Seasonal Themes

Winter 2016: Our Current Themes

To be determined…


Previous Themes

Winter 2014: Joanna on Fairytale Retellings
Folk and fairy tale retellings are a common premise for fantasy novels, but they can also appear in stories from a wide range of genres. In curating this series Joanna has tried to choose examples that aren’t the obvious ones, such as stories from outside the fantasy section, as well as a few old favourites.

Fire and Hemlock | Bitter Greens
Hunting Monsters | Deerskin
Beauty | The Seventh Bride

Spring 2015: Rachel on Magical Mysteries
From secret occult branches of real-world police departments, to investigators living in fantasy lands, there’s a lot of scope for interesting stories in the space where mystery and magic collide. Ranging from hard-nosed police procedurals to paranormal cozy crime, Rachel picks out a few examples spanning the genre.

Servant of the Underworld | Dark Currents
The Buried Life | Wolf Winter
Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic | The Malykant Mysteries

Spring 2015: Joanna on Speculative Fiction in Translation
One of the reason for starting Strange Charm was to challenge ourselves to find and read examples of women’s speculative fiction we wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Currently our reading of translated women’s speculative fiction is limited to the Moomin books, so Joanna set out to change that by selecting six diverse examples.

The Days of the Deer | Transit
Kalpa Imperial | The Threads of the Heart
Cassandra | The Last Lover

Summer 2015: Joanna on Time Travel
A genre spanning Science Fiction and Fantasy alike, time travel is a plot that can be approached in multiple ways, from ultra-scientific machines to mind-altering drugs. But time travel stories also have the potential to explore fundamental questions about our relationship with history, or the extent to which our lives are ruled by fate. Joanna goes in search of time travel stories that attempt to answer these questions, from across the speculative fiction spectrum.

A Fisherman of the Inland Sea |  Doomsday Book
The Man Who Walked Home | Kindred
A Swiftly Tilting Planet | Charlotte Sometimes

Summer 2015: Rachel on Interplanetary Scifi
Of all the sub-genres we’ve enjoyed over the years, perhaps none is more male-dominated than the arena of space stations and interplanetary craft. Having recently enjoyed Fortune’s Pawn and Ancillary Justice, Rachel sets out to uncover lesser-known examples of spacefaring scifi from female authors.

Contract of Defiance | The Galaxy Game
Keep the Stars Running | The Left Hand of Darkness
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet | Twin Bred

Autumn 2015: Joanna on Alternate History
When she’s not reading speculative fiction, Joanna’s next favourite genre is historical fiction, so this autumn she’s going to combine the two! She’ll be choosing examples from a diverse range of historical time periods, and trying to find books which realistically inhabit their historical setting.

Ash: A Secret History | Romanitas
Kushiel’s Dart | The Female Man
Farthing | 80 Days

Autumn 2015: Rachel on Fantasy Romance
Sometimes, you just want to curl up with an indulgent book that you know will cheer you up: romance, with its guaranteed happy ending, is usually a safe bet in that regard. Fantasy worldbuilding can also be a great source of escapism, so Rachel sets out to find crossover books that span these two genres, offering up a selection of romantic fantasy as a bit of an antidote to recent grimdark trends.

A Discovery of Witches | Sorceror to the Crown
Scale Bright | The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Night Circus | Graceling

Winter 2015: Joanna on Myths
This season, Joanna will be focusing on mythology, a subject she’s been obsessed with ever since she was a child, and a sort of companion series to last winter’s fairytale season.

The Song of Achilles | The Salt Roads
The King Must Die | The Gospel of Loki
Redemption in Indigo | Lavinia

Winter 2015: Rachel on Indie Books
One of our goals with Strange Charm has been to highlight new and diverse work that might not otherwise have made its way onto your bookshelves. There are some real gems from indie authors and small publishers, but these can be hard to find, so in this season Rachel will make a deliberate effort to highlight some lesser-known writers.

Miss Landon and Aubranael | Realm of the Goddess
Poison Kiss | The Stars Seem So Far Away
The Second Mango | Rainbird

Spring 2016: Joanna on Musical Magic
Many magical systems are based on words, but the fusion of music and magic is not so common as the stereotype of the chanting wizard might suggest. Joanna highlights some examples of musical magic.

The Chimes | The Black Opera
Sing The Four Quarters | The Sparrow
Masks and Shadows | War for the Oaks

Spring 2016: Rachel on Foodie Magic
As an enthusiastic chef, Rachel has always been a fan of food in literature. In this season, she hunts out a collection of books where magic is inherent in, or expressed through, food and drink. Fantasy may be known for its dreary stews, but there are some more interesting dishes on the menu, if you know where to look for them.

Flesh and Fire | Like Water For Chocolate
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake | The Mistress of Spices
Brownies and Broomsticks | Ghost in the Coffee Machine

Summer 2016: Rachel on Transhumanism
Science fiction offers up a range of possible visions of the future, spanning a near-infinite variety of technological developments and innovations, but Rachel has always been particularly interested in reimaginings of humanity itself. In this season, she’ll take a look at some books that explore transhumanist themes of identity, evolution, and selfhood.

Unstrung | Artificial Absolutes
The Book Of Phoenix | The Girl Who Was Plugged In
Saints Astray | Cyberpunk Malaysia