The MIROnline team share the books they’ve been reading this month.
"Sarah Hall's short stories are dark and incisive, and to use her own definition of the genre 'powerfully distilling' in their exploration of our relationships with one another and with the natural world. Mrs Fox, winner of the BBC 2013 National Short Story Award and the first in her latest collection, Madame Zero, is exquisitely concise and chilling, and whets the appetite for the stories that follow. " - Stella Klein
"This new story collection is currently short listed for the National Book Award and is out in the UK with Serpent's Tail early next year. It's smart, sexy, dark and hilarious. Machado uses tight and inventive form to explore (among other things) sexuality and the end of the world. Exciting. " - Kate Ellis
"I found myself completely mesmerised by Baldwin’s writing and became immersed in the Bohemian underworld of 1960s New York. His characters are alive and you can smell the cigarette smoke in the jazz clubs they frequent. This is a decadent tale that doesn’t shy away from examining issues of race, sexuality and love." - Louise Hare
"Opening with a violent pub massacre in Northern Ireland, Nick Laird’s novel examines themes of religion, belief and fanaticism. Modern Gods interweaves the stories of two sisters. Alison is getting married but her fiancé has a dark secret. Liz is a New York college professor stuck in a rut until she’s a job presenting a documentary on a new religion in Papua New Guinea. A family drama with bite. " - Louise Hare
"I've been on holiday and these books have been the perfect getaway reads. Starting out as pure fantasy the books move on to deal with bigger issues of authority, gender and acceptance whilst still retaining their magic. The focus of the series is the wizard Ged, but he does not always take a central role. The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu are my particular favourites as their female protagonist refuses to follow the restrictions placed on her by corrupt men of power." - Melanie Jones
"'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey is a beautiful re-telling of the Russian fairytale. Ivey's characters are all likeable but they struggle, both emotionally and physically in the harsh, remote Alaskan landscape. Maternal longing and loss is offset by kindness, compassion and hope. I read it a few years ago, but the magical elements combined with the realism made it unforgettable. " - Elinor Johns