Suspended by wires from the ceiling of Beastly Books, a scale model of a Martian war machine from the 1953 movie The War of the Worlds hovers above stacks of shiny hardbacks, their dust jackets bearing dragons, fairies, and demons. In a corner of the shop’s back room, a towering, 10-foot-tall animatronic werewolf nicknamed Morty growls and howls at shoppers browsing Anne Rice novels.

You’re traveling through a bookstore dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind — that of shop owner George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones creator, longtime Santa Fe resident, and onetime screenwriter for the 1980s TV reboot of The Twilight Zone.

In 2019 Martin opened the bright Santa Fe Railyard shop next door to his Jean Cocteau Cinema, where he had previously offered a small selection of science fiction and fantasy books for sale in the lobby and hosted author lectures and signings by pals like Stephen King. The bookselling business outgrew the lobby space, and Beastly Books was born.

Manager Twig Delujé, who proudly identifies as a “total nerd” and resembles a younger version of Martin, curates the store’s roughly 400 in-stock titles, including vintage first editions. (Delujé so resembles Martin that at Santa Fe Comic Con he once cosplayed as his boss, who loaned him his signature cap and suspenders.)

What are the odds a customer will encounter Martin himself manning the cash register? “At the moment, very rare,” Delujé says. “However, George signs all of his books for sale in the shop. Not every fan can afford a first-edition collectible. But they love this author, and it makes them feel good to have an autographed piece, even if it’s a mass market copy. It’s less about collector value and more about making a connection with your heroes, or people you admire and want to be like as a writer.”

Works by New Mexico sci-fi authors like Melinda Snodgrass and Walter Jon Williams also feature prominently at Beastly. “We try to be very communityoriented, whether it’s supporting local writers with in-store appearances, open mics, or writing workshops,” says Delujé. The shop’s monthly event lineup taps into its customers’ fandoms. Friday is Miniatures Painting Night. Saturday Morning Cartoons sessions feature replays of ’80s and ’90s favorites, such as ThunderCats, along with bowls of cereal. In addition to visiting the brick-andmortar store, look for Beastly’s booth at the Santa Fe Literary Festival.

BEASTLY BOOKS I 418 Montezuma Ave. I 505-395-2628 I beastlybooks.com

Santa Fe is home to nearly two dozen independent bookstores and museum shops selling specialty titles.

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Santa Fe New Mexican