it in equal measure' Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
'An extraordinarily immersive read, that emphasises the power of stories, examining themes of motherhood, identity, exile and freedom ... a journey that not only crosses continents, but encompasses tragedy and rich sensuality' Guardian
'A powerful tale of Barbary pirates ... richly imagined.' Sunday Times
'Engrossing' Sunday Express 'Fascinating ... a really, really good read' BBC R2 Book Club
'The best sort of historical novel.' Scotsman 'A lyrical tale' Stylist
'A poetic retelling of Icelandic history.' Daily Mail 'Compelling stuff' Good…


Book cover of Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata

Gita Ralleigh Author Of Siren

From my list on myths beyond the Greco-Roman Canon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a poet and fiction writer who enjoys popular feminist retellings of Greco-Roman mythology. But I want to draw attention to the rich and powerful myths beyond that canon, myths used by contemporary writers to make sense of our world, our brief mortal lives, and what lies beyond. Scholar Karen Armstrong writes in A Short History of Myth, "Myth is about the unknown; it is about that for which we initially have no words. Myth therefore looks into the heart of a great silence." My poetry book A Terrible Thing reinterprets goddess myths and Siren does the same with myths of hybrid women, half-fish and half-bird and more.

Gita's book list on myths beyond the Greco-Roman Canon

Gita Ralleigh Why did Gita love this book?

As a writer of feminist myths, Kartika Nair’s exquisite poetic retelling of the Mahabharata from the women’s perspective felt like it was written for me. The title is from the African writer Chinua Achebe’s words, "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." Using formal poetry, free verse, and prose, Nair has created a palimpsest of the great Indian epic of kingship and warring dynasties which is several times the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined. Here the mothers, wives, sisters, and lovers of the protagonists tell their stories, providing a counterpoint to the much-quoted verse from the epic: "All that is found here can be found elsewhere, but what is not here can be found nowhere."

By Karthika Naïr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Until the Lions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The title of this book comes from the African proverb - "until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter". In this poetic reimagining, Nair writes, for the first time, the history of the women in the Mahabharata, the longest poem ever written and one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India.


Book cover of Orkney

Melanie Golding Author Of The Hidden

From my list on folklore of the sea.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the idea that much of folklore is based on universal human stories that are still true today. Selkies may be mystical creatures but they are also women treated badly by men, then judged for their response by wider society. Because of this universality, as well as the compelling magical element, there are many modern novels that make use of selkie folklore, which in several ways shares roots with the folklore of mermaids. I’ve picked out a few that spoke to me. I hope many more readers will discover these sea-faring, shape-shifting, magic-realist tales.

Melanie's book list on folklore of the sea

Melanie Golding Why did Melanie love this book?

This exquisite novel begins with a university lecturer (Too old? Too deluded?) in love with student forty years his junior. She’s an ethereal, white-haired creature, but at first, their love seems mutual, and plausible. They honeymoon in Orkney, where selkie legends begin to encroach on his state of mind. He’s obsessed with her, and she’s obsessed with the sea. The reader is never quite sure if she’s a selkie or not, which resonates with me as I love books where ambiguity is an integral part of the narrative. 

By Amy Sackville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a remote island in Orkney, a curiously matched couple arrive on their honeymoon. He is an eminent literature professor; she was his pale, enigmatic star pupil. Alone beneath the shifting skies of this untethered landscape, the professor realises how little he knows about his new bride and yet, as the days go by and his mind turns obsessively upon the creature who has so beguiled him, she seems to slip ever further from his yearning grasp. Where does she come from? Why did she ask him to bring her north? What is it that constantly draws her to the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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