Booksellers recommend their favourite books set in the UK and Ireland

Pack your book token this summer! We asked booksellers up and down the UK and Ireland to recommend their favourite books set locally, so you can travel the length of the country even if you're staying close to home.


The Essex Serpent

Jo at Red Lion Books, Colchester: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (fiction, adult)

"The Essex Serpent is set during the Victorian period in our hometown of Colchester (and the surrounding villages). The characters travel between Essex and London, frequenting The George and The Red Lion Hotel, both still situated on Colchester High Street – the perfect settings to curl up with Sarah Perry's atmospheric novel."

The Blue Tent

Amy at Book-ish, Wales: The Blue Tent by Richard Gwyn (fiction, adult)

"For a book set in the Black Mountains of South Wales, I'd recommend The Blue Tent by Richard Gwyn. Our protagonist inherits his aunt's house, including some mysterious ancient texts. Then a blue tent appears at the end of the garden – but who are the occupants? Ethereal and dream-like, and just a bit weird – and with beautiful surroundings, of course."

The Dalkey Archive

Rebekah at The Gutter Bookshop, County Dublin: The Dalkey Archive by Flann O'Brien (fiction, adult)

"For us in The Gutter Bookshop, Dalkey, it has to be The Dalkey Archive. A mad scientist and theologian plot to remove the oxygen from the air, and must be stopped – with a little help from the not-dead but now barman James Joyce. It is as brilliantly written as it is absurd, with razor sharp wit and humour."

None So Blind

Niki at Gwisgo Bookworm, Wales: None So Blind: The Teifi Valley Coroner by Alis Hawkins (fiction, adult)

"Set in 1850 in Cardiganshire (now known by it's Welsh name Ceredigion, a few miles south of Aberaeron where our bookshop is) this is a mix of historical fiction and crime thriller with the Rebecca Riots as its background. Once you start reading you won't want to put it down; it is well written, moves with pace and yet gives you a real sense of place and historical detail.

Harry Probert-Lloyd is a young barrister who has returned home from London because he is going blind. Along with his clerk John Davies who acts as his eyes, they are faced with finding out what happened to a young woman who disappeared seven years earlier and whose buried remains are found at the start of the story. For those that enjoy a series there is a sequel, In Two Minds and the eagerly anticipated third book Those Who Know is out soon."


Melanie at DRAKE – The Bookshop, County Durham: Ironopolis by Glen James Brown (fiction, adult)

"This is a fantastic book which is set in Teesside. Set across three generations of working class families living in a soon to be demolished sink estate – each family comes to terms with secrets and memories as they face being relocated to their new lives. If it were set in London it would be a best-seller!"

Last Bus to Everland

Sarah at The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh: Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron (fiction, YA)

"Last Bus to Everland is admittedly not set in Portobello, but it is set in Leith, the part of Edinburgh where I live. As with her previous book Out of the Blue, Sophie Cameron roots the story so specifically in contemporary Edinburgh that it adds extra weight to the more fantastical elements – if I believe in the 22 bus, why wouldn't I believe it might take me to a magical parallel world? This is UK YA at its offbeat, diverse, moving and completely charming best."

The Road to Apple Dumpling Bridge

Sarah at The Book Shop, Hampshire: The Road To Apple Dumpling Bridge by K. L. Knowles (fiction, 11+)

"A magical read – think Watership Down (dare I say it), only better!  Let your imagination run wild as you are gripped by the storyline and get attached to the wonderful woodland creatures and their battle against evil (a clever nod to World War 2). Set in real places you can actually go and visit – on the website you can follow the trail. We are quite fortunate that we have quite a few books set in our local area... but this is undoubtedly our favourite!"

Loved this? Check out 11 books you may have missed during lockdown.

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