Amal El-Mohtar

Over the past several months, given the pressures of the world, I've been reading and participating in craft conversations about what constitutes comfort-reading, and the degree to which one can subtract conflict or tension from a story while keeping it engaging and interesting. Becky Chambers' A Psalm for the Wild-Built — beginning a new series called "Monk and Robot" — strikes me as especially relevant to such discussions.

The pandemic began for me on March 19, 2020, when my husband and I arrived back in Ottawa from Glasgow and sank into 14 days of mandatory quarantine. I returned to a mountain of mail, among which was a package from a dear friend with the note: "to keep your mind occupied so your heart can rest." It contained a Switch Lite.

There's a spooky warmth to Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger's debut novel. Set in a version of our contemporary world where everyone knows ghosts, fairies, and vampires are real, Elatsoe, like its namesake protagonist, walks a zig-zagging line between humor and horror, braiding them into each other. Dead dogs make cheerful ghost companions while widows mourn young husbands; vampires propose marriage to fairy princesses while miracle-working doctors keep sinister secrets.

There isn't a word wasted in Nino Cipri's Finna. For a book about travelling through nightmarish labyrinths that cut and twist between worlds, it's remarkably straightforward.

I came to The Starless Sea not having read The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern's fantastically successful 2012 debut. Curiously, though, I felt as if I had, and even as if I'd enjoyed it — likely, on reflection, through a combination of the gorgeously evocative cover and the fact that it was accompanied by a browser game developed by Failbetter Games, creators of Fallen London.

A few years ago I reviewed Iraq + 100, a project which invited its contributors to write stories set 100 years in Iraq's future.

I've long loved a species of historical fiction that takes the past's mainstream beliefs at face value. Often these read as historical fantasy: a world where the sun really revolves around the Earth, for instance, or outer space is actually full of aether.