Bad Cree – Jessica Johns

This remarkable debut novel is all about Indigenous women. Mackenzie is a young Cree woman living in Vancouver, but darkness dreams drive her to return to her home on High Prairie, Alberta, in part to confront her unprocessed grief over the death of her older sister. Can spirits visit people in their dreams? Can evil entities feed off the hurt, isolated and grieving? This is both a masterful mystery and horror story that will forever change your appreciation of the phrase “murder of crows”. Highly recommended.

The It Girl – Ruth Ware

A mystery-thriller set in an Oxford college (yay!) Ten years after the murder of her roommate, Hannah begins to suspect that the person convicted of the crime may have been innocent. Was the actual killer one of her Oxford friends? Typical of the amateur sleuth genre, there is rampant suspicion and multiple red herrings. And I can confidently predict that no one will be able to predict the big reveal at the end.

VenCo – Cherie Dimaline

This new book by Ms. Dimaline just gets better and better, moving from YA to adult fiction. Imagine a young Metis woman on a search for a spoon to reassemble a coven of 7 witches. Imagine that a deliciously evil male Benanmanti witch hunter pursues her with deadly intent. This is a subversive feminist story that is exciting and compulsively readable, mixing danger with humour. Highly recommended. By the way, the title is an anagram for coven!

When Women Were Dragons – Kelly Barnhill

This is a brilliant book of speculative fiction. Imagine America in 1955 – more than 640,000 women undergo a Mass Dragoning. Alex is an almost 9-year-old girl who asks the sensible question – why did some women transform into dragons (her aunt) but not others (her mother)? What if the official response is denial? Information is ignored and suppressed – this is the McCarthy era after all. Suffice it to say that these are not Game of Thrones dragons, and many return to their communities, but for what purpose? And finally, libraries and librarians have important roles! Although there is much feminist rage, this is ultimately about women having choices. HIGHLY recommended.

The Woman In The Library – Sulari Gentill

The structure of this mystery/thriller is very intriguing. Hannah is writing a novel about 4 strangers who meet in a reading room in the Boston Public Library, and then hear a scream from a woman is later found murdered. One of the characters is writing about these events, so this is a book about someone writing a book about the same mystery. Is one of the 4 the murderer? A delicious plot with a slow reveal of information – very impressive.

Our Missing Hearts – Celeste Ng

Imagine a dystopian America dominated by the Preserving American Culture and Traditions (PACT) act. Particular negative attention is directed at persons of Asian origin so Bird’s Chinese American mother disappears to protect her son. Now 3 years later, he receives a cryptic message and embarks on a quest to find her in a world of surveillance and suspicion. What is remarkable in this topical story is the importance of words and stories, and libraries and librarians. Highly recommended.

Good Moms On Paper – Edited by Stacy May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee

Twenty essays about motherhood by (obviously) women authors: struggles with work-life balance, feeling fraudulent as both mother and writer, and creative compulsion – powerful themes with insightful thoughts. Essays cover both biological and adoptive parenting, new mothers, and relationships with the essayist’s mother. Heather O’Neill writes “being a single mother working on a novel is like asking a clairvoyant to book a ticket on the Titanic – it’s a bad idea”! Highly recommended.

How To Be Eaten – Marie Adelmann

A very imaginative story: five classic fairy tale characters are imagined as modern New York city women in a trauma support group. For example, Gretel has been abducted and held captive; Ruby has had a traumatic encounter with a wolf. The women shift from being unengaged and judgemental in the group setting to a shared consciousness. A dark, edgy but also wickedly funny story with a great ending.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin

Sam and Sadie first meet at ages 11/12 over a shared love of video games. Ten years later, they are creating video games. This is an insightful relationship book: a profound friendship is often complicated by human frailties. Sadie describes herself as “a dervish of selfishness, resentment and insecurity”, clearly significant barriers to having successful relationships. Creative ambitions, disability, success, and failure are all themes.