top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Books in Pairs: Pairing up my 2024-reads

Updated: Jun 12

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so it was high time I did some catching up. You’re likely familiar with the format: “if you like this book, you might like this book too”. Today I bring you 25 pairings, where each book reminded me strongly of another, or would be perfect to read in tandem with another book. Because I have 50 books to talk about, I won’t give a full synopsis for each, rather I’ll explain my pairing and link all the book for you to read up on whichever one sounds interesting to you. There’s a wide mix of genres here, so high chance there’s something to suit your fancy.

Literary fiction:

Two debut novels by authors that started their careers in poetry. Both display their talent for the art of language to its fullest and use it elevate their stories to a new level. Another connecting theme is their strong focus on feminism (in its full spectrum) and womanhood, all explored through brilliantly penned prose and insightful observations.

One of them made my top 15 of 2021, the other will likely make my top 10 for 2024.

Two feminist tales revolving around the women of isolated (Scottish/Irish respectively) island-communities, with a distinct witchy, naturalistic and slightly cultish edge. Each explores themes of community vs isolation (and the power in each of those extremes) art and mythology, and matches its setting and atmosphere perfectly to those themes.

Two recently released contemporary novels, with an eerily similar premise, but distinct execution. Both follow the lives of 4 sisters, each highly accomplished and successful when judged by our “typical societal standards” (attractive, wealthy, with exceptional careers), yet each struggling with complex emotional troubles. In each story, these siblings reconnect after one of them has vanished from their lives, and old dynamics resurface. My critiques for both book were eerily similar too, as I wrote a full review on both, which can be found on my blog as well.

Classic Meets Modern

This pairing speaks for itself, as Our Hideous Progeny is literally framed to be a continuation of the events following that of Mary Shelleys original classic. And what kind of continuation! We follow Mary Frankenstein, the niece of the famous doctor, as she sets up an experiment of her own, to prove her worth as a woman in science in a time where that was a contradictio in terminis.

There’s no denying that Lovecraft spawned a complete subgenre of cosmic horror, ripe with deep-sea monsters beyond comprehension. It’s also great to see modern authors like Langan these his ideas without the antiquated themes of xenophobia and racism that lined the original works. Here, a man retells the horrors that befell himself and his friend; two recent widowers who silently work through their grief by a series of fishing-trips. What they encounter there is beyond horrifying.

Lavish parties and debauchery without consequence for no-one but the richest of the upper layer of society. Both novels explore the underbelly of the ultra-rich (albeit in a different time period), and both eventually show a comeuppance for the sins of the rich in a way that is slightly brutal, but ultimately cathartic. 

Books meets Film

-            Alien (1979) & The Sourge Between Stars by Ness Brown

We all know the plot of the famous Alien which spawned an entire franchise: a lone survivor, stuck on a stranded space-ship with an alien predator aboard that killed off the rest of the crew. That is the exact same premise that The Sourge Between Stars follows. In fact, I would almost call Ness Brown’s horror novella a reimagining of the film, they are thát similar. I massively prefer the movie in this case, and felt like Ness Brown dropped the ball on a few points with her novella, yet if you’re looking for Alien-in-bookform, this is as close a recommendation I can give.

-            Annihilation (2019) & Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Although there’s so much to love about the 2019 adaptation of my all-time favourite novel, one of the films strongest feats is its interpretation of the strange and alien biology within The Shimmer. Characterized by a state of constant distortion, mutation and recombination, the landscape within the Shimmer is truly unrecognizable. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s biology on the exoplanet Kiln has many of the same features; a hostile, yet strangely beautiful place packed where evolution seems to play a game of three-dimensional chess with our biologist-protagonist. Intelligent speculative biology combined with a compelling character journey and some moments of true spine-tingling sci-fi horror: both these were 5-star experiences that would complement each other excellently. 

-            Salems Lot (1987) & The Nestlings by Nat Cassidy

Salems Lot terrified audiences with suburban terror and vampire-like creatures. If you’re looking for that same claustrophobic, urban terror in bookform; look no further than The Nestlings. In this, a young mother, wheelchair bound after a medical complication during delivery, her partner and newborn move into a luxurious Victorian apartment complex, only to find that something is dreadfully wrong within its walls. And there might be nowhere to run…

-            The Bay (2012) & The Deading by Nicholas Belardes I have mixed feeling on this “recommendation”, as I gave the book 1-star and wouldn’t recommend it personally. Yet the similarities are só close that I had to include it, in case someone is looking for this kind of thing in particular. The Bay and The Deading both tell tales of the near apocalyptic fallout that engulfs a coastal town when a mysterious ocean-borne contagion begins to infect the locals. The set-up is the stuff of nightmares. I only wish the execution of the book had been more to my liking.


Two tales that combine fantasy with a detective narrative, starring an eccentric Sherlock-Watson-style duo at the helm. Both these novels by already household-names, came out back to back, and have remarkably similar themes and premises. When it comes to style, I have a strong preference for Robert Jackson Bennett’s approach, which isn’t surprising based off my track-record with both these authors. Each book is highly worth checking out (a 4- and a 5-star for me respectively). Your enjoyment of the authors previous works will likely be a good indicator as to which you’ll prefer.

If I hadn’t known better, you might have been able to convince me that Vandermeer penned Gogmagog himself under a penname. A story about a ragtag cast of character traveling by ferry across the ghost of a deceased dragon, which has taken the form of a river, sounds exactly like something Vandermeer would do. I mean, he already wrote about a woman who mothers a creature she saved from the fur of a city-sized, despotic bear, so… If you enjoy Vandermeers outlandish, fantastical, yet ultimately well thought out worlds, combined with his quirky sense of humor, I recommend you give Gogmagog a try.

Two dreamlike fantasy-novels, following an underground theatre/circus-group and the dynamics of the actors amongst them. It’s not just the theatre-setting that links these for me, but that distinctive dreamlike quality and the feeling that the central romance gave me.

Magical realism

This one is going to be hard to explain without spoilers, but I’ve been looking for a book that gave me similar vibes to Piranesi for so long that I couldn’t pass up the chance to share this one with you. Without spoilers: Piranesi and Mothtown are both deeply strange, hallucinatory and lyrical novels, that tell a compelling if slightly disorienting story on the surface, whilst grappling with the true horrors of mental health in their depths. They will challenge you and have you thinking about them long after you flip the final page.

-            Kirsty Logan & Monstrum by Lottie Mills

If, like me, you loved Kirsty Logans magical realist short fiction and its themes of disability, queerness or the experience of what it’s like to be “othered” by the world around you; this debut author might be for you. Lottie Mills debut collection Monstrum shares these themes, and explores them through a similar lens that teeters the edge between cozy-magical and horrific.

Two magical realism Young-Adult novels that depict a place and characters suspended in time through a traumatic event they can’t move on from. Both offer a unique take on the traditional “haunting” to tell a deeply character-focused tale of longing, grief, trauma and the way in which we all must carry our individual ghosts.

Science Fiction

Leif Engers recently released novel falls within the subgenre that I’d classify as “Station-Eleven-dystopia”: quiet, melancholic, yet deeply hopeful dystopian narratives, with a strong focus on characters and their remarkable resilience and ability to connect in spite of horrors around them. Like Station Eleven, I Cheerfully Refuse tells the story of a post-pandemic America, in which a man embarks on a personal Odyssey, confronting a desolate landscape as well as his own grief. Although Station Elevens journey takes place on land, and I Cheerfully Refuse’s mostly on the waters of Lake Superior, the melancholicly sweet interactions with the world around them and characters they encounter have a very similar feel to it. I highly recommend both, but prepare to be thrown into a deep book-hangover when you finish either one of these.

These two sci-fi thriller/mysteries start with a very similar premise, but swerve off into wildly different directions, which are equally nail-biting. Both novels start with an extraterrestrial event that shapes the future of a small town and its inhabitants; an alien construct that resembles a gigantic robot crashes from the skies. Sleeping Giants, through an interview-style narrative, explores the actual background of the alien technology that landed, whereas Godfall focuses more so on the fallout of this event on the townfolk impacted. Highly recommend both of them.

I’ve already linked The Centre to plenty of other books before in the past, specifically ones that explore the dark and twisty side of academia, without romanticizing it. Today, I’m linking it based off another central theme; language and translation. What The Centre does in a contemporary academic thriller-setting, Translation State does against the background of a space-opera: it explores language and the way our words shape our understanding of the world around us. It also explores the significance of (cultural) background of speaker, and how the act of translation changes and sometimes takes away from the original text as a form of metaphorical cannibalization.Both these novels offer so much food for thought (pardon the pun) and would make for a perfect pairing in a thematic bookclub.


Perhaps a more unlikely paring, as these stories are quite different, but it’s the feeling they evoke that links them for me. Both these novels are written by screenplay-writers and feel like a B-action-movie in bookform. Bombastic, over the top action, and quippy dialogue that feels written with actors like Bruce Willis or Jason Statham in mind. They require a particular mood to be enjoyed, but both came for me in the right time where I was craving some B-movie action.

A group of adventurers and scientists explore a mountain that defies scientific explanation. In addition to their premise, these novels share a “brand of horror”, relishing in their gore and creature-feature esthetic. Both also attempt to elevate their stories to a more cerebral level with the addition of (without spoiling things) “more complex science-elements”, yet both fail similarly… My advice: don’t overanalyze these stories. They’re best enjoyed for what they are: creature-features about wilderness-survival in a mountain-setting.

Scottish- and Irish-Gothic respectively, these two novels both have their roots deeply in Anglo-Saxon folklore and the mythology of the changeling. Both deeply atmospheric, dark and murky, these tales of motherhood-horror and unaddressed grief won’t let you go once they get their teeth in you.

Children’s and Middle-grade

Recently indie-published Fog & Fireflies immediately echoes the Golden Age of fantasy with its style reminiscent of Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis and their contemporaries. The foggy-setting and themes of overcoming fear and insecurity solidify one comparison even further; that to The Neverending Story. If you’re looking for a middle-grade  adventure with themes of friendship and a fantasy world that speaks to the imagination: these two might work for you.

This comparison is not so much based on premise, but more so on “vibes”. Reading both these novels for the first time, I had this very distinct feeling that I was reading a book that would become a modern classic someday. For His Dark Materials, that came true, and I have little doubt that Impossible Creatures too will stand the test of time. Both combine a magical adventure with fantastical beasts and lovable characters with a deeply profound tale of morality and heavier themes (which I won’t spoil) that make this worth a read for kids and adults alike. I recommend parents read these books alongside their kids, the way I did with my mum when I was a kid. Both of you will likely have a partially different experience, but will be able to have so many awesome conversations afterwards.


Last but not least on todays list are two novels that fall within a “subgenre” I wish had been present when I was growing up. These stories explore (chronic) illness through the lens of middle-grade horror; in both these cases through a haunted-house narrative. Not Quite a Ghost tackles post-viral illness, while This Appearing House tackles life after childhood cancer in a way that allows children to explore these difficult topics in a manageable way. Incredibly powerful, heartfelt and both remarkably funny at times: I cannot recommend these two enough for kids and adults alike.


bottom of page