Shared booklist

BKLYN BookMatch: Dark fantasy, morally ambiguous horror, and complex non-fiction.

For the Harry Potter fan who wants to take things deeper into the dark side. Twisty mystery, fantasy, horror, and books that have a complicated relationship between what it means to be "good" and "bad." Fiction and non-fiction. More darkness than romance.

11 items

A list of things that didn't kill me

by Jason Schmidt. |

"So the rule, since Jason had been in preschool, was never to tell the straights anything. A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me is a funny, disturbing memoir full of brutal insights and unexpected wit that explores the question: How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seem to have one? "

Symphony for the city of the dead

M.T. Anderson. |

Dystopian novels (and M.T. Anderson has written a few) show horror, but that horror falls short of the truth told in this historical account of Leningrad and its artists under the rule of Stalin and under Nazi siege. An incredibly written book, heavily researched but readable, full of unbelievable despair and artistic labor. Non-fiction that reads like the best fiction, but remains firmly grounded and sourced.

Most dangerous

Steve Sheinkin. |

Whistle-blower or war criminal? This sharp and fast paced book about the man behind the theft of the Pentagon Papers leaves the reader to decide.


Alex London. |

Some debts cannot be repaid. Fast-paced dystopian chase, with a fully realized world, diverse, morally ambiguous characters, and a very timely struggle of debt and climate change.

This is where it ends

Marieke Nijkamp. |

Minutes after the principal of Opportunity High School in Alabama finishes her speech welcoming the student body to a new semester, they discover that the auditorium doors will not open and someone starts shooting as four teens, each with a personal reason to fear the shooter, tell the tale from separate perspectives.

Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass

Meg Medina. |

One of the most uncompromising YA books of all time--a painful and dirty look at the true costs of bullying and fear.

Code name Verity

Elizabeth Wein. |

A painful, fast, and brilliant historical thriller--Nazis, spies, female pilots, and friendship above all.

The knife of never letting go

Patrick Ness. |

Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy, of which this is the first, explores the moral ambiguities of colonization, masculinity, guerilla warfare AND totalitarianism, and does it in a heartbreaking slow reveal. No character escapes with a clear conscience, and the storytelling is outstanding.

The magicians

Lev Grossman. |

It's almost a cliché to call Grossman's Magicians series 'Harry Potter for grown-ups,' and in truth, it's so much more. The Magicians is a heartbreaking, irreverent, complicated fantasy of its own, bitter, twisty, and morally ambiguous. While it does feature a magic school, the series' true homage is to Narnia.

Carry on

Rainbow Rowell. |

An insider love letter to Harry Potter and fantasy fans--romantic, funny, and with much more swearing. A different angle on the Chosen One trope.


Rainbow Rowell. |

If you love Simon Snow, don't forget his biggest fan. Solid warm college romance with or without a fanfiction obsession. Possibly a touch on the quiet side for this list, but a good companion to Carry On.