The Fiction Fox
Bookish Pairs pt.2: Underrated Edition
This second edition of my Books in Pairs -series, is going to be all about books that need a little more love. I’m going to mention 10 well-known and well-loved novels, and pair them up with a similar, less-known novel that is equally as deserving of your attention. Of course, as always, these recommendations work both ways: if you read the less-known novel first, you might till like the more well-know one too. Without further ado: let’s get pairing!
If you liked: The Secret History by Donna Tartt you might like: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio Out of all the pairs I’m going to mention, this is going to be the most obvious one. Both novels focus on the dark side of academia, the cult-like social aspects of elitism the danger of obsession. In The Secret History, a group of pretentious Classical Greek scholars spiral out of control and murder one of their own. In If We Were Villains, the same thing happens to a group of pretentious Shakespeare Actors. Both are excellent, deeply disturbing and thought-provoking novels, written with great skill. If you like one, I certainly feel you enjoy the other as well.
If you liked: Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier you might like: The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea Both Rebecca and The Glass Woman follow a young woman who enters a marriage with a recently widowed man in an isolated community. Both women are haunted by the ghost of their husbands previous wives, and the mysteries surrounding their deaths. Despite a very different setting (1800’s Iceland vs. 1900’s England), The Glass Woman is far too underrated for reading so much like a classic favorite.
If you liked: Circe or The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller you might like: The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker Madeline Millers retellings of Greek Classics have been bestsellers ever since their release, and for good reason. However, that seems to have put The Silence of The Girls by Pat Barker a little in its shadow. Like The Song of Achilles, The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of the Iliad by Homer. Like Circe, it gives voice to a woman (Breseïs) that had little to none in the original.
If you liked: The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo you might like: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi If you loved the combination of a ragtag cast of unique characters and a fantasy-heist-plot that The Six of Crows had, you have to give The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi a try. Both feature a cast of 6 misfits (all with their own unique skillset), coming together to steal an artifact of great importance. Both have an element of fantasy that isn’t too dominant, and both brought me that “found-family” feeling that I loved so much. Although the Six of Crows is definitely more dark in both tone and setting, The Gilded Wolves may just be a worthy alternatives for fans.
If you liked: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor you might like: City of Woven Streets by Emmi Itaränta This is the loosest connection on this list, but you have to forgive me, as it’s hard to find books quite like either one of these, which is the main reason I love them both. All I want to say about these two is that they share a dreamlike quality, not only in the story, but in the worldbuilding and writing style as well. Both, I think, are best entered blind, and even though it might take a little bit to get a foothold in this dreamlike landscape, once you do, you’ll be completely swept up in the world. Additionally: both these novels feature a romance that I didn’t hate, which is a rare thing for me in YA fantasy these days.
If you liked: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness you might like: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan A Monster Calls and The Astonishing Color of After are both magical realism novels that focus on the grief surrounding the death of a mother. Not only are both these novels extremely close to my heart, they are also both on the very short list of books to have ever made me physically cry. Having lost my own mother at a young age, I can say that both these books have made me feel more understood than many others ever have. Although A Monster Calls is technically marketed as middle-grade, whilst The Astonishing Color of After is YA, the protagonists aren’t too far apart in age, and I feel like both work best for an audience of 13 years and up. A Monster Calls has found its way into the hands and hearts of many. In contrast, if feel like The Astonishing Color of After hasn’t gotten the wide exposure it deserves yet. If you are ready for a broken heart and a box of soggy tissues: both these novels come with my highest recommendations.
If you liked: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab you might like: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell The Last Magician is what I imagine the lovechild of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab to be like. Although one is set in London, and the other in New York, both these books gave me similar vibes when I read them. Both are action packed urban fantasies, featuring some kind of “dimensional travel”, and both feature a cast of snarky and charismatic characters. If you liked A Darker Shade of Magic, but prefer New York to London, this might be for you.
If you liked: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley you might like: Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman Magonia and Challenger Deep have a lot more in common than you might think upon first glance: both are highly unique novels, that won’t appeal to everybody. Both weave fantasy elements into a contemporary story, as a metaphor for illness. Both protagonists enter an “alternative world”, set on a ship that, bizarre as it might be, still holds a thin thread of connection to the reality the characters face in the “real world”. Both of these novels have made quite the impression on me, and both deserve more love than the got in my opinion, even though I can see how they may not be everybody’s cup of tea.
If you liked: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton you might like: When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore When I think of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I think of magical realism written in lush prose, featuring a tragically beautiful character, searching for her place as a misfits in her small community. When I think of When the Moon was Ours, I think of roughly the same. It’s a mystery to me why Anna-Marie McLemores work doesn’t get more love in the bookish community. Although her writing might be a little too rich and lush for some peoples taste, I feel confident to say that she is one of the best (YA) magical realism authors out there.
If you liked: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson you might like: In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey I pitched In The Night Wood once as “The Haunting of Hill House meets The Shadow of the Wind”. A man, obsessed with a nearly forgotten gothic horror author, moves into a secluded manor over the summer. Soon he realizes that the house and the surrounding property may not be all they first appear to be, which begs the question: is it the house that is haunted, or the person who just moved into it? Both slow burn literary fiction novels, with a gothic horror edge to them. In The Night Wood definitely deserves more than just 500 ratings on Goodreads, so fans of Shirley Jackson: don’t pass this one up.
All books mentioned are linked to their Goodreads page for your convenience. I hope you got some recommendations out of this, and I'd love to hear about any well-known&less-well-known bookpairing you can come up with.