Beyond Porch & Portal: Call for Recommendations

Now that I've (finally, finally) picked my big novel project for 2015, I'm getting started on the research. There is going to be a lot of research! It takes place in the same setting as many of my other fantasy stories (the one I call "Menagerie" for lack of a better name), so a lot of the background worldbuilding is done... but it's also set in France (possibly Paris, not entirely settled), and I haven't done much work on France in this setting.

So I want to do a lot of background reading on the topic of France. I also want to do background reading on several other subjects (and I suspect more will pop up as I read). As I search for good places to start I'd be remiss if I didn't hit up my friends, acquaintances, and sworn enemies. So below is a tentative list of topics--if you know of any good resources for any of these, please comment!

  • France (Paris?), history (overviews and detailed studies--especially late 19th/early 20th century), geography, BASICALLY EVERYTHING
  • Greece, history, geography & culture
  • Greek mythology & folklore
  • Turkey, history, geography & culture
  • Various relevant mythologies & folklore
  • Psychopomps in various mythologies
  • History of zoos/menageries

ALSO! I'm looking for similar works of fiction, to get a sense of what has and hasn't been done. It's a fantasy novel, of course. The setting is a magical future Earth after an apocalypse that breaks history, so it has a definite retrofuture feel without actually being alt-history (I'm looking to draw primarily from the first three decades of the twentieth century for inspiration). It takes place largely in France. There are a lot of fairies and, I suspect, some fairytale references. It deals with psychopomptry--that is, escorting souls to the afterlife. I suspect the tone will not be too dark, but then again everything I write has a melancholy edge so we'll see about that.

If any of this reminds you of any stories, let me know in comments, because I'd like to read it!