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Real Esoteric Fictions, Part 2

As I stated in Part 1, fiction having to do with esoteric and paranormal things, such as ghosts and UFOs, is not hard to find. Entire genres are obviously dedicated to such: horror, sci-fi, fantasy. However, those aisles are notoriously full of pulp (the wrong kind) and can be hard to navigate, and often disappointing.

I've found much of the best fiction seems to naturally incorporate rather than feature the esoteric. The esoteric thing then, is not used as a simple plot device—a cool prop or in-your-face-gimmick as it is in genre fiction. Instead, more often in serious fiction, it is treated far more thoughtfully, to perhaps reveal character transformation, provide rich symbolism, meaning, etc.

Below is a list of fairly recent great novels and stories that all incorporate esoterica in some form. I've snobbishly (and subjectively, annoyingly, and/or arguably…) put them in a descendant gradient order—from serious to pulp—but in no way are they descending by quality, enjoyment, or recommendation. Clicking on the titles will take you to various reviews and whatnot. The ISBNs are provided for easy reference at Amazon or any bookstore.

At the end is even a bit of poetry, for those who can be tempted with that kind of thing. No rainbows and sunsets in these poetry recommends, guaranteed. In an Amazon.com customer review of of Russell Edson's book of poetry, The Tunnel, I found this perfect description: "They are moments of dreams, newsreels from some surreal purgatory, portraits of impossibility." Lovely.


The Egyptologist, Arthur Phillips, ISBN 0812972597

Gut Symmetries, Jeanette Winterson, 0679777423

The Haunting of L., Howard Norman, 0312421664

The Last Witchfinder, James Morrow, 0060821809

Mariette in Ecstasy, Ron Hansen, 0060981180

Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Luiz Zafon, 0143034901

Pilgrim, Timothy Findley, 0060929375

A Vaudeville of Devils, Robert Girardi, 0385333986

The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Theodore Roszak, 0553576372

Sharp Teeth, Toby Barlow, 0061430226

Dark Matter, Phllip Kerr, 1400049490

The Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears, 1573227951

The Eight, Katherine Neville, 0345366239

The Man who Turned into Himself, David Ambrose, 0312427689

Shadows over Baker Street, Michael Reaves & John Pelan (eds.) 0345452739

Book of Shadows, James Reese 0061031844


The Tormented Mirror, Russell Edson, 0822957639

The World Doesn't End, Charles Simic 0156983508

Worshipful Company of Fletchers, James Tate, 0880014318

A note:

In another article elsewhere, I reviewed three of my favorite books listed above. That article can be found here.

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