Book Club Picks with a Touch of Magic

I'm going to do things a little bit differently today. Normally we're all, "Frontlist! Frontlist! Frontlist!" up in here, but I want to make sure that you hear about two of my favorite gems from last year straight from the horse’s mouth (me being the horse, in this case). Paula Brackston’s enchanting debut, THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER, and Jo Walton’s magical semi-memoir, AMONG OTHERS, are both captivating character-driven historicals that celebrate outcast women with a knack for magic.

I read both of these books late in the marketing game (they’re both already out in paperback!), but I’m so glad I did.


From 17th century Wessex to Victorian London to the battlefields of World War I, immortal witch Bess Hawksmith attempts to redeem her soul by saving lives all the while pursued by the evil sorcerer who transformed her from mortal to witch.

Booklist said, “Brackston’s first novel offers well-crafted characters in an absorbing plot and an altogether delicious blend of historical fiction and fantasy.”

And we’ve made it oh-so-easy on book clubs! There’s an excellent reading guide in the paperback version including an interview, an essay, recommended reading, and discussion questions! See the Reading Group Gold guide here.

Read an excerpt from the beginning here on!


This book is at once the story of a young boarding school student struggling to escape a troubled childhood, her journey of first encounters with great novels, and the tale of conquering an ancient enchantment.

nebulasYou know this one’s going to be good because it was just nominated for the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel! Nebulas not your thing? Well, in a starred review Publishers Weekly said, “World Fantasy Award–winner Walton turns the magical boarding school story inside out in this compelling coming-of-age tale.” Still not convinced? What if I told you that Nancy Pearl said it’s a gem? Now, we’re talking!

Nancy interviewed Jo and said, “Jo's the kind of writer who doesn't ever write the same book twice.” Jo agreed; she said, “Because [TOOTH AND CLAW] won the World Fantasy Award I've been able to get away with writing different, weird things ever since.” Walton went on to say that AMONG OTHERS is probably the closest thing to a memoir she’ll ever write. Click the link to watch the hour-long chat: “Jo Walton in conversation with Nancy Pearl.” 

One of the best aspects of both of these magical books is that they are perfect for book clubs with readers of all ages. Teens and adults alike will connect to the stories of Bess and Mori. In fact, Angela Carstensen picked AMONG OTHERS for her Adult Books 4 Teens column and said, “It is a glorious book, and not only because it is a celebration of books and readers and libraries and librarians. […] It will appeal primarily to science fiction and fantasy readers, but it will also appeal to others who simply love to read. That feeling permeates the book, and the fantasy elements will not put off readers who might usually scoff at them.”

Oh, and Tor made a totally sweet poster for AMONG OTHERS (see the PDF here).

Happy reading!

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