81 books like When I Arrived at the Castle

By Emily Carroll,

Here are 81 books that When I Arrived at the Castle fans have personally recommended if you like When I Arrived at the Castle. 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 Gideon the Ninth

Tim Pratt Author Of Heirs of Grace

From my list on fantasy with women heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been reading fantasy for 42 years and writing it for 40, and because I was raised by badass women, I've always enjoyed tales of clever, kickass, indomitable heroines. I've written a bunch of them (a dozen books in an urban fantasy series about a sorcerer named Marla Mason; four books in the Axiom space opera series about ship captain Callie Machedo and her love interest, time refugee xenobiologist Elena Oh; contemporary fantasy/romance Heirs of Grace, about an art student who discovers a magical inheritance, and more). I'm also a longtime book reviewer, editor at SF/fantasy trade magazine Locus, and frequent award juror (Bradbury Prize, Philip K. Dick Award, and more), so... I think about SF/fantasy books a lot. 


Tim's book list on fantasy with women heroines

Tim Pratt Why did Tim love this book?

Gideon the Ninth lit up the sky of the science fiction/fantasy world when it was published, launching the Locked Tomb series (which is ongoing, and great; third volume Nona the Ninth is especially lovely).

It's been described as "lesbian necromancers in space" but it's more "lesbian necromancer and swordsperson on various weird planets in the far future with a god-emperor who uses death magic to fight planet-sized spectral monsters...." for a start.

The whole series is enigmatic, complex, and laced through with humor, action, and yearning, but the first book is notable for the power of Gideon's voice.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…


Book cover of The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

The Merry Spinster falls into my big bucket of fairytale retelling faves, but it hardly sticks to tradition: rather than simply following old plots, Lavery draws on the tone and style of classic fairy tales to create a gender-warped world where daughters use he/him pronouns and mermaids are sort of, but distinctly not, girls. Even better, the playful attitude towards gender now seems to foreshadow Lavery’s own coming out and transition, both occurring after he published this book—something that fills me with a special kind of trans-author love. Reading this for the first time, I had the sensation of slipping pleasantly into an utter dreamworld of gender/sexuality beauty, like a warm bath: I recommend you fall in, too.

By Daniel M. Lavery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales"--Front flap.


Book cover of O Human Star: Volume 1

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

As a friend sputtered to me over a voice call: “I don’t understand. It’s free to read online; where is everybody?!” 

I agree wholeheartedly. O Human Star is that rare breed: a webcomic taken up over a decade ago, thoroughly plotted from the start, executed with masterful grace and gravitas by an author who loved it enough to do it justice. While executing this story of gay and trans self-understanding, Delliquanti themself realized they were trans, so the pronouns in my (signed!!) copies are different based on when they came out. Finding even a well-written cis gay man was hard in 2012, let alone such a deeply loving story about the entire LGBT community—and all that is to say nothing of the robots. Trans robots FTW!

By Blue Delliquanti,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Dark and Other Love Stories

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

This final book is the catalyst for my own: the book that, resting in my hands at the library, made me realize that I could just do this. If I loved reading short stories so much, if I so deeply enjoyed reading about gay girls with horses and game show contestants going to Mars, why couldn’t someone love my own body of work, transsexually languishing in my Google Drive? There can never be enough praise for The Dark, which delivers tonally consistent and individually unique stories that glue me to my seat every time. A big thank you to Deborah Willis, and to whoever put her book on hold that day I was volunteering at the library: I loved her work, and it inspired me to put mine out there. 

By Deborah Willis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dark and Other Love Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every house is haunted. A drug dealer's girlfriend signs up for the first manned mission to Mars. A girl falls in love with a man who wants to turn her into a bird. A teenaged girl and her best friend test their relationship by breaking into suburban houses. A wife finds a gaping hole in the floor of the home she shares with her husband, a hole that only she can see. Full of longing and strange humor, these…


Book cover of The Castle: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text

David Leo Rice Author Of Drifter, Stories

From my list on being a drifter or solitary wanderer at large.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find the experience of being at large in the world without a definite goal or obligation—that is, the state of drifting—to be a profound and intense way of communing with yourself and the place you’re in. If you’re hurrying someplace, or caught up in internal worries, you miss something about the world that only becomes clear if you let yourself drift, no matter how scary that can be.

David's book list on being a drifter or solitary wanderer at large

David Leo Rice Why did David love this book?

This book is an obvious choice perhaps, but one that can't be omitted. The tragicomic frustration of the surveyor who can't complete the job he's been sent to do no matter how hard he tries is massively influential for a number of very good reasons. Also, the way that the castle is both a literal place and a potent metaphor is crucial—as ever in Kafka, it's never just a metaphor, just as it's never just a dream, but rather a dream or a metaphor that also develops out of and into a very concrete situation. This is crucial writing advice for anyone interested in working with dreamlike or surreal elements.

By Franz Kafka, J. Underwood (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'He is the greatest German writer of our time. Such poets as Rilke or such novelists as Thomas Mann are dwarfs or plaster saints in comparison to him' Vladimir Nabokov

The story of K. and his arrival in a village where he is never accepted, and his relentless, unavailing struggle with authority in order to gain entrance to the castle that seems to rule it. K.'s isolation and perplexity, his begging for the approval of elusive and anonymous powers, epitomises Kafka's vision of twentieth-century alienation and anxiety.


Book cover of Das Schloss

Frédéric Chaubin Author Of Stone Age: Ancient Castles of Europe

From my list on making a modern book about ancient castles.

Why am I passionate about this?

For more than twenty years I was the Editor in Chief of the French magazine Citizen K. I’ve been dedicating myself to more personal projects. I’m keen on connecting words and pictures. Fond about Architecture and History I did after long investigations in the former Soviet Union, a book dedicated to the late Soviet Architecture. CCCP was published in 2011 by Taschen. Through my text and photographs I featured in it a set of extraordinary and ignored buildings. Luckily, this achievement having met with success, it brought me to a new photographic project. With Stone Age, published in 2021, I gathered through 400 pages more than 200 primitive castles selected all around Europe.

Frédéric's book list on making a modern book about ancient castles

Frédéric Chaubin Why did Frédéric love this book?

“When K looked at the castle he sometimes thought he saw someone sitting quietly there, looking into space, (…) as if he were alone and no one was observing him…” 

It seems that castles are watching us, with some kind of emotional detachment. This impression is described in this famous Kafka novel featuring a traveler stranded in a remote Mitteleuropa village who despite his tenacity fails to reach the castle that overlooks the place. Apart from the usual kafkaesque absurdity, this unfinished novel brings to mind the feeling of oddness that someone often goes through when approaching a castle, facing its uncanny presence. Even more, it conveys the strange fact that the path that leads to them, probably because of their unusual scale, seems always endless.

By Franz Kafka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Franz Kafka - Das SchlossDas Schloss ist einer der drei unvollendeten Romane von Franz Kafka. Die Hauptfigur K. trifft in einem Dorf ein und gibt an, der bestellte Landvermesser zu sein. K versucht nun, zum Schloss vorzudringen, welches als undurchschaubarer, bürokratischer Verwaltungsapparat das Leben des Dorfes regelt. Kafkas Roman begleitet K. dabei, wie er an der Bürokratie und der Undurchschaubarkeit des Systems kontinuierlich scheitert und zunehmend verzweifelt.


Book cover of Under the Pendulum Sun

Allison Epstein Author Of A Tip for the Hangman

From my list on for people who don’t read historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction in all its forms, from the multi-volume family epics to the Dear America middle-grade books I grew up with. And I really, truly don’t understand why historical fiction has a reputation for being dry, dull, or worst of all, like homework. Sure, there are some novels written for history buffs only, but the vast majority aren’t, and neither is mine. When I wrote A Tip for the Hangman, my goal was to write historical fiction that reads like a page-turner, not a textbook. The books on this list all pull off that trick beautifully, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Allison's book list on for people who don’t read historical fiction

Allison Epstein Why did Allison love this book?

Mysterious victorian missionaries with dark secrets in the land of the fae. I truly do not know how to sell this book any better. I tend to recommend gothic literature for historical fiction newbies, since the emotional stakes are always so high and the plots often bend close to horror or fantasy, and this one is no different. The worldbuilding is spectacular, and it plays on the tropes of classic gothic novels in a way that’s knowing, clever, and never dry or stilted. No wonder Ng won the Hugo for best new author when she released this book—it deserves it.

By Jeannette Ng,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Jeannette Ng brings a stunningly different Victorian fantasy that mixes Crimson Peak with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Victorian missionaries travel into the heart of the newly discovered lands of the Fae, in a stunningly different fantasy that mixes Crimson Peak with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Catherine Helstone's brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there…


Book cover of Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections Castle

Deborah Niland Author Of Annie's Chair

From my list on to happily lose yourself for hours.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being a children’s illustrator and writer, I have built up a well-loved collection of childen’s books over the years. They must have great drawings and imaginative concepts. They are books I can come back to again and again. The books I have chosen are ones where you can lose yourself in their intricate detailed worlds and forget about day-to-day troubles for a while. These books can also help reluctant readers by enticing them into a visual world first and then into appreciating the written word. 

Deborah's book list on to happily lose yourself for hours

Deborah Niland Why did Deborah love this book?

This book describes and shows what life was like in a 14th-century castle. If you have ever wondered how hundreds of people lived and worked in a castle then this is the book. The mind-boggling detail in the illustrations keeps me poring over them for ages. Each page reveals a cut-away of the castle interior from turrets to dungeons! All the books in this series are incredible in their detail and knowledge.

By Richard Platt, Stephen Biesty (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

History comes alive in this incredible children's illustrated book about castles. Slicing through different areas of a medieval fortress, extraordinary views reveal the people busy inside, and preparing for battle as an enemy army approaches.

Packed with facts, you'll find out what it takes to build a massive 14th-century castle, dress a knight in armour, or prepare a feast fit for a king or queen. From the drawbridge to the dungeon, Cross-sections Castle swarms with the people who keep the castle ticking over - the workers, craftsmen, and servants. And, as you pore over every page, look out for the…


Book cover of The Keep

Mark Fearing Author Of Last Exit to Feral

From my list on horror I read again and again and again.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the gifts of the horror genre is that the stories use metaphor to examine human behaviors that defy understanding. My favorite horror novels, novellas, and short stories can be read again and again. While my Feral graphic novel series is for middle school readers, I wanted to provide grey areas, perhaps more than the editor always liked! I wanted the adventure, the scares, the questions, the uncertainty that would let the small town of Feral take on a larger-than-life presence for a reader and encourage revisiting it whenever the mood strikes. It's almost pleasant, the rhythm, the anticipation. A little unnerving too.

Mark's book list on horror I read again and again and again

Mark Fearing Why did Mark love this book?

This was one of the first horror novels I read, so it has almost a mystical hold on me. I returned to it quite a few times through the years turning my paperback edition into a dogeared mess.

It was the first time I read a story where the real world of politics and cruelty were tied to the immortal, the unliving, the monsters of our imagination. The mix of horror and the supernatural works in this book as well as anything I've read.

And the scene under the keep, the tunnels that kept me awake as a youngster, and I still look at it as a masterclass on how to build fear and suspense.

By F. Paul Wilson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Keep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

The Keep is the first book in the Adversary Cycle from bestselling author F. Paul Wilson and the basis for the 1983 cult classic horror film written and directed by Michael Mann.

"Something is murdering my men."

Thus reads the message received from a Nazi commander stationed in a small castle high in the remote Transylvanian Alps. Invisible and silent, the enemy selects one victim per night, leaving the bloodless and mutilated corpses behind to terrify its future victims.

When an elite SS extermination squad is dispatched to solve the problem, the men find something that's both powerful and terrifying.…


Book cover of Life in a Medieval Castle

Hope Carolle Author Of The Veil Between Worlds

From my list on surviving and thriving in Medieval England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved books where the main character goes from his/her own ordinary existence into another world, with inspiration from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, who was a tutor in English Literature. Since I love history, there’s nothing more fun for me than historical time travel, and I wonder how difficult it might be for a modern woman or man, well-versed in the history and literature of the time, to navigate the customs, etiquette, language, clothing, and politics in 1344. 

Hope's book list on surviving and thriving in Medieval England

Hope Carolle Why did Hope love this book?

This book is essential to understanding the feudal system, and how life revolved around the myriad castles dotted throughout the countryside of England and Wales.

They focus on one castle in particular, but the structure of the society around the castle was somewhat universal, with the lord and lady of the castle, to the workers in the castle, the village that was nearby that would take refuge inside the castle walls if necessary during battles.

I found this an essential book when I was researching my book, which features a castle named Wodesley. What would meals be like there, entertainment, daily life?

By Joseph Gies, Frances Gies,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Life in a Medieval Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Some particular books I found useful for A Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention...Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies." -George R.R. Martin, author of the series A Song of Ice and Fire Medieval history comes alive in Joseph and Frances Gies's Life in a Medieval Castle, used as a research resource by George R. R. Martin in creating the world of A Game of Thrones. Newly reissued for the first time in decades, Life in a Medieval Castle is the bestselling classic that has introduced countless readers…


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