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90+ books that dare you to take a walk on the dark side.

Liz Robinson

By Liz Robinson on 1st October 2020

We have collated a formidable list of books for you to peruse just as night begins to trespass into daylight hours. If you are a lover of walking on the dark side you’ll be used to finding tales that exist in the shadows, no matter the time of year. We have included a variety of books: crime, literary, horror, modern and contemporary, historical, gothic, family drama, fantasy, and young adult just to name a few. One thing that they all have in common though, is that a dark edge sweeps, creeps, or crawls over them. 

You really don’t have to have an all out gory fright-fest in order to experience a spine-chilling tale. Some of the most successfully frightening stories are those that subtly creep under your skin. Often it’s the suggestions that linger that are most unnerving, as they grow in their intensity and your own mind is encouraged to take one step, and then another into the darkness.

One publishing imprint that is known for this is Raven Books, they exist “for all those who love their books with a touch of the dark side”. We chatted with their Publishing Director Alison Hennessey who features in our Industry Insight blog this month. Alison thinks that: “most readers are naturally curious people and want to know what makes other people tick… I also think we enjoyed being scared safely”. 

I completely agree with Alison, though I can remember once, actually getting up, closing my curtains and checking that my front door was locked before I continued to let a particularly nightmarish killer into my thoughts!

I’ve recently finished Raven title The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton, and it sits quite perfectly in this book collection. Set on the high seas in 1634 it crosses genres; a demon is thought to be responsible for the terrible events taking place and a detective duo battle to save the lives of everyone on board.

You’d be hard pressed to get a more unusual, addictive, or twisted novel than Sweetpea by C J Skuse. Protagonist Rhiannon made me blurt with laughter and flinch on a number of occasions. It’s shocking, it’s gripping, it’s fabulous.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes was winner of the Best Horror Novel at the British Fantasy Awards in 2014. I fell in love with this breathtakingly chilling story about a time-travelling serial killer. It grabs hold and absolutely refuses to let go.

The paperback of Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley is out at the end of October and this is a beautifully written yet menacing read. I devoured it in one sitting, and a year on since reading the hardback, it still sits in my mind.

And so, brace yourself to charge through a horror story, savour a gothic treat, or inch your way into the most menacing of crimes. We dare you to look at our collection and take a walk on the dark side.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/12/2015

A special Christmas edition of the Sunday Times bestseller. WINNER OF THE SPECSAVERS NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS 2013 BOOK OF THE YEAR Dive into a magical novel of memory and the adventure of childhood, from one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation. It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive. There is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac - as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly's wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.

ebook of the month
Rogues

Rogues

Author: George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/08/2014

Rogues is a meaty feast of a book, stuffed full of fabulous stories from some of the best authors around (George RR Martin and Neil Gaiman to name just a couple). This isn't just about science fiction and fantasy either, there’s some great mainstream contemporary works on show too. There are twenty one stories, proper weighty stories, full of content and some of the most interesting characters around. Once you start reading, it’s difficult to stop as the next story gives a siren call to dive straight in.  So…if you've always loved to hiss and boo at an irresistibly wicked and sometimes charming villain, this is the perfect book for you.

ebook of the month

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