- Stephen King Pet Semetary
To say that Pet Semetary is dark is to say that water is wet. There are no nice feelings in this book. Bad things happen to reasonably good people caught in the sticky web of horrific grief. What I love about this book is that it shows how grief can twist even the smartest, most well-adjusted of us. And if you don’t have nightmares after that ending, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.
2. Diana Wynne Jones Howl’s Moving Castle
I read this book in the early nineties. I have read it at least a dozen times since. To me, this book is the ultimate definition of “cozy fantasy.” It’s fascinating how this work can be interpreted. In the animated adaptation by Studio Ghibli, Howl is a proper wizard. In the book, he’s…not. To put it frankly, the literary version of Howl is a fuck-boy, and I say that with all the love in the world. The literary Howl is not adept, and though the film version is gorgeous, I prefer the novel because that’s the Howl I fell in love with as a child.
3. Wilson Rawls Where the Red Fern Grows
If there is a film/book/tv show/video game/podcast/comic that I am interested in consuming that prominently features a dog, the first thing I do is look up whether the dog dies or not. If the dog dies, chances are I won’t partake. I love dogs. As I write this, my own is sitting at my feet, snoring and farting. I will never write a story where a dog dies. That’s just not who I am.
Funny, then, that I have read the ultimate “sad dog book” dozens of times since I was a kid. I try and read it at least once a year, and even though I know how it ends, I’m still balling every single time. This story is one of the very first where I actually felt like I was there with Billy and his coon hounds, traipsing through the Ozark woods. And no matter where I am in life, I will always be a mess in the last third of the book. Dogs, man. We do not deserve them.
4. Robert McCammon Boy’s Life
My favorite book of all time. I’ve read it more times than I can count. Everyone should about Corey and his mysterious and dangerous home known as Zephyr, Alabama. Set in the 1960s, the book is both a fantasy and a warning about the dangers of bigotry.
5. Ryka Aoki Light From Uncommon Stars
The best queer novel of 2021, and probably the best queer novel of many years. Stunning, poetic, and so filled with love and life, it’s bursting at the seams. It made me proud to be part of the queer community. Ryka Aoki is a powerhouse, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
TK Klunes Latest book 'Wolf Song' is out now
Wolfsong is the first book in the stunning Greek Creek series. Ox is sixteen when the energetic Bennett pack moves next door, harbouring a secret that will change him forever. But bonds will be tested to their utmost when a terrible tragedy splits the pack – and tears Ox’s heart in two. A heart-warming coming-of-age tale, packed with werewolves, magic and an electric romance, perfect for fans of The House in the Cerulean Sea, A Marvellous Light, and Shiver.
Ox Matheson was twelve when his father taught him a lesson: Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when the energetic Bennett family moved in next door, harbouring a secret that would change him forever. For the family are shapeshifters, who can transform into wolves at will. Drawn to their magic, loyalty and enduring friendships, Ox feels a gulf between this extraordinary new world and the quiet life he’s known. He also finds an ally in Joe, the youngest Bennett boy. Joe is charming and handsome, but haunted by scars he cannot heal.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town, and tore a hole in his heart. Violence flared, tragedy split the pack and Joe left town, leaving Ox behind. Three years later, the boy is back. Except now he’s a man – and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
Wolfsong by TJ Klune is published by Tor. Order your copy HERE
TJ KLUNE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The House in the Cerulean Sea, The Extraordinaries, and more. Being queer himself, Klune believes it's important--now more than ever--to have accurate, positive queer representation in stories. He lives in the US, and you can follow him on socials @TJKlune.
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