Liam’s Top Winter Reads, 2020

Liam Saluski, Sectional Editor

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

“The Secret History” is unlike anything, but also like so much media so many people love. Filled with angst, longing and questions about morality, it’s a literary novel full of ideas, but it’s also a murder mystery, albeit one without a whodunnit element. On the first page, we learn that our narrator, along with his elusive friend group that haunts the redbrick buildings and cobblestone streets of their New England liberal arts college, have killed one of their own. What follows is a descent into guilt, a descent into the deepest corners of the human mind, the beautiful yet harrowing burning of a close-knit group from the inside out. Filled with mystery, possible-romance, and gritty realizations of the nature of human beings, “The Secret History” is the dark academia equivalent of “How to Get Away With Murder.” 

The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

Set in a fantastical medieval Russia, “The Bear and the Nightingale” — the first book in the “Winternight” trilogy — charts the origin of Vasya Petrovna’s birth and her mother’s determination to have a child full of magic, despite it meaning her death in childbirth. Told through multiple perspectives, we see how this child, who does end up inheriting her grandmother’s sight, affects those around her through her relationship with the enchanting yet horrifying fey creatures that reside on her land. But when misfortune comes to her village, and the creatures she has come so close with begin to warn her of a demonic presence, Vasya is willing to defy rules she’s been taught her whole life and make bargains with dark creatures she doesn’t fully understand in order to save those she loves most.

Night Film – Marisha Pessl 

After an infamous filmmaker’s daughter is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan, a disgraced journalist— blacklisted for trying to expose the filmmaker in question — begins a hunt for the truth once he believes there is more to the story than the police-drawn conclusion of a suicide. What begins as an attempt to reclaim a name for himself turns into the uncovering of a secret much darker than he could ever imagine.  

A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab 

When Kell, a professional emissary, part-time smuggler and magician who can move through alternate versions of London, is pick-pocketed by a cross-dressing thief named Lila, two worlds that should not collide invariably do. Kell is looking for the easy route out. Lila is looking for adventure. But somebody else is looking for both Kell and Lila, who, unbeknownst to them, are in possession of something that holds much more power than anybody truly knows — a power for which some would kill.