Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hidden Treasures: The Books Only You Seem To Have Read

I think we all have them, books we love that nobody else seems to have read, or even heard of. I was honestly taken aback to see a friend mention the White Crow books by Mary Gentle on Twitter the other day, if only because most people don't even seem to know who she is, let alone remember gems like Rats and Gargoyles.

It got me thinking, what other books are there that nobody else I know seems to have read?

And so I made a little list...

1 Silk by Caitlin R Kiernan

Kiernan's first novel was a heady mixture of Lovecraftian horror and the Goth scene and established her voice as a genuine outsider, something that shoots through her work. I came to read it as a result of her her work on the Dreaming, and the chronicle of Spider Baxter's strange transformation and the legacy it left seemed strange and wonderful.

2 The White Crow novels by Mary Gentle

Beautifully written and esoteric, the first of the books, Rats and Gargoyles introduced me to a completely different type of fantasy, jettisoning a lot of the familiar stuff that mired Fantasy in the early 1990s. There were no young farm boys or scullions waiting for the quest to reveal their true identities, no good Gods warring with the evil outcast in a sub Tolkienesque world. Instead there were machines, rats and the Fane... It was heavy, literary and wonderful.

3 Lovely Biscuits by Grant Morrison

A collection of short stories that sum up so much of Morrison's work and which are by turns, strange, disturbing and breathless. Whether its the homage to Sherlock Holmes in the Room Where Love Lives or the sheer odd weight of Lovecraft in Heaven, Lovely Biscuits marks the road that Morrison has walked extremely well.

4 Jago by Kim Newman

Newman is probably most popular for his marvellous Anno Dracula stories, but Jago is the novel which disturbs me most, mixing Millennium Fever, psychic power and time travel in a heady, horrific mix rivalled only the Quorum.

5 The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

Beautifully wrought, this novel traces an artist's encounters with the spirits of the Arizona desert as she seeks her muse. It's full of lovely images and has a deeply moving plot. Again, its one of the books I found in the 1990s after I moved away from epic Fantasy and onto the more Contemporary variety. In this case I'd read Blood Red, Snow White and was intrigued by the idea of the Wood Wife. It seemed very much in line with my interests.

All these books remain firm favourites of mine, though they don't get read as much as I'd like because of time constraints.

What are yours?