Summer is the perfect time to let reality fall away and lose yourself in an enchanting book. We’ve rounded up the best new magical realism books to read this summer and we think you’ll be delighted by these fanciful, bewitching tales. Check out our recommendations below, complete with publishers’ descriptions, and indulge yourself in a little magic!
The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.
Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.
Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance — or fate — led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.
Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places — friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac — until an outside threat infiltrates the farm.
From the warm and funny Amy E. Reichert, The Simplicity of Cider is a charming love story with a touch of magic, perfect for fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Gayle Forman.
The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick
Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Jio, comes a lush imaginative novel that takes readers into the heart of a mysterious English country garden, waiting to spring to life.
Every garden is a story, waiting to be told…
At the nursery she runs with her sisters on the New England coast, Sorrel Sparrow has honed her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Now that reputation, and a stroke of good timing, lands Sorrel an unexpected opportunity: reviving a long-dormant Shakespearean garden on an English country estate.
Arriving at Kirkwood Hall, ancestral home of Sir Graham Kirkwood and his wife Stella, Sorrel is shocked by the desolate state of the walled garden. Generations have tried — and failed — to bring it back to glory. Sorrel senses heartbreak and betrayal here, perhaps even enchantment. Intrigued by the house’s history — especially the haunting tapestries that grace its walls — and increasingly drawn to Stella’s enigmatic brother, Sorrel sets to work. And though she knows her true home is across the sea with her sisters, instinct tells her that the English garden’s destiny is entwined with her own, if she can only unravel its secrets…
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. An unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose economy hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to thwart one’s origins. It might also take true love.
Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1914. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.
Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city’s underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes — after years of searching and desperate poverty – the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to make them come true. Soon, Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls have hit New York, commanding the stage as well as the alleys, and neither the theater nor the underworld will ever look the same.
With her musical language and extravagantly realized world, Heather O’Neill enchants us with a novel so magical there is no escaping its spell.
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles — Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.
Bone china cup and saucer — Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.
Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiance, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects — the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind — and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.
Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.
Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious — a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.
As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?
Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly 18 months. But there are things Elvis doesn’t yet know — like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother’s silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother’s death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.
Literally by Lucy Keating
From the author of Dreamology comes a young adult love story that blurs the line between reality and fiction…
Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel — and Annabelle is the heroine.
It turns out that Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.
But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story — or will Lucy Keating have the last word?
The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut novel, which School Library Journal called “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.”
A Guide for the Perplexed by Jonathan Levi
In “a fable of fantastical lushness” (New York Times Book Review), Levi weaves together the stories of two strangers and their mysterious travel agent to present an extraordinarily crafted revisionist history of the discovery of America, combining the erudition of Umberto Eco with the ingenious storytelling of A Thousand and One Nights.
Holland and Hanni have come to Spain for two very different reasons. They have nothing in common except they share the same travel agent, Ben. Stranded overnight by an airport strike, Hanni and Holland discover that they are connected by a strange web of history and happenstance — a common labyrinth that stretches back to World War II, the Spanish Inquisition, and beyond.
A Guide for the Perplexed is a collection of the letters these women write to their mysterious, unseen travel agent–a long night’s worth of confessions, a tapestry of tales chasing tales, including an untold saga of Columbus’ voyage to the New World, stories of war and lost loves, lost children, lost Jews, and the true origins of baseball.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent — from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war.
It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love — and by hope.
The tale begins with Anjum — who used to be Aftab — unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her — including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo’s landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi.
As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply.
New York in the spring of 1880 is a place alive with wonder and curiosity. Determined to learn the truth about the world, its residents enthusiastically engage in both scientific experimentation and spiritualist pursuits. Séances are the entertainment of choice in exclusive social circles, and many enterprising women — some possessed of true intuitive powers, and some gifted with the art of performance — find work as mediums.
Enter Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair. At their humble teashop, Tea and Sympathy, they provide a place for whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions. But the profile of Tea and Sympathy is about to change with the fortuitous arrival of Beatrice Dunn.
When seventeen-year-old Beatrice leaves the safety of her village to answer an ad that reads “Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply,” she has little inclination of what the job will demand of her. Beatrice doesn’t know it yet, but she is no ordinary small-town girl; she has great spiritual gifts — ones that will serve as her greatest asset and also place her in grave danger. Under the tutelage of Adelaide and Eleanor, Beatrice comes to harness many of her powers, but not even they can prepare her for the evils lurking in the darkest corners of the city or the courage it will take to face them.
The Magical World of Madame Métier by Daphne Rose Kingma
Reminiscent of the enchanted realism of Alice Hoffman’s bestselling novels, The Magical World of Madame Metier weaves together magic, romance, and a powerful bond of friendship in celebration of the female spirit.
Facing destitution after the untimely death of her husband, Madame Métier revisits a long-forgotten talent — the creation of healing botanical creams and lotions. Her rediscovery of this sacred practice marks the beginning of her spiritual odyssey of self-actualization and empowerment. Meanwhile, two eccentric friends of hers begin a passionate affair that ends their respective marriages. Invigorated by their relationship, Monsieur Sorbonne searches for his life’s passion while Mademoiselle Objet helps Madame Métier with her new business. While the couple explores the nuances of their romance, Madame Métier finds herself in a relationship with a mysterious being who redefines her understanding of human love. Just as things are looking up, Mme. Métier’s creams result in a customer’s death, and the three friends face an ordeal of profound doubt, spiritual crisis, and persecution that threatens to tear them apart.
Daphne Rose Kingma brings insights from her self-help books to a modern fairy tale that is both enlightening and entertaining. This is an extraordinary debut about the nature of love and relationships.
The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller
Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, 12 years counting.
But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders — his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing — except for his lost father.
So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it — along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.
Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.
Release date: August 8
Which of these magical new fantasy books do you want to read this summer? Share in the comments!