We have discovered some truly special books set in beautiful Bohemia. Check out these gorgeous stories and be swept away, but maybe not too swept away - one of these books inspired me to go horse-riding in the mysterious Czech forests...only to then have a crazy demon horse try to buck me off...rodeo style!!
I guarantee you will read these books and find yourself dreaming about the Czech Republic and checking flights to Prague. This is one of my favourite places of all of our travels, and some of my very favourite books.
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1. A Song for Summer, by Eva Ibbottson.
This is one of my favourite books. Ever. I don't think I could genuinely be friends with someone who could read this book and not absolutely love it. I first read this book on a long-haul flight from Australia to the USA. I had a magical and rare experience of reading into the dark night while others slept around me. I was curled up with my blanket, the overhead booklight, and the airhost brought me hot-chocolate. I didn't even notice the time passing, it was the best flight of my life!!
I later got my husband to read it with me (and luckily he loved it...so that means we can still be married), my teens have read it, and it was this book that made me feel all sorts of wonder about the Austrian / Czech Bohemian forests, which then made me want to ride through them on a giant horse... (See THIS crazy blog post for more details).
A Song for Summer is written by one of my very favourite authors - Eva Ibbottson. I knew I was guaranteed to like it because I love everything she has written, but this one truly swept me away. Set in the early 1940's, with Hitler's Reich threatening the European world. The story is a quirky and beautifully written tale of love, courage and sacrifice. I laughed, I cried, and I fell totally in love. The characters are divine, the setting is magical, and you may just find yourself completely lost in Eva's beautiful story.
Recommended age - 14+
Get it on Amazon!
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a trilogy by Laini Taylor.
Ok, my two favourite authors in a row. I make a point to read everything Laini writes. I am always completely in love and totally swept away, her writing is truly special. This story takes place with Prague as the backdrop, it was my first introduction to this part of the world. Before I laid my eyes on the city of 1000 spires, I was taken on an adventure with Angels and Demons and some of the most unique characters I have ever read. If angels and demons aren't your thing, you may still want to consider this book, it is really unique. There are so many surprises and plot twists, and with Laini's amazing writing skill, it makes for the kind of story that will sink deep into your soul.
Recommended age - 15+
Get the first book on Amazon! (Kindle and Audible options available)
Or even better, the whole trillogy!!
2.5 Night of Cake and Puppets, by Laini Taylor.
This is a companion stand-alone novel to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. It tells the story of a quirky girl named Zuzana and her first date with a boy named Mik. She has a fistful of magic and a plan. It's a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter's night before leading him to the treasure: herself!
Even though my husband hadn't read the whole trilogy, we listened to this together while we were in the Czech Republic. The Audible rendition was fantastic!! The Czech accents really added to the feel of the story, we thoroughly enjoyed it. (You might like to check out our recommendations for listening while on the road HERE)
All you need to know if reading this book before Daughter of Smoke and Bone is that Zuzana has a friend named Karou who has disappeared, and that Karou gave her some magical beads called scuppies.
Recommended age - 10+
Get this totally adorable book on Amazon!
3. Puppet Master, by Joanne Owen
I started this book with my daughter and our travel life got so busy that we never actually finished it. But as of now, it has moved to the top of my 'must read' list. I am feeling the need to escape some of 2020. Creepy, magical and fun, Puppet master promises a Gothic adventure in the most wonderful city in Europe - Prague! For a wonderful review, check out THIS article.
Recommended age - 10+
I know there are so many wonderful books inspired by the magical setting of Czech Bohemia, I will add to the list as I get the chance to read them. If you feel inspired and love these books, let me know and comment below. If you know of some great recommendations for tales to sweep me away to the Czech Republic, please please share!
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafta
This weird book was first published in 1915. It is one of Kafka's best-known works, The Metamorphosis tells the story of salesman Gregor Samsa who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect. This was required reading for a writing degree when I was in University in Melbourne Australia in 2000. I hated it, I did not understand the story at all. 16 years later when I travelled to the Czech republic and spent some time with the people, I finally kinda got it. They have a whacky sense of humour, and that is what was going on, it was just so dry that at the time I couldn't tell. If you want to delve into some weird Czech humour, read it and tell me what you think!!
Age - anyone who can get through it.
I dare you...