RRPL Summer Reads: Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Fairy Tales

As I am the resident science fiction and fantasy nerd librarian, you probably figured that of course my TBR list for this summer would be heavy with the weirdest and most interesting books. And you’d be right! Below are the five books I am most excited to read this summer, in no particular order.

Click on any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can put them on hold with your library card number and PIN.

Wendy, Darling by A. C. Wise book cover and catalog link

Wendy, Darling by A. C. Wise 

I love any retelling of classic fairy tale, but a feminist retelling? Gotta have it. In Wise’s version, Wendy has grown up and has had children of her own. When Peter Pan kidnaps her daughter, Wendy must follow him to Neverland to save her daughter from the clutches of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Published June 1, 2021.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo book cover and catalog link

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo 

Like fellow librarian Nicole, I also want to read this fantasy reimagining of The Great Gatsby! There’s magic, mystery, and Jordan, a side character in the original novel, reimagined as a queer Vietnamese girl. Sign me up!

Published June 1, 2021. 

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan book cover and catalog link

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan 

When a book is described as Mulan meets Song of Achilles, how could this not be on my TBR list? In this fantastical retelling of Chinese history, a queer female monk will rise to greatness against the Mongol army.

Published July 20, 2021. 

A Master of Djinn by P. DJÈLÍ Clark book cover and catalog link

A Master of Djinn by P. DJÈLÍ Clark 

Another historical reimagining, this debut novel stars a female detective tasked with solving a mass murder set in an alternate history 1912 Cairo where both humans and supernatural creatures dwell.

Published May 11, 2021.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri book cover and catalog link

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Last but not least, this novel features a princess and a priestess working together to save their homeland from the princess’ traitor brother.

Published June 8, 2021.

Fellow science fiction and fantasy readers: did I miss any books that you’re excited to read this summer? Let me know!

Readalikes for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles catalog link

Thanks entirely to the kids on TikTok, nine years after it was first publised, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is once again a bestseller! If you’re waiting for your copy, or if you’ve read it and would like something similar, I’ve picked some romantic books that have the same feeling as Achilles: sweeping historical events, thoughtful mythological retellings, or a lush fairy tale tone.

Never heard of Song of Achilles? Here’s the scoop:

Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. Find The Song of Achilles on Overdrive here and on Hoopla here (no holds, no waiting!).

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker catalog link

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

After her creator dies en route to America, Chava, a golem from a Polish shtetl, must navigate the streets of 1899 New York City by herself — her only ally is a rabbi unsure whether to destroy her, or allow her to fulfill her destiny as the harbinger of destruction. Ahmad, a jinni from Syria’s deserts has been released from his thousand-year-old glass bottle by a tinsmith but has little intention of remaining a metalworker, despite his uncanny talent for it. Chava and Ahmad meet and discover that they’re soul mates, but a dangerous adversary threatens their future. This vibrant blend of myth, adventure, and romance will enchant fans of stories based on folklore.

The Golem and the Jinni Overdrive link

Uprooted by Naomi Novik catalog link

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

A tale inspired by the “Beauty and the Beast” story follows the experiences of Agnieszka, who becomes the latest girl chosen to serve an immortal wizard who protects their village from the malevolent forces of a nearby forest.

Uprooted Overdrive link



The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson catalog link

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A concubine in the royal court of Granada at the height of the Spanish Inquisition and her mapmaker friend risk their lives to escape when the latter is accused of sorcery.

The Bird King Overdrive link

The Bird King Hoopla link

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty catalog link

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Nahri, a young con artist, inadvertently summons a mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, revealing the existence of true magic before the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom falls into her hands.

The City of Brass Overdrive link


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden catalog link

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

The Bear and the Nightingale Overdrive link

All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.

Greg’s Top Reads of 2018

The Elements of Spellcrafting : 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery
by Jason Miller

A great read for any practitioner or follower of any path. Gives some very practical tips for spellwork and working with spirits.

The Chaos Protocols:Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality
by Gordon White

A practical guide that is based in chaos magic but has some great tips for all. Looking about how one can use your individual spiritual/occult practice to deal with the practical concerns of life.

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The Invisibles
by Grant Morrison

Though this comic has been out for decades, it was only this year that I got to it. An absorbing graphic novel that explores themes of oppression, control, and the various prices of bucking the status quo.

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The Ballad of Black Tom
by Victor D. LaValle

A great example of not only building on top of but expanding the source material. This book starts with the framework of Lovecraft and addresses historical and contemporary issues.

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Sheila Hicks : Lifelines
edited by Michel Gauthier

A wonderful visual retrospective of the artist’s work, this volume explores every stage of the artist’s career. Hick’s is a master of color and form and her work is carefully reproduced here.

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Promethea
by Alan Moore

Again another graphic novel that had been on my radar but I hadn’t gotten to. Promethea is a story that not only explores mythology and the the last 100 years of occultism but seem to reflect many of the author’s own beliefs.

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The Power
by Naomi Alderman

Alderman’s work explores the dynamics of power and gender and how old patterns can reemerge when the world is made new again.

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The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

A collection of stories about stories, archetypes, and culturally created gender. These tales are filled with horror or uncanniness as Ortberg picks apart the very idea of a fairy tale and our own “norms”.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Book one, The Crucible
by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Read the graphic novel that the Netflix show is based on. There are many differences from the show and this source material and it guaranteed to help tide fans over as they wait for season two.


Clive Barker’s next testament. Volume On
by Clive Barker

A truly terrifying look at what it would be like if our creator came back. An engrossing story, but Barker definitely maintains his horror aesthetic throughout.

Once Upon a Time: Grown-up Fairy Tales on TV and in Graphic Novels

They say everything old is new again, eventually. That is certainly the case for the nearly 200-year-old tales penned by the Brothers Grimm (did you know they were librarians?) in 1812. This fall these ageless tales are going to be updated for a modern TV audience.

First up is ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time, starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison (you will recognize her from House and How I Met Your Mother) premiers Sunday, October 23 at 8pm. The show is about Emma Swan (Morrison), a young woman who is drawn to Storybrooke, a tiny town in Maine, by the son she gave up as a baby. Ten-year-old Henry believes that Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming and that Storybrooke is under a spell cast by the Evil Queen. He claims that the curse has trapped fairy tale characters in the modern world with no recollection of their true identities. Despite her skepticism, Emma is about to witness the beginning of an epic battle between good and evil.

Sounds good to me! The  DVR is all set for this one.

And if that wasn’t enough, the following week you can catch NBC’s Grimm.

Grimm, starring David Guintoli and Russell Hornsby, premiers Friday, October 28 at 9pm. Grimm is about Nick Burkhardt, a homicide detective in Portland, Oregon, who learns that he is a descendent of an elite group of hunters known as “Grimms.” As the last of his kind, it is his destiny and duty to protect humankind from the sinister characters of fairy tales who infiltrate the real world.

I think I may have to give this one a try too.

I find the timing of these two shows to be perfect, as I have recently discovered the Fable series by Bill Willingham. This series originated as a comic book in 2002 and was complied into book form beginning in 2003. The author has reinvented characters from fairy tales and folklore and brought them together in modern-day New York City. They call themselves Fables and have made their home in a luxury hotel, known as Fabletown. Those fables who can not pass for human live on The Farm in upstate New York. Fabletown began centuries ago, when an enemy known only as The Adversary began conquering their homelands. After centuries of peace Fabletown has found itself in the midst of political upheaval and dramatic change. There are currently 16 volumes in the Fables series and a number of spin-offs, including series starring Jack Horner, Cinderella, and Peter Piper, his wife Bo Peep and his brother Max. Willingham recently announced plans to start a new series, Fairest, which will follow the lives of many female fables. So many fun fables, so little time…

If you are looking for a quick, clever read I highly recommend checking out Fables by Bill Willingham.

˜Megan