Five of the Best: Atmosphere

Hi everyone, welcome back to Five of the Best!

The premise is of this ongoing series of blog posts is pretty simple: I pick a theme for the post and then I pick five books that I believe are some of the best at showcasing this theme.

The theme this time is Atmosphere. Now, for me, atmosphere in a book is one of those things that is hard to define. It’s not really just one thing – whether that is prose, characters, setting, etc – but when done right, it just gives a book a certain feel to it. It’s one of those things that really draws you into a book, so while I can’t quite describe it, it is one of my favourite things about a book when done well. Go figure!

So, if you want to hear about some SFF books that have captivating atmospheres that you can get lost in, then read on…

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Atmosphere is always the big thing I talk about with this book. That isn’t to discount the other strengths of this book, but reading this book is like getting lost in a beautiful, fairy-tale landscape. I swear you can feel the bitter Russian winter while reading this, alongside the building tension as the village feels more and more like it is under siege from the dark forces circling it in the deepest depths of the surrounding forest.

The Toy Makers by Robert Dinsdale

Another magical, whimsical tale where Dinsdale’s descriptions of this toy store in early 20th century London are just fantasticly immersive. It really brings the world to life, but not even the literal magic that shelters our central characters can protect them from the ravages of WWI in this book that manages to somehow strike a brilliant balance between child-like wonder and some deeply dark and distressing themes.

Requiem Infernal by Peter Fehevari

I’ve talked about this book quite a bit recently, but it really deserves to be on this list. The tension and creeping sense of horror and wrongness that pervade the atmosphere here is just superb. I feel atmosphere is one the biggest things in a horror book – giving you the sense that something is wrong from the word go, but not giving any details away until you’re captured by the story – and I think Fehevari captures that perfectly here.

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

I ummed and aahed about adding this one to this list. I had mixed feelings about this book in general, but I don’t think I would be being fair if I didn’t give it credit for what it does well. And that is atmosphere. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the vast majority of humanity has died out, leaving nature to overrun the remains of out civilization, this book captures the feeling of loneliness and seclusion beautifully. It is a book where you can count the number of characters on your hands and that’s just fine because the author does a great job of setting up this pervasive sense of isolation in the atmosphere.

The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

An enchanting children’s books. Honestly, Millwood Hargrave wonderfully writes this frosty, magical world and it is just great to get lost in. Similarly, to The Bear & the Nightingale, I swear you can feel the cold in this land of perpetual winter. You’d read this in the height of summer and still want to curl up under a blanket!

So there you have it, my ‘Five of the Best’ for atmosphere! What do you think of my choices? Do you agree? Are there any books that you think I should have included instead? Got any recommendations in this area for me? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great day!


5 thoughts on “Five of the Best: Atmosphere

  1. Pingback: The Mid-Year Freak Out Tag 2021 – Book Reviews | Jack's Bedtime Reading

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