It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Bookish staff loves a good Jane Austen retelling, which is why we’re so excited about Elle Katharine White’s Heartstone series. This fantasy series reimagines Pride and Prejudice in a world packed with magic, dragons, and adventure. To celebrate the release of the second installment, Dragonshadow, White offers fantasy recommendations to some beloved Austen characters
Challenging the status quo gets much more interesting in a world where the lines between life and death are blurred, where magic is free and dangerous, and where the survival of a crumbling kingdom rests in the hands of a young woman who’s only just begun to accept her powers. Besides being a rollicking good fantasy in its own right, Sabriel also explores the complex relationship between our hero and her beloved but absent father, in which she, much like Lizzy, is forced to deal with the reality of a parent as a flawed and fallible creature. Also, this book has necromancy, fire-zombies, and talking cats.
Fitzwilliam Darcy: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Feisty and delightfully subversive, Prunella Gentleman would give Mr. Darcy’s staid world a much-needed shake-up. Alongside Sorcerer Royal Zacharias Wythe (who bears his own resemblance to everyone’s favorite Master of Pemberley in a few notable ways) Prunella blazes a fiery trail across the page as she challenges the systemic evils of sexism and racism in an alternate Regency England. Oh, and there are dragons. And fairies. And of course, there’s lots and lots of magic.
George Wickham: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Sporting a remarkable, multidimensional jacket of many colors, magician, smuggler, and adopted son of Red London royalty Kell Maresh could teach Wickham a thing or two about staying under the radar—and also how to not be a terrible person, particularly to the man you once considered a brother. Even if Wickham didn’t take the hint, though, Darker Shade is still a tense, well-built adventure with beautifully layered world-building and a brilliant, and occasionally terrifying, cast of characters.
Mr. Bennet: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Doctor Adoulla Makhslood wants nothing more than to retire from demon-hunting, sit quietly in his library, and drink cardamom tea. In other words, he’s Mr. Bennet in a more fantastical line of work. The two gentlemen would certainly find more than a few things in common if they ever happened to meet, but in lieu of that delightful crossover, Mr. Bennet would no doubt enjoy exploring the turbulent vivacity of Dhamsawaat and the adventures of its cantankerous but heroic old guardian.
Mrs. Bennet: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Contrary to Mrs. Bennet’s beliefs, there is such a thing as life after the death of one’s spouse. Paladin is the tale of the middle-aged Dowager Royina Ista piecing her sanity back together after years of trauma and depression, not to mention murderous intrigue, royal and divine conspiracies, and unasked-for sainthood. Not only is the main character outside the usual demographic for epic fantasy, but her journey from a pawn in someone else’s story to a blazingly vivid hero in her own is gorgeously plotted and unputdownable.
Lydia Bennet: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Star-Touched is the story for the romantic in Lydia: lush lands and sumptuous palaces, otherworldly creatures as beautiful as they are dangerous, kingdoms tottering on the knife-edge of war, prophecies of death and promises of blood, horses that talk and trees that grow memories, and a love that spans lifetimes. It’s an epic and richly-told adventure that’s so much more exciting than a trip to Brighton, no matter how many officers are present.
Let’s be honest. He’ll read whatever Lady Catherine tells him to read.
A textbook introvert who likes to throw out the (metaphorical) textbook every once in a while just to see what happens, Elle Katharine White grew up in Buffalo, New York, where she learned valuable life skills such as how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes and how to cheer for the perennial underdog. When she’s not writing, she spends her time drinking tea, loitering in libraries and secondhand bookshops, and dreaming of world travel. Heartstone is her first novel.