I suppose I’m behind in all other aspects of my life, so it only makes sense I be behind in my blog posts too…
Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.
31. Book recommendations | Fans of your book might also enjoy…?
If you like the age of sail and/or pirates…
The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb
These books are probably the closest in tone, style and setting to The Mayor— both being fantasy books with an 18th century colonial feel and strong focus on characterisation. The Liveship Traders was of great inspiration to me when I was first conceiving of The Mayor. The premise may sound a bit bonkers — living ships and whatnot — but I promise you, the execution is stunning. These are my favourite books of all time.
I’m also recommending Kingston by Starlight here by Christopher John Farley.
Told from the perspective of Anne Bonny, one of two women — the other being Mary Read — who sailed with the infamous pirate, Captain Jack Rackham, Kingston by Starlight is a beautifully written, if very short book. I read it around the same time as The Liveship Traders and it contributed greatly to the development of The Mayor as a result. How exactly? Well… read both and you might find out!
If you like grimdark…
The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
Tighter, leaner and more tongue-in-cheek than the works of George R.R. Martin (i.e. the poster boy of grimdark), The First Law brilliantly subverts a number of tried and tested fantasy tropes. The trilogy’s greatest strengths lie in its characters however.
Also, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Book 1 in the Gentleman Bastards series — I’ve only read book 1 so can’t comment on the others).
Again, like The Liveship Traders, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is quite similar to The Mayor in terms of its tone, style and setting. The city of Camorr is based on late-medieval Venice, but it is situated within an unnamed fantasy world (not unlike New Hardway, which I ground very firmly in the 18th century). Thus they’re both historically accurate to a point, but just different enough to merit a fantasy label.
If you like a bit of rough and tumble…
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (also known as Cross Stitch here in the UK)
Genre-bending, time-travelling hijinks ensue when 1940s combat nurse Claire Randall accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland and winds up married to an honourable highlander with a glutton for punishment. Packed with steamy sex, fascinating examinations of politics and buckets full of blood, don’t let the sexist marketing fool you; Outlander is about as far from an air-headed historical romance as one could possibly get. It’s well-written, well-researched and the characters are glorious. Expect trauma at the hands of a paperback. This is another one of my favourites.
If you like claustrophobic family dramas…
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Secrets and lies threaten to tear a family apart amidst corruption and greed in 17th century Amsterdam. You can read my review of this wonderful book here.
If you like villains you love to hate…
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
This book was actually recommended to me after someone read a really early draft of The Mayor, and asked me to develop my villain, William Kale, a bit more. The villain in this book — also called William, funnily enough — …oh boy, is he a piece of work! In the words of Follett himself:
Of all the villains I have created, William Hamleigh is the one readers most love to hate. Critics sometimes say that a villain should not be all black, but should have a streak of gray, some redeeming trait, to be realistic. The heck with that, say I, and William proves my point. He’s realistic because he’s driven by believable psychological demons.
~Ken Follett, Notes & Highlights from The Pillars of the Earth
Judging from some of the reactions I’ve received from my readers (see here), I’d like to think the same now applies to William Kale, too!
Villain aside, The Pillars of the Earth is also a ripping good yarn that you’ll absolutely tear through despite its enormous size. Love it.
Diana Gabaldon’s villain Black Jack Randall from the Outlander series (mentioned above) also fulfils this criteria as well, so even more reasons for you to read Outlander!