With so many books being released every month, it's easy to miss a few gems. That's especially true when said gems are not necessarily the books everyone is talking about because they are a bit offbeat. Here's a handful of books that should be on your radar...
Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo Del Toro & Cornelia Funke, illustrated by Allen Williams
If you saw Guillermo Del Toro's acclaimed fantasy film Pan's Labyrinth, you already know that the rich and imaginative setting begs for more stories to be told. Now comes Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun, a new story inspired by the film and set in that same enchanting world. The main character is young Ofelia, who is traveling with her mother to a forest north of Spain to live with her mother's new husband. On the way Ofelia meets a fairy who leads her to Faun, a half-man/half-goat. Faun tells Ofelia that her real father is King of the Underworld and that, although she has no memory of it, she is the reincarnation of an Underworld princess. Ofelia must pass a series of trials in order to return to the underworld and take her rightful place there. Adorned with magical illustration by Allen Williams, this dark fantasy is perfect for readers of all ages.
Vivisectionary by Kate Lacour
Comic artist Kate Lacour's new book Vivisectionary is designed to get a reaction out of readers. Or, at the very, least, its subject matter is almost guaranteed to be imprinted on your brain. Subtitled "A Convocation of Biological Art", this unusual book is described as "a visual guide to the intimate workings of impossible biologies, told through a series of scientific diagrams and tableaux." What that means is that it contains a striking series of images of body horror and other biological nightmares. These range from the interesting and fantastical (like grinding up a unicorn's horn and injecting it into the human bloodstream) to the downright bizarre (like the transformation of an arm grabbing a heart into genitalia). You'll be horrified yet curiously turning the pages to see more.
Hollywood North: Life, Love & Death in Six Reels by Michael Libling
Libling's genre-defying debut seems to be a collision of descriptions: it's a coming of age novel; it's rooted in the little-known silent moviemaking history of Trenton, Ontario; it's an homage to pop culture and film; etc. Classification aside, Hollywood North sounds like an atmospheric head trip. It's about three youngsters in a small Canadian town in the 1960s, where the local pastimes are "hunting, fishing, arson, and drowning." A town like that is bound to have secrets and this one's got plenty. Gus, Jack, and Annie are the ones who put everything together to reveal the town's dark truth…and confront the sleepy town's malevolent past head-on.
The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman
Fans of ghost stories are unlikely to have read anything like Howard Norman's new village mystery. The ghost in question is that of Simon Inescort. When Simon died, his widow sold their Vermont farmhouse to newlyweds Zachary and Muriel. The deed included a legally sound "ghost clause" which allows for reimbursement if a recently-purchased home turns out to be haunted. Simon does indeed still find himself at home, invisible to the new occupants, spending his time reliving his own marriage while spying on Zachary and Muriel. When an eleven-year-old child goes missing, Zachary, a detective with the Green Mountain Agency, is assigned to the case, which begins to take a toll on his marriage. The Ghost Clause is a fantasy-tinged examination of love and marriage.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Located on Raxter Islands is the Raxter School for Girls, where three best friends—Hetty, Byatt and Reese—have way more to deal with than mere schoolwork. The island has been under quarantine for eighteen months. That's when teachers and students began to succumb to the effects of the Tox, a strange disease that changes human bodies into something…else. The island has since been cut off from the rest of the world and the children dare not cross the fenced boundary because the woods are even more dangerous. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty and Reese will do anything to find her…even if it means braving the treacherous woods. Described as a feminist Lord of the Flies, Wilder Girls is about friendship, strength and discovering the truth.