So I just finished reading The Firebird, Susanna Kearsley’s latest novel. This being the second book of hers I’ve read (after The Shadowy Horses), I am finding she is probably being added to my mental list of favorite writers (perhaps I should make an official list on GoodReads…).
I enjoyed The Firebird so much that I read all the back material about the history and her research and even her bio. I read that she’s been compared to Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, and Diana Gabaldon, all of which are on my list already! Well, there ya go. I was only in my early teens when Mary Stewart became part of my favorite-authors list: I read her amazing set about Arthur and Merlin, which begins with The Crystal Cave, and found myself transported. Almost any other book about Arthur has let me down since then. I read probably four of her other books in my teens, whatever I could find in the local library or at used-book stores. Of course, I loved du Maurier’s Rebecca, that being essentially THE classic gothic tale, as I see it. And I’ve now read half of Gabaldon’s very entertaining (but lengthy) Outlander books.
When I was a young reader, I gobbled up everything I could find by Agatha Christie (I collected probably 20 or 25 of her books and read far more from the library) and by the awe-inspiring Madeleine L’Engle. I adored Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence but never found anything else, at the time, that she had written (I’ve since seen more but haven’t tried reading any).
In between, I’ve swallowed whole most of Michael Crichton’s books (they were almost all gripping, more intelligent than many other best-sellers, and based on fascinating science), Amy Tan’s beautiful stories of Chinese mothers and daughters, and a fair number of Orson Scott Card’s novels, mostly the fantasy ones and not the sci-fi (I’m just now getting around to reading Ender’s Game, and at the halfway point, I’m just mildly interested).
Most recently, I’ve become a huge fan of Cassandra Clare (yes, her Shadowhunter books are deliciously entertaining), Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Elizabeth Knox, and Kate Morton (yep, Zafon and Morton both write what I consider to be gothic tales, or close to it). Of course, I think it goes without saying that I loved J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, but I was very disappointed by her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, and I haven’t tried her detective novel written under a pseudonym.
I think what I love most about these authors and their writing is their ability to really take me somewhere far, far away. Most have some elements of magic or something supernatural, or the hint of there being a possibility. There are deep, dark secrets and mysteries, long buried. There are thrills that keep me hooked till the very end. Many are set in other countries besides my own (I love England; the very soil seems to be soaked with layer after layer of story). The writing is beautiful and carefully crafted; the characters are ones I want to know. Ah, to be able to just open a simple book, step into it, and be completely enveloped, surrounded by other places and times!
There are always new books and new writers that impress me. Some I admire; others I adore. Thank you for sharing your gifts.
Reading life Amy Tan authors book reviews books Carlos Ruiz Zafon Cassandra Clare Daphne du Maurier Diana Gabaldon Elizabeth Knox England family JK Rowling Kate Morton love Madeleine L'Engle Mary Stewart Michael Crichton reading Susan Cooper Susanna Kearsley
I’m a copy editor, writer, and book reviewer with three decades of experience. My book review website is RatedReads.com. I’m a mom of four and grandma of three.