Well, now what? All the holiday hullabaloo is over. There's nothing but discarded husks of wrapping paper in your bins, as if all your presents molted overnight, transforming from cocooned critters into festive butterflies of joy. These butterflies flitted around the house for a day, and now—yes, we totally understand—now they're lost some of that luster, some of that shine. 

You're ready for some new books, aren't you? Well, that's a tough request, given that publishing doesn't ship a lot of new titles the week of Christmas, so let's wander around the stacks and talk about some of the titles we might have missed the first time around.

Kira Jane Buxton does smack-talking crows, mythology, and zombies in the Pacific Northwest with a mordant wit and miles of élan. It's good to know that when the apocalypse comes, it'll be the animals that save us. 

And speaking of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle-area resident Cherie Priest hits us with another Southern Gothic tale of creepy bridges, things in the water, and the prices we all pay to leave behind the horrible things we've done. Cherie wastes no time setting the atmosphere with The Toll—even the simple act of gardening is infused with dread. "What nobody ever tells you about gardening is . . . how many things you have to kill if you want to do it right." 

Meanwhile, Alex E. Harrow's debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, is a sumptuous portal fantasy where a young ward discovers that the house she lives in is bigger on the inside than the outside. That's because she has an ability to open doors to other places, including someplace called the City of Nin. And that's when things get really interesting . . .

And speaking of doors you shouldn't open, we'd like to remind you that Japhet Asher's book, The Ghost Keeper's Journal, should be opened at home. Not at the store. Because there's a warning on the cover—"Do Not Open: Ghosts Inside." 

And no, we don't have a pool going as how many times we have to put all the ghosts back in the book before the week is out. We wouldn't do—okay, Colby might. And Hodge and Podge would put some change in the bucket because it makes a funny noise, and then Serra would wonder what the new game was--FINE. It's not an office pool. It's just a bucket of change. Whatever. Move along. 

Anyway, can we talk about S.P.R.U.N.G.? The Society for the Pursuit of the Reputedly Undead, Namely Ghosts. What an acronym. 

Oh, hey. Did we mention that Leigh Bardugo wrote a grown-up book? No? Well, Leigh Bardugo wrote a grown-up book. It's black and it has a snake on it. It's like Harry Potter meets Donna Tartt's The Secret History meets that movie about the kid who sees dead people. 

Meanwhile, Ruta Sepetys is back with The Fountains of Silence. Set in Spain during Franco's dictatorship, The Fountains of Silence tells the story of a young man who comes to Spain to reconnect with his heritage. What he finds is a young woman and a country still struggling to find its way in the aftermath of the Second World War. Things get complicated—as expected when you have mix love and oppressive regimes—and Sepetys takes us on the sort of emotional journey we've come to love about her books. 

And speaking of things we love, let's talk about Gideon the Ninth. And instead of us yammering on like parrots intoxicated by Cheese Whiz, let's let the opening lines of the novel do all the heavy lifting. "In the myriad year of our lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines and she escaped from the house of the Ninth." 

Also, Olga Tokarczuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year, and we've got her novel about astrology, fate, furry animals, and the strange machinations of the Night. It's also got one of the best titles of the year: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Cover is pretty fantastic too. 

Lisa See had a new novel out earlier this year. The Island of Sea Women follows a pair of haenyeo, who are part of a culture of sea divers who provide for their families. As the twentieth century rolls over everything, these two women struggle to keep alive a matriarchal legacy that may soon be lost. Part cultural anthropology, part gripping historical narrative, The Island of Sea Women is an enthralling and heartbreaking novel that preserves a vibrant cultural heritage. 

And finally, let's not forgot Erin Morgenstern's return to fiction with The Starless Sea. It's got libraries! It's got pirates! It's got mysterious literary societies! It's got labyrinths, mazes, and endless halls that bend back on themselves! It's got love! It's got heartbreak! It'll make you miss your train stop! It's filled with keys! It's filled with mystery! It's filled with eclairs!

No, wait. Not the last one. That's just our belly reminding us that a person should eat occasionally. One can't read all the time. Just most of the time.

It's hard not to want to read all the time, isn't it? It has been such a giddy year for fiction, after all.  If you have woken up this morning with the thought that you don't have anything to read, find some slippers and a decent housecoat and come on down. We'll take care of you. 

Overheard At The Store »»

HODGE: I think they all went home, Podge. 

PODGE: I think they did, Hodge. 

HODGE: It might be quiet for a night or two. 

PODGE: It might. 

<SFX: Tap tap tap tap-tap-tap>

HODGE: Except for that. 

PODGE: What is that noise? 

<SFX: Tap . . . tap tap tap . . . tap-tap-tap>

HODGE: It's the hedgehog. He's doing something—

<SFX: Ruuuuummmmmmmmbbbbbbllllllllll>

SERRA: What's that noise? 

HODGE: That's Rollo. He's writing something. 

SERRA: No. THAT noise. 

<SFX: —ummmmmmmmmmmbbbbbbblllllll>

HODGE: Oh, that's the train. 

SERRA: That doesn't sound like the train. 

<SFX: . . . tap . . . tap tap tap>

PODGE: It's gone now. Whatever its was. 

SERRA: I'm a little nervous about that noise. 

<SFX: Tap tap tap tap tap tap>

HODGE: He'll run out of paper eventually. 

SERRA: No, not that noise. The other noise. Honestly, can you not tell the difference? 

HODGE: The difference between what? 

SERRA: The sound of a typer-writer—tap tap tap tap tap—and that other noise. 

HODGE: The sound the train makes? 

SERRA: It's not the train!

<SFX: Rrrrrruummmmmmmmmmbbbbbbllllllll>

SERRA: There is it again!

HODGE: It's the train. It comes by every night. Even on Christmas. 

SERRA: It's not the—

PODGE: Uh, friends.

HODGE: What? 


PODGE: You should come see this. 

SERRA: What is it? 


HODGE: Oh . . . my . . . god . . . 


<SFX: Glass breaking. Books falling. Animals scrambling. And beneath it all is the sound of a thousand penguin feet . . . > 

HODGE: Penguins!

PODGE: Penguins!

<SFX: Rrrrrummmmmmmbbbbllllllllll>

SERRA: Penguins! 


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