As a longtime fan of Guillermo del Toro’s films with a love of all things mermaid, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by his newest movie, The Shape of Water. But surprised I was, and when I got to see it at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September, I was just as awed and delighted as I have been by his previous work. It’s the kind of movie that invites repeated viewings, and ever after having seen it, I can’t wait to get my ticket for a December screening.
I’m sure I’m not the only movie monster/del Toro fan who’s waiting eagerly for the premiere of the film next month, so here’s a few books that will tide you over (pun very much intended) till you can be at the theatre.
The Devourers by Indra Das
I credit my fellow Book Riot colleagues for bringing this book to my attention last year—it’s right in my wheelhouse, and I might not have heard of it without them. Indra Das’s prose has a deft and nimble handle on South Asian folklore and the monsters cultures have shared with each other through thousands of years.
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
For readers who loved del Toro’s Pacific Rim and aren’t quite sure if The Shape of Water is right for them, this is the perfect title to bridge the gap. Skrutskie brings equal parts humour, scientific analysis, and heart to her debut novel about sea monsters in captivity and a bisexual girl who finds love in an unexpected pirate ship.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Sometimes we want adventure but don’t always know what we’re gonna get till we’re on a rollicking ride. Binti is a novella that packs so much story in less than 200 pages that you immediately want to start it all over again, just to catch all the moments that got Binti to where she is at the end of the tale. I am particularly fascinated by the communities that Binti moves in and cobbles together, and what they bring to her life.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
There’s a certain irreverence to del Toro’s films that I’ve always loved, and a dry, biting humour that isn’t the easiest to explain. F.C. Yee captures a similar spirit in their debut YA novel, with the story of an overachiever forced to reckon with her heritage in a very new, very hilarious manner, while discovering who she can be.
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Love is at the heart of The Shape of Water, brought to life in forms that aren’t always what we’ve been taught to expect or appreciate. Anna-Marie McLemore’s books are some of the most romantic and love-filled stories I’ve had the joy of reading in the last five years, and there is always something new to unpack and take in from each novel. They leave me swimming languidly in an ocean of emotion, and it’s a pretty lovely place to be.