Read This Book

A Dark, Twisted, Substantially Satisfying Fairytale

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Kendra Winchester

Contributing Editor

Kendra Winchester is a Contributing Editor for Book Riot where she writes about audiobooks and disability literature. She is also the Founder of Read Appalachia, which celebrates Appalachian literature and writing. Previously, Kendra co-founded and served as Executive Director for Reading Women, a podcast that gained an international following over its six-season run. In her off hours, you can find her writing on her Substack, Winchester Ave, and posting photos of her Corgis on Instagram and Twitter @kdwinchester.

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! Sometimes, these books are brand-new releases that I don’t want you to miss, while others are some of my backlist favorites.

a graphic of the cover of The Book of Love

The Book of Love by Kelly Link

I fell in love with Kelly Link’s writing with her short story collection Get in Trouble, which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. After proving herself the master of the short story, Link is back, but this time with her debut novel.

The Book of Love follows three teenagers — Laura, Daniel, and Mo — who suddenly find themselves in a realm halfway between the living and the dead. Two otherworldly entities who guard the door between life and death decide to play a game with their lives. They will be sent back to the land of the living, but they must compete to see who gets to stay alive and who must return to the land of the dead. The three of them land back in their small town of Lovesend, Massachusetts, with their families having no memory that they’ve died. Now, they possess magic, which they are expected to use to gain the upper hand on one another.

Like her short stories, Link’s novel feels like a dark fairytale, twisted and spectacular. There are mysterious beings, love beyond mortal imagination, and plenty of magical creatures. Though this novel clocks in at over 600 pages, I felt captivated by every page. The characters are so well crafted, complex, and messy. The stakes are high; the likelihood of anyone ending up alive at the end is small.

January LaVoy — who is basically audiobook narrator royalty — performs the audiobook. She captures all of the teenage angst and uncertainty. Her narration evokes the fairytale-like feel of the story, and I found myself engrossed for hours on end. 

The Book of Love is Link at her best, her story full of whimsy and darkness in equal measure. With her novel debut, Link proves a master storyteller, making this a truly magnificent must-read.

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