Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Set Within a Magical Realism Setting

toptentuesdayHi all, Rose here with a Top Ten Tuesday entry, as sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish.  It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these (not for lack of wanting, more like lack of time.  *sighs* Sadness.)

This was a much harder topic for me to brainstorm because I wanted to pick books that had great blends of magical realism in their settings (because I feel like magical realism, as a genre, doesn’t get as much love as other genres).  It’s a functional realistic world that blends some element of fantasy or some interesting “what-ifs” that happen in the lives of ordinary (or about as ordinary as one would get in such realms) people.

I’m just naming ten off the top of my head because it’s hard for me to choose favorites.

  1. “Teeth” by Hannah Moskowitz.  This book gutted me the first time I read it – I still find myself coming back to it from time to time since reading it for the first time as a galley, then buying it because I loved it so much.  Teeth is the story of Rudy, a boy whose brother is sick and whose family’s last resort is to move to a “magic island” where the fish are said to cure all kinds of ailments.  But lo and behold, Rudy ends up discovering more than he bargained for as he meets a…merboy? Fish?  “Fishboy” is Rudy’s name for Teeth, but the story of the friendship of these two boys just gets to me every time.  (I still remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning and having tears in my eyes, dangnabit.)
  2. “Every Day” by David Levithan: David Levithan can take a single magical or fantastical thread and give so much dimension and emotion to the aspect that you really believe something in the vein of his portrayal could actually happen.  I felt the full brunt of emotions of “A” in this book, a being that woke up living through the eyes of another person each day they awoke.  It’s slice of life meets some pretty heart rendering moments throughout the read, and I’ll admit the story stayed with me long after I finished the book.
  3. “Bless Me Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya: One of my favorite magical realism tales.  I recently re-read this a few years back and I loved it just as much as the first time I picked it up. Coming of age story of a boy named Antonio/Tony fated to be a priest and yet with the friendship of an elder woman named Ultima, he begins to question and learn and grow in contrast to the things he sees and learns around him.
  4. “Matilda” by Roald Dahl: Because me as a self-respecting bookworm identifies with Matilda so, so much.  This was a beautiful story with charming elements and while Matilda’s experiences are vivid and realistic to how she feels in some realistic confrontations, she ends up dealing with them in extraordinary ways.
  5. “A Little Night Magic” by Lucy March: This was a lovely example of magical realism working in the scheme of romance in a cute, fun way.  I definitely remember liking the quirky humor and the way magic is woven throughout the story as the heroine comes to terms with a past that she never knew about.
  6. Basically any book by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman knows how to craft magical worlds within a realistic context and delve into the hearts of very dimensional and whimsical characters.  Whether for children, YA, adult, “American Gods”, “The Graveyard Book”, “Stardust,” “Coraline”, “Neverwhere” – it’s hard not to feel like you’re immersed in the plight of any of his characters.
  7. “Shades of Milk and Honey” by Mary Robinette Kowal – I really need to continue/finish this series at some point.  The first time I heard “Jane Austen” and “magic” in the same sentence, I definitely felt intrigued. Probably one of the first books of its type that I came across around the time I read it.
  8. “The Ice Queen” by Alice Hoffman.  You could name a number of her other works just as well, but I remembered picking this out of my local library at the time and feeling like it was a decent examination of two very different people who bonded over a similar event happening to them (in other words, being struck by lightning and noting how it shapes, changes them).  The magical elements are done very well here.
  9. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury. Combination of coming of age, horror, magical realism and other things – coming of age story for two boys who observe a sinister carnival traveling to their town.  I still love this tale to date.
  10. Any book by Sarah Addison Allen, but my recommendation would be “Garden Spells”.  Allen has a way of weaving place (the Southern U.S. in particular) with distinct characters who try to find ways of navigating their complex relationships in line with a magical backdrop.  I definitely enjoy her writing and being immersed in the journeys. (And it reminds me that I definitely need to re-read her work).

That’s all for this entry.  Until next, happy reading.




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