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Pumpkin Autumn Challenge 2023 - To Be Read

The Pumpkin Autumn Challenge is a yearly challenge set up by Guimause Terrier every autumn. It's mainly about reading, but any type of media is welcome, including video games, movies, TV series, etc. The two goals are to have fun and celebrate autumn.

The PAC, as it's nicknamed, is broken down into several themes and categories. From there, you have to search through your To Be Read / Watched / Played piles and select works that will feed your senses and spark your fancy in the three months of the event. All the details, in French, can be found in the dedicated article, on Guimause's website. I also encourage you to watch her YouTube video to learn more about her inspirations. And without further ado, here's the pile I've set aside, mainly to read, but not only!

a row of books tied with a thin rope, with a ray of sun hitting the backs diagonally while the rest of the image is in darkness.

the same picture as the previous one, even darker, with book covers superimposed.

Shivering Autumn

  • Come float with us : horror / thriller / clown / scare / fantastic / red

This first category was without a doubt the hardest for me to find a title for. I ended up going for the last word of the list and picking a book... with a red cover: The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien, in the French translation by Daniel Lauzon published in 2021. Bonus point: it's the one illustrated by Ted Nasmith.

  • In the hell of backrooms : parallel dimension / cryptic / labyrinth / internet / urban legend / mystery

Surprinsingly enough, I have the perfect book for this prompt, no matter how far it looks from my comfort zone. But here you go, the anthology Les Portes de l’Envers is out at the end of September and it ticks lots of those boxes. Bonus point: my short story "Peindre les abricotiers en fleurs" will be published in this volume! It's the complete opposite of this prompt, though. Not to spoil you, it would better suit either "Automated memory doll at your service!" or "Pomme alors! It's the taste of an almond pie!".

  • Perfectly Splendid : ghost / family / manor / possession / gothic / drama

For this one, I picked one of the few ARCs I received at the end of summer. From time to time I roam NetGalley and ask for the upcoming books that tickle my fancy. In the case of The Manor House Governess, by C.A. Castle, several hints ticked my own boxes: a queer (genderfluid) MC, with an ambience between Jane Eyre and Emily M. Danforth. I wasn't long to click that button!

Autumn & cosyness

  • Something wicked this way comes : Halloween / October / autumn / fun fair / childhood / nightmare

For a prompt that I was looking forward to, I had surprising difficulties picking a title in my TBR, whether physical or digital, in the shades of autumn. But not to worry, the challenge isn't only about books, so I picked a series I'd been very eager to watch ever since hearing about it: Over the Garden Wall. Aimed at both children and adults, the atmosphere is delightfully autumnal and shiver-friendly.

  • Automated memory doll at your service! Epistolary / correspondence / feeling / emotion / love / grief / gratitude / healing

I took advantage of my local library to honour Guimause's inspirations by picking the title that partly inspired the 2023 edition of the PAC: Mémoires de la forêt, by Mickaël Brun-Arnaud. But what is a library if not the biggest TBR pile?

  • The Owl Lady of Boiling Isles : witch / magic / curse / school / initiatory journey / friendship

I was sorely missing Dark Academia so far, so I made things right by picking Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn, for this prompt.

  • The law of equivalent exchange : share a read-along, movie or game

One of the writing groups I belong to is launching a book club, and September's prompt is middle-grade literature. I picked Julia and the Shark, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It's not technically a read-along because every member has picked a different title, but it's still for a bookclub so I guess that's allowed.

Autumn of woodlands and beyond

  • Pomme alors! It's the taste of an almond pie! Animals / memory / intergenerational / tea / gourmet / altruism / tenderness / help / guide

This category is exactly my cup of tea. For reasons of ARC-reading, I did focus on the "memory" prompt and will read The Witch & The City, by Jake Burnett, which is supposed to be about memory loss in a universe that will speak to fans of Susanna Clarke. Of course I requested this ARC.

  • Legend of the black axe: medieval / chivalric / quest / epic / illustrated / fantasy

For this prompt, it's time for me to finally get to the book that had slept in my TBR pile for the longest time: The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss.

  • The hellish melody of the hunting horn : monster / creature / wyvern / expedition / adventure

I had to search for a bit to find which book to read for this, but the nightmarish creatures plaguing one of the two main characters in Emblèmes, by Ina Siel, felt very appropriate, not to mention that it is about an expedition.

  • Rocket Raccoon on the run : mutation / scientific experiment / science-fiction / bounty hunter / gardian / galaxy

I'm delighted to take advantage of this prompt to read my first book by Aliette De Bodard, an author I'd been desperate to discover for a while. I now have in my e-reader an ARC of her upcoming novel: A Fire Born of Exile.

Radiant Autumn

  • We’ll always find a way : cristals / facets / uniqueness / diversity / inclusivity / feel good

Again, a category very close to my heart from which I only kept one prompt for the needs of urgent books to read. I picked The Corset and the Jellyfish, by Nick Bantock, quite an original one as it's made up of a hundred micro-fiction pieces of a hundred words each.

  • The untameable spirit of Jo March : women's rights / independence / ambition / dream / sorority / theater / women authors

Will you have another slice of Dark Academia? For this prompt, I decided to explore the themes of witches and the knowledge about them with The Goddesses of Žítková, by Czech author Kateřina Tučková.

  • Siúil a rúin, Maureen : Ireland / small people / celtic myths and legends / nature writing / green

For this touching prompt (see Guimause's video), I dip my toes in Irish literature with History of the Rain, by Niall Williams, which promises to deal gently with the power of books and literature.

Have you read some of the books mentioned here? Will you join Guimause's challenge and make this season the cosiest possible?

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