Underrated Books #4 – Some Books You’ve (Probably) Never Heard of And Should Definitely Read!

Sometimes the best books go unnoticed… so I’m here to fix that! I’m continuing my underrated books series– because I need to share the love for books that simply don’t get the attention they deserve!

Dark Queens– I might consider this an honorary mention, because it did get nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award (and totally deserved to win I might add 😉) YET not many people have read it AND THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE! This is a real-life game of thrones, following the rivalry of two queens in the dark ages. Not only does this tale of the Merovingian dynasty tell of the lost history of women, but it also establishes the origins of French history that many will not remember.

Sword of Kaigen– lots of you may have heard of this book… but not enough! An intricate standalone, set in a fantasy version of Japan, Sword of Kaigen is more than just a war story. The characters leap of the page, with their detailed backstories and heartfelt journeys. In this is an absolute legendary tale, the author makes some bold choices… so it’s safe to say that this does not go the way you might expect. 

Unkindness of Magicians– another one you may have heard of and bypassed, this is a dark fantasy to sit up and pay attention to. With an ingenious magic system and a cast worth rooting for, this is a story that will make you all-a-flutter with excitement. 

The Hive– there’s high drama in this social media-based thriller. Fundamentally following relationships, love and deception, this is definitely a book that will have you rooting for the female leads. It’s a great example of dark sisterhood and what people will do for those they love. I particularly recommend the audiobook for this one, since there’s a great voicey element and multimedia aspects!

The Ivies– subtly satirical, this is an excellent YA thriller about what people would do to get into the college of their choice… turns out it could get a little deadly 😉 There’s a lot to enjoy about this mean-girls-murder-mystery- but most of all I really liked the motive and the fact it doesn’t all end happily. Because these are the parts that felt the most true to life. As much as you want to see different outcomes, most of the time justice isn’t truly served.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry– one of the best YA contemporaries in recent years, this is full of great messages about how it’s okay not to have it all figured out in your teens (because of course it is!!) And I respect that.

Anna K– I appreciate this retelling of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, set in Manhattan, following super wealthy teens. Amazingly, this really worked. Somehow, transposing the story onto a different setting worked super well. There were clever ways of making the original plotlines seem relevant and yet adding a modern twist.

The How and the Why– how has everyone not heard of this book??? This hidden gem is set over two timelines, getting to the heart of a teenage adoption story. In many ways, it’s about finding out where you’ve come from- and (more importantly) it’s about finding out where you’re headed!

Inheritance– here’s one that I don’t talk about much that I discovered thanks to the library. There are many stories of finding out who you are… but none quite like this one! This dramatic memoir is not about discovering a new family- it’s about rediscovering the family you already had.

Fire of Joy– this is described as poetry to read aloud- and for me that baseline thread is what holds this collection together so beautifully. That and Clive James’ beautiful commentary on each of the poems.

The Happiest Man on Earth– it’s usually hard to read a memoir about the holocaust but Eddie Jaku made it easy. This man brings light into a world where you think there is only darkness.

Poison for Breakfast– quirky and a little odd, I still really felt like I got a lot out of this (though I could not quite define what it is). While classed as a kind of adventure, it’s more about trying to tease out the nature of storytelling. And somehow in that, I learnt a lot about writing- so I’ve got to hand it to Snicket! Plus, it’s got a great title.

Elidor– okay this may be a children’s classic, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting enough attention! This anti-Narnia holds a strange mythology and an odd power to resonate with adults and children alike. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in older dark YA.

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these books? Would you like to now? And do you have any underrated recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!


14 thoughts on “Underrated Books #4 – Some Books You’ve (Probably) Never Heard of And Should Definitely Read!

  1. These are some great recommendations. My all time favorite book is 2666 by Roberto Bolano. I’d never met anyone who had read it, and just recently had my first convert (who enjoyed it). It’s lengthy and quite dark, but the writing is poetic and moving.


  2. I was surprised The Dark Queens didn’t seem to have that many reviews on Goodreads, especially since it was nominated for the Awards! It is fantastic, though, and I definitely agree more people should check it out. It’s non-fiction, but reads like fiction!

    And, I have never heard of Elidor, but just placed an ILL request for it!


  3. Ah! The ivies & excuse me while I ugly cry I have indeed heard about! Kinda shocked to see the second one on there, seems like i’ve seen it floating, hence it being on my list to begin with 😮


  4. I loved Sword of Kaigen and definitely agree that Elidor is under rated as it’s such a brilliant book. I need to read Dark Queens as it’s been on my TBR for an age.


  5. The How and the Why is a favorite of mine. Just so well written and an incredible story. I agree that it should be shown more love. I liked Ugly Cry too, and Anna K was an interesting retelling.


  6. I’ve wanted to read Anna K for a while so maybe I’ll treat myself for my bday at the end of the month. Also, the cover of “Unkindness of Magicians” is GORG! Lastly … STOP MAKING ME ADD MORE TO MY READING LIST (but also don’t stop 😍)


  7. I actually haven’t heard of any of them. But might check into The How And The Why as well as Inheritance.
    At this point, since I haven’t really had much chance to read, I don’t have any recommendations for now. But I really hope that might change soon! haha


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