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Gothic fiction offers mystery and suspense, and thrills and chills without straying wholeheartedly into horror. The LoveReading team have chosen some of their favourite fear-inducing novels, whether they offer a shiver of foreboding or are full-on hide behind the cushion reads. Containing the most intimidating atmosphere and creepy setting, traditional and modern Gothic novels often house vulnerable characters and are visited by the supernatural. Some of our most famous classic novels are classed as Gothic fiction, including Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and Dracula by Bram Stoker.
The most recently written novels on our list sit in a wide range of genres, from thriller and suspense to family drama and relationship. All have that undeniably dark edge that suggests a Gothic influence, a deliciously spine-chilling atmosphere that hooks the reader and haunts the pages.
In her debut Rawblood: “Catriona Ward has created a moving, original tale of love and destruction, one that is truly enthralling and memorable”. This is a ghostly tale, where the house set on Dartmoor, sits centrally and sucks you into the storyline.
Andrew Michael Hurley excels in writing deep, dark and stunning stories. Starve Acre is a novel that will remain in your thoughts: “Folklore gathers in the background, grief preys on the unsuspecting, and a compelling story unfolds”.
Bitter Orange is: “an atmospheric, stormy beauty of a read… Claire Fuller peels open the lives of the characters with exquisite care. Feelings spin and slice across the page, freedom, isolation, and menace all tumbling together in an uncertain dance”.
If you adore the gloriously dark and deeply emotional then step this way, as we really do have some absolute treats of reads waiting for you.
Discover the most deliciously chilling and foreboding contemporary Norwegian folklore-filled tale. When Lexi joins an English family in Norway as their nanny, she discovers the past holds worrying secrets, and an alarming presence haunts the here and now. The prologue beautifully set the tone and it stayed with me as I continued to read. As Lexi narrated her own tale I experienced glimpses of the world in-between. An essence of ancient sits on the edge of awareness and slips into thoughts, into dreams. The descriptions of the wilderness set me down on the forested floor and a wire noose of tension began to close. The Nesting is fabulously modern, yet overflowing with suspense and gothic atmosphere. It is a book to savour and I have fallen in love with this tale, not only is it a Liz Pick of the Month, it also slips into our LoveReading Star Books too.
Wakenhyrst is a glorious darkly gothic feast of a read, and I really had no option other than to choose it as one of my picks of the month. Folklore and superstition are bound up in the Fens, Maud Steame has grown up there, surrounded by gossip, rumours and terrible secrets, will releasing her story set her free? Michelle Paver excels in quietly setting fear loose and disquiet scurrying free. Simply and beautifully descriptive, words leave the page and settle together to gradually create an entire picture. I found myself hooked, then completely snared as Maud’s life unfolds over 60 years revealing the very essence of her being. I feel deeply connected to Maud, and she continues to exist in my thoughts. Wakenhyrst is a fascinating, deeply emotional, and surprisingly beautiful read, I highly recommend stepping inside and setting your feelings free to explore.
A gorgeously eloquent and powerfully expressive novel, ‘The Essex Serpent’ explores an unusual relationship in the 1890’s. This isn't exactly a love story, it is rather, a tale about love, in all its different forms. While Cora and Will form the heart of this novel, every member of the surrounding cast is as important as these two, each fitting into a perfectly formed relationship jigsaw. At times they may not be likeable, they may have their quirks, their differences, yet they are so well formed, it is possible to feel empathy as you question a decision or comment made. The Essex serpent coiled and waiting, exploits fear and mistrust, creating a fascinating setting in which connections flourish and wither. Sarah Perry’s ability to paint a picture with her beautifully chosen words is extraordinary. At times the Victorian setting vanished and the relationships felt very current and modern, while at others the different time period proclaimed the complications and difficulties faced by anyone judged as being different. ‘The Essex Serpent’ isn't a story to be rushed, it should be savoured, and valued, and most of all, enjoyed for the truly beautiful novel it is. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016. Costa judges' comment: “This is the best kind of historical fiction – brimming with ideas and energy.” A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... 'As an editor, there are books to which you become deeply connected. And then there are those books that you become so close to that you almost feel as though they are a part of you. The Essex Serpent, the second novel by Sarah Perry, is one such rare book, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world. It is a sumptuously imagined novel of lives playing out against bigger historical moments, and it is the most unusual and moving love story I have ever read. It confirms Sarah Perry’s place among the finest novelists of her generation.' ~ Hannah Westland, Editor, Serpent's Tail
From the title you might imagine that this novel would be the most conventional of haunted house stories, but a line on page one suggests the true flavour of the chills to come: “Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within…”. That “not sane” is the key. From there we are back to the usual sort of premise. The lonely Eleanor is invited by psychic investigator Dr Montague to join a small group to stay for the summer in the notoriously haunted Hill House. At a loose end and seeking companionship Eleanor joins the small group. Things soon start to go awry. Rustlings and fleeting shapes in the beautiful grounds, sounds where there should be quiet in the ugly rooms Jackson expertly weaves a steadily building sense of dread and darkness around the house. But tellingly Eleanor and the others in the group have brought their own darkness with them. Eleanor’s life was far from happy before she came to Hill House and you can’t run away from your life. The Haunting of Hill House is the most psychological of ghost stories. Jackson knows that we carry our fears inside us and her novel leaves you profoundly unsure of where ghosts really come from. There are few shocks in the book but Jackson’s clever, understated and insidious prose ensures its horrors creep up on you and stay with you long after you finish the book. The book has been filmed but neither version does it justice – this is extraordinary stuff. Fans of Stephen King and Michelle Paver? You have been warned – you are holding darkness within. ~ Simon Spanton
May 2017 Debut of the Month. A beautifully eerie tale, a feast for your eyes, a torment for your mind. The exquisite cover immediately called to me, I found myself bewitched and reaching out to touch it. A house sits at the centre of this tale, a house bought as a means to escape, to reconnect, to exist at one with the surroundings. Michael invites us to listen to a story, and he paints a picture for you to taste, to feel. The descriptions are striking, particularly of the people, filling my eye and mind with their essence. Yet a trickle of unease hovers over the pages, encouraging thoughts to flicker, leaving you teetering on the edge of fear. Billy O’Callaghan writes with a skilfully light touch, this isn’t a terrifying, afraid to sit in the dark tale, it’s more subtle than that, instead it will creep inside minds, slice a little space for itself, and take up residence.‘The Dead House’, with a shiver-inducing final few pages, is a wonderfully mesmerising read, and I loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
A 2012 World Book Night selection.“ Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” is probably one of the most famous first lines from a novel and captures the readers interest immediately. What is Manderley? Why is our narrator dreaming about it? The story is relayed to us by the second Mrs de Winter who is not even given a name throughout the novel, as if to emphasise how insignificant she is compared to her predecessor, Rebecca. This book is haunting, chilling and packed full of intrigue. Who was Rebecca, why did people love her so much, was she good or evil? The narrator is constantly searching for answers to questions that no-one seems to want to answer but the truth that has been hidden for years is about to be revealed. A true classic. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
An atmospheric, stormy beauty of a read which made me positively ache for the characters. As Frances lies on her deathbed she revisits the summer of 1969 when she met Cara and Peter at an abandoned country house, as the summer progresses vulnerabilities are highlighted and tragedy strikes. Claire Fuller peels open the lives of the characters with exquisite care. Feelings spin and slice across the page, freedom, isolation, menace all tumbling together in an uncertain dance. The house is a hugely important part of the tale, creating a setting that alternates between forsaken and decadent. Whenever the story left Lyntons, whether to the village beyond or the Frances of now, I felt an easing of pressure, I was able to relax muscles sitting in tense anticipation. ‘Bitter Orange’ sets a chilling yet poignant stage and allows access to the memories of the past, the emotions are touchable, the ending so perfect it hurt. Featured in Episode 5 of the LoveReading Podcast
Beautifully and deliciously foreboding, this is an eloquent, thrilling treat of a read. Iris and Silas meet as construction begins for the Great Exhibition in 1850, for one it is an experience soon forgotten, for the other the beginning of a dangerous obsession. Members of the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood gather, their ideals and connection to the Arts and Crafts movement fascinating to observe, particularly when compared to the logic and occupation of Silas. The Doll Factory won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018, and it is easy to see why it was immediately snapped up, the storyline while disturbing is enthralling and the descriptive detailing exquisite. Elizabeth MacNeal allows us intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of both Iris and Silas, opening a doorway to the potential and possible future of the story which succeeds in increasing the tension to almost unbearable levels. I felt a duty of care to both parties, wanting to warn, to ease, to prevent harm. As the story gathered me in and opened my eyes, I felt a shiver of chills gathering, forcing goosebumps down my arms. There is a darkness of the gothic variety to be found with The Doll Factory, it is also the most incredibly rewarding read and comes with a highly recommended stamp from me.
So beautifully written, the chills prowl with unexpected menace to climb inside your thoughts, to lurk and provoke. Richard and Juliette’s son Ewan died at the age of 5, Juliette, convinced that her son is still in the house turns to a group of occultists, while Richard searches for the remains of a hangman’s oak tree opposite their home Starve Acre. Andrew Michael Hurley doesn’t waste a single word, each forms a web to create a picture as he captures the essence of a thought or thing. As the story grows, as the oak planted itself in my minds eye, the unsettling force of grief came to settle over everything. I sank into this tale and couldn’t leave, reading from the deep, dark and incredibly soulful first page through to the startling last in one heady afternoon. Folklore gathers in the background, grief preys on the unsuspecting, and a compelling story unfolds. Highly recommended, I have chosen Starve Acre as one of my picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
In an age of gene splicing, stem cell research and Computer Artificial Intelligence, Mary Shelley’s dark gothic tale contains a stark warning message for us all in this modern age. The novel is as much about the struggle that Dr Frankenstein’s creature has with what it means to be human as it does about the creation of life itself. The key takeaway for the reader is just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Set in three time scales this is truly terrific stuff, a lovely, chilling, Gothic tale. In 1635 the “Silent Companions” are purchased. In 1865 they, and a journal, are discovered in a locked room. Some years later a damaged mute woman is encouraged by her doctor while she resides in a lunatic asylum branded a murderer, to write her story. We get all of this in short, punchy chapters which build tension, a spooky atmosphere and fear. The lady of the manor in 1865 is a young, pregnant widow, Elsie, whose husband owned the house. He was preparing it for his new child to arrive when he mysteriously dies. It is her companion, her husband’s cousin Sarah, who finds the “Silent Companions”, strange wooden cut-out figures of a girl, a gypsy boy and an old woman. She is reading the journal of Anne from 1635 whose mute daughter, Hetta, resembles one of the wooden figures. Sarah believes Hetta’s spirit is within the strange piece of art just looking for someone to love her. Elsie believes otherwise. Another “Silent Companion” appears and “someone” stops Sarah reading the second volume of Anne’s journal. Why …. No more spoilers, just read this haunting, compulsive and genuinely spine chilling novel, full of the unexpected. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
One of our Books of the Year 2016. July 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month. Pencraw Hall, Cornwall, is a beautiful old house, the holiday retreat for the well-off Alton family of four children, twins and then a couple much younger, a hard-working father and a young, gregarious American mother, very liberal. Wonderful times are had at Pencraw in the late 60s. It is nicknamed Black Rabbit Hall due to the silhouette of numerous rabbits which actually lead to the tragedy that shatters the family. We follow them and in alternating sections, Lorna, thirty years later who is looking for a wedding venue and is inexplicably drawn to the now decaying house and its mysterious occupants. This is straight down the line pure country house, classic mystery, wonderful stuff. Suspenseful, haunting, startling and full of the unexpected. It’s a family drama, beautifully written and highly recommended. You’ve got to read it.
November 2012 Guest Editor Kate Mosse on Wuthering Heights... Powerful and elegiac, a novel of drama, passion and compelling characterisation. Most exceptional of all, though, the brilliance of Bronte’s descriptions of landscape and light on the Yorkshire Moors has had a major influence on my writing about southwest France. One of Clare Balding's favourite books. Chosen by the public through a survey to coincide with the 10th birthday celebrations of World Book Day 2007, this title is one of ‘the ten books the nation can’t live without’. Have you read them all? Below are links to each title and position on the list. 1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen 2. The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien 3. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë 4. Harry Potter JK Rowling 5. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee 6. The Bible 7. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë 8. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell 9. His Dark Materials Philip Pullman10. Great Expectations Charles Dickens Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Reviewed on Richard & Judy on 9th August 2006. This is very special, a history mystery-cum-love story that delves into the vampire myth. Ranging across continents and ages, incidents and emotions, it catches you by surprise and leaves you breathless. If you are prepared to accept one or two unusual facts, then it all becomes frighteningly feasible. Well written and sumptuous, it is a perfect gem. You’ve got to read it as it is one of the best books of the month. Comparison: Lev Grossman, Adrian Mathew. Similar this month: None but try Michael Cordy or John Connolly.
A siren-like read, the storyline simply swallowed me whole, it created such tension I could not stop reading! Mac a retired history lecturer who specialises in folklore and oral tradition hires Lucie who is running away from her life, as her Girl-Friday. As the story reveals itself, so does a threatening and deadly presence. The sense of foreboding sent shivers down my arms. While this is a very modern story, it has the feel of a twisted ghostly fairytale as a deep dark power weaves through the pages. Both Mac and Lucie tell their own tales, while another story ensures the past shimmers ever closer, before crashing into the present. I also adored Sandra Ireland’s debut ‘Beneath the Skin’, her writing has the ability to seduce, while creating a slicing piercing energy. I feel as though I was fated to read ‘Bone Deep’, that our paths were meant to cross, it is a chilling, yet absolute treasure of a book - highly recommended.
What a fabulous novel this is, chills raced in competition down my arms, fighting off the goosebumps on their way. It is also beautifully readable, and with Emily Bronte making an appearance, what more could you ask for! After a tragedy strikes at the heart of their family, Trudy Heaton and her son Will return to Ponden Hall. The Heaton’s have lived there since 1540. The Hall is full of memories, and as the past reaches a ghostly hand towards the present, Trudy attempts to balance hope and love for the sake of her son. I love Rowan Coleman’s writing, she always makes me look in a slightly different way at things, expanding my thoughts and feelings. In a few pages, The Girl at the Window captured my attention and harnessed my energy. This is a book I read in one day while on holiday, I just fell into and became at one with the story. The eloquently descriptive writing completes a whole vivid, striking picture, both in the past and the present. There are several strands on offer in The Girl at the Window, each harmoniously linking into one overall glorious tale and I just had to choose this book as one of my picks of the month.
A thrilling, chilling, shocking tale, perfect if you take delight in an icy shiver scuttling down your spine. A couple leaves their life behind them to join a commune in a former psychiatric hospital, events soon start to spin terrifyingly out of control. The prologue pounced on my imagination, I was immediately hooked and remained so until the very last page was turned. Several different characters take their turn in the spotlight in the present day, while a journal from the past casts a further shadow over proceedings. S.J.I Holliday weaves the different strands of the story together beautifully, each settling over the other while twisting thoughts and feelings. As I read my reasoning teetered one way and then the other. A supernatural presence heightens the tension further and my mind and heart fairly skittered in anticipation at what was to come. The Lingering is an exquisitely eerie tale, and I loved every single word of it.
March 2011 Guest Editor Robert Goddard on The Woman in White... There’s just such a lot to enjoy and admire in this ground-breaking work of mystery and suspense. It was one of my inspirations for trying my hand at novel-writing in the first place. When The Woman in White was published in 1860, it was an instant success. No-one else had ever dared to cram quite so much intrigue into a plot, not least because it’s an extremely difficult thing to do. But Collins brushes the difficulty aside, throws in memorable characters and carries the whole thing off with the aplomb of the master he was. Genius! __________________________________________ Turn mobile detective with the hidden object puzzler. Developed by Freeze Tag Inc. Woman in White has been adapted from Wilkie Collins’ 19th century novel and is available to download now from the App Store, priced £0.69 for iPhone®/iPod® touch and £1.99 for iPad® HD. Just click the button below. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
May 2011 Book of the Month. From the international bestselling author of The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden comes a brand new tale of love, mystery, betrayal and dark secrets ... This is skillful writing as the reader is quickly drawn into the relationship between a grown-up daughter and her mother in the 1990s. But it has to be said that, as the mother's experiences as a 13 year old evacuated from London to a castle in Kent are revealed, you have to be prepared to go with the story to believe the sinister three sisters who still live there fifty years later.Occasionally you have to remind yourself this is Kent not Transylvania but, once you have made this stretch, you will be entranced by this clearly written and involving story. Sorry, we can't resist an easy pun - this book, by the author of The House at Riverton, is rivettin'.
October 2013 Book of the Month. Author of the impressive The Thirteenth Tale with another powerful historical novel with a strange twist and a certain amount of mythology about rooks! Set in Victorian England, it concerns the life of William Bellman who appears to sell his soul to Mephistopheles (Mr Black) and becomes obsessed with opening a massive mourning emporium in London; everything for funerals to suit every pocket. Gripping, strange, different and atmospheric, it is just right for Hallowe’en. The Lovereading view... The long-awaited new book from the author of The Thirteenth Tale is a macabre haunting Victorian story of love, loss and the mystery of death. A young boy by cruelly kills a rook with his catapult that sets off a tragic chain of events and a meeting in a graveyard with a mysterious stranger dressed in black. A mysterious, dark read that will leave a lasting impression. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Bellman & Black a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'If you want a creepy story, that will haunt you, one perfect, for a cold winters night, then let Dianne Setterfield's book, do it, Take a ride, on the back of a rook, into the world of Bellman & Black..' - Angela Rhodes. Scroll down to read more reviews.
June 2012 Guest Editor Joanne Harris on Gormenghast... Dense, ominous, strange and compelling, Peake’s masterwork defies categorization, and continues to offer new insights and perspectives at every re-reading. The story of a community steeped in ritual, living out of time, it chronicles the birth and coming of age of Titus, Earl of Gormenghast, his struggle for identity in a world of traditions that have long since become meaningless, his fight against his destiny and his eventual confrontation with his arch-rival and nemesis, the twisted, ambitious Steerpike. Books in The Gormenghast Trilogy: 1. Titus Groan 2. Gormenghast 3. Titus Alone Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
This is an absolute belter of a novel. Awaiting you is a stunning, murderous mix of Eastern European folklore and a serial killer, set during 1935 in rural Czechoslovakia. Psychiatrist Dr Viktor Kosarek takes up a position in Hrad Orlu Asylum for the criminally insane to study the ‘Devil’s Six’, while in Prague, a serial killer is announced. The page and a half prologue sets the novel up brilliantly, the last sentence, so starkly delivered, chilled me to the bone. My mind entered the most vividly real locations, I slipped through the streets of Prague and flinched as I entered the Castle. Craig Russell crosses several genres and balances a number of themes seamlessly, which I just adored. My thoughts pushed and pulled at my emotions as they balanced together on a cliff edge. The Devil Aspect, is a dark, haunting whopper of a story and it set my imagination on fire. So good, it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and just had to be one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows...
Enthralling, chilling, challenging, and wonderfully readable, this story winds itself around a moment in history. In 1942 a fire started at Seacliff, classed as a lunatic asylum in New Zealand, and all but two of the patients in a female ward perished. C. D. Major uses the fire as a focus and begins the tale there. Edith was five years old when she arrived at the asylum, after the fire she is questioned and a new doctor begins to doubt the reasons for her being shut away from the outside world. Covering the years between 1927 and the 1940’s I found myself either fully immersed in ‘now’ or consumed by ‘before’. The plot itself twists, schemes, provokes, and ensures that this novel can’t be pigeon-holed by genre. The asylum sits brooding, biding its time, while the occupants become entangled and caught in the treatment and rules. Tension sweeps through the tale, and I found myself searching, questioning, hoping. Edith is a fascinating character, she is written with compassion and evoked so many emotions. The powerful ending made me exclaim, it truly spoke to me and has stayed in my thoughts. The author’s debut The Silent Hours was another emotional and impressive read and also comes as highly recommended. I have chosen The Other Girl as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month, it has a haunting quality that ensures a compelling read.
A wonderful and fascinating insight into hidden happenings at Wuthering Heights, from the perspective of Nelly Dean. Focusing on Nelly, a tantalising new world is opened up for the reader, one that joyfully holds hands with ‘Wuthering Heights’ yet remains a distinctive and beautiful read in its own right. Alison Case has gently and sensitively linked these two novels with a velvet ribbon of empathy and consideration. This story creeps into the background detail; the daily working of life in service and the moors and surroundings are all bought vibrantly to life. Hidden depths are revealed, heartrending secrets are spoken and a new panorama of understanding is offered for discovery. Whether or not you have devoured and loved ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Nelly Dean’ is a clever, enticing and stimulating must read. ~ Liz Robinson One of our Books of the Year 2015.
March 2018 Book of the Month I am William Lee: brute; liar, and graveside thief. But you will know me by another name. A fiery, emphatic and intense glimpse into the missing years of Heathcliff. Leaving Wuthering Heights and naming himself William Lee, Heathcliff travels through the north of England, revenge forming on his mind. If you haven’t read ‘Wuthering Heights’ there is no need to look away, this could be the entrance to that fascinating world. I do feel you need to be aware that obscenities crop up, in fact sometimes litter the pages, and while this may put people off, I would advise looking beyond the surface to what lies beneath. The book opens with anger and deep rooted pain, William’s thoughts flare into being, the searing honesty and heat almost made me flinch. Michael Stewart allows William’s innermost being to spill onto the pages, William is so matter of fact about pain and suffering, about the world around him, the stark reality of the times seared their way onto my soul. And then there are the descriptions, the beautiful, eloquent descriptions of the countryside, the rural life, the old words. While rage, hurt and confusion swirl in a maelstrom of emotion, tenderness, love, and compassion lie waiting, biding their time. Yes ‘Ill Will’ is provocative, it is a disturbing, striking read, yet also strangely beautiful, and personally, I loved it.
Dracula. Who doesn’t know the name and story of our favourite Count? This is a masterpiece of the horror genre and a book everyone should read. One of the first vampire stories, Bram Stoker here sets the ground rules of what vampires should be. The gripping story opens with Jonathan Harker visiting Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, and making horrifying discoveries in his client's castle. His diary entries are increasingly filled with dread and fear as we accompany him in his hell. The novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of people led by Van Helsing. A highly recommended gothic classic. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
A very special book indeed, magical in all its senses, which won the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award for best book. Slow to get into and long, it is written in the style of the period in which it is set, Regency, which I felt added to its charm. It’s about magicians, different strands of magic, highly imaginative with many layers and intricate sub-plots and, despite the dusty language, is totally compelling. A highly intelligent alternative history which I urge you to read and become totally hooked. ~ Sarah Broadhurst The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Well, this is one seriously addictive and fabulous read. Now that I have finished I feel bereft, exhilarated, and have one humdinger of a book hangover. Set in London, it is 1863 and private detective Bridie Devine is on the case of a stolen child. The prologue hooked me as surely as a fish on a line, I gaped, wondered, and leaned in for more. Descriptions opened with vivid intensity in my mind, creating the most glorious views. There is something about Jess Kidd’s writing that speaks directly to my soul, she knows how to lull, tickle, burn. She created a stinging tension, on a number of occasions leaving me hanging while popping into the past. I have to say that Bridie Devine is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve come across. She has taken up a somewhat boisterous lodging in my mind and she’s more than welcome! Information swirled around, making my thoughts whirl, adding to the torrent that I knew was surely coming. And oh, that ending! Things in Jars is a Victorian detective story with a difference, it crosses genres and set light to my imagination. It has been added to my list of favourite books. Bridie Devine to my list of favourite detectives. Jess Kidd has been confirmed on my list of favourite authors. Things in Jars is LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Robinson Pick of the Month… Need I say more? Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
So incredibly entertaining, this is a novel I can read again and again. Discover adventure, betrayal, revenge and love between the pages of a drama filled belter of a read. Yes, I love this book, and it is one of my favourite classic reads. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
October 2014 Guest Editor Cecelia Ahern on The Night Circus... A circus arrives without warning, no announcements preceed it. It opens at nightfall closes at dawn. I felt like I went on an epic and wild adventure when I read this book. It was so full of magic and love, it was unique and thrilling and so incredibly imaginative. It is a wow of a book. The Lovereading view... Longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. Shortlisted for the Galaxy International Author of the Year Award 2011. A feast for the senses, a fin-de-siecle fantasia of magic and mischief, and the most original love story since The Time Traveler's Wife , The Night Circus is an extraordinary blend of fantasy and reality. It will dazzle readers young and old with its virtuoso performance, and who knows, they might not want to leave the world it creates.
I am glad it has been a few years since The Time Traveler’s Wife for else one might be tempted to compare this to that rare book. Don’t get me wrong, this is wonderful too, and very clever. It’s easier to follow, nicely spooky and chilling at the end.Exploring themes of love, loss and identity, it is a 21st century ghost story set largely in London and concerns twins and their unusual inheritance. A remarkable book, a touch disturbing but beautifully executed. Comparison: Susan Hill, Sarah Waters, Julie Myerson.
This is du Maurier’s tenth novel and only the second where she had a male narrator. Philip Ashley is young and inexperienced in the ways of the world and this is the perspective taken on the story as it unfolds. Due to his naivety, and jealousy, he possibly misjusdges Rachel but the great thing about this book is that questions are left open on the tragic events that take place. The reader must decide for themselves quite who to believe. Set in one of Daphne’s favourite places in Cornwall, Manabilly, her descriptions of landscape are enthralling as is her powerful story telling.
The ultimate story of good versus evil although the twist being both these elements are fighting it out within one man. A wonderful novella that many have never read, thinking they know the story from film adaptations, but Stevenson's language and character analysis go way beyond what any film could portray and make this a timeless classic. Brilliant. January 2010 Guest Editor Diana Gabaldon on ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON One of the earliest and best of the romance writers—back when "romance" meant adventure and excitement, escape from daily life. Treasure Island? Kidnapped? The Master of Ballantrae? The titles alone are enough to transport you, but the clean prose and vivid characters bring you back again and again. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Shortlisted for the Best Horror Novel at the British Fantasy Awards 2016. October 2015 Debut of the Month. A ghostly, achingly sad, yet excruciatingly beautiful debut. This is effectively one story, however there are a number of narrators covering a period of 80 years from 1839; at times it feels as though you are being kept at a considerable distance, at others as though you are at their shoulder, seeing, listening, feeling. The stories are not told sequentially, instead time meanders, darts, pulls and pushes, which initially creates a feeling of confusion, yet, yet…Rawblood gradually takes a grip and absorbs you, as a malevolent presence hovers over the pages, waiting. The house of Rawblood set within Dartmoor sits centrally in the storyline, described so vividly it feels as though you can reach out, touch it. As understanding grows, a fear develops for what is to come, for what has already been. To describe Rawblood just as a ghost story feels like an injustice, Catriona Ward has created a moving, original tale of love and destruction, one that is truly enthralling and memorable. ~ Liz Robinson
January 2018 Debut of the Month London 1895, gloriously brought to life in all its grizzly glory. Arrowood is a weathered Private Investigator with a soft heart and a weakness for a drink. He shares the same skies as the famous, revered detective, Sherlock Holmes and yet he can only dream of sharing the same accolades and financial rewards. The cases Arrowood and his long suffering assistant Barnett work are deadly, sleazier and of poor pay. Still carrying the ghost of a disastrous investigation that left a man violently beaten to death, they take on a seemingly straightforward missing person case. Before long a simple investigation turns into a dangerous step into the world of political violence and dealings with the very same crime boss involved in their earlier case. Anxious to keep a distance yet bound by obligation after the death of a young informant, they are soon deeply involved in something deadly. Being a fan of Sherlock Holmes it was wonderful to revisit late Victorian London. The atmosphere Finlay creates is authentic and Arrowood’s animosity towards Holmes adds an interesting twist. Arrowood is a very different detective. Repulsive at times, yet sad and kind-hearted. I couldn’t help but warm to him. His assistant and our narrator Barnett, leads us through the case right to the thrilling climax that had me on the edge of my seat.
A beautiful collection of short stories from the author of Labyrinth. These simple, perfectly crafted tales are a selection of ghost stories and tales inspired from English and French folklore. They are haunting but not all in a shivers-down-the-spine kind of way, some simply because you know when you finish reading them they will stay with you for a long, long time.
This book is Melmoth. It's pages reach out, take you by the hand and walks you through each of the character's lives, making you bear witness to moral complexities navigated by each character. The Interweaving narratives introduced with the strange manuscript bound me to this book and didn't release me until the final page. I still feel the tingle on the back of my neck - like the book is nearby, watching and waiting... Sarah Perry's writing is a lesson in the mastery of the English language, with the poetic fluidity of the River Elbe. Although this book is rather demure, it packs a real punch and manages to combine history, folklore and morality to create a thrilling allegory of ignorance and narrow sightedness.
A beautifully chilling gothic story set in Victorian England that gripped me from the start. It tells the stories of Ruth Butterham and Dorothea Truelove, two very different women from opposite ends of the social scale. Ruth’s is an abusive, bleak, harrowing tale and the narrative splits between Ruth and Dora as their lives intersect in Oakgate Prison where Ruth is imprisoned for the death of her mistress, and Dora attends to comfort prisoners as part of her charitable work. Dora becomes obsessed with Ruth driven by her interest in phrenology - is she mad or murderer, victim or villain? A story of abuse, murder and a hint of supernatural. I couldn't put it down.
Everything changes for rural lad Emmett Farmer when a gloriously grouchy wise woman compels him to be her bookbinding apprentice. While this line of work is generally shrouded in superstitious fear, Emmett is shocked when his mentor explains that they “don’t make books to sell, boy. Selling books is wrong”. Rather, their gothically intriguing trade involves binding unwanted memories into books: ”Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm”. Most clients are wealthy; well-to-do gentlemen who have their servants and wives bound so they forget what wrongs their masters and husbands have done to them. No wonder then, that Emmett is horrified to discover a book bearing his own name, and so a tempestuous tangle of secrets unfurls. The novel is also fragrantly spiced with witty references to literary history and the novel as an art form: “It makes one wonder who would write them [novels]. People who enjoy imagining misery, I suppose. People who have no scruples about dishonesty”. Yet through the duplicity of her exquisitely crafted characters, and luminous storytelling, this novel’s author reveals truths of the human spirit in a most entertaining and absorbing fashion.
April 2016 NewGen Debut of the Month. High school student Dill knows what it is to feel “the crushing weight of destiny”. His granddad went mad after a copperhead viper killed his daughter, and his dad, a fanatical Pentecostal minister, makes his congregation handle deadly serpents to prove their faith. While his father is now in prison for a terrible crime, Dill feels shackled by these family demons, and also by poverty, bullying and a fiercely religious mum who blames Dill for his father’s imprisonment. Dill also knows he’s lucky to have friends like Travis and Lydia. While staff-wielding Travis finds sanctuary from his violent drunk of a dad in fantasy books, Lydia is an energetic fashion blogger from the right side of the tracks. But everything shifts as the three friends embark on their last year of high school. Lydia is all set to study journalism in New York, Travis is excited about his burgeoning relationship with a fellow fantasy geek, but Dill has no hope for his future. He’s terrified of losing Lydia, and terrified that he’s already been poisoned by his family’s legacy. He finds some solace in song-writing but, when tragedy strikes, Dill descends to a very dark place and it takes supreme strength and love to untangle himself from the strangling grip of grief and despair. This southern gothic story about small-town small-mindedness, religious fanaticism, wrestling family demons and the redemptive power of friendship really is an exquisite gem; an unforgettably haunting tale that imprints itself on your heart. ~ Joanne Owen
Chris Priestley in his first book with Bloomsbury has written a book that is impossible to put down. Be warned however! The content is scary, no doubt about it. The book contains a series of short fast-paced horror stories, climaxing with the autobiographical account from the narrator Uncle Montague. Tales such as the Demon Bench End and The Path will have you cowering underneath your duvet and sleeping with the lights on so be aware, this book is bound to put the frighteners on any reader of any age. Despite the fear, or perhaps because of it, you'll be completely gripped from page one. Also by the author: Tales Of Terror From The Black Ship
A blood-chilling story with the search for Frankenstein at its heart. When orphaned Billy, a miserably poor and hungry street urchin, comes across Mister Creecher, a man of great size and sinister intent, his life is turned upside down. Soon the two of them are off on a terrifying adventure travelling ever further north as they seek out the evil Victor Frankenstein. Rich in atmosphere and terror.
A spine chilling collection of short stories each of which will horrify but also delight readers with its creepy characters and unexpected occurrences. Robert starts back to school on the train alone but, when the train stops right in the mouth of a tunnel, a companion joins him. The strange woman in white has stories to tell Robert and they are not for the faint hearted. The black-and-white illustrations match perfectly and bring to life the gothic creepiness at the heart of each.
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. Click here to see Library of Souls by the same author.
This fifth book in the extraordinarily unique Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series will thrill aficionados of jauntily gothic fiction Delectably whimsical and irrefutably elegant, this fifth volume of Ransom Briggs’s Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series is an intoxicating feat of fantastical fiction. Tasked to undertake a mysterious, meandering mission by his dying grandfather, Jacob Portman must deliver a peculiar named Noor - the focus of an ancient apocalyptic prophecy - to a person known only as “V”. With little to work with and chaos waiting, courageous steps must be taken, which makes Jacob’s story piquant with stakes of the highest order. With a liberal peppering of authentic old photographs adding to the exuberantly eerie atmosphere, this fluttering marvel of the macabre is shot-through with endearing companionships and propelled by an urgent, noble need to save Peculiardom from doom.
Ransom Riggs’s spine-tingling fantasy novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is now a film directed by – who else? - Tim Burton, and this extremely handsome book purports to be a collection of favourite peculiar folktales. Anthologist Millard Nullings, himself a peculiar, exhorts readers to enjoy the Tales ‘before a crackling fire on a chilly night, ideally, a snoring grimbear at your feet’ which would indeed be the ideal setting for these curious, occasionally macabre but often gently comic stories of cannibals, shape shifters and other outsiders. Each story begins with a beautiful illustration by Andrew Davidson created from his wood engravings. You don't need to be a fan of the original series to enjoy this book, but Miss Peregrine devotees will find lots of references hidden in its pages. ~ Andrea Reece