Harry Potter was read by as many adults as children. The simple reason of the appeal is the escape from reality to a world infused with magic. As a reader I love to be transported into a world where animals can talk, love transcends real life, and dreams of the sleeping hours meld into the waking hours. Here are three books which infuse reality with magic, and do it well. They are all worlds you can get lost in, well written, and deeply inventive.
Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley
Rose has had the same dream since she was 7 years old; the same dream about the same boy, in the same magical land. Fast forward to marriage, children, and exhaustion, and you have Rose longing for sleep, to visit the escape of her dreams. Rose visits Hugo in her dreams, they battle giant spiders and try to get to the domed city far away each night, they never succeed, but the journey is the joy. They happily grow up together each night. During the day Rose is stressed, over tired, raising two young boys and nursing a new baby girl. Her husband is a doctor, working for their future and sacrificing their now in the name of ‘when I am done with residency… when we have a larger income… and all the other goals that justify a life of insanity in the moment. So Rose floats through her days, longing for sleep at night. She functions this way until on fateful rainy day her reality and dream worlds collide. I liked this book because it has just the right amount of tension and suspense. The dream worlds captured your imagination and it was completely unlike anything I have read lately. A well done journey from the magical to the real and back, this book stayed with me for a very long time.
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Etta, Otto, Russell and James by Emma Hooper
When Etta decides to walk across Canada to see the ocean with her own eyes, her husband Otto is left to care for himself, no small feat for a man married decades. Etta leaves him the worn recipe cards with instructions on how to cook his favorite meals, and literally walks out of his life. Otto struggles through coaxing cinnamon rolls to rise, and is left bereft without his wife. Their neighbor Russell, a lifetime companion of Etta’s, retains his usual daily practice of waiting for deer pass by their farms. Both men long for their beloved Etta to return and find themselves at a loss of how to deal with the longing and emptiness she has left in their lives. Meanwhile, Etta has become somewhat of a media sensation as small towns begin to notice a peculiar white haired woman walking from town to town. She makes friends with a wolf, James, who follows her as a companion and protector. This book is half magical realism. The other half weaves stories of the characters, their loves, pains, and longings. I loved this book because there were so many layers; it was odd, unpredictable, yet charming. It will tug at your heart. If you like the norm, this is not for you, if you revel in the quaint, different, and quietly wonderful, you will love this read.
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The Night Circus by Gregg Mortenson
Black and white tents appear in fields; they pop up at dusk and wait for night to fall. Revelers come to see tents of contortionists, wander through worlds made of ice, or float through clouds. When the sun rises the spell is broken, and the countdown to nightfall begins again. The Night Circus is beautiful, the world is so richly created you are transported to life in Europe, traveling and living in the black and white of the Circus.
However, there are two players in the background, Celia and Marco, great illusionists. Celia and Marco are matched in childhood, to compete in the game of illusions. The rule is the competitor’s identity must remain a secret. Celia and Marco are drawn to each other with an unescapable magnitude of force. The love story is the sweetest part of this vivid tale. In a world where any illusion can be created, making a forest of love poems is possible. The worlds are so rich in unbelievable detail. The magic feels palpable and close enough to touch. I was enraptured with this created world; you will fall in unrepairable love with this world and its odd characters.
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