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Top 5 Books with Magical Realism [or Fabulism]

The Top Five Series

This Top 5 series is a weekly meme created by Amanda @ Devouring Books.

Each week we’ll 5 book featuring the common theme provided. These can be books that we’ve read, or ones that are still on our TBRs. I’ll note beside each one if I’ve read the book yet or not, and provide a link to my review if I have one. 

Feel free to share your own favourites or give me more TBR suggestions in the comments. 

 

Definition of magical realism:

a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction. 

Fabulism can often be used to describe similar fiction, but which lacks a Latin American/ colonial aspect.

 

 

Top 5 Books with Magical Realism [or Fabulism]

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton [TBR]

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human. 

 

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield [TBR]

Once Upon a River

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned. 

 

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic (Practical Magic #1)

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic..

 

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker [TBR]

The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic, created to be the wife of a man who dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free.

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale. 

 

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Top 5 Books with Magical Realism [or Fabulism]”

  1. You *must!* visit with me after you’ve read #GolemAndTheJinni! I want to re-read this lovely once I know when “The Iron Season” is releasing — (the long awaited and nearly fabled sequel) — methinks I’ll listen to the audiobook whilst I want to purchase a hardback copy as I discovered & read this via my local library!!

    The only book on this list which simply wasn’t my cuppa was actually “Once Upon A RIver” wherein I had several thoughts to share – it was just overall, not my favourite?

    I never read “Practical Magic” but I’ve made “midnight margaritas” in snyc with the film !!

    Like

    1. I started The Golum and the Jinni years ago but struggled with it. I really want to give it another go. I’ll definetly let you know once I read either it or Once Upon a River.

      The Practical Magic film is one of my favourites (planning to rewatch for the 100th time sometime this week). I’ve heard the book is very different, but I feel like it’s worth a go?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh! Great choices. I looked at many of these when I was making my own list. Once upon a river was one that I saw at work many times but I didnt have any idea what it was really about until I looked for books for this list and now I really want to read it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was really intrigued by Once Upon a River. I kept seeing the book at work and on Goodreads, but I thought it was just a normal fiction book until this week when I was looking up books to include on my list and now I’m super intrigued by it! I have also always wanted to read Practical Magic! I really want to read more books about witches, so that one is one that I hope to find time to read!

    Liked by 1 person

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