Slice of Life / Small Scale Fantasy

Part 1 in a Series of Bingo Challenge Themed Reviews & Suggestion Lists – Full List of Squares and Introduction Available Here.

“The term “slice of life” refers to a storytelling technique that presents a seemingly arbitrary sample of a character’s life, which often lacks a coherent plot, conflict, or ending. The story may have little plot progress and often has no exposition, conflict, or dénouement. A good example of this would be Becky Chambers novel Record of a Spaceborn Few.

HARD MODE: Read something other than Record of a Spaceborn Few.”

– Reddit r/Fantasy

Slice of Life is a sub-genre that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s cozy, friendly, and generally carried on prose and atmosphere – which are my two favorite things! For this square, I’ll be reading Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko. In the meantime, here are a few bite-sized reviews of books I’ve already completed to get you started on your own Bingo Challenge!

I will be updating these lists every once in a while to keep them as current and useful as possible.

Mini Review #1 – The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan (Hard Mode)

Full Review Available Here

Where to start? The Gray House is easily one of my favorite books of all time. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, and surprisingly fun. The titular House defies expectation and description; it’s a subtle force of nature that shapes and molds all who live within. Truly, this this book is a tapestry with thousands of threads interwoven and layered. The prose is both dreamlike and visceral as needed, which is particularly impressive given that it’s a translation from the original Russian.

The cast is colorful and a joy to read. Set in what is ostensibly a boarding house / care facility for disabled youths, every one of our protagonists struggles in some manner. However, this is not a book about disability; each individual is incredibly human and genuine. The different methods of moving around and interacting with the world they must use are presented as being entirely normal, and the frustrations that go along with them are not in the least cliche or patronizing.

Mini Review #2 – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (…Technically Hard Mode?)

Becky Chambers’ novels are utterly filled to the brim with optimism and friendship. That’s not to say the characters don’t face challenges or that there isn’t darkness in her books – rather, it’s inherent in how her characters respond to that darkness by pulling together, supporting one another, and ultimately overcoming.

TLWTASAP (oof, what an acronym!) is about good people who are just trying their best to help one another. It takes a while to trust and open up, but they give it their best shot.

Although this technically fits the Hard Mode requirements, it feels a bit like cheating to use a different book by the same author.

Mini Review #3 – The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Hard Mode)

The Goblin Emperor follows a young half-goblin thrust onto the throne of an elven kingdom. Maia isn’t particularly educated or trained for the task, but he is determine to try. Maia is a sweetheart with good intentions, but more than a bit naive; navigating the courts and customs of the capital is a challenge. Addison has some incredible characterization and prose – the writing has a distinct, yet hard to define, flavor that creates a foreign flavor to it. A slight accent, if you will, that pulls you into the world.

List of Slice of Life Suggestions

(personally read & verified)

  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (not Hard Mode eligible)
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan
  • The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
  • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  • Silently and Very Fast by Cathrynne Valente
  • Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • Chalice by Robin McKinley
  • Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley

(aggregated from other recommendation threads)

  • Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  • Balam, Spring by Travis Riddle
  • Lifelode by Jo Walton
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Mere Wife by Maria Dhavana Dyachenko
  • The Balance Academy series by S.E. Robertson
  • Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell
  • Tainaron: Mail From Another City by Leena Krohn
  • Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin
  • Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
  • Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
  • Primeval and Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Bird of the River by Kate Baker
  • Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
  • Summers at Castle Auburn

/u/tctippens also has a great list of slice of life audio dramas available here.

/u/pseutri has put together a similar list of manga recommendations here.

Please notify me in the comments of any additional books that can be added to this list!

2 thoughts on “Slice of Life / Small Scale Fantasy

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