In only nine episodes, WandaVision made a huge impact on the television landscape when it came to conversations around representation, grief, trauma, and justice. WandaVision took a unique approach to the ways that reality itself can play a role. Reality figured into story development, a character’s emotional journey, and how much the audience trusts—or doesn’t trust—the story we’re being told. If you’re already missing the reality-warping power Wanda brought to Westview and the pile of feelings she brought with her, here are eight books we recommend to get your fix.
Reverie by Ryan La Sala
Pitched as Inception meets The Magicians, this irreverently queer YA fantasy begins with sixteen-year-old Kane Montgomery. He’s lost his memory following a fire and an accident. And he ends up in a chaotic world of alternate realities, chaos magic, drag queen sorceresses, untrustworthy memories, and immersive world-building. Reverie combines the wonder of newly-discovered magic with the terror of being unable to know whose account of your own life you can trust.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Technically a memoir, Machado’s account of the years she spent in an abusive relationship reads more like a novel than an autobiography. In the Dream House uses the much-maligned second-person point of view to create a haunting, speculative horror of a narrative. The writing is at once terse and laden with meaning. Queerness and race play critical roles too.
The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin
The only thing scarier than a lab-partners-to-lovers romance is one with a side of ethical malpractice. In this contemporary thriller, students and lovers Sylvie and Gabe embark on an experiment with their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, a medical researcher making groundbreaking strides in the field of lucid dreaming. It’s all in service of alleviating PTSD. Six years into their work, Sylvie begins to see the cracks in the experiment. From then on out, it’s a tangled, uncertain fight to figure out what’s real and what isn’t, who she can trust and who she can’t, and even when she’s still dreaming.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
The only sequel on this list (Harrow the Ninth is the second book in the Locked Tomb Trilogy, following Gideon the Ninth), you do need to read Gideon first to know what’s going on in Harrow. But this dark, twisting, gothic space drama is a mind-bending look into just what we’re willing to do to avoid the terror and grief that comes with real, heartbreaking loss. Fans of WandaVision will definitely be able to relate. Harrow the Ninth also takes the award for “best use of shameless meme references.”
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
This award-winning epistolary novella is told from the perspective of two rival agents on either side of the titular time war. Instead of a traditional novel, the story comes through snippets of code, poetry, tea leaves, recovered pottery, and letters. The reality-bending piece of this is less about the literal lack of a clear realistic narrative and more about the puzzle pieces the reader needs to put together to understand the story—and to begin to see the intimacy unfolding between the two time-traveling agents.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Don’t let the short page count of this novella fool you. Piranesi packs a punch despite the slim binding. This strange, unique literary masterpiece tells the story of the titular Piranesi, who lives in a House (intentionally capitalized!), with just one other person: a man called The Other. Also in the House: a labyrinth of halls, rooms full of statues, an imprisoned ocean. The world of Piranesi is mystical and strange and wondrous and terrible like a tidal wave is terrible. It has to be read to be believed.
The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
When newly-divorced Kara moves into her uncle’s house, she goes exploring and finds a mysterious bunker. And in the bunker, she discovers a scrawl of words: pray they are hungry. She soon discovers portals to countless alternate realities. But instead of promising adventure, they seem to be full of creatures that hear thoughts and sense fear. This paranormal horror full of reality-jumping will grab you from page one and keep you guessing to the very end.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
It’s hard to complete any list of reality-bending book recommendations without at least one book by one of the longest-reigning kings of surrealist and speculative fiction. 1Q84 is an epic undertaking, more easily understood as three novels packaged together rather than a single novel. This mystical, vaguely eerie narrative takes place simultaneously in a fictionalized version of 1984 and in an alternate reality that the Aomame, the main character, calls 1Q84. Aomame spends the novel trying to get back to her own reality. And in classic Murakami fashion, we’re never quite sure that she does.