Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Character-Driven Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is: Character Freebie!

For this week's character-related freebie, I decided to go with a list of character-driven books that I've enjoyed. For me, there are two different types of character-driven books: there are those that are focused almost solely on the character's personal journey and therefore don't have large plots, and there are those still maintain a big plot, but also have extremely prominent, well-deeloped characters that drive the story very firmly. I'm mixing both of those into this list!

The Queens of Innis LearThe Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

[Review] The Queens of Innis Lear follows three daughters, all of whom have some compelling storylines and development that really made this book stand out to me. That, plus Gratton's gorgeous prose!

About: "The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. 

The king's three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm's only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. 

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimmage by Haruki Murakami, trans. Philip Gabriel

It's safe to say that the majority of Murakami's novels are fairly character-driven, but this one in particular really jumped out to me when I started thinking about character-driven books. This book seemed hit-or-miss among Murakami fans, but I loved its quiet exploration and journey of Tsukuru. 

About: "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the remarkable story of a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Here Haruki Murakami—one of the most revered voices in literature today—gives us a story of love, friend­ship, and heartbreak for the ages."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

To the Bright Edge of the WorldTo the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

[Review] This book has great explorations of the Alaskan wilderness, but it also has great explorations internally within our main characters, Colonel Allen Forrester and Sophie Forrester. I loved this book so much and I think the characters are simply wonderful. 

About: "Set again in the Alaskan landscape that she bought to stunningly vivid life in The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey's second novel is a breathtaking story of discovery and adventure, set at the end of the nineteenth century, and of a marriage tested by a closely held secret. 

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska's hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy. 

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the WorldA Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

[Review] This is an extremely character-focused book, as it largely follows Griz as he travels around trying to find his dog and writing down his thoughts in this book. It's slow-going, but also incredible. 

About: "My name's Griz. My childhood wasn't like yours. I've never had friends, and in my whole life I've not met enough people to play a game of football. 

My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs. 

Then the thief came. 

There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you. 

Because if we aren't loyal to the things we love, what's the point?"

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound 

The NarrowsThe Narrows by Travis Riddle

[Review] I discovered Riddle's work last year with his fantasy Balam, Spring, and he is a master at crafting some really great, compelling characters. In The Narrows, Riddle really dives into the head of the main character, Oliver, and I genuinely loved every page.

About: "Oliver and his friends have returned to their hometown of Shumard, Texas for the funeral of their close friend Noah. They each grapple with the loss in their own ways, trying to understand the strange circumstances of their friend’s unexpected death. 

While visiting the site where the body was found, Oliver stumbles across a chilling discovery that he knows must be related to what happened to Noah. Wanting to protect his friends from these newfound horrors, Oliver takes it upon himself to venture into the grotesque otherworld known as the Narrows to learn what happened to his friend and find a way to bring him back. 

Entering the Narrows is one thing, but will whatever he finds there allow him to leave?"

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Mistress of the Ritz
Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

[Review] Although Mistress of the Ritz is set during WWII and has some important Nazi-related content, it's also an intimate look at Claude and Blanche Auzello and their tumultuous marriage. This book does a fantastic job of diving deep into the inner conflicts and struggle of each of these characters and how it affects their everyday lives, especially in the current high-stress situation at the Ritz.

About: "'Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel's director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests--and each other. 

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi "guests," spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish. More"

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Miranda and CalibanMiranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

This is a heavily character-based book focusing on, you guessed it, Miranda and Caliban! I loved seeing this friendship develop and how Miranda interacted with her father and the environment around her. This is a beautifully written story.

About: "Miranda is a lonely child. For as long as she can remember, she and her father have lived in isolation in the abandoned Moorish palace. There are chickens and goats, and a terrible wailing spirit trapped in a pine tree, but the elusive wild boy who spies on her from the crumbling walls and leaves gifts on their doorstep is the isle’s only other human inhabitant. There are other memories, too: vague, dream-like memories of another time and another place. There are questions that Miranda dare not ask her stern and controlling father, who guards his secrets with zealous care: Who am I? Where did I come from? 

The wild boy Caliban is a lonely child, too; an orphan left to fend for himself at an early age, all language lost to him. When Caliban is summoned and bound into captivity by Miranda’s father as part of a grand experiment, he rages against his confinement; and yet he hungers for kindness and love."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Luminous DeadThe Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

[Review] This book is impossible to put down, and a big part of that is due to the interactions between Gyre and Em and their...rather tumultuous and conflicting relationship.

About: "When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane. 

Instead, she got Em. 

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . . 

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head."

Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound

Wintersong (Wintersong, #1)Wintersong/Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

This a beautifully dark fantasy that turns its focus more and towards the development and inner struggles of its characters and their relationships with one another and it is perfect. 

About Wintersong: "All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They've enraptured her mind and spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesel can't help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away. 

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds--and the mysterious man who rules it--she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed."

The Demon RaceThe Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick

[Review] If anyone knows how to write a deep, dark story that really centers around a characters' inner demons, it's Warwick. I absolutely loved this book and how Warwick developed such a compelling and immersive character and story.

About: "It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom. 

When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness. 

Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart. 

In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay."

Have you read any of these books? What are some character-driven books you love?


  1. Great list! The Narrows sounds really interesting and I think I need to check out A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, too.

    1. Both are awesome, I particularly loved how creative The Narrows was!

  2. Mistress of the Ritz is on my TBR!

  3. These all sounds so good, for sure adding to my TBR!

    Lotte | www.lottelauv.blogspot.co.uk

  4. Great list for the theme! I ahve not read any of these but enjoyed your list. Here is my post -https://paigesofbook.blogspot.com/2019/07/top-ten-tuesdays-favorite-female.html

  5. I haven't read any of these yet, but I'd like to read Wintersong at some point.

  6. So many of these sound good! I especially like the sound of The Luminous Dead- I've seen that one around but for some reason it seems to have slipped under my radar. May have to get that one... :)

    1. Ooh you definitely should check it out if you have a chance, it's fantastic!