Ten Books set outside the US

Top Ten Tues

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week’s topic is: Ten books set outside the US.

The Spooks ApprenticeThe Wardstone Chronicles

One of my favourite series growing up, this series is based in the author’s home county of Lancashire. Quite a lot of the places featured in the series are actual places, albeit the names are changed slightly. You can tell just how much the author loves these places just through his writing, and makes me want to visit them.

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have falled before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins…

Philosopher's StoneHarry Potter

I’m sorry, I just had to include this one. Fun fact time: according to Quidditch Through The Ages, my local professional Quidditch team is the Chudley Cannons!

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

Rivers of LondonRivers of London

This series is set in London (well mostly, Foxglove Summer isn’t). Although I’m not too familiar with London, it’s easy to look up on Google Maps where everything is in relation to each other, and makes me want to visit London to check out these places. This series is just so blatantly British, it’s a pleasure to read. Also, a great diverse book!

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – We do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I’m dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden – and that’s just routine. There’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying. Which, I don’t mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.

The Compleat Ankh MorporkDiscworld

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat one since it’s fantasy, but the locations in this series are based on real world locations. Ankh-Morpork is based on an oldy-worldy London, and is where most of the books that I’ve read are set. I have not yet read any that are set somewhere based on the US.

Greetings, adventurer! We lay before you this most comprehensive gazetteer encompassing all the streets of Ankh-Morpork, as well as information on its principal businesses, hotels, taverns, inns, and places of entertainment and refreshment, enhanced by the all-new and compleat map of our great city state.

Our city has grown well beyond its ancient walls, but the remit of this commission from the honourable Guild of Merchants was to ‘map the city’, the pulsing organ of commerce and culture, the heart as opposed to the body, and this we have done. In spades.

We ask that when you pore over this glorious work you spare some thought for the humble cartographers and surveyors who made journeys into the darker corners of our metropolis – no less dangerous than the wilds of Skund or Bhangbhangduc. To some the only memorial is the map you now possess. Others, in their quest for knowledge, paid the highest price that scholarship demands, which is to say, a day off in lieu.

And so we dedicate this map and these accompanying words to the officers, councilors and members of the Merchants’ Guild and to all who will find in its pages paths yet to tread and places yet to explore within the magnificent wonder that is the city of Ankh-Morpork.

A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic

It was only a matter of time before this one appeared on my list. It’s set in London, four different parallel Londons. The book is awesome. Go read it. Enough said.

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

CinderThe Lunar Chronicles

Set in the future version of Beijing, this is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. As far as I remember, the US is mentioned but the action never actually happens there. Space is also a setting, so that’s a plus, as well as a range of diverse characters.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

The Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora

This is a book that I absolutely fell in love with. It’s set in an alternative Renaissance Venice, a place called Camorr. It’s one of those books that’s definitely worth slogging through the jumpy time frame until you get used to it. This is a book that will tear your heart out – I laughed and cried and stayed up way past my bedtime because I was hooked.

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…

The Screaming StaircaseLockwood & Co

Yes, I know, another book that’s set in London, however this London is infested with ghosts. It features Lucy Carlyle, who is one of my favourite female protagonists ever – and there was no romance! This may be a MG/YA book, but it’s very well written and I’m not going to lie, but I did get scared reading this book!

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy

When I read this book, I did so with trepidation having heard very mixed reviews, as well as someone on Tumblr trying very hard to convince me not to read it. I’m glad I didn’t listen to her. I found it to be a very real account of what England can be like, this social commentary really reflecting on what a lot of people either don’t see or don’t want to see. It was a very fascinating read.

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief

This is a book that I wished had been published when I was learning about World War II in school. I found my education to be a bit biased in regards to this time period – we never learnt about the effects of war in Germany, and this book gave me a glimpse into what it may have been like. Not only that, it’s a beautifully written book with a unique narrator – one of my favourites.

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

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4 thoughts on “Ten Books set outside the US

  1. Mari says:

    There were so many good London books that I had to limit mine! I could have easily done a “Top Ten London-Based Books” what with ADSoM and Harry Potter and the other lovely English setting books. So good!

    Love your list 🙂

    Like

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