Tag Archives: fiction

Some Cozy Fantasy for the Soul

May is peak cottagecore vibes for me: the nascent blooms, the birdsong, the feel of sun on your skin. It’s all very life-affirming after the cold dregs of winter. Cottagecore, like spring, is pleasant. Pretty. Unchallenging. And above all, a fantasy. So what better time of year than May to dip into some cozy fantasy? 

I was first made aware of this niche genre by a friend of mine, a fellow cozy enjoyer, my Stardew Valley compatriot. While discussing our current reads, she turned to me and said, “Okay, don’t judge me, but…” and then described Legends and Lattes to me, essentially a story about an orc running a coffee shop. Far from judging, I thought it sounded lovely. I looked it up and had a chuckle at the novel’s subtitle: “A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes”. Because that’s cozy fantasy in a nutshell. The fantasy doesn’t necessarily need to be high, but the stakes must be low. Sometimes you want to just chill with some elves without it becoming a whole thing. 

Typically, the markings of high fantasy involve (per Masterclass) “a setting very unlike Earth”, “world threatening forces”, and “fantastic creatures, historic or unusual technologies, magical elements, and other unearthly elements”. We’re talking Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Fifth Season territory: maybe based somewhat on the real world (Tolkien and Martin based their continents on Earth’s recognizable geography), but populated with fantastical creatures and shaped by a need to vanquish a world-shattering foe (or foes). Cozy fantasy, on the other hand, can feature the trappings of high fantasy (creatures, magic, etc.) without the hassle of saving the world. Everyone’s definitions of what counts as “cozy” seems to differ slightly, but I like the way Book Riot puts it: “Cozy is an emotive modifier like horror or thriller, where the category informs readers what emotional effect the book builds.” It’s a rejection of the cynical, grimdark facets of some modern fantasy (like the Game of Thrones HBO series) which can sometimes seem dark for dark’s sake. This is fantasy, people! We don’t always have to base it on some pseudo-medieval brutality!  

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Literary Homes You Can Buy! (Or Just Visit) 

Have you ever wanted to live in a house that comes with built-in bragging rights? Maybe you’re an aspiring writer hoping to channel the spirits of your literary predecessors. Or maybe you just love historical homes! If you have a few spare million lying around, you’re eligible to snatch up one of these historic properties with literary merit. Let’s check out a few currently on the market, just for funsies, listed in order of absurd prices (and then we’ll come back down to earth and check out some homes we can simply visit.  

Willa Cather’s Birthplace

Location: Gore, Virginia 

Price: $200,000 USD

Though Willa Cather is mainly known for her Great Plains trilogy (O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia), she was born on this Virginia property in 1873. It was her grandmother’s home, and Cather only lived in it for about a year before her parents relocated to Nebraska. But this old log house still served as inspiration for one of Cather’s novels. Sapphira and the Slave Girl takes place pre-Civil War, on a similar Virginian farm with direct influence from the local mill. The novel, Cather’s last, isn’t one of her best or most well-regarded (one of the more ham-fisted attempts to consider the suffering of enslaved people), but still, historical value! The house is a registered historical landmark but has unfortunately fallen into major disrepair, so whoever purchases it will have to invest thousands more to get it back into shape (seems like the Cather family has set up a GoFundMe).

Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Townhouse 

Location: Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK 

Price: £830,000 ($1.4 million) 

This idyllic little cottage-style townhouse was the home of literary power couple Mary and Percy Shelley until poor health (and the threat of debtor’s prison) had them uproot to Italy. The house’s particular claim to fame is that Frankenstein was published while the couple lived here, as was Percy’s poem “Mont Blanc.” It also played host to many significant visitors! At the time, the row of townhouses formed one large house dating to the 16th century; it was divided into four smaller homes once the duo left. This date means the building is Grade II listed which, as viewers of British property search shows will know, indicates a protected class that prohibits much remodeling. Judging by the photos, though, it looks absolutely cozy and move-in ready! Perhaps not as goth as Shelley fans might like, but surely those white walls can be painted.  

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Help! I’ve finished the Discworld Novels!

The Cover of The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

Okay, okay, that’s only half a cry for help. I am a librarian1, after all; If I can’t find my own reads, how can I help others? Beyond making for a snappy title, though, it really is a call for suggestions. I’ve been working through the 41 Discworld books for… over a year now? I’ve taken breaks and read other things in between. Still, eventually, I dive back in and binge five or six in a row, mainly reading in publication order. As of writing this I haven’t quite finished but I’ve only got a few books left. Snuff, locking up Vimes’ story, Raising Steam, Most Von Lipwig’s final con, and The Shepherd’s Crown putting the main Discworld novels out to pasture. I wish there had been one more Death/Susan book after Thief of Time, but, I said goodbye to them as main characters months ago. As I’ve been reading digitally, I’m also missing out on Eric and The Last Hero, the two illustrated novels that I can’t find in library databases, so there’s still some Rincewind and Cohen the Barbarian stories I could seek out. If all these character names mean nothing to you, read on. If they do, and you miss them, please tell me in the comments what you’ve been reading to fill that hole.

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