As August draws to a close, I look forward to September and the long-awaited start of fall. On top of being the beginning of my favorite season, September promises a lot of great reads, many of which evoke the cozy, chilly, or spooky vibes I crave year-round. While these books may not be available on Prose and Paperbacks right away, I hope some of my list may pique your interest!
1. The Marriage Portrait - Maggie O'Farrell (Sep. 6)
Synopsis: Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo: free to wonder at its treasures, observe its clandestine workings, and to devote herself to her own artistic pursuits. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Moderna and Regio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf.
Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed. Perhaps most mystifying of all is her new husband himself, Alfonso. Is he the playful sophisticate he appeared to be before their wedding, the aesthete happiest in the company of artists and musicians, or the ruthless politician before whom even his formidable sisters seem to tremble?
As Lucrezia sits in constricting finery for a painting intended to preserve her image for centuries to come, one thing becomes worryingly clear. In the court’s eyes, she has one duty: to provide the heir who will shore up the future of the Ferranese dynasty. Until then, for all of her rank and nobility, the new duchess’s future hangs entirely in the balance.
Why I'm Excited: I've really been feeling historical fiction lately and the politics of this story seem super interesting. Maggie O'Farrell is also the author of Hamnet, which is on my list, and the high reviews on this one has promised that it's likely to be another success.
2. We Spread - Iain Reid (Sep. 27)
Synopsis: Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents.”
Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?
Why I'm Excited: Iain Reid has written one of my all-time favorite novels, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, as well as Foe, another fantastic read, so I'm ready to pick up anything he puts out, at this point.
3. Spells for Forgetting - Adrienne Young (Sep. 27)
Synopsis: Emery Blackwood's life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She'd once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother's tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.
August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother's ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from the past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily's death once and for all.
Why I'm Excited: This book has great reviews so far, but what really captures my attention is the atmosphere conveyed about the setting. I feel like it gives off vibes similar to The Wicked Deep, for some reason, and that was a wonderful fall read.
4. The Vicious Circle - Katherine St. John (Sep. 27)
Synopsis: On a river deep in the Mexican jungle stands the colossal villa Xanadu, a wellness center that's home to The Mandala, an ardent spiritual group devoted to self-help guru Paul Bentzen and his enigmatic wife Kali. But when, mysteriously, Paul suddenly dies, his entire estate--including Xanadu--is left to his estranged niece Sveta, a former model living in New York City.
Shocked and confused, Sveta travels to Mexico to pay her respects. At first, Xanadu seems like a secluded paradise with its tumbling gardens, beautiful people, transcendent vibe, and mesmerizing de-facto leader Kali. But soon the mystical façade wears thin, revealing a group of brainwashed members drunk on false promises of an impossible utopia and a disturbing, dangerous belief system--and leader--guiding them.
As the sinister forces surrounding Sveta become apparent, she realizes, too late, she can't escape. Frantic and terrified, she discovers her only hope for survival is to put her confidence in the very person she trusts the least.
Why I'm Excited: I love a good cult book, so this is right up my alley. I'm feeling Midsommer set in Mexico? I don't know, but I'm excited. Reviews promise lots of twists and turns, so sign me up.
5. House of Hunger - Alexis Henderson (Sep. 27)
Synopsis: Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation is all she knows. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a peculiar listing in the newspaper, seeking a bloodmaid.
Though she knows little about the far north--where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service--Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself the newest bloodmaid at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery--and at the center of it all is her.
Countess Lisavet, who presides over this hedonistic court, is loved and feared in equal measure. She takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, and Marion is eager to please her new mistress. But when her fellow bloodmaids begin to go missing in the night, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She'll need to learn the rules of her new home--and fast--or its halls will soon become her grave.
Why I'm Excited: Sue me, but I've never read a vampire book before. No, not even Twilight. I KNOW! This one sounds subversive and different. Plus it's Gothic, which is one of my favorite horror subgenres, so I'm going in with high hopes.
6. Leech - Hiron Ennes (Sep. 27)
Synopsis: In an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The doctor’s replacement has a mystery to solve: discovering how the Institute lost track of one of its many bodies.
For hundreds of years the Interprovincial Medical Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine. The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species from the apocalyptic horrors their ancestors unleashed.
In the frozen north, the Institute's body will discover a competitor for its rung at the top of the evolutionary ladder. A parasite is spreading through the baron's castle, already a dark pit of secrets, lies, violence, and fear. The two will make war on the battlefield of the body. Whichever wins, humanity will lose again.
Why I'm Excited: Science fiction is far from my most read genre, so I'm always excited when a new title catches my eye. I don't know if I'm at the point where I can read pandemic-related plots again, but this one seems tangential enough that I can handle it.
7. One Dark Window - Rachel Gillig (Sep. 27)
Synopsis: Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.
But nothing comes for free, especially magic.
When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.
Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.
Why I'm Excited: More Gothic horror! More Gothic horror! Not only does this seem like a fun mix of horror and fantasy, but The Highwayman was one of my favorite poems/songs growing up, so I can't wait to see it explored as a novel.
Those are my to-buy books for September! It's shaping up to be a wonderful month for new release (especially September 27th - my credit card might be in some trouble that day). What new reads are you looking forward to this month? Let me know!