100 books like The Mirror Empire

By Kameron Hurley,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Erica Bauermeister Author Of No Two Persons

From my list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been book-besotted my entire life. I've read, studied, taught, reviewed, and written books. I went to “gradual” school, as John Irving calls it, earning a PhD in literature before gradually realizing that what I really loved was writing. For me, books contain the intellectual challenge of puzzles, the fun of entertainment, the ability to fill souls. They have changed my life, and the best compliments I have received are from readers who say my books have changed theirs. I read widely and indiscriminately (as this list shows) because I believe that good books are found in all genres. But a book about books? What a glorious meta-adventure. 

Erica's book list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books

Erica Bauermeister Why did Erica love this book?

Magical doors that appear out of nowhere, a fantastical book that may not be fiction, some truly sketchy villains, a quest, and an intrepid heroine.

The author had me at fantastical book, but what I love about this novel is the world and character building, that feeling of opening the cover and being somewhere that has nothing to do with ordinary life.

And yet, there is mystery. And romance. A lost father. A daring daughter. You’ll want to race through it, but slow down at the same time, just to savor the ride.

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…


Book cover of The Subtle Knife

M.G. Herron Author Of The Auriga Project

From my list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Is there any genre so purely escapist as a portal fantasy adventure? I grew up on stories like these, devouring any book I could find that had a portal in it, from Alice in Wonderland to The Chronicles of Narnia to Tunnel in the Sky. Books, in a way, are portals to other places and times, and as a child I wandered through the stacks of the local library, plumbing the depths of every strange world I could get my hands on. If you want to experience the long-lost thrill of falling into a story, few do it like those that take their characters through portals to other worlds.

M.G.'s book list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds

M.G. Herron Why did M.G. love this book?

Have you ever read a sequel that was better than the first novel?

The Subtle Knife is that book for me.

While it falls in the middle of the complete trilogy known as His Dark Materials, The Subtle Knife takes the story in a new direction by centering it on a knife with the power to cut a path between worlds.

The series follows young Lyra, her daemon Pantalaimon, and Will, a boy she meets who happens to be from a parallel universe. The worldbuilding of this series is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it truly sets these books apart.

The concept revolves around how Lyra and Pantalaimon are connected. They are two creatures who share a soul. Lyra’s a person, and Pantalaimon is her daemon (think “soul made manifest”) with the power to transform into a fox, hawk, lizard—or any animal he so chooses. At…

By Philip Pullman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Subtle Knife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

From the world of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - now a major critically acclaimed BBC series.

She had asked: What is he? A friend or an enemy?
The alethiometer answered: He is a murderer.
When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once.

Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld - Cittagazze, where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky.

But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

On a perilous journey from world to…


Book cover of A Door Into Time

M.G. Herron Author Of The Auriga Project

From my list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Is there any genre so purely escapist as a portal fantasy adventure? I grew up on stories like these, devouring any book I could find that had a portal in it, from Alice in Wonderland to The Chronicles of Narnia to Tunnel in the Sky. Books, in a way, are portals to other places and times, and as a child I wandered through the stacks of the local library, plumbing the depths of every strange world I could get my hands on. If you want to experience the long-lost thrill of falling into a story, few do it like those that take their characters through portals to other worlds.

M.G.'s book list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds

M.G. Herron Why did M.G. love this book?

When a retired army infantryman knocks down a double brick wall in the basement of his new house, he discovers a doorway and a note pinned on the other side.

Fastened by a knife, the note tells the story of a man who lost his son in this portal. He bricked it up so no one would have to suffer as he has.

Does our soldier listen? Of course not.

Alex Hawke doesn’t go through the doorway unprepared, but he is certainly not ready for what he finds.

A tribe of giants who don't speak a lick of English. 

Massive pterodactyl-like creatures that make a concerted effort to quarter and eat him.

All Alex was trying to do by removing that brick wall was make his new house into a home for his young daughter.

Instead, he finds himself pulled through into another world, forced into the adventure of a…

By Shawn Inmon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Door Into Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not all guys obsess over tiny details……but Army Special Forces do.The wall just didn’t look right.Alex has been trying to cope. Life after his deployment had been rough. His ex-wife thought he needed to stop disappointing their daughter. She was right.He would try harder.With six hours before his little girl’s fourth birthday party, he saw the anomaly. One wall was too short. Plenty of time to tear out a panel and look behind it.He found a brick wall.His house wasn’t made of brick.Behind that was another just like the first. He still had time. When the second wall came down,…


Book cover of The Paths Between Worlds

M.G. Herron Author Of The Auriga Project

From my list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Is there any genre so purely escapist as a portal fantasy adventure? I grew up on stories like these, devouring any book I could find that had a portal in it, from Alice in Wonderland to The Chronicles of Narnia to Tunnel in the Sky. Books, in a way, are portals to other places and times, and as a child I wandered through the stacks of the local library, plumbing the depths of every strange world I could get my hands on. If you want to experience the long-lost thrill of falling into a story, few do it like those that take their characters through portals to other worlds.

M.G.'s book list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds

M.G. Herron Why did M.G. love this book?

The doorway in this novel is a departure from the usual.

And though it is unusual, yet it ties to humankind's fascination with portals.

The first portal in storytelling history, really, is the threshold a person must pass through to get from life to death.

That threshold has been epitomized in mythology as long as human beings have been using stories to explain the strangeness of existence.

In this sci-fi story, death is once again the portal between worlds. What would you do if, right before you died, an alien entity asks if you’d like to be saved?

Would you do it?

That’s exactly what happens to Meredith Gale. She regrets jumping off that bridge, so she says yes.

The story that follows is surprising and witty and full of heart. A friendly robot pulls the girl from the sea, along with a dozen others like her, every one of…

By Paul Antony Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome Children of Earth. Do not be afraid.
After a devastating car crash leaves her addicted to pills and her best friend dead, Meredith Gale has finally been pushed to her breaking point. Ending her life seems like the only way out, and that choice has left her dangling by her fingertips from a bridge above the freezing water of the San Francisco Bay.

But someone, or some thing, has other plans for Meredith. As her fingers slip from the cold steel of the bridge, a disembodied voice ask her a simple question: “Candidate 13: Do you wish to be…


Book cover of Trade Wind

Lauren Willig Author Of Two Wars and a Wedding

From my list on historical fiction in unusual time periods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the era of sweeping historical epics, traveling with the turn of a page from Gaius Marius’s Rome to Victoria’s England and everything in between. I’ve always loved books that immerse you in places and time periods you know nothing about—and when I couldn’t find enough of them, I started writing my own. While my long-ago history PhD work is in Tudor-Stuart England (my specialty was the English Civil War), what I love most is being a historical dilettante and getting to hop around the historical record—which may be why my books can take you anywhere from Napoleon’s court to 1920s Kenya to Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt!

Lauren's book list on historical fiction in unusual time periods

Lauren Willig Why did Lauren love this book?

The very name “Zanzibar” has a sort of magic to it—and I certainly fell under its spell when I read M.M. Kaye’s book for what would be the first of many, many times back in the 80s.

I had never heard of Zanzibar; I knew nothing of the ruling family, the Sayyids of Muscat and Oman, but by the time I was a hundred pages into M.M. Kaye’s epic story of an American woman who plunges into intrigues she thinks she understands but doesn’t, I felt I knew them all intimately. This book is a coming-of-age story, a brilliant evocation of place, and so much more.

By M M Kaye,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Boston bluestocking Hero Athena Hollis travels to Zanzibar to visit her uncle, an American consul, she arrives filled with self-righteousness and bent on good deeds. She believes that slavery is wrong and determined to do what she can to stop it. But she soon finds that maintaining her ideals is not so easy.

Then she meets Rory Frost, a cynical, wicked, shrewd and good-humored trader in slaves. What is Hero to make of him—and of her feelings for him?


Book cover of The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller's Observations On Cotton And Slavery In The American Slave States, 1853-1861

Marcia E. Herman-Giddens Author Of Unloose My Heart: A Personal Reckoning with the Twisted Roots of My Southern Family Tree

From my list on genealogy and racial justice for truth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was introduced to genealogy, family pride, and racism as an only child. Growing up in Birmingham scarred me. Since young adulthood, I have worked on being an antiracist. I found that research on my ancestors, especially my maternal slaveholding side, helped me know my history, my family’s history as enslavers, my Black cousins, and what it means to be an American with all its flaws. I never tire of this research. It teaches me so much, has offered great gifts, and has built me a new family.

Marcia's book list on genealogy and racial justice for truth

Marcia E. Herman-Giddens Why did Marcia love this book?

I no longer remember how, around 2018, I discovered this remarkable 1850 travelogue and presentation of observations on slavery by the man most people know as a landscape architect. Before his landscaping, Olmstead was hired by the now New York Times to travel the South interviewing and recording all he could from whites, whether rich or poor, slave owners or not, and enslaved Blacks. An added treasure: I loved reading about his travel experiences by boat, horse, train, and stagecoach, as well as the challenges of finding places to overnight. 

The horrors of slavery come through without any preaching. I still think about this book a lot and what I learned from it–aspects of Southern life in the 1850s presented by someone trying to be fair and observant without a special agenda. 

By Frederick Olmsted,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) is best known for designing parks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, and the grounds of the Capitol in Washington. But before he embarked upon his career as the nation's foremost landscape architect, he was a correspondent for the New York Times , and it was under its auspices that he journeyed through the slave states in the 1850s. His day-by-day observations,including intimate accounts of the daily lives of masters and slaves, the operation of the plantation system, and the pernicious effects of slavery on all classes of society, black and white,were largely collected in The Cotton…


Book cover of The River Flows On: Black Resistance, Culture, and Identity Formation in Early America

Justin Iverson Author Of Rebels in Arms: Black Resistance and the Fight for Freedom in the Anglo-Atlantic

From my list on Black resistance to slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of slavery and resistance in early America and in the Atlantic world, and I have long been passionate about how enslaved people refused to accept the chattel system and the many creative ways they found to resist their status. It has also become a central goal of mine to tell their stories and make sure we know more about how slave resistance influenced U.S. society in the past and how it shapes the world in which we live today.

Justin's book list on Black resistance to slavery

Justin Iverson Why did Justin love this book?

While we generally know the main details of several major slave uprisings in early American history.

Rucker dives deeper into the African cultural forces that influenced these episodes and how the expression of African cultural idioms during these resistance movements tells us more about the formation of African American culture.

By focusing on these cultural expressions, Rucker gives fresh insight into major slave uprisings and African American history which also makes for a fascinating read.

By Walter C. Rucker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The River Flows On offers an impressively broad examination of slave resistance in America, spanning the colonial and antebellum eras in both the North and South and covering all forms of recalcitrance, from major revolts and rebellions to everyday acts of disobedience. Walter C. Rucker analyses American slave resistance with a keen understanding of its African influences, tracing the emergence of an African American identity and culture. Rucker points to the shared cultural heritage that facilitated collective action among both African- and American-born slaves, such as the ubiquitous belief in conjure and spiritual forces, the importance of martial dance and…


Book cover of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African

Vincent Carretta Author Of Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man

From my list on recover early Black Atlantic lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I decided to familiarize myself with eighteenth-century authors of African descent by editing their writings, I didn’t anticipate becoming their biographer. In annotating their writings, I quickly became intrigued and challenged by trying to complete the biographical equivalent of jigsaw puzzles, ones which often lack borders, as well as many pieces. How does one recover, or at least credibly speculate about, what’s missing? Even the pieces one has may be from unreliable sources. But the thrill of the hunt for, and the joy of discovering, as many pieces as possible make the challenge rewarding. My recommendations demonstrate ways others have also met the biographical challenge.

Vincent's book list on recover early Black Atlantic lives

Vincent Carretta Why did Vincent love this book?

Equiano’s autobiography fascinated me when I stumbled upon a paperback edition of it in a local bookstore nearly thirty years ago.

A bestseller during Equiano’s lifetime, his Interesting Narrative is appreciated as a work of enduring historical and literary value. The odyssey he recounts takes him from enslavement as a child in Africa to becoming a leading figure in the struggle to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.

Along the way, he serves in the British Royal Navy, gains his freedom, participates in a scientific expedition to the Arctic, has a religious conversion, observes various kinds of slavery in North and Central America, England, Europe, and the Middle East before agreeing to help administer settling in Africa formerly enslaved poor Blacks who had joined the British forces during the American Revolution.

By Olaudah Equiano,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, first published in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. The narrative is argued to be a variety of styles, such as a slavery narrative, travel narrative, and spiritual narrative. The book describes Equiano's time spent in enslavement, and documents his attempts at becoming an independent man through his study of the Bible, and his eventual success in gaining his own freedom and in business thereafter.

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was one of the first widely read slave narratives. Eight editions…


Book cover of Lords of the Land, Lords of the Sea: Conflict and Adaptation in Early Colonial Timor, 1600-1800

Ulbe Bosma Author Of The Making of a Periphery: How Island Southeast Asia Became a Mass Exporter of Labor

From my list on slavery in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find it crucially important that we acknowledge that slavery is a global phenomenon that still exists this very day. Dutch historians like me have an obligation to show that the Dutch East India Company, called the world’s first multinational, was a major slave trader and employer of slavery. I am also personally involved in this endeavour as I am one of the leaders of the “Exploring the Slave Trade in Asia” project, an international consortium that brings together knowledge on this subject, and is currently a slave trade in Asia database.

Ulbe's book list on slavery in Asia

Ulbe Bosma Why did Ulbe love this book?

Although broaching many more themes than slavery, this book gives us a unique insight into how local patterns of enslavement linked up with the growing colonial presence of the Dutch and Portuguese in Timor (East Indonesia). The book has been thoroughly researched by the world’s most knowledgeable scholar on this subject. For me, it is a source of inspiration for how local forms of enslavement can be studied in interaction with European colonial expansion.  

By Hans Hägerdal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lords of the Land, Lords of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

European traders and soldiers established a foothold on Timor in the course of the seventeenth century, motivated by the quest for the commercially vital sandalwood and the intense competition between the Dutch and the Portuguese. Lords of the Land, Lords of the Sea focuses on two centuries of contacts between the indigenous polities on Timor and the early colonials, and covers the period 1600-1800.


Book cover of The Dilemma of a Ghost

Portia Owusu Author Of Spectres from the Past: Slavery and the Politics of "History" in West African and African-American Literature

From my list on the African experience of slavery and its afterlives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of African and African American literature with interests in the cultures, histories, and philosophies of Africa and the diaspora. Currently, I teach and research at Texas A&M University. The history of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies are huge components of my current research; it is also the topic of my doctoral research which I completed in 2017 at The School of Oriental African Studies (SOAS), The University of London. 

Portia's book list on the African experience of slavery and its afterlives

Portia Owusu Why did Portia love this book?

The 1960s and 70s were periods of Black Consciousness, both in Africa and the diaspora. At the heart of this was Pan-Africanism, a political ideology built on historical and cultural links between Black people everywhere. At the heart of these ideas was a psychical and physical “return” to Africa, the “motherland”. This short, but powerful play, explore these politics in the marriage of Ato Yawson and Eulalie Rush, a Ghanaian man and an African-American woman who emigrate from the US to Ghana in search of racial and cultural harmony. What occurs is a dramatization of what happens when political ideologies are applied to private lives. What I love about this text is its confrontation of slavery as traumas that cannot be easily erased by political rhetoric and national endeavors to “move on.”

By Christina Ama Ata. Aidoo,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Slavery, black holes, and civil war?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Slavery, black holes, and civil war.

Slavery Explore 286 books about Slavery
Black Holes Explore 20 books about black holes
Civil War Explore 17 books about civil war