9 Mind-Bending Books about Parallel Universes
Imagine alternate possible lives with these books about slipping around in time, space, and reality
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Tired of waking up every morning in the same old reality? Do you feel trapped by the physics of your world? Are you interested in hopping to a new world just for a change of pace? Have we got the book list for you. If you’re interested in magic doors, other worlds, time travel, and alternate realities, these books might fill a void in your life—or maybe they’ll open a new wormhole.
A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
Only a select few magicians can travel between the three Londons—Red, Grey, and White—and Kell is one of them. He operates secretly as a smuggler between the worlds, but when he’s robbed by Lila, a thief from Grey London, the two come face-to-face with the dark side of magic. Lila convinces Kell to spirit her away to the other Londons, and a magical adventure between worlds begins.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
January Scaller feels trapped in the mansion of her father’s business partner, a man who collects magical and unusual objects. Until, that is, January’s father disappears and she discovers a mysterious book, and an even more mysterious door that can lead her to other worlds.
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
Tess is a time-traveling rebel bent on destroying a group of time-traveling misogynists who want to strip women of their rights and autonomy. When Tess lands at a punk concert in 1992 California, she meets Beth, a normal girl looking for freedom. As the girls become closer, they must face the threat of war that reaches through their timelines, and defend the past in order to save the future.
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
The Light Brigade is the nickname for shell-shocked soldiers of the war with Mars. But what’s actually happening to these soldiers? When Dietz joins the war and begins to experience lapses in reality—memories that don’t line up with the platoon’s, orders that lead to nothing—the new recruit is forced to wonder what this war is really about.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Red is part of a glittering, technological utopia; Blue is a member of an organic mass-consciousness. When Red finds Blue’s letter at the end of the world, it begins a correspondence that spans time and space, connecting the two through different timelines until the bitter end. While they begin as enemies, Red and Blue slowly realize that when you’re the last two humans on earth, the only people you can depend on are each other.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
In 1931, Harper Curtis finds the key to a strange house with a list of girls names on written on the wall. Harper realizes the house allows him to travel in time, and he must traverse different decades in order to kill all the girls listed on the walls—until one of his potential victims begins hunting him in return.
The Heavens by Sandra Newman
When Ben meets Kate at a party in 2000, he’s immediately drawn to her. But as he gets to know Kate better, he finds out that she’s plagued by dreams in which she lives in Elizabethan England as a nobleman’s mistress. Kate is convinced that these dreams are real, and that her actions in 1593 are affecting the present. As Kate becomes more convinced that her dreams are reality, Ben worries that he’ll lose the woman he loves to a world he doesn’t understand.
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
Nour grew up in Manhattan, but when her father dies of cancer, her mother moves their family back to Syria. After a bomb destroys their new home and nearly kills Nour, her family begins a search for safety that will take Nour through the Middle East and North Africa. During their flight, Nour takes comfort in the story of a fatherless girl from eight hundred years ago who follows the same path. The story follows Nour and Rawiya as they search for new lives hundreds of years apart.
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
When Mary confronts Mr. Fox one afternoon in 1938, he isn’t expecting to see her, mostly because he made her up. Mr. Fox is an author who kills off his heroines, and Mary is an imaginary muse with a challenge: Mr. Fox must stop murdering fictional women. As Mary and Mr. Fox begin rewriting classic fables, the lines begin to blur between creator and creation, author and vision, reality and alternate realities.