Longbourn by Jo Baker
Pride and Prejudice was only half the story.
If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.
Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: A retelling of Pride and Prejudice told from the POV of one of the Bennet’s maids sounds like our kind of novel. Here’s hoping it ends in a wedding!
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
A piercing epistolary novel, The Antagonist explores, with wit and compassion, how the impressions of others shape, pervert, and flummox both our perceptions of ourselves and our very nature.
Gordon Rankin Jr., aka “Rank,” thinks of himself as “King Midas in reverse”—and indeed misfortune seems to follow him at every turn. Against his will and his nature, he has long been considered—given his enormous size and strength—a goon and enforcer by his classmates, by his hockey coaches, and, not least, by his “tiny, angry” father. He gamely lives up to their expectations, until a vicious twist of fate forces him to flee underground. Now pushing forty, he discovers that an old, trusted friend from his college days has published a novel that borrows freely from the traumatic events of Rank’s own life. Outraged by this betrayal and feeling cruelly misrepresented, he bashes out his own version of his story in a barrage of e-mails to the novelist that range from funny to furious to heartbreaking.
With The Antagonist, Lynn Coady demonstrates all of the gifts that have made her one of Canada’s most respected young writers. Here she gives us an astonishing story of sons and fathers and mothers, of the rewards and betrayals of male friendship, and a large-spirited, hilarious, and exhilarating portrait of a man tearing his life apart in order to put himself back together.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: We like the premise of this novel within a novel, especially because it deals with just what it feels like to have your life co-opted for fun and profit. Even more so because that life is the life of the villain.
The Grimm Conclusion: A Companion to a Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Widely praised and beloved by children, adults, and critics alike, Adam Gidwitz delivers a third serving of eerie new landscapes and fear-inducing creatures in a story sure to delight and frighten fans old and new. In the final book in the series, Adam’s brilliantly irreverent narrator leads readers through a fresh world of Grimm-inspired fairy tales, based on such classics as The Juniper Tree, the real story of Cinderella, and Rumpelstiltskin.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Gidwitz has rewritten the darker Grimm tales with wit and humor for children with his Hansel and Gretel and Jack and Jill inspired books A Tale Dark & Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly and we cannot wait to see where his last book in the series takes his brother/sister team of choice.
Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk
Madison Spencer, the liveliest, snarkiest dead girl in the universe, continues the adventures in the afterlife begun in Damned. Having somewhat reluctantly escaped from Hell, she now wanders the Purgatory that is Earth as a ghostly spirit, seeking her do-gooding celebrity parents, fighting the malign control of Satan, recounting the disgracefully funny (to us, anyway) encounter with her grandfather in a fetid highway rest stop in upstate New York when she…oh, never mind, and climaxing in a rendezvous with destiny on the new, totally plastic continent in the Pacific called, not at all accidentally, Madlantis.
Dante Aligheri, watch your back, Chuck Palahniuk is gaining on you.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: Damned had us welcoming back Chuck Palahniuk into our embrace and we hope the continuation of his first ever series inspired by Dante’s Paradiso has us gripping him just as tightly.
The House of Hades: The Heroes of Olympus Book 4 by Rick Riordan
At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?
They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED: The world needs something to wash the taste of the Percy Jackson movie out of their mouth and what better way than with a new Rick Riordan book.