The most recommended books about swamps

Who picked these books? Meet our 9 experts.

9 authors created a book list connected to swamps, and here are their favorite swamp books.
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Book cover of Boys of Blur

Lindsey Lamh Author Of A Voracious Grief

From my list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists.

Who am I?

Reading Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other “scary stories” in high school ignited a hunger for suspense. In writing my own gothic horror novel, I explored the why’s and how’s a bit, and discovered that the thing I love about lurking, terrifying danger in books is that it bares a character’s soul more rapidly, and more believably, than almost any other plot device. When we face a fate worse than death, we confront our deepest motivators and challenge bedrock beliefs. I hope you’ll enjoy the books on this list as much as I do! I feel like their particular uniqueness is hard to find.

Lindsey's book list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists

Lindsey Lamh Why did Lindsey love this book?

What if a Florida farm town was overrun by anthropomorphic swamp monsters and the only people standing between them and the townspeople was an ancient legend with a rusty sword and a twelve-year-old boy?

Charlie Reynolds has two dads and both are good at football, but one was the reason his mom left Florida years ago and his step-dad is the reason they’re moving back. Now Charlie must prove himself to the new football team and grapple with his dad’s abandonment, all while escaping the weird creatures crawling out of the swamp. He struggles to know just what it means to be himself and to be brave at the same time.

I enjoyed this modern Beowulf retelling with its weird monsters, family drama, and incredibly high stakes. I could never anticipate what was going to happen next. 

By N. D. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boys of Blur as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Fans of Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee and Louis Sachar's Holes will enjoy this story about a boy and the ancient secrets that hide deep in the heart of the Florida everglades near a place called Muck City.

When Charlie moves to the small town of Taper, Florida, he discovers a different world. Pinned between the everglades and the swampy banks of Lake Okeechobee, the small town produces sugar cane . . . and the fastest runners in the country. Kids chase muck rabbits in the fields while the cane is being burned and harvested. Dodging flames and blades and breathing…

Book cover of But Not Forgotten

Paul W. Papa Author Of Night Mayer: Legend of the Skinwalker

From my list on offbeat noir you need to read.

Who am I?

So why have I chosen noir? I’m glad you asked. Ever since I picked up my first Raymond Chandler book—The Lady in the Lake—I have been a fan of the genre, so much so that I write in it almost exclusively. I watch all the old movies on Noir Alley every Saturday night—or whenever I can find one on TV. And while I tend to gravitate to the works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, and Erle Stanley Gardner, I'm always on the hunt for new authors. I also very much enjoy when someone takes the genre in a new direction, which is why I created this list.

Paul's book list on offbeat noir you need to read

Paul W. Papa Why did Paul love this book?

I have to admit, this book is a bit of a personal indulgence. I’ve always been fascinated by the swamps of Louisiana and the mysteries that hide in those murky waters. Add a human arm in the mouth of an alligator and you’ve definitely gotten my attention. Some day I’m going to write a book that is set there—I just haven’t figured out a storyline yet—but when I do, I hope it’s half as good as BJ Bourg’s first book in his Clint Wolf series. I know it’s a cliché, but this book really did grab me from the start and, I guarantee, the end of the first chapter will haunt you, just as it haunts Clint Wolf.   

By BJ Bourg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked But Not Forgotten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Embattled former detective Clint Wolf is the newly appointed police chief for Mechant Loup, a small swampy town in southeast Louisiana. Usually a quiet town, the tranquility of the place is shattered when a human arm is found in the jowls of an alligator. Once it’s determined the arm belongs to a reputable business owner, the race is on to find the man and figure out what happened to him. Little does Clint know that solving the case could unearth a plot so evil it would go down as the worst event in Louisiana history . . . and he…

Book cover of Catling's Bane

Stuart Aken Author Of An Excess Of ...

From my list on character-driven novels.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading for 69 years, writing fiction for 43 years. I’ve read many more than 10,000 books. In my own writing, I begin with characters I create from combinations of traits and personalities I’ve met in life. I get to know them as friends. I then put them into the setting I’ve devised and given them free rein to develop the story. I know the destination, but the route is left to them. This involves much re-writing once the story is down on paper, but allows me to experience the excitement, concern, fear, love, and delights felt by the characters as I write the tale.

Stuart's book list on character-driven novels

Stuart Aken Why did Stuart love this book?

I'm a reader who loves books where characters determine the story arc. Plot-driven books generally leave me cold. This novel has a cast of players I found easy to empathize with; even the villains. They are drawn in fascinating detail with all their flaws and all their glories to make them real people who are easy to engage with throughout the story. In spite of some tough scenes, it's a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The author introduces some thought-provoking and timely themes here. The story examines injustice, wealth inequality, gender discrimination, political intrigue, the fallibility of leaders, ethics, and morality, and the ever-present problems of prejudice driven by ignorance. All themes guaranteed to engage me.

By D. Wallace Peach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catling's Bane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.


Book cover of The Boatman's Daughter

David Allen Voyles Author Of Tales from the Hearse: Thirteen Tales of Spine-Tingling Terror

From my list on horror you’ve probably never heard of but should.

Who am I?

I have loved Halloween horror my whole life. As a teacher of literature, I always looked forward to October when I had a green light to incorporate the greatest horror authors into my lessons. The desire to share new horror stories did not fade when I retired. There are so many wonderful new authors of horror it’s impossible to read them all! But there’s also a lot of trash out there—I know, I’ve read it! My lifelong love of spooky things and my background in literature make me confident that I won’t be steering readers wrong when they look to me for the best new reads in horror.

David's book list on horror you’ve probably never heard of but should

David Allen Voyles Why did David love this book?

Through his magnificent prose, Andy Davidson reveals a wonderfully terrifying mythology as he tells the story of Miranda Crabtree, a strong young woman orphaned in the rugged bayou country of Arkansas. Aside from caring for herself in the harshest of environments, Miranda looks after one of the most unique characters I’ve ever experienced. I reluctantly refuse to say more about that relationship since I don’t want to give any spoilers. Despite its dark, fairy tale vibe, The Boatman’s Daughter includes modern threats for Miranda like drug-dealing thugs and corrupt cops, but the supernatural has a strong, constant brooding presence. If you especially like tough, female protagonists as I do, this story fits the bill.

By Andy Davidson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda's peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

With the heady myth making of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman's Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of…

Book cover of American Hippopotamus

Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling Author Of A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town

From my list on stranger – and funnier – than fiction.

Who am I?

As a journalist, I’ve often been frustrated at the sense that I am preaching to the choir – those who take the time to read about a serious topic don’t need to, and those who need to, won’t. I’ve learned to spread awareness by packaging serious information inside a “Trojan Horse," one so fun to read that it reaches people who can actually benefit from the educational bits. These brilliant books, and many others, show that a spoonful of sugar can help us easily swallow information about social justice, endangered species, the U.S. military, and American history. I happily make these books Christmas gifts, knowing they are joys, not obligations.

Matthew's book list on stranger – and funnier – than fiction

Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling Why did Matthew love this book?

This book doesn’t just read like a novel – it reads like a great novel: A battle between two compelling characters set against the absurd backdrop of an effort to establish a hippo population in America’s swampland. Mooallem’s understated wit showed me that sometimes the best way to understand history is by tracking the people we’ve never heard of, and the initiatives that never succeeded.

By Jon Mooallem,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1910, the United States—its population exploding, its frontier all but exhausted—was in the throes of a serious meat shortage. But a small and industrious group of thinkers stepped forward with an answer, a bold idea being endorsed by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times. Their plan: to import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them.

The only thing stranger than the hippo idea itself was the partnership promoting it. At its center were two hard-bitten spies: Frederick Russell Burnham, a superhumanly competent frontiersman, freelance adventurer, and fervent optimist about America’s…

Book cover of The Girls in the Stilt House

Katie Munday Williams Author Of Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America's First Published Poet

From Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Playful Bookworm Mom Dreamer Adventurous

Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Katie's 8-year-old's favorite books.

Katie Munday Williams Why did Katie love this book?

This novel was so packed with raw emotion it was overwhelming at times. There were many layers and themes, including gender, racism, and poverty.

I felt a personal connection to the two main characters, drawn in by their loneliness and the undefined and often unrecognized strength they both possessed. The plot was gripping in its intensity, and I found myself cheering for the two girls as they navigated the incredible obstacles in their way.

I usually read for a few minutes before bed, but this book had me staying up late, unwilling (and unable) to put it down. The ending achieved what so many don’t. A clear resolution and a satisfying conclusion to the storm of events we had weathered together. 

By Kelly Mustian,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girls in the Stilt House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Remarkable debut.... [a] nearly flawless tale of loss, perseverance and redemption."-Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder-perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don't Rise.
Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to…