What do Mason Cooley’s quote, “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are,” and Stephen King’s quote, “Books are a uniquely portable magic,” have in common? If you combine the two you have the perfect mantra for traveling the world without leaving the comfort of your home.

Anoka County Library offers access to this magical escape –– no passport or luggage necessary. All you need is your library card! The following itinerary is full of fantasy novels that will take you around the globe from Yucatán to Russia to South Africa.

“The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden tells the story of Vasilisa Petronva, the youngest child of a wealthy Russian boyar. She can see, hear, and feel what others cannot. Slowly, the people no longer value the local spirits and guardians and abandon them. As the spirits wither and diminish, the fortunes of their homes hang in the balance. The only hope is Vasilisa, who by now is rumored to be a witch. Aided by the Winter King and Solovey (the nightingale), Vasilisa must battle an ancient evil for the soul of the world. This novel is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik’s works.

In “Poppy War” by R. F. Kuang, the Nikara Empire and the Federation of Mugen have already gone to war twice over poppies. Orphaned peasant Rin aces the placement test and wins a spot at the most prestigious military academy in Nikan. There she discovers that she can wield powers long thought lost to the world. As she grows into her power and communicates with living gods, Rin sees clearly that a third Poppy War is coming—and she may be the only one who can stop it.

In “Gods of Jade and Shadow” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Casiopea is sick of her life in 1920s Yucatán, living and working with her grandfather. Her life drastically changes the day she opens a wooden chest and releases Hun-Kame, the god of death. Now Casiopea and a weakened Hun-Kame must go on a journey across Mexico to recover his scattered remains to fully restore him to his former godhood. Succeed or fail, Casiopea has thrown her lot in with the former god of death, and her future hinges upon their quest.

Lauren Beukes’ “Zoo City” is an urban fantasy novel set in Johannesburg, South Africa. In Zoo City, if you have enough guilt, it will manifest as an animal familiar and a brand-new magical talent. But watch out — if your animal dies so do you. Zinzi’s been “gifted” a sloth and the ability to find lost items. In a desperate attempt to get out of debt, she agrees to find a missing pop star. This job quickly turns out to be more dangerous and difficult than she anticipated.

Twenty-something hacker, known by the handle Alif, finds himself in possession of a rare djinn book that could let him reprogram the entire world in “Alif the Unseen” by G. Willow Wilson. Computer magic blends with fire magic, and suddenly Alif doesn’t know if he should be running to or running from this newly discovered world of the unseen. For one thing, if djinn are real, then should he take the username Vikram the Vampire literally?

Looking for a romantic getaway or heart-pounding adventure rather than a fantasy trip? For personalized reading recommendations, call a librarian or submit a request through our Librarian Recommends form at anokacountylibrary.org.

Sarah Sexton is a Rum River librarian.

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