The Captain's Daughter
Meg Mitchell Moore
This summer novel is set in Maine, in a town Eliza Barnes thought she’d left behind. When her father is injured in an accident, Eliza must return home to a past she’s tried to forget. But her homecoming makes her wonder what things might have been like had she stayed. When is it too late to choose the path not taken? How might have things gone differently if she hadn’t been so eager to leave?
A Curious Beginning
Veronica Speedwell has no interest in marriage or the social niceties expected of a Victorian-era woman. She’s much more interested in her travels and her study of butterflies. But when someone tries to kidnap her, Veronica meets Stoker, a natural historian with an enigmatic past. Together, they must figure out who is interested in Veronica and why. This book—the first in a series—is absolutely charming, with a fiery heroine you won’t soon forget.
The Fifth Petal
Brunonia Barry returns to Salem, Massachusetts, in her third novel about the murders of three young women in 1989. John Rafferty is Salem’s chief of police, and the suspicious death of a teenage boy brings back memories of that strange and unsolved case years ago. The main suspect in the case, a historian named Rose, has rumors of witchcraft swirling around her, but John doesn’t believe she’s guilty. He must confront the ghosts of Salem—both figurative and literal—to find out who is harming the young people of the town, and put an end to it once and for all.
This gorgeous novel reaches across oceans—from Ghana to New York—as it tells the story of one family over the course of eight generations. It starts with two sisters born in different Ghanian villages who don’t know of each other’s existence. One marries an Englishman and lives in luxury, while the other is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The novel follows their descendants as they travel across the world, providing a spectacular sense of place and a moving story that will keep readers riveted and invested in the lives of each character.
The Quality of Silence
If you like an intense atmosphere, The Quality of Silence will be right up your alley. The thriller features Yasmin, who is horrified to discover that her husband, Matt, has gone missing on the Alaskan tundra. Yasmin and the couple’s daughter, Ruby, decide to go after him, but the bleak landscape and loneliness of the Alaskan frontier quickly catch up with them. It’s a chilling narrative that will keep you guessing from page to page.
We all turn to books for different reasons. Sometimes it’s for a great story; other times it’s for riveting characters, raw honesty, or to learn something new about ourselves. And then there are the books for when we just need to escape the world around us. It’s easy to do that with genres such as fantasy and science fiction, but it’s also a feat that can be accomplished by contemporary and historical fiction. Each of the books on this list have a strong sense of place, so much so that it functions as its own character. Genre varies, from historical fiction to mysteries to graphic novels, but the thing they all share is incredible atmosphere and a vivid setting that’s sure to transport you somewhere else entirely.
Featured illustration: Natalie Nelson