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Six Fantasy Books with Non-US Settings

By Hallie Tibbetts (@hallietibbetts)

I looked at my reading and to-read pile, and realized that I’ve been, of late, seeking out books set outside the US, and for this list, outside western Europe. To narrow things down a little more—and wow, was that hard to do—I decided to look for books that are set in the world as we know it, or some version of the world as we know it. In other words, no made-up worlds, just variations on this one, with some of the magical, mythical, or supernatural. My other challenge: include a variety of books, and hope that I recommended you at least one you haven’t heard of yet.

 

TheThirdEye 1. The Third Eye, Mahtab Narsimhan
The Third Eye kicks off a series wherein Tara, a girl who must flee her village in India, teams up with Yama, the lord of death, to defeat an evil interloper.
 
SignaltoNoise 2. Signal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Meche, Sebastian, and Daniela can combine their skills to bring forth magic from the music they listen to in Mexico in 1988, but the consequences of their actions will haunt them until they meet again in 2009…
 
BookGirl 3. Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime, Mizuki Nomura, trans. Karen McGillicuddy
Book Girl isn’t just a title, or a nickname—this girl is a demon who devours stories, literally. This kicks off the beginning of a long series about high school student Tohko Amano. (By the way, despite the cover styling, this isn’t manga.)
 
ZooCity 4. Zoo City, Lauren Beukes
In this Johannesburg, your bad deeds follow you, in the form of an animal companion. Zinzi’s is a sloth, and it will accompany her as she unravels the mystery of a missing person.
 
SpiritsAbroad 5. Spirits Abroad, Zen Cho
Spirits Abroad is a collection of speculative fiction stories, influenced by tales of Malaysia and set in and out of that country (but I’m counting it here anyway), dealing with concerns of today, and the kinds of concerns—family, friendship, weirdos, pain, alienation—that are without time.
 
TheJumbies 6. The Jumbies, Tracey Baptiste
When a strange witch comes to Corinne’s island off the coast of Haiti, she learns things about the scary Jumbies, who lived there first. Can she save her family and her home?

 
Have some more suggestions? I’d love to hear them!
 

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