Cross-Genre Works: A Reading List


I was thinking about my colleague Maya’s post on comics (an excellent read!) while I was downsizing my bookshelves in preparation for a move, when I came upon my collection of graphic novels and manga. Among them are the Bone comics by Jeff Smith (which I love and am definitely keeping) and I thought it would be fun to talk about them and other works that I consider ‘cross-genre’.

But first, a definition of the term. According to Wikipedia: “A hybrid genre is a literary or film genre that blends themes and elements from two or more different genres. Works in hybrid genres are also referred to as cross-genre, multi-genre, mixed genre, or fusion genre. ” [Emphasis mine.]

Bone is definitely a cross-genre series. If I had to describe it in as few words as possible, I would say it’s the Snoopy comics meets The Lord of the Rings. They’re comical and funny, but set in a fantastical world with a plot that gets increasingly dark and the stakes increasingly higher. There’s a prophecy, dragons, lost princesses, a failing kingdom, a great eldritch evil, corrupting power…and strange little ‘bone’ creatures on the run from the fallout of a financial scam that had them chased out of their city by an angry mob. Hijinks and nonsense abound, as well as quests and heartbreaks.

I love it. It’s an endearing series, equal parts silly and sincere, and the art is wonderfully engaging. I can’t recommend it enough! And if you’re interested in more cross-genre works, check out the list below and just how they defy easy categorization! Please note that all the below are meant either for YA or adult audiences.


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Genres: historical fantasy, magical realism, dark academia, mystery, alternative history

Set in a world where the study of theoretical magic is common, but the practice of it is unheard of, this sweeping narrative follows the exploits of England’s only two practical magicians, the bookish Mr. Norrell and the affable Jonathan Strange, as they struggle to revive the country’s magic in very different ways.

Mr. Norrell is content to publish opaque, opinionated pieces on magic’s uses and misuses, but Strange is fascinated by the legend and lore of the Raven King, the so-called father of English magic. As the two magicians labor together to defeat Napoleon and then separately to pursue their own ends, an elusive faerie known only as the “gentleman with the Thistledown hair” watches and schemes. 

See also: the TV show


Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Genres: Urban fantasy, paranormal mystery, detective fiction

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost.

Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Note: We don’t currently have the first book in the series, though we do have some of the sequels. I’ve put in a purchase request to fill the gaps in our collection, but in the meantime, you can also check out the spinoff comics!


We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

Genres: bildungsroman, magical realism, sports fiction, mystery

After a losing season the year before, members of the 1989 girls field hockey team from the Danvers, MA, high school decide they will do just about anything to win the state championship. As the 1692 witch trials were held in the town, it’s not surprising that these remarkably diverse athletes turns to witchcraft to secure a win, signing their names in “the devil’s book” and tying on pieces of old sweat socks as an emblem of their determination.

Soon they start winning and seem to experience telepathy among themselves. Their research into the witch trials indicates that to keep winning they must perform acts of rebellion and outright destruction. This strategy seems to take them all the way to the state championship. But is it really the devil at work or simply learning to think like a team? Is the devil making them misbehave, or is it simple teenage hormones?


Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Genres: magical realism, supernatural horror, contemporary fiction, mystery-thriller

Twenty-two-year-old Winnie, a mixed-race American woman, signs up to teach English in Saigon in an attempt to connect with the Vietnamese part of her heritage, and essentially dooms herself to failure. Winnie figures out how to placate her students by helping them learn American terms such as “booty call” and “loaded nachos,” and enters a more or less satisfactory romantic relationship with a fellow teacher, but then disappears. At this point, the chapters range widely beyond Winnie’s present-day story to the days, months, and years before and after her disappearance.

These vivid vignettes—horrifying and hilarious by turns—are marvelously written and include nightmarish scenes of immolation, two-headed snakes, and other accounts of disappearing young women, as well as a memorable team of ghost hunters and a soul-swapping dog.


Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genres: urban fantasy, mystery, dark romance, neo-noir detective fiction, vampire fiction

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Here in the city, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay, Domingo is another trash-picking street kid, just hoping to make enough to survive. Then he meets Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers. Domingo is smitten. He clings to her like a barnacle until Atl relents and decides to let him stick around.

But Atl’s problems, Nick and Rodrigo, have come to find her. When they start to raise the body count in the city, it attracts the attention of police officers, local crime bosses, and the vampire community. Atl has to get out before Mexico City is upended, and her with it.


Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur

Genres: speculative fiction, supernatural, sci-fi, horror, magical realism

A collection of short stories translated from their original Korean. This New York Times review by the author of the aforementioned Build Your House Around My Body sums it up well: “Past misdeeds of all kinds—a careless flush, a debt unpaid, the corrupt practices of a company, the torture of an animal, an unfair exchange—resurface and haunt the present in these 10 gripping and prodigiously creepy stories. But there is always an ugly, further cost to settling old scores.

The title story chronicles the domino-effect tragedy caused by an enchanted fetish (the cursed bunny itself) that brings ruin upon all who touch it, set against the backdrop of a modernizing, postwar South Korea where revenge is its very own industry.”1


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Genres: Regency romance, zombie apocalypse

As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.

What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.

See also: the film and graphic novel

Do you like to read cross-genre works, or are you more of a fan of works that meet your expectations from the get-go? (There’s no wrong answer here, I’m just curious). Comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, happy reading!

  1. Kupersmith, Violet. “With Bora Chung as Our Guide, We Walk Ourselves Into the Trap.” Review of Cursed Bunny, by Bora Chung. The New York Times, 04 December 2022, Accessed 15 May 2024. ↩︎

About Sumayyah

Sumayyah is an Information Assistant at the Vaughan Public Libraries. She's also a bookworm and author, constantly dreaming up a multitude of different stories and wrestling with finishing them.  |  Meet the team

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