Magical realism is a literary genre that blends elements of the fantastical with the mundane, creating a world that is both familiar and extraordinary. It’s a genre that has captivated readers for decades, with its unique blend of magic and realism, and has given rise to some of the most beloved and iconic works of fiction. In this book list, we explore the best works of magical realism, from classic to contemporary, that will transport you to worlds beyond your imagination.
Use this booklist to fulfill a reading challenge prompt in our All-Year Reading Challenge!
Follows the lives of several generations of women in the Marte family after gathering to honor Flor, who can predict the day someone will die, decides to throw herself a huge party as a living wake.
Sarah Addison Allen
Arriving on Mallow Island, right off the coast of South Carolina, to claim her late mother’s apartment, Zoey meets her eccentric and secretive neighbors, including a girl on the run, a lonely chef, a legendary writer and three ghosts, each with their own stories whose endings haven’t been written yet.
When We Were Birds
Ayanna Lloyd Banwo
The introduction of a singularly stunning new voice in fiction, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s When We Were Birds is a mythic love story set in contemporary Trinidad & Tobago about two young outsiders brought together by their connection with the dead.
The Crane Husband
Taking care of her small Midwestern family while her mother, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries, a 15-year-old girl, when her mom brings home a 6-foot-tall crane, must protect them all from this invasive creature whose demands could destroy everything–unless she changes the story.
Seeking respite from her father and husband suffering simultaneous illnesses, a young woman visits the California high desert and encounters a strange, towering cactus with a door in it, in the new novel by the author of Milk Fed.
Black Candle Women
Diane Marie Brown
Follows four generations of the Montrose family, who have been living with a curse that leaves any person they fall in love with dead, stemming back to a Voodoo sorceress in 1950s New Orleans’ French Quarter.
The Water Dancer
A Virginia slave narrowly escapes a drowning death through the intervention of a mysterious force that compels his escape and personal underground war against slavery. By the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me.
Exiled back to Montverre, an ancient and elite academy hidden in the mountains where his fate hangs in the balance, Leo Martin, in the rarified world of learning he once loved, feels a strange connection to the new Magistar as the legendary Midsummer Game approaches.
Told over five centuries through three connected women, this riveting novel follows Kate, in 2019, as she seeks refuge in Weyward Cottage; Altha, in 1619, as she uses her powers to maintain her freedom; and Violet, in 1942, as she searches for the truth about her mother’s death.
As Lu and George Barnes and their daughter Pippa grow apart, tensions outside the family mount as well; women have been disappearing across the country with no worldly explanation, all while California’s wildfire season brings about a surprising reckoning that none of them can avoid.
When every person, all over the globe, receives a small wooden box bearing the same inscription and a single piece of string inside, the world is thrown into a collective frenzy, in this novel told through multiple perspectives that introduces an unforgettable cast of characters.
Sarah Rose Etter
Trapped in a corporate nightmare, Cassie, plagued by a miniature black hole that feeds on her depression and anxiety, ends up unexpectedly pregnant after her CEO demands she cross an illegal threshold and must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are really worth it.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia Of Faeries
A Cambridge professor, scholar and researcher on the study of faeries visits the hardscrabble village of Hransvik where she gets closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones and resists her insufferably handsome academic rival.
The King Of Infinite Space
After his Broadway theater baron father dies mysteriously, Ben Dane, his best friend Horatio and his artist ex-fiance Lia, on one explosive night, are drawn into otherworldly events where the only outcome is death.
The Witch’s Heart
A subversive reimagining of Norse mythology traces the experiences of a banished witch whose unexpected passionate relationship with the trickster Loki produces three remarkable offspring before her family is targeted by wrathful gods.
A Love Story
When her husband Lewis, a few weeks after their wedding, receives a rare diagnosis–his physical body will gradually turn into a great white shark–Wren, struggling with his fate, finds his developing carnivorous nature activating long-repressed memories which forces her to make an impossible choice.
Ten days after receiving a mysterious letter, a defiant 105-year-old South Korean matriarch is thrust into the afterlife where she fights to head off a curse that will otherwise devastate generations to come.
The City We Became
N. K. Jemisin
This first book of an exciting new series by a Hugo Award-winning author takes readers into the dark underbelly of New York City, where a roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars.
The Boy With A Bird In His Chest
Fleeing to Washington to hide in plain sight with his family, Owen Tanner, who has a bird in his chest, feels joy and acceptance, despite living in a constant state of fear, in a community that embraces him for who he is.
Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick–a gloriously entertaining and knife-sharp feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers-putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.
The First Person Singular
Told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator, a new collection by the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award-winning writer explores the boundaries of the mind through subjects ranging from youth and music to baseball and solitude.
The Book Of Form And Emptiness
When he begins hearing voices one year after his father’s death, 13-year-old Benny Oh, seeking refuge in the library, meets a colorful cast of characters, including his very own Book, a talking thing, who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.
A Grandmother Begins The Story
Five generations of Indigenous women from Canada’s Prairie Provinces struggle for healing and meaning through the strength of familial bonds, in the debut fiction novel from the award-winning author of Scratching River.
Giving rise to the great city Bisnaga, a wonder of the world, Pampa Kampana, the vessel for her namesake, the goddess Pampa, who has given her powers beyond her comprehension, attempts, over the centuries, to make good on the task the goddess set for her: women equal agency in a patriarchal world.
An Indian-American serio-comic and magical realist epic love story about the perils of ambition, tracing the mysterious alchemy of its characters’ transformation from high school in an Atlanta suburb through young adulthood in the Bay Area.
Tomb Of Sand
In Northern India, when her grandson brings her a seemingly magical cane to lift her spirits after the death of her husband, 80-year-old Ma, with a new lease on life, embarks on a series of adventures that turn the family’s understanding of themselves upside down.
This Town Sleeps
Dennis E Staples
Engaging in a secret affair with a closeted white man, an Ojibwe from a northern Minnesota reservation navigates small-town discrimination before a ghost leads him to the grave of a basketball star whose murder becomes linked to a local legend.
Summer Light, And Then Comes The Night
Jon Kalman Stefansson
In a village of 400 souls, which becomes a microcosm of the age-old conflict between human desire and destiny, between the limits of reality and imagination, the light of the Icelandic summer makes its inhabitants want to explore the mystery of life.
Sharks In The Time Of Saviors
Kawai Strong Washburn
When a child falls overboard and is returned safely to his mother by a shark, his miraculous rescue is hailed as a sign from ancient Hawaiian gods, complicating his family’s troubles amid a collapsing sugarcane industry.
The Unmaking Of June Farrow
Determined to end the curse that has plagued their family line, June Farrow, after her grandmother’s death reveals clues to her mother’s decades-old disappearance, embarks on a journey that will not only change both the past and the future, but also entangle her heart in an epic star-crossed love.