I like to build each of my book columns around a unifying theme. The problem is, some of my favorite books are in a class by themselves.

There’s nothing else quite like these outliers – unless you count the fact that they’re fantasies and I love them.

‘The Various’ by Steve Augarde

While staying on her uncle’s farm, Midge falls in love with the place. But her enchantment reaches new heights when a magical, winged horse flies out of the forest where five tribes of little people totter on the brink of extinction.

Recognizing that she could help the Various, Pegs draws Midge into their struggle for survival. But it won’t be easy with their divided leadership, a nasty cousin, a spooky witch and a vicious barnyard cat in the mix.

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I interviewed Steve Augarde many years ago, but that isn’t why I have warm feelings toward this book and its sequels. It’s an exciting, thought-provoking, beautiful take on the old tales of little people living at the bottom of the garden.

‘A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking’ by T. Kingfisher

People with magical abilities are disappearing all over the city. Mona, an apprentice baker who can make dough do anything she wants, wakes to the danger only when she finds a dead body in the kitchen.

Mona manages to unmask a conspiracy against the city’s duchess. But it may already be too late. An enemy horde is two days’ march away and only magic can save the city; but the only loyal wizards left are a madwoman who literally rides a dead horse, and Mona.

She bakes her way out of disaster, creating an arsenal of dough-based weaponry that will make your mouth water and bring tears of laughter to your cheeks.

Mona faces one challenge after another, each worse than the last. Her story touches mind and heart with a satisfying heft that avoids too-easy solutions. Look for more titles under the author’s real name, Ursula Vernon.

‘Gobbelino London and a Scourge of Pleasantries’ by Kim M. Watt

A plague of niceness has broken out in Leeds, England, and if it isn’t stopped fast, it will shred the fabric of reality. It’s up to a small private investigator firm to stop it – and the senior partner knows all about shredding fabric, since he’s a cat.

Gobbelino and his pet human Callum live and work in a tiny office, where they’d starve were it not for the nice Mrs. Smith down the hall. But when Mrs. Smith intercepts a magic book the firm was hired to retrieve, she unleashes pure chaos.

Sincerely meaning to make the world a kinder, gentler place, the old lady uses the book – and it uses her – to turn the neighborhood from shabby to posh. But the reality-bending doesn’t stop there. Gobs and Callum are tested to the limit as they fight to retrieve the book amid a storm of pastel rats, penguins, flamingos and dragons.

It’s a furry bundle of fun with a sharp edge of weirdness cutting across the line between sci-fi and fantasy. It has stunning imagery, smart humor and a central relationship blending snarkiness and affection.

‘The Boneshaker’ by Kate Milford

Natalie lives in a strange town called Arcane, Missouri in the early 20th century. Before she realizes how strange it is, a new and even more threatening strangeness comes to town in the form of a traveling medicine show.

Limberleg’s sinister circus peddles patent cures in a carnival-like atmosphere, but something disturbing lies beneath. Aided by a few friends, Natalie tries to learn what makes it tick. But the more she learns, the more uneasy she becomes.

She finds herself in a folktale come to life – one with the devil on one side and something, if possible, even worse on the other.

This is a powerful, terrifying, emotionally rich story, showcasing a girl’s unusual coming of age in a way that will speak to both kids and adults. It builds to an almost unbearable climax with an intense originality that leaves a lasting impression.

Robin Fish is an avid reader who blogs about books and other topics at afortmadeofbooks.blogspot.com. Contact him with questions or suggestions at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com.