Books are crucial in Secret of the Shadow Beasts. They provide an essential escape for Nora and the Order of the Hawk whilst they’re on duty, but also during training. Library time is an important part of every day, and Nora often uses this time to read up on her new world and try to learn.
Midway through the book, Cyril takes Nora to a bookshop to try to help her feel better about something horrible that’s just happened. Archie, the bookshop owner, choses books for her fellow knights. In later scenes, the Order of the Hawk talks about their books.
For each of those books, I had an author in mind. I’ll let my characters speak (from page 205) and share what books in this real world might have been these much-needed reads:
“So far, most of the characters in mine have died and turned into zombies, except the heroine, who’s been ripping them apart.” Eve grinned. “It’s fabulous.”
—For Eve’s grimdark fantasy, I was actually thinking about Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, so this is a pretty accurate description!
“Mine’s about Vikings invading a bug-infested town that uses bugs in its defenses. It’s the grossest thing I’ve ever read and I love it.”
—Cyril’s graphic novel would absolutely be written and illustrated by Ben Hatke. I had the humor and heart of his Mighty Jack series in mind when I wrote this description.
“Mine’s sweet and powerful. The protagonist’s trying to run her family’s bakery, and everything’s going wrong.”
—Tove’s gentle romcom starring a trans girl was, in my mind, a variation of Kevin Panetta’s and Savanna Ganucheau’s graphic YA Bloom.
Amar doesn’t talk very much about his book, but it’s all about Brannlandian history by an authority in the subject. Amar likes his history strong, and so Magnus Magnusson’s Scotland: The Story of a Nation is the parallel I had in mind.
I created Nora’s book—The Umbrae: Nature’s Perfect Revenge— to tie into her world, so there’s no real equivalent in ours. But I’m sure you’re see covers like this: pink, sparkly, and over-the-top. Maybe some of those in our world are hiding secrets too.