No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
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.
Make no mistake, this debut novel is startling and often painfully uncomfortable, yet it is a stunning, actually breathtaking piece of literature. 14 year old Turtle is strong, capable, different, she is also suffering… deeply and painfully. Within the first few pages I knew that ‘My Absolute Darling’ was going to be an unforgettable read. By the end of the first chapter, ice-cold fingers had run down my spine and sent my whole system into shock. I felt as though I was viewing life from an entirely different perspective, one absolutely humming with intensity. I wanted to stop the feelings of disbelief and horror that were crowding into my mind, but I knew that I had to bear witness. Gabriel Tallent’s writing is surprisingly simple, yet he paints a vibrant pulsating picture, this man sees life, sees beneath the surface, and grants you access too. The plants, wildlife, and surrounding countryside, so beautifully described, link with the reality of Turtle’s life and on occasion act as a buffer to what is happening. There were times when ‘My Absolute Darling’ made me scream inside, yet I couldn't stop reading this remarkable and actually rather beautiful novel. It will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.
Be prepared for a reading maelstrom to suck you in whole when you open this LoveReading Star Book. Set in 1634 a boat leaves the East Indies with a detective duo on board. Although one is locked up and facing execution, their skills are very much needed when the voyage is beset by a terrible forewarning. Stuart Turton’s debut picked up the Costa First Novel Award Winner for 2018. The Devil and the Dark Water is just as fabulous and will be going straight onto my list of favourite books this year. It is the perfect novel to read as the nights are drawing in, the story built itself into a reality, I was there, bearing witness. Surprises wait in store, strange beings stalk the decks, and several locked room/ship mysteries just beg to be solved. My thoughts were broken open, and exploded one way then the other as I sought answers. All of the characters are fascinating in their own unique way and while I initially thought I was meeting a Holmes and Watson pair, I quickly realised they were very much their own men. The Devil and the Dark Water crosses genres in the most wonderfully entertaining way and sails straight onto my list of Liz Picks of the Month. I’ll be standing and applauding this one!
Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you've finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple one, but he regularly sneaks a peek into other peoples worlds by reading their handwritten letters; events take a darker turn as he deviates from voyeur into an obsessive usurper. The author uses Japanese haiku and tanka poetry to allow Bilodo to converse with the woman of his dreams; exquisite clusters of words will snag your attention and demand that you re-read them. This is essentially a book of love, of what might have been and of what could still come… One of our Books of the Year 2014. Selected as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club title in September 2014.
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
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.
At times uncomfortable and chilling (as it should be) this is nonetheless absolutely fascinating, and a must read for anyone interested in law enforcement and the way minds work. Dr Kris Mohandie is a clinical police and forensic psychologist, in other words, a “detective of the brain”. He has worked on high profile cases and encountered some of the most dangerous people in the USA. Here he provides “an informed peek behind the curtain of criminality in a world that’s getting darker and more dangerous by the day” “providing insight into why these people do what they do and lessons we can learn as a society to help stop or at least reduce the bloodshed”. He highlights a number of cases he has worked on, from serial killers, to hostage takers, right through to mass casualty shooters. He looks at cases that are known throughout the world, such as Columbine, O.J Simpson, and Oklahoma City. Starting his career with LAPD, Dr Kris Mohandie was a consultant, working with units including SWAT. This is a man who has had to make incredibly difficult decisions, in horrendously difficult circumstances. He is honest, at times blunt, and says it as he sees it. He discusses the death penalty, the nature of evil, and mental illness. If you take a look at the press reviews on our LoveReading book page, you can see reports from people who have worked with him. Words such as “outstanding”, a “true subject matter expert”, “one of the best in the business” ring out. Born Killers? is a truly gripping read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Spiralling down into darkness this fascinating and compelling historical novel is based on the true story of an inmate of Bethlam Royal Hospital (Bedlam) between 1800 to 1815. James Norris an American, was restrained, chained to a bar and confined in isolation for more than ten years, here Emily Bullock takes a look at possibilities and makes them fly. James tells his own tale, the words slinking, twisting, disappearing into the fog of his memory and thoughts. Bedlam broods its way through the centre of this story, with other inmates and the keepers affecting the atmosphere. As James visits the past in his mind, his relationship, role as seaman, and even Fletcher Christian, famous for his part in the mutiny on the Bounty all entwine to explain the man James has become. The writing sparked vivid details in my minds eye, and although my heart physically ached at times, there are also moments of hope to be found within the pages. Inside the Beautiful Inside is a rather special book, it opens a door and shines a penetrating light of awareness into the shadows of history. Highly recommended.
An incredibly dramatic, graphic and gripping start to a new series. This isn’t just an introduction though, it’s a fabulous full serving in its own, very distinctive right. 15 years ago Kate Marshall solved a high profile murder case and very nearly became a victim herself, now, a copycat killer is on the loose, determined to finish the job. The beginning takes us back to 1995, within a few pages there is a real sense of Kate, and the case. Chapter two is incredibly stark, making me flinch before things seriously kicked off. I was glued to the pages, and read the whole book in one sitting. If you are a little squeamish, then be warned, there are some darker than dark, vivid and violent incidents ahead of you. Personally, I didn’t feel it was overly sensational though, as it felt all too real! Robert Bryndza really has set the scene for a fabulous new series. Fierce, startling and incredibly readable, Nine Elms comes as highly recommended from me. The Kate Marshall series: 1. Nine Elms 2. Shadow Sands
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.
An often uncomfortable, overwhelming, yet impressively compelling read. ‘John Crow’s Devil’ originally published in 2005, is the debut novel of Marlon James, Man Booker prize winner for ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’. Apparently James’ debut was rejected 78 times before being published, and personally I had my doubts as I began to read, and yet, and yet… the further I read, the more I felt myself being consumed by this penetrating and provocative novel. Two men, two preachers, battle each other, two women choose sides, while the rest of the village follow the stronger man. An anonymous village voice occasionally comes to the fore, narrating, telling, explaining, speaking with a Jamaican dialect, sometimes using unknown words that somehow make themselves understood. The story weaves between the village voice, clearly, firmly setting the story in stone, yet unexpected words will make you stop and think in a sentence previously flowing like water. With images that burst into your minds eye, be prepared to be moved, perturbed and to feel your heart break, yet wonder at the power of this profound novel. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
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.
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.
Powerful and expressive, this is an extraordinary tale, based in reality, set in the London underworld of the 1720’s. Edgeworth Bess is in Newgate, as she tells her story via a third party, more than one person’s life is revealed in all its sordid, beautiful wonder. Jake Arnott has the ability to create a living, punchy, violent world, it feels real, it feels as though the events are taking place now. The language of the time is startling, at first I delved into the glossary at the back, in a very short time though, I didn't need to refer to it, I lived, breathed and felt the words. There are a number of real people at large here, their stories are, to be honest, quite gobsmacking, yet in this fictional setting, with this gloriously assured writing, they felt even more substantial and undeniably physical. ‘The Fatal Tree’ is a vibrantly striking tale, it is, quite simply, a cracking read and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read a Q&A with Jake Arnott.
March 2018 Book of the Month Oh my, this is a fascinating, darkly powerful novel with biting attitude, set in Victorian Edinburgh. In the laboratory above a newly opened pharmacy, a wonder-drug is created, as the pharmacist experiments, his wife of six months discovers a world she couldn’t have imagined. Kindness and love sit at the very heart of this novel, however light can be so easily doused, and a bleak and twisted shadow menaces the pages. This may be a blistering Victorian drama, yet the characters feel so very real, their thoughts and feelings could easily be exposed today. Vanessa Tait writes with a provocative, combative pen, my mind flinched, my heart ached, and yet hope existed within the very centre of my being. Raw, elemental and disturbing, The Pharmacist’s Wife is an entirely captivating, enthralling read - highly recommended.
In a Nutshell: Intrigue and artisanal invention in an Alice in Wonderland world An endlessly inventive adventure through the twisting tunnels of a subterranean city that’s sent reeling by the arrival of a girl like no other. Caverna is like no place ever imagined. It has passages so twisty they make a person go mad. Wines that make you forget. Perfumes that provoke trust. And there are dark cheese tunnels in which expert artisans create incredible delicacies, none more committed to the craft than Master Grandible: “the cheeses were Grandible’s only friends and family, their scents and textures taking the place of conversation.” Then the unexpected arrival of a girl shifts Grandible’s life onto a different path, and sends Caverna into a spiral of fear and danger, for Neverfell is not like other girls. She’s certainly not like others in Caverna, whose faces bear no expression until the Facesmiths teach them how to express anything. Neverfell is issued with a mask to hide her face, for it reveals emotions with terrifying transparency, and that way madness and murder lies…And so an utterly compelling tale of political intrigue, revolution and truths unfolds, with as many unexpected, complex twists as the tunnels of Caverna itself. Hardinge is a truly distinctive writer, from the mind-bogglingly unique concepts and worlds she conjures, to her pithily elegant language, and this is a jewel that defies convention, and sparkles at every turn.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | July 2017 Book of the Month. A humdinger of a serial killer thriller in sheer overdrive, The Fourth Monkey is a winner from the get go, even if some of the explicit, gory violence inevitably scattered throughout the book might offend some. The Fourth Monkey Killer has been terrorising Chicago for five years, with seven victims each mutilated in different ways and has just died in a traffic accident, leaving the main investigator Detective Sam Peter, in a cat and mouse race to discover the the latest, now one-eared, abductee before she eventually perishes, when the killer's diary falls into his possession. The criminal's backstory which we gradually discover is both harrowing and fascinating as Sam has to delve into the psychopath's sick mind in an effort to understand him and solve the conundrum of the victim's whereabouts and identity, but is he being manipulated from beyond the grave? And why were the victims specifically selected? Fast-paced, full of twists related to the the title based on a Japanese saying, this is already in the bestseller lists and no wonder! ~ Maxim Jakubowski Maxim Jakubowski June 2017 Highly Recommended. The Lovereading view... Oh my, this is a sensational rattlesnake-strike of a read! The terrifying Four Monkey Killer is dead, he has left a personal diary containing clues for the investigating team to follow, can they beat the clock and rescue his last victim? We follow the diary, victim, and detectives over several days, short snappy chapters filled with impact and drama ensured I could not and did not want to stop reading. This book is so rammed full of shocking revelations, even if I had an idea of where something was going, I was soon hit full broadside by another stomach churning blast. The diary gave me the heebie-jeebies as I read, at points I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before I could continue. Be warned, J. D. Barker owns one seriously twisted and evil-plotting pen, the diary is horribly addictive, and the rest just plain addictive. ‘The Fourth Monkey’ in turns repulsed and thrilled me, it is an exceedingly creepy, yet brilliantly plotted, fabulous read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
A deftly dark, creepy, and disturbing psychological thriller. Claire is determined to leave her husband Duncan who appears to be leading a double life. As events splinter and start to destroy their family, can Claire discover the truth? Claire narrates her own story, while Duncan’s is told, both characters and their tales left me with feelings of uncertainty. An underlying chilling atmosphere settled and began to grow as I read. Sharply focused before and after chapters ensured I was kept off balance and intrigued! Sophie Draper scattered hints and suggestions in my path, my mind started to fill gaps and my thoughts scurried off to pick over information. As I reached the ending I stopped, sat up and felt the need to start reading again from the beginning. I am quite sure that next time I pick up Magpie, a completely different reading experience will be awaiting me!
The ominously significant title of ‘The Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ slashes through the delicate vibrancy of the cover, summing up the contents beautifully. 18 short stories and two poems, steaming with life, death, passion, regret and the occasional gnashing of twisted, gnarly fangs. I absolutely loved Stephen King’s short introductions to each tale, almost as much as the stories themselves. The story behind the story reveals snippets of information, of reasoning, the why and how. This is a wonderfully diverse collection from full on fantasy, to possibilities and practicalities, and yet there are links to be discovered. Some tales made me shiver, others raise a smirking eyebrow, they all though, set my mind pondering and questing, and personal favourites were Afterlife and The Little Green God of Agony. These are knowing, crafty, sharp stories, ready to catch you unaware and to give your imagination a hammering - in other words, they are fabulous. ~ Liz Robinson
Oh my word, this hits hard, and with so much power it almost took my breath away. Set in the future it focuses on an antibiotic crisis, no one over the age of 70 is allowed treatment and they are sent to hospitals called ‘The Waiting Rooms’. Although written before the current Covid 19 crisis, there is so much here you can connect to as a reader it feels as though this book was meant for these specific times. The first chapter is provocative, it shocked me and yet introduces the main character and book perfectly. As Kate searches for her birth mother, different time frames and countries sent my thoughts and feelings spinning. This is one of those books that doesn’t sit comfortably in one genre as it crosses from dystopian right through to family drama. It is perhaps best described as a speculative thriller, and boy did it make me reflect. I have been left thirsting for more information, for more knowledge and Eve Smith’s final words when she talks about the inspiration behind the novel are chilling indeed. The Waiting Rooms is a gutsy, thoughtful, fascinating read, and we have chosen it to feature as a LoveReading Debut of the Month.
This is a psychological thriller with real attitude, in fact, it might even be described as feisty. Meg and her daughter Grace are a true part of their community, the whole town is in shock when Meg is murdered and Grace discovered to be missing. Grace has been ill for years and may only have days to live without her medication, two local people desperate to save her, begin to investigate. This novel was inspired by the true life story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard in the USA, can I suggest (insist!) that you don’t look it up until you’ve finished the book, I was very patient and I’m so glad that I waited! Each chapter either focuses on investigative journalist Jon, or neighbour Cara, and their individual tales open the storyline into a widescreen panorama. My thoughts sped in one direction and then another as I read, focusing on the small, the intimate, burrowing into the minds of the characters. Emily Elgar tells this intricate tale with assurance, suggesting, introducing, opening information for our reading minds to analyse. Grace is Gone is fascinating and thrilling tale, it becomes all the more haunting when you realise it's based on a true story.
Oooh, this an absolute belter of a read, in fact my mind is still bouncing up and down in appreciation. Serial killer Lucien Folter has spent just over three years in solitary confinement plotting his revenge on the person who put him away, Robert Hunter, head of the LAPD’s Ultra Crime Unit. Lucien can easily be described as the most dangerous man you would NEVER wish to meet, and Hunter will need all of his wits about him. Meet the 10th in the Robert Hunter Thriller series which actually follows on from the 6th An Evil Mind. Yes, yes, of course you should read An Evil Mind (and the others) first, but such is the writing, you could successfully read this as a standalone and thoroughly enjoy it. Chapter one hits with hammer hard precision and each of the following short shocks of chapters have the same impact. Just be aware that this is a rather graphic read (in terms of violence), well, you are dealing with the FBI’s most prolific murderer! Even so Chris Carter somehow makes evil personified human too, and dare I say that I find Lucien one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read. Hunting Evil has zoomed its way into our LoveReading Star Books, this is full-on supercharged reading entertainment at its best.
Prepare yourself, this is a slicing, clever, wonderfully captivating tale ready to twist thoughts, to skewer feelings. Thomas falls in love with Darling, his 16-year-old daughter Lola is horrified, each woman is determined not to lose Thomas. The intriguing prologue immediately hooked my attention, my eyebrows raised, my eyes opened wide, my mind gasped. We hear from both Darling and Lola, each so different, so vibrantly alive with conviction. Darling’s voice is rich and full of flavour, I could close my eyes and still hear her, while Lola is sharp with a head full of thoughts, brittle, yet flaming, fiery. I found myself reading faster, wanting to gobble up the pages, yet was determined not to miss a single word. By the time awareness started to prickle my consciousness, by the time understanding crashed in around me, I was on a non-stop collision course with the end. Darling is a powerful read, a vibrant, punchy, thoughtful wow of a read, and I loved it. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Award-winning Frances Hardinge is spellbinding is this hugely entertaining and dramatic Victorian thriller. When Faith’s father dies suddenly she knows she must try to find out exactly what he was hiding in the local caves she had recently visited with him. Discovering the extraordinary Lie Tree which thrives off hearing lies and, in turn, reveals secrets long kept hidden Faith begins to uncover a web of secrets and mysteries that will change her view of the world forever. Faith is a feisty heroine whose courage combined with a determination that girls can be brave and resolute leads to the exposure of much dishonesty and many deceptions. ~ Julia Eccleshare. WINNER of the 2015 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR and Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. Winner of the UKLA 2016 Book Award in the 12 - 16 year old category. The Lie Tree is only the second children’s book to take the overall Costa Book of the Year prize, and the first since Philip Pullman won with The Amber Spyglass in 2001. James Heneage, chair of the final judges, said: “Part horror, part detective, part historical, this is a fantastic story with great central characters and narrative tension. It’s not only a fabulous children’s book but a book that readers of all ages will love."
Razor-sharp tightrope time with this belter of a read, it is as dramatic and different as it is fabulous. Discover two books in one novel as true crime is enveloped by breathtaking storytelling. Read Eve Black’s memoir as she searches for the man who murdered the rest of her family 20 years ago. Sitting by its side is the story of the killer Jim Doyle as he reads the book and fears he will be unmasked. This has such a clever premise, Catherine Ryan Howard ensures that this is one of the few instances where knowing the identity of the killer actually adds to the intensity and drama. The change from one book to the other doesn’t jar in the slightest, each embraces and calls to the other and the transition is seamless. The tension increases until it is fairly reverberating through the pages. I let myself be carried away in the story, and don’t forget, this is a story, and it works because there is no sneaking a peek at the end! The Nothing Man is a blast of pure reading entertainment, and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Nothing Man.
Hands up if you love a confident, penetrating, darkly brilliant psychological thriller, if you do then do step this way, as ‘Blood Orange’ is a stunner! Alison is defending her first murder case, all while having an affair, drinking too much, staying out too late and neglecting her husband and daughter… her life is about to get seriously complicated. Alison tells her own story, no holds barred we hear it as it is, and sometimes it isn’t pretty. I have to say that at times Alison wasn’t on the top of my list of favourite people which gives the story real attitude. I was completely drawn into Alison’s world, hovering over her shoulder, watching, and yes I admit it, sometimes judging. Harriet Tyce allows the story to open up in front of you, all the information is there, consequently, I found myself tugging at tendrils and picking at tantalising frayed edges as I read. This is one seriously addictive book, I read it in one sitting, so do set aside plenty of reading time. ‘Blood Orange’ thrilled me, it is just so readable, yet also feels clever, raw and real - so it comes as highly recommended from me.
Burning with an intense, provocative fire, this is a debut that doesn’t flinch from the troubled world it creates. 25 years ago, a 16 year old school girl and her teacher disappeared, now a journalist investigates the mystery at the heart of the boarding school. The prologue intrigues, answering a question while bursting open many more. I felt a seductive unsettling call and settled in. Three women sit centre stage in this story, the missing Louisa, her friend Victoria, and the journalist. I gained access to the school and sank into the heady highs and lows of teenage years. A veil of mystery covers Temple House, the school sits in both time periods, a chilling constant between the two. It is as much about the unsaid, the unseen, as it is what is revealed, and Rachel Donohue handles the balance with surety. The ending really spoke to me, it opened my thoughts and encouraged them to travel. I have no doubt that The Temple House Vanishing will stay with me for some time to come, it is an assured and compelling debut.
Award-winning Frances Hardinge’s latest novel bubbles over with brilliant ideas in a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure encompassing families, a very special kind of haunting, spying and the English Civil War. Twelve year Makepeace has grown up practising how to defend herself against spirits who go in search of another living being to inhabit when they are released from the dead. Makepeace is skilful at defence but, when grieving the death of her mother, she lets her guard down and is filled with the spirit of a bear. But Bear is a friend as much as a foe and now Makepeace has a strong internal allay who may be exactly what she needs when she goes to stay with her father’s terrifying family whom she needs to resist at all costs. Frances Hardinge’s beautiful writing makes the unbelievable credible and tangible as she weaves together and then unravels layer upon layer of complexities in this substantial and deeply story.
Another magical tale from Audrey Niffenegger that follows the story of twins who have been left the flat of a dead aunt they have never met. Niffenegger has produced another cast of fascinating characters and intriguing plotlines to draw the reader in and keep them enthralled to the very end. A message from Joanna Lumley: “Anything that makes reading easier is to be applauded – a bright light, a quiet room, large clear print…what could be more enticing. Focus has all my support." Joanna Lumley
A sometimes uncomfortable yet utterly compelling read that shreds and shatters conventional thought processes and feelings. The surprise when you open the book and start to read is your first hint of the distinctive tale to come. The author builds the story simply, slowly, sympathetically: the suggestions, the explorations, the forbidden, the twisted, all shaping and piecing together into something penetrating and provocative. As your mind starts to grasp the emerging picture, it buckles and contorts… will you ever fully understand? ~ Liz Robinson
A haunting, sinister tale, where tension coils, ready to bite, to sting and provoke thoughts. Ranald McGhie finds himself in an entirely unexpected position, having inherited Newton Hall, a family mansion he had no idea existed, however a torturous journey lies ahead. Michael J. Malone has created such a readable story, yet one that made me think, made me question my thought processes again and again. He plays with your mind, simply, clearly and so effectively. Newton Hall sits centre stage, and within the walls malevolence waits, ready to seize Ranald’s imagination, his judgment, his instinct. Loops of history swirl ever closer, entangling Ranald’s thoughts, creating a disturbance that reverberates through the pages. As icy goose bumps of awareness settled, as ‘House of Spines’ drew to a close, I found a delicious shiver of uncertainty once again trailing a path down my neck, ensuring a provocative ending to an eerie and stimulating read. ~ Liz Robinson
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.
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.
November 2017 Book of the Month A chilling ghostly tale set in 1935 on Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas. Five men attempt to climb to the summit of the worlds third highest mountain, they take the same path as a failed climb in 1907 and soon find local superstitions and eerie sightings affect their thoughts and nerves. Michelle Paver embeds a sense of complete reality, Dr Stephen Pearce tells the story and it feels as though it could be a documented historic account. Yet as I read, small unnerving suggestions began to affect my reasoning. Thoughts and feelings, trapped and hemmed in by fear, transferred from the pages. Michelle Paver explains at the end of the book that in reality, the actual peak of the mountain remained untouched until 1980, so as not to upset ‘whatever’ lived up there. Was the altitude affecting the climb in the novel, or a more supernatural presence? ‘Thin Air’, set in a world unknown to most, is an unsettling, gripping, and oh so readable tale. ~ liz Robinson
A simply sensational and thrilling debut! Met police detectives William Oliver Layton-Fawkes and Emily Baxter find themselves smack bang in the middle of the hunt for a serial killer. A hammer hard prologue slapped my awareness, and from that moment on, I didn't want to put this book down, even for a single second. Daniel Cole handles the case and the characters with aplomb, this feels different, fresh, exciting. In the midst of the mayhem, I found myself snorting with laughter, a moment later I wrinkled my face in horror and disbelief. An overflowing fistful of danger, gripping urgency, and the intricate twisting storyline certainly kept me on my toes. ‘Ragdoll’ is a humdinger of a tale that smashes into your senses, wreaks havoc in your mind, and leaves you wanting more. I really can’t wait to see what Daniel Cole comes up with next! Liz Robinson ~ There are a lot of serial killer novels out there, for which Hannibal Lecter must take much of the blame, but Daniel Cole's powerful debut deserves a (bloody) place in the sun or, at any rate, in the autopsy lab! A puppet-like body is discovered made up of the dismembered parts of six different victims, hence the 'ragdoll' appellation given to it by the media. Once disgraced Met cop William Fawkes is assigned the case together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and they appear powerless when the killer taunts them by announcing the names of his future victims. As Fawkes seeks a form of redemption with the support of his team, the pace of the story accelerates exponentially and will leave you breathless all the way to a most intense finale. Gory and ultra-realistic, dark, populated by flawed characters and just not the villain, this is a splendid addition to the genre and well worth the nail-biting detour if you have a strong constitution! Maxim Jakubowski Books in The Ragdoll Series: 1. Ragdoll 2. Hangman 3. End Game Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
Oh my word! This is knock-out of a read, punchy and raw, it made me flinch and yet I couldn’t stop, didn’t want to stop reading. If you haven’t yet read ‘Ragdoll’, do start there, mostly because it’s truly fabulous, but also because it’s the beginning of the ‘Fawkes and Baxter’ trilogy and you don’t want to lose out on any part of this story. ‘Hangman’ starts with the most intriguing prologue, I read it twice to let it sink in. It’s 18 months since the conclusion of the Ragdoll Murders for Baxter, a new chilling and gruesome killing spree begins, targeting both New York City and London, and Emily finds herself with two new partners. My advice is to set plenty of time aside, as once I started reading, I couldn’t bear to put this book down for a single second, and I read late into the night in order to finish. I find Daniel Cole’s writing compulsive, it makes me sit up and take note, I was on high alert at all times, buzzing with anticipation. The humour has a definite dark tone, yet it is there, and a welcome addition as an avalanche of horror descends. I wasn’t sure if Daniel Cole could live up to my expectations, he actually manages to exceed them, as ‘Hangman’ stands defiant, mind-blowing, striking… joining ‘Ragdoll’ as most definite must-reads.
This is the final book in Daniel Cole's Ragdoll series. As mentioned in Cole's letter to the reader, for this one you really will benefit from reading Ragdoll and Hangman. The plot kicks off in the immediate aftermath of Hangman too, it might also be a good idea to have a refresh, but I didn't find it absolutely necessary. After what feels like forever, police detectives Wolf and Baxter are finally back! This time they're working on a case much closer to home. A Christie-esque mystery ensues - a completely sealed room with no way out and only one set of prints on the gun. Is it suicide as it first appears, or something more? This book highlights some of the best aspects of the previous books: the characters. Wolf's wonderful and hilarious (if somewhat misplaced) sense of humour and Baxter and her endearing standoffishness remained. I felt like I was greeting them as old friends. This is simply an amazing end to one of the best series I've read in recent years and is a must-read for all crime fans. I'm heartbroken that the series is over, but I know I will return to read it again and again.
This debut held me in thrall, it feels so different, and promises much as the start to a new series. Investigative reporter Casey Benedict is always looking for the next big story, an overheard conversation in a nightclub leads her straight into the jaws of hell. Author Holly Watt is an award-winning investigative journalist which adds to the overall feeling of credibility. The intruiging prologue and continued moments of reflection left questions flaring free, ready to claim my awareness. It took me a little while to get used to the style, which on occasion felt clipped, even a little awkward, which in fact adds to the originality of the tale. The devastating story Casey is chasing is slow to build, the painstaking piecing together of information feels completely authentic. When the story really takes off, it threw my thoughts into turmoil, I could all too easily imagine this happening in reality. To The Lions is an intelligent, provocative thriller and the much deserved winner of the 2019 Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.
Winner of the Best Horror Novel at the British Fantasy Awards 2014. Breathtakingly chilling, this is written so convincingly the fact that there is a time-travelling serial killer seems completely plausible. Each chapter is headed with either the killer or the victim and then the date; it throws you a little to start, jumping around in time, then you fall in, the story grabs hold and refuses to let go. The author occasionally allows an insight towards her killer, a little understanding as to what has made him choose his ‘shining girls’, she even allows a softening, perhaps a little warmth before ripping your feet from under you again. At times graphic and gruesome, each word, each sentence feels essential; perhaps best not to read this in public though, as flinches, grimaces and yelps are likely companions. Shortlisted for the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger 2013. CWA judges' comment: “The quirky fusion of the sci-fi and crime genres features a time-travelling surreal serial-killer, Harper, whose story begins as a drifter in prohibition-era Chicago. When Harper "steps into sometime else", murdering along the way, he meets his match in the contemporary figures of Kirby, an engaging young journalism intern, and her unlikely sidekick Dan, a burned-out sports writer. The author plays with the abstractions of time, change, decay, memory, and imagination with great assurance and originality.” Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2014. One of our Books of the Year 2013.
Frances Hardinge creates a brilliant sense of menace in this chillingly dark fairy story . Something sinister, beyond just getting wet, happens to Triss when she falls into the Grimmer. Something that causes her to change in all kinds of ways which her parents don't recognise. Triss can feel the changes - she is always hungry, her hair is full of leaves, her tears are like cobwebs and her sister is terrified of her - but she cannot understand why they are happening. Somehow, Triss has been taken over. She is now a changeling and she needs to search through the underworld of the city itself to find the truth.
If you are an intrepid reader and delight in the creatively eerie, startling and spine-chilling, then some distinctive and perfectly crafted short stories await. Of course there are 13 tales, however there is nothing about the obvious here, as they range in length from one page to a novella, then float through history, fantasy and reality. ‘Night Music’ has the ability to encourage the imagination to go into overdrive, so it felt as though John Connolly was wielding a sharpened and potentially double-edged pen when I found further books, some alive with malice, lurking within the pages. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository’ which will remain vibrantly alive and functioning within my mind. So from the strangely weird and wonderful, through to bitterly sorrowful, and grimly formidable, here have gathered, waiting to provoke your imagination, some wonderfully readable tales of the supernatural. One of our Books of the Year 2015.
Intelligent and thrilling with a fierce bite attached, this is a highly recommended read. As DI Zigic and DS Ferreira investigate the murder of a doctor from an all-female detention centre, a violent criminal is released on a technicality, he has a grudge against police, and they know he will strike again. Entering an established series out of sync can be bewildering, so it something I don’t often enjoy doing. This though, can most definitely be read as a standalone novel, and of course, I now want to go back and read the rest of the Zigic and Ferreira series! Within a few pages, I was not only invested in the characters, I felt as though I knew them. I thoroughly enjoyed being alongside the team as they worked. Eva Dolan faces society issues and problems head-on and this feels incredibly readable while also being whip-smart. Between Two Evils is an eloquent and gripping read with assured attitude, winning it one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
Winner of Teenage Book of the Year Award 2009. Winner of Best Novel at the Hugo Awards 2009. Winner of the 2009 prestigious Newbery Medal. Spooks galore in this brilliant and fantastic story of life in the graveyard. When Baby Bod escapes a murderer intent on killing his whole family, he is taken in by the graveyard ghosts. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, each of which depicts every other year of Bod’s life, a separate story of Bod’s life unfolds and always in the background there is the sinister, haunting presence of a killer. Bod’s curious tale is a masterpiece of original, absorbing and unstoppable story telling. This edition is illustrated in a breath-taking fashion by Dave Mckean. Gaiman was asleep in bed in Los Angeles this morning when he was phoned by the award's committee and told he had won. 'You are on a speakerphone with at least 14 teachers and librarians and suchlike great, wise and good people, I thought. Do not start swearing like you did when you got the Hugo. This was a wise thing to think because otherwise huge, mighty and four-letter swears were gathering. I mean, that's what they're for,' Gaiman wrote on his blog after the call.Gaiman's The Graveyard book is the story of Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. The Newbery, which picks 'the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year', has been criticised in recent weeks for being out of touch with its readers; the choice of Gaiman - a perennial bestseller - as winner, puts paid to claims that the judges favoured books with a limited appeal.Named in honour of 18th-century British bookseller John Newbery, the award was founded in 1922, with previous winners including children's classics such as Hugh Lofting's The Voyages of Dr Dolittle, Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and Lloyd Alexander's The High King.'I might have imagined all of this, or they may have to do a sudden recount or something,' wrote Gaiman. 'But I think it probably happened. I mean, it's now 7:20am and I'm drinking tea and blinking happily at the world.'
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
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Fiction and Breakthrough Author Awards 2016. May 2016 Debut of the Month. Winner of Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards 2016. Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2015. Perhaps it's the sheets of rain which fall continuously on The Loney, that " wild and useless length of English coastline", a "strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest", but I've not read so chilling a horror novel for years. The setting for an Easter-time Catholic pilgrimage for Andrew Michael Hurley's teenage narrator, his mentally handicapped brother and a motley collection of parishioners, the dread builds slowly but inexorably, as strange movements from creepy locals start to intrude on the religious retreat, and it becomes clear that while some might be looking "for God in the emerging springtime", others are on the trail of something entirely different. A truly eerie, captivating read, as mysterious and disturbing as its foggy, wet, bleak location. Masterfully pulled off. ~ Alison Flood One of our Books of the Year 2015. "The Loney is not just good. It's great... an amazing piece of fiction." Stephen King Costa Judges' comment: “We all agreed this book is as close to the perfect first novel as you can get.”
It begins with a nursery rhyme. Nineteen minutes later you die... The sixth gripping thriller in Lars Kepler's internationally bestselling series featuring Joona Linna. Perfect for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. A hard-hitting rocket of a ride, if you’re squeamish, you may well be peeking between your fingers as you read. Superintendent Saga Bauer enlists the help of Joona Lina, who is serving time in prison, in order stop to a killer named the Rabbit Hunter. The authors are a well established, internationally best-selling writing duo, they seemlessly blend their skills into a story that blasts with fury and intensity. This is the sixth in the series, and if you’ve not come across Lars Kepler before, I would advise you start at the beginning with ‘The Hypnotist’, purely because it’s such a cracking series. I love the feeling of danger and menace that stalks the policing team themselves, who is to be trusted, who will survive, my heart was in my mouth on more than one occasion. As a nursery rhyme plays, the killer stalks his prey, violent, creepy and addictive, the tension in ‘The Rabbit Hunter’ sky-rockets through to the utterly gripping conclusion… and left me wanting more. ~ Liz Robinson
Tenth anniversary edition of Neil Gaiman's modern classic, brilliantly illustrated by Chris Riddell, with a new foreword by the author. When Coraline’s family move into a new home, she steps through a door into another house which seems strangely familiar. It has many of the things she has at home but they are all strangely different. There is even a replacement set of parents. At first, Coraline likes her new home but she soon realises that the new parents are reluctant to let her go. Can Coraline escape? Will she ever get home? Not for the faint hearted, this is a fascinating and chilling story, exquisitely told.
It is time to celebrate a new and truly fabulous Stephen King novel. Children with special gifts such as telepathy and telekinesis are being abducted from across the USA, then they are tested, exploited, and kept prisoner. Is there any hope left for the kids incarcerated in the Institute? I opened the first page, settled in, and just read… isn’t it wonderful when you can do that? When you so implicitly trust the author, trust that they are going to take you on amazing journey? Stephen King has written the most readable and electrifying tale here, I didn’t doubt for one second that any of this wasn’t true, wasn’t possible, wasn’t happening right now. I just inhaled the words, fully immersed myself in the story, and squirmed on the edge of my seat as the ending hurtled towards me. The Institute knocked my socks off, it is a thrilling, chilling ride, and sits not only as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, but one of our LoveReading Star Books too.
Set within the viciously violent reign of Jack the Ripper this is a historical crime novel with real attitude. When Susannah reads newspaper reports detailing a number of ferocious murders, she fears her new husband may be involved as he has been disappearing at night and returning bloodied and secretive. Goodness what a premise this is! While blood-soaked and brutally descriptive, it feels convincing and authentic rather than glorified and salacious. Clare Whitfield doesn’t hold back, but I felt she looked beyond the obvious violence with thoughtful consideration. Not only does she explore the Jack the Ripper case with this novel, she also highlights violence against women, abject poverty, and prejudice. Through the novel we are shown a glimpse of other lives, a connection begins to form before deliberately slicing away again to the main story. This is one of those books where there is no perfect shining light of a character to attach yourself to, life is a struggle, at times a battle, just to survive. Compelling, thought-provoking, and powerful, People of Abandoned Character has been chosen as a LoveReading Debut of the Month.
With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense. Stephen King's incredibly ambitious, heartstoppingly dramatic time travel novel, 11.22.63 is a riveting, high-stakes political story like Under the Dome, a love story like Bag of Bones and a 1950s community like IT. It's also a WHAT IF? story like no one's ever read before - a one thousand page tour de force.
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
A darkly rich and foreboding fantasy which hovers on the frightening edge of a believable future. Set in an alternate England, so very similar to our own, volume one of ‘The Black Dawn’ focuses on two teenagers in two different time frames. Gordon is born at the beginning of an environmental apocalypse and Megan in the future, into a technology free world; both are destined to search for the Crowman. As with all new worlds, it takes a short while to connect to the time and story line. Joseph D’Lacey begins by setting alternate chapters to introduce the pair, however as they walk their dreams and their lives start to intertwine, their tales merge and flow together, into and around you. There are moments of real menace and dread as the Earth hits back against humans, the descriptive writing scorches your imagination. The sequel, ’The Book of the Crowman’ promises answers, although I must admit to being a little worried about what the future holds for Gordon and Megan. So, allow yourself to sink into the deeply unnerving depths of ‘Black Feathers’, to walk into dark places and through past places in this stimulating and captivating read. ~ Liz Robinson December 2015 Book of the Month.
‘The Book of the Crowman' the second and last volume of ‘The Black Dawn’, is stirring, provocative and compelling. You most definitely need to start this journey with ‘Black Feathers’, this story needs to be told, to be heard from beginning to end. As the broken land fights back, Gordon and Megan are growing in their skills, gifts and abilities. Megan is the light to Gordon’s darkness, yet both are inextricably linked and both are fascinating. I felt as though I was bearing witness, as though I needed to remember this tale as a terrifying and terrible reckoning was thundering towards me. There is a subtle weave to the writing, paths link, join, and connect, yet this isn't neat and tidy, in fact, you may still have some questions whipping around your mind as you finish, however that feels right. Joseph D’Lacey doesn't hold back, I felt pain, I felt anger, I felt sorrow, but most importantly, when I thought I was emotionally exhausted, I also felt hope. ~ Liz Robinson
Offered as a Hammer novella, you may well expect a substantial amount of supernatural horror, however a more rational yet none the less uncomfortable and captivating read awaits. The story is told from Muna’s viewpoint, held as a slave, abused and kept in the dark, she still has a cunning intelligence and quietly bides her time. The simplicity of the writing reveals a truly complicated and at times distressing subject matter. The ending is left on a note of uncertainty, your thoughts scrabble for purchase as they are pushed off a cliff of understanding. The author writes with a true level of compassion without hiding the cruelty explored in this creatively taut, original and chilling read.
Startling. Clever. Thrilling. Different. This book snatched my attention from the moment I entered, and the ending siren-called to me throughout. When new neighbour Roux joins the local book group, she suggests a game that quickly turns Amy’s life upside down. Amy has a secret, and Roux threatens to reveal all, unless Amy plays by her rules. The first chapter is oh so clever, my thoughts twisted, scattered, re-grouped. I was desperate to know where this was heading, and what was coming. I am not often tempted to peek at the ending, as I love the build, the tension, the reveal. I admit that I almost had to sit on my hands to stop myself from looking! Joshilyn Jackson has created two main characters who entered my mind, knocked down thoughts, and created turbulent feelings. I bristled with indignation, winced and flinched as I read. Never Have I Ever isn’t an easy, obliging read, instead it is wonderfully shocking, completely addictive, and thoroughly entertaining.
Quite simply astonishing. Labeled as speculative science fiction, this is actually an all inclusive, wonderful colossus of a read so if you haven't tried sci/fi before, please don't be put off by the genre. The first sentence, so simple and yet so shocking, grabs your attention and plunges you straight into the story. Not too far in the future, the earth learns it’s on the brink of life extinction and there is a comparatively short length of time to prepare. Set in three parts, the first two deal with before and immediately after the crisis, the third book speeds forward to five thousand years later. It feels as though the author has seen the future and is allowing the reader to bear witness to this cataclysmic event in human history. Not only is this story a widescreen mega blockbuster, with great dexterity the author zooms in and concentrates on individuals lives and feelings. The techy and scientific elements are understandable, stimulating and weave through the story making for a fascinating read. Although this is a large book and offers a setting on an epic scale, it doesn't feel as though this should be the final curtain, there is plenty still to offer in this breathtaking and arresting new world.
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.
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.
This is a series that keeps on delivering, here we are at the fourth book, and it is just as addictive and original as the first, Six Stories. I really love the premise for this one, a chilling mix of the occult and an internet craze join the fabulous six stories format with online journalist Scott King. Six podcasts are delivered to us, to digest and form our own opinion after 24 year old vlogger Elizabeth Barton is found dead in The Vampire Tower on the Northumberland coast. Three young men were convicted in what they called a prank gone wrong, are they responsible? With the Beast from the East weather system and vampires haunting the pages, questions started whirling in my mind. As I read I felt as though a number of truths were being set free. As always Matt Wesolowski keeps a fabulously tight rein on the different voices, which so easily could run wild. Each character is unmistakable and I was able to hear them with sharp clarity. Beast is another winner of a read for me, if you haven’t yet joined in, what are you waiting for?!
Highly Recommended. Catriona Ward’s assured and artful first novel is a wonderfully gothic tale. Set in an Edwardian Devon haunted by the Great War it has its roots in some dark Victorian family secrets. The story revolves around Iris, last of the Villarca line, who lives in the eponymous Rawblood house. The Villarcas have died young for generation after generation; struck down by a curse that means they must be alone. So when Iris falls for farmer’s son Tom her father forbids her from seeing him. So far so melodramatic but this is no corny dark romance. Ward is an astonishingly adept writer with a wonderfully poetic turn of phrase and she is also in complete control of her characters and the plot. It quickly becomes clear that this is a many layered, complex and subtle novel and Ward has a real gift for sowing her horrors seamlessly into a psychologically real story. The west country setting and the period Ward has chosen add real flavour and while the obvious shadow of Thomas Hardy hangs over this Ward knows what she is doing and makes the book her own. Key to this is her prose style. There are real poetic touches here but they are always robustly rooted in landscape and nature – there’s more than a hint of Ted Hughes’ very physical poetry in her descriptions. If you enjoy Essie Fox or Sarah Perry Rawblood will haunt you. ~ Simon Spanton
With a wonderful premise and on point storytelling this is a truly fabulous and thrilling read. The manager of a set of holiday cottages has a hidden camera in the bedroom of a guest. The guest is murdered and the camera destroyed. What next? Hit rewind! I adore Catherine Ryan Howard’s novels, she plays with time and creates plot lines that deceive, outwit and impress. The chilling prologue to Rewind, so matter of fact yet descriptive, really hammers home. It feels like the end, it is the end for someone, yet of course it is just the beginning of the tale. As information is revealed and more characters introduced, even more questions are created. As I travelled backwards and forwards in time, the skill of the writing ensured I stayed fully involved and a part of the storyline. Rewind, so different, clever and powerful, is a sure-fire winner of a read for me, I absolutely loved it!
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016. April 2015 NewGen Debut of the Month. Quite simply breathtaking, it’s all too easy to become consumed by this beautifully written, vibrantly different and darkly rich fantasy. Spend 1935 with Delphine who is 12, as she hides in history, in war and battles, seeks out Mr Garforth the Head Gamekeeper and spends her time in hidden tunnels, woods and fields… away from Mother, Daddy and the confusion and mystery of the Society at Alderberen Hall. The author has the wonderful ability to paint a vividly full picture, it almost feels as though you’ve already seen the places he is describing and you’re welcoming them back into your minds eye. There are whispers and hints of what is to come, the writing pops and crackles in your head and heart, is this truth or is it imagination? Being unexpectedly invited into the inner thoughts of some of the characters pushes your thinking to scramble one way and then the other. As you reach the foothills of the ending, take a deep breath and look out, up and beyond; with the ability to keep you teetering on the edge of understanding, this is a stunning and beautifully moving debut novel. ~ Liz Robinson
Oh… my… word, this is one fabulous debut! I found a deceptively simple, and stark dystopian foray into a world blighted by bombs and sickness. Monster is completely alone until one day she finds a child. She becomes mother and passes on her knowledge, but are her mothering skills being received in the way she is expecting them to be? Told in the first person, Katie Hale has created short chapters where thoughts scatter, bounce, zigzag. I filed away feelings and emotions as I read, each within touching distance, lying in wait to prod and provoke. This feels honest, as though looking at a future just within grasp, or back to a history that has already happened. The feelings are raw, sometimes painful, yet relatable and believable. I found the premise of this novel absolutely fascinating, I explored interpretation of meaning, motherhood, and thoughts on the basic cycle of life. ‘My Name is Monster’ is poignant, moving and wonderfully different, it is also incredibly intimate, readable and surprisingly beautiful, I adored it. 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.
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.
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.
Stephen King is one of the greatest writers alive today. He always has a well-structured plot and a delightful turn of phrase. He is best known for his horror but I think his greatest achievement is the way he shows American life and culture in microcosm, engaging us in the lives of his characters. What people do to each other is far scarier than any monster. This is an excellent read if you want something firmly grounded in reality without the supernatural. Not horror but still in places horrifying. Circumstances, coincidences, bad detection all combine with grotesque inevitability. Two points of view, retired cop and crazed killer, and I felt for both these lovely characters and many of those around them. An excellent start to a trilogy, an excellent piece of writing, an excellent read. Books in The Bill Hodges Trilogy: 1. Mr Mercedes 2. Finders Keepers 3. End of Watch Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
Longlisted for the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger 2016. Finders Keepers is an intelligent, powerful and enthralling read from one of the masters of storytelling. While there are obvious ties to Mr Mercedes and several of the characters return, this could be read without knowledge of the previous novel. Part one introduces Morris and Pete who have developed a love for the written word by a particular author. Morris sets this tale in motion on one particularly violent day in 1978, while Pete starts to forge his link to the chain of events in 2009. Even with the merciless brutality on display, this is subtle, understated and clever writing by the author. Stephen King allows the story to flow and establishes the connection between the two main characters with an astute understanding of humanity. Foreboding circles within circles start to couple together, the tension creeps and lurks and the Finders Keepers detective agency join the action in 2014. Highlighting the elemental power of words and how obsessions can have devastating consequences, this is a penetrating and wonderfully captivating read. ~ Liz Robinson
A wonderfully sinister and mind-bending end to the ‘Hodges trilogy’. Yes, ‘End of Watch’ can easily be read as a standalone novel, however I really do recommend starting with ‘Mr Mercedes’, followed by ‘Finders Keepers’. Although each book is connected, each feels very different, and each is a brilliant, totally absorbing read. The team at the ‘Finders Keepers’ detective agency find themselves investigating a number of deaths and suicides that appear to connect to the diabolical Brady Hartsfield, however Hartsfield has been lying in hospital room for the last few years in an unresponsive state. With one time frame in the here and now, and one moving from the past towards the present, Stephen King takes this series to a whole new supernatural level as events take a decidedly menacing yet believable turn. I found the elements of mind control deliciously creepy, until I remembered what Hartsfield had done, and what he was capable of, and delicious became nightmarish! ‘End of Watch’ is a beautifully balanced combination of genres, and a fitting finale to what has been a simply fabulous trilogy. Click here to find out more about this title and Stephen King's other books.
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
This is serious spine-tingling stuff and not for the faint-hearted, it’s a novel packed with chills, thrills, nail-biting suspense and heart-stopping revelations. Join Ethan and Cathy and steel yourself against the blood-curdling terror that lies ahead as you realise that whatever horrors the stormy night can conjure, they are nothing compared with heart-stopping revelation of the new dawn. Chris Priestley’s Uncle Montagu’s Tale of Terror was published to considerable acclaim in 2007 and this one is the perfect follow-up though with an even greater gore factor. Also by this author: Uncle Montague's Tales Of 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.
What an absolutely chilling and incredibly gripping tale this is! When Freya’s husband dies, her neighbour Mark begins to plot and plan his way into her life. The first chapter pulled me up short, it had so much power, the words in themselves so quiet, yet they hurled a storm of awareness at me. Focusing on either Freya or Mark the penetrating storyline had the ability to both draw me in and cause consternation. Stevie Davies has a beautifully twisted pen, her writing really spoke to me. The little things matter, they build to create the most unnerving picture of obsession and I almost wanted to read while hiding behind a cushion. Yet this isn’t an obvious in-your-face fright-fest, it is a thoughtfully observed piece with fully formed characters. Sliding its way rather stealthily into thoughts, The Party Wall is an intense, stimulating read. I didn’t want to put it down, and have chosen this novel as one of my Liz Picks of the Month.
This haunting book focusing on motherhood and post-natal depression is small enough to slip into a pocket, yet the 48 pages really do pack an emotional punch. The narrator quietly builds a picture of her childhood before the story subtly moves in an altogether more chilling direction. A photograph sits centre stage, with memories constructed to fit a need, a want. The supernatural tone builds as the story continues, while the reality of post-natal depression hits home. The Haunting of Strawberry Water is part of the Spotlight collection of books. Spotlight is a collaboration between Creative Future, Myriad Editions and New Writing South to discover, guide and support writers whose voices are under-represented. A ghost story with a difference, The Haunting of Strawberry Water slips into thoughts and throughly provokes feelings.
January 2018 Book of the Month A masterclass in suspense awaits the reader in this almost understated, yet powerfully intense and dark novel. A family needing a fresh start move into a house where an unsolved double murder occurred twelve years previously, their actions set in motion an alarming chain of events. The first chapter was sharply powerful, yet almost dispassionately described by an observer, allowing me to bear witness, to remain on the edge. The characters are fascinating, each nudging feelings and thoughts in different directions as the various points of view created small time warps, as deception altered the vivid picture in my mind. J. Robert Lennon sets small seemingly inconsequential moments spinning together to create a throbbing tension which breaks with dramatic energy. Broken River is an intelligent, entirely captivating read with a hint of the uncanny skating over the pages - highly recommended.
So, so incredibly good, now that I have finished, I actually feel bereft. This book called to me, the cover design is divine, the synopsis gave me chills, and when I started, well, it was a non-stop absolute feast of a read. Tom hadn’t heard of the Whisper Man, he didn’t know about the murder of five young boys. Tom just wanted a new start, but then his son starts to hear whispering at his bedroom window. The prologue sent shivers coursing down my arms, it is followed by short, enthralling chapters that pushed and pulled at my emotions. Chapters change focus with no introduction, however the writing is such that they immediately connected and fell into place. I entered a mind space that made me feel entirely uncomfortable, yet set my thoughts on a different path. This is clever, beautifully compassionate writing by Alex North. While the tension reaches almost unbearable levels, there is a heartfelt balance of empathy and thoughtfulness that packs a huge punch. ‘The Whisper Man’ has left a lingering ache, it is an emotionally beautiful and terrifying read. I’ve chosen it as a LoveReading star read and one of my books of the month. I’m telling everyone I know - this is a must-read!
My heart is full of love for this darkly beautiful and mind-twisting novel. Set in the time of Elizabeth I, a curse given in anguish and hate is set to run amok. At birth Beau is burdened with great beauty and is due to be the cause of the death of his father, while unrelated to the curse, Randa is born a mix of beast and human. And, so begins a story of the greatest highs and the lowest lows, of revenge and hope, love and despair. The first sentence sucked me in, and I was held in thrall throughout. This is a completely gorgeous blend of Shakespearean drama, the very darkest of fairy tales, and the simply wonderful pen of Wray Delaney. I felt a reassuring half-formed recognition as I read, yet at the same time, a prickle of awareness that I was an explorer, charting an entirely new world. I highly recommend The Beauty of the Wolf to anyone who hungers for a bite of difference, with a more than a twist of glorious darkness. I have chosen this as both a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book, it’s fierce, it’s wonderful, I adored it.
Richard Adams' cult classic, reissued with a new introduction from the author to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Enter a world of ferocious savagery, ‘Shardik’ was written after ‘Watership Down’ and on the surface is as different as different can be, there are no gentle rolling downs or talking animals to be found here. Lord Shardik is a huge brute of a bear, believed by the Ortelgan people to be sent from and contain the power of their God. Set over a number of years we follow the path of power as it changes, corrupts or enlightens the people it touches. The land, villages and towns are as much characters as any, the authors descriptions bring this unstable and harsh world to life. This is a weighty tome, the moral of the story isn't intrusive but does occasionally loiter in the background. An epic in every sense of the word, this is a book once finished, you may want to delve straight back into, so you can ponder, reflect and contemplate this commanding tale. ~ Liz Robinson 'Shardik is my masterpiece' Richard Adams
February 2017 Debut of the Month. Written by a leading Argentinian crime author but set in the USA, around Boston, this psychological thriller is like a serpent eating its tail, weaving a web of questions, thrills, contradicting itself, reinventing itself and doesn't read at all like a translation at all, more like a Harlan Coben or Linwood Barclay novel with an added touch of madness. A man with a terminal tumour is about to kill himself when he is recruited by a mysterious organisation to kill both an evil person and then another poor soul in a similar sitruation as a way of making their deaths less painful to their relatives, and then next be on the list himself. But he soon discovers he is being manipulated and no one is who they pretend to be. A dizzying maelstrom of false identities, deception on every level, psychiatric complications worthy of Hitchcock ensue by the bucket load and will leave the reader dizzy, guessing over and over until the end. A stomach-churning achievement. ~ Maxim Jakubowski Maxim Jakubowski February 2017 Highly Recommended. The Lovereading view... A vivid and striking tale, this cunning book sticks a foot out when you're not expecting it, and as it trips you up, then swaggers off in the opposite direction. Ted McKay is stopped from committing suicide by a stranger, a man who then offers him a ridiculously practical solution to his problems. The first sentence didn't just capture my attention, it battered it. The more I read, the more questions I had, and the more I wanted to know, to understand. Even though it is full of drama, there is a subtle game at play here, Federico Axat sets jarring notes and fractures in the storyline which made me stop, think, doubt. I relished every second and I recommend accepting the premise and immersing yourself completely. Striking a different and unusual pose, ‘Kill The Next One’ is a memorable, riveting, and thrilling read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... Federico Axat has been touted by more than one critic as a disciple of Stephen King, and an early review described KILL THE NEXT ONE as ‘the perfect thriller’, but when I first read it I immediately thought of the films of Pedro Almodóvar. Reading KILL THE NEXT ONE is like disappearing into a maze—an expedition into male paranoia, into that uncomfortable place halfway between delusion and reality—but it’s also highly entertaining and full of action, with surreal plot twists, and a hook at the end of almost every chapter. Axat manipulates the reader from the first brilliant sentence and keeps you turning pages, never sure what’s about to happen, or if you’re being played. ~ Elizabeth Cowell, Senior Editor, Text Publishing.
Fabulously darker than dark, this psychological thriller hurls a firecracker into online relationships and stands watching, waiting for the fallout. Author Tom is somewhat addicted to social media, when one particular follower starts harassing him, Tom calls the police, but will a restraining order magic his problems away? The first few pages sent an icy shiver of foreboding coursing through me. Travelling immediately from that knowledge, to eight months previously set certain thoughts and questions quivering. I believe that you don’t have to like a character in a novel to love them, and for me that was the case here. Paul Burston has created fascinating, flawed characters and the more I got to know them, the further I was sucked into the story. Social media, judgement, victimisation, our social and personal responsibility for each other, all gather on the page waiting your thoughts. The Closer I Get is a fiercely provocative novel, and as well as being a boldly entertaining read, it really, really made me think.
A huge, almost sprawling thriller awaits, yet one that is ferocious, intense, and so, so readable. Set in Italy, Dante Torre and Captain Columba Caselli, both tortured souls, are enticed into the investigation of a child who has gone missing after his mother was beheaded. This is a complex case, filled with action, it quickly gains momentum. Every now and then a pause in proceedings, ‘before’ sections, allow access to the detailed brutality that defines Columba and Dante. Sandrine Dazieri has created a pair of fascinating leading characters, I was by their side and on their side. This is a fairly lengthy read, but I didn't want it to put it down as I raced through and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. ‘Kill The Father’ felt satisfyingly complete, and yet I was left wanting more, what a truly fabulous start to a new series. ~ Liz Robinson
A provocatively surprising read, at times graphically gruesome writing writhes from the pages, and a strong stomach is required to deal with some of the overtly descriptive and violent detailing. Three different men in different time spans have their thoughts and feelings brought to life, the connection isn't immediately obvious, then unsettling and troubling thoughts start to knock at your minds door as a recognition of repetition and joining of tales occurs. The intense, vivid descriptions of Dublin hint at what is to come, the stories twist together, encouraging the pages to turn faster and faster while a part of you almost fears to look in case your suspicion is correct. A disturbing, unsettling, dynamic, and intensely hard-hitting read; once you start, you really won’t be able to stop. ~ Liz Robinson
All the Little Pieces should come with a warning label: this is not a light easy read, it’s disturbing, sad, unsettling and… addictive. You are launched straight into the terrified thoughts of a young woman scrambling, crawling and battling for her life, then with a startling change of direction you find yourself sitting in a car with Faith as she drives herself and her four year old daughter home through a storm. You feel the beginning of this novel has set the stage for an inevitable journey, however the road taken by the author leads to unexpected stops and diversions. Hoffman maintains a bitingly taut tension through out, there is a harsh rawness and a feeling of sad reality that lingers as you turn the pages. If you believe in fairytales and everyone living happily ever after, perhaps best not to read this different and breathtakingly chilling book. ~ Liz Robinson
August 2014 eBook of the Month. Absolutely fascinating and riveting, this powerful read draws you in from the beginning and doesn't let go. Although partially set during the Second Wold War, this is not in itself a novel about war but rather a psychological suspenseful thriller. 'Alphabet House', a secure mental institute in the heart of Nazi Germany, holds more than the obvious concerns for two escaping RAF pilots. This novel contains two parts set in different time periods, allowing the true depths of horror experienced, to shriek and howl from the pages. It’s difficult to comprehend and impossible to fully understand the mental and physical torture that takes place. Adler-Olsen handles the anguish with great sensitivity, yet tells the tale with a stark, brutal reality. At times uncomfortable and difficult to read, none the less it’s a totally compelling tale of survival, guilt and love. ~ Liz Robinson
Oh my, this is a clever, chilling, and penetrating read. 29 year old TV crime reporter Eve Singer looks for murder and mayhem, but she needs to watch out, as one particular killer is staring right back at her. The very first page made me stop, think, and look at death from a different perspective…then chapter one slammed into my consciousness. As Belinda Bauer introduces a new character, she injects a momentary pause in proceedings as we are given detailed access to their memories and thoughts. An instant and very intimate connection is created, which actually ensures the action constantly moves forwards and is kept incredibly and powerfully taut. As the coiled shocking noose of death wound ever tighter around the story I simply couldn’t put it down. With sharply spiked claws that hook into your mind and don't let go, ’The Beautiful Dead’ is a heart pounding and captivating read. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Oh my word, this book is devious, twisted, and an absolute knockout! The story, revolving around love, passion, suspicion, and deceit, kept me teetering on a razor sharp wire of uncertainty. Sarah Pinborough’s writing is sublime, it’s shrewd, artful, cunning, and as the story sucked me in, I felt the manipulation of the words warping and writhing as they entered my consciousness. I found myself sitting in stunned silence when I reached the very end, then wanted to jump and down and recommend ‘Behind Her Eyes’ to the world. Start reading just as soon as you can so you too, can experience the deep, dark, dangerous depths of this truly bone-chilling and wonderful novel. Make sure you enter with a clear mind, and try not to get too confident as the story will quite happily trip you up and stamp all over you. Sarah Pinborough, I salute you! ~ Liz Robinson The considerable buzz building around Pinborough's new novel (following the already mightily impressive The Death House and 13 Minutes) is led not only from her respective publishers' camp but also, more importantly, from advance readers, and is fully deserved. This could well become a massive commercial success along the lines of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and it held me in thrall from beginning to end. The tale of a dark, puzzling and twisted affair that goes horribly wrong for, seemingly, all parties, it's unpredictable, tricky, immediate, gut-gripping and difficult to summarise without giving out any of the shattering spoilers and seduces like no other, with viewpoints changing in front of your eyes as you turn the page, putting all you've read before into question in a most clever way, sowing constant seeds of doubt the moment you begin to identify with one of the characters and sympathise with them. Imaginatively wicked, ingenious, and 'that' ending will leave you open-mouthed. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Some books are claustrophobic as they isolate their characters in a constricted setting, but Norwegian crime author Ravatn achieves the curious exploit of making a novel mostly set in the vast open air of the fjords claustrophobic as its two sole characters (aside from just a couple of outside 'extras') stew, fight, love and so much more in a cabin by a lake under the wide open sky. Allis, a journalist in disgrace, seeks a new life as a cook, gardener and helper with Sigurd, a taciturn older man who owns a cabin in a remote region of Norway, and whose wife is mysteriously absent. The psychological cat and mouse game is gripping as they clash, repel and attract and questions soon are raised about their previous lives and how past events will affect their future together or apart. Intense, lapidary, dream-like and streaked with anxiety, this is not a comfortable book, with not always likeable obsessive characters, but it proves rewarding as an investigation into the blank darkness of lost souls. ~ Maxim Jakubowski One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Lovereading view... A subtle, quietly sinister tale, where the tension slowly creeps and coils around the edge of your understanding. Allis removes herself from her previous life to become a housekeeper for Sigurd. On the edge of a fjord in a lonely existence, can Allis make sense of her life and reveal the secrets that cloak the house? Agnes Ravatn hasn't used quotation marks, this creates an intimacy with the words, yet they somehow echo with desolate intensity. The translation by Rosie Hedger is perfectly and completely in tune with the story. Gradually, slowly and almost silently, information is revealed, which kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘The Bird Tribunal’ unsettles, agitates and unnerves before a fierce concentrated rush of drama filled pages… and yet at the end, I detected a whisper of uncertainty floating in my mind, which actually left me feeling very satisfied indeed with this enthralling read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher...I had my eye on The Bird Tribunal for quite some time before I was in a position to acquire rights to publish in English, and I watched it win countless awards in its native Norway and go on to be made into a stage play. When a reader’s report and then the fabulous translation came in, I was not disappointed. It is one of the most captivating, tense, dramatic thrillers I have read in years. With only two characters and a Rebecca-esque plotline, it is beautifully written, with the isolated Norwegian fjord and the gardens of the solitary house situated there exquisitely described, and the sense of foreboding, the slow building of tension, the trickle of insights into the characters and the secrets they are hiding, make it an exceptional read. It’s already won an English PEN Translation Award, and been chosen for WHSmith’s Fresh Talent for the Autumn, and I could not be prouder to publish a book that takes Nordic Noir to fabulous new heights and marks the arrival of a major new talent in the genre. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
One of the Top 10 books in the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014. One of our Books of the Year 2014. Once you start, you will find it difficult to put down this compelling and totally captivating novel, so set aside some quality time and take a step into the unknown. The story is understated, yet builds powerfully, drawing you deeper into the dungeon of lost dreams, where there is just the slightest, meagre window of hope. The central characters are all damaged in some way, although many sit on opposite sides of the barbed wire fence. The connections and contrasts throughout the novel should fight against each other and yet with great sensitivity, the author balances this knotty tightrope of challenging emotions. The Enchanted is a heart-rending and harrowing novel, written with great compassion. The authors career working with death row clients prowls in the back of your mind. While you may suspect the ending, it is so shockingly intimate and arresting, it touches deep inside and leaves you feeling raw, battered and somehow, full of hope.Let yourself be taken by the hand by the narrator (yes, a monster) and observe with fresh eyes, our world, by one condemned to die. ~ Liz Robinson
Scandinavian crime fiction is well know for being dark, gritty and full of complex characters, The Man Who Watched Women sits confidently alongside its associates. The author pairing of Michael Hjorth and Hans Rosenfeldt is well established, together they created the Swedish TV series of Wallander based on the books by Henning Mankell, and Rosenfeldt was the creator of the Swedish TV series The Bridge. The first book in this series is titled Sebastian Bergman, although best to start there, it is possible to read The Man Who Watched Women out of sequence. Egocentric criminal profiler Sebastian Bergman really isn't likeable, he doesn't have to be, he does however need to get his act firmly together in order to be of any use in this particular investigation. The rest of the team have their own issues to contend with and the twisted mastermind behind these murders will fully exploit any weakness. This is a slow burner of a read, it takes a little while to get used to the writing style, however it gradually catches fire and each page turned fans the flames. Intense, sinister and bleak, this is a captivating and dramatic read. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2017 Debut of the Month. Provocative and compelling, this mind and heart-breaking tale really shouldn't be missed. After a school shooting, 18 year old Maja is finally in court, will she be found innocent or guilty, is she willing offender or naive victim, just what is the truth? Translated from Swedish, this was a huge bestseller in its native country. The words hit with hammer hard intensity from the outset. Maja tells her own tale, from day one in the courtroom, through to events leading up to the shooting, her thoughts and emotions veered from her head, straight into mine. Malin Persson Giolito occasionally allows light and hope to flicker in from beyond the dark, aching intensity. This really is very clever writing indeed, I felt as though my thoughts and feelings were trapped behind a caged door, constantly testing and searching for a way out. ‘Quicksand’ is a challenging, stirring, absolutely cracking read. ~ Liz Robinson
Convincing and commanding, this is a successfully emotional and haunting read. There are similarities to the style of Mary Kubica’s impressive debut ‘The Good Girl’, three main characters again tell their story, however this is an entirely different and original tale. Heidi and her husband Chris explain their thoughts and feelings after Heidi brings a stranger with a baby into their lives. Willow’s narrative, set in a future time slot, slices through the main storyline, creating tension and effectively keeping her remote and apart from the family. The author is able to present clashing and warring emotions and activities by all three characters without fracturing the storyline. Piece by tantalising piece, information is revealed, layering misgivings, upon foreboding, upon suspense. 'Pretty Baby’ flickers and ripples across your consciousness, this is clever, subtle writing and deserves to be highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
The first adult novel by an acclaimed children's book author, Sweetpea hits all the right buttons. A dark, twisted read about a female serial killer with dollops of humour, sarcasm and a lightweight approach to a serious subject that shouldn't work but does! Rhiannon loves her pet dog and her doll house and works in a menial position at her local newspaper. She also kills people in imaginative ways. None of them are actually innocent; well, maybe one was... Her boyfriend is cheating on her with a friend to his peril. You can't help but smile along with Rhiannon as her diary unfolds, bitchy, sarcastic, lethal. Skuse is clever and maintains just the right balance of immorality, belly laughs, sinister actions and eye-opening commentary on the absurdities and pettiness of everyday life to, keeping you gripped and on the hook, both smiling and squirming. I'm looking forward to her next 'grown-up' book, as this one will be hard to beat! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The LoveReading view... Oooh, this is a truly cringe-inducing, yet addictive, whammy of a read. ‘Sweetpea’ is the diary of a serial killer, Rhiannon may look sweet and innocent, but inside that shell, is a plotting, deviously twisted mind. The first chapter shocked me, in fact every chapter shocked me, I blurted with laughter and then burned with guilt at my reaction as words spilled from Rhiannon’s mind onto the page. If you find the thought of an evil-thinking, murdering psychopath, who tosses imaginative profanities like litter a little off-putting, then do think twice before opening this book. If you do peek, be warned, I found it impossible to put down, this is a psychopath whose words struck a chord and made me wonder at my own propensity for wickedness. This is the first novel for adults from C. J. Skuse, and I think she must have an evil little monster residing in her pen, yet as information was revealed, my thoughts halted, coiled, altered. ‘Sweetpea’ is a wonderfully surprising novel, obvious, a shock-fest, in your face… yet incredibly subtle and thought-provoking too, I loved it, I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson Books in The Rhiannon Series: 1. Sweetpea 2. In Bloom Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
So deeply dark (and satisfying) this book just might locate a tad of the dark side in you too. Rhiannon is back! If that doesn’t mean anything to you, stop here and do not pass go, head straight out and buy yourself a copy of Sweetpea first. You have to read Sweetpea (one of my books of 2017) followed by In Bloom (which will be one of my books of 2018) because there is no other way. I simply adored the shock-fest that introduces serial killer Rhiannon and wondered how on earth C. J. Skuse could top the thrill of discovering Rhiannon for the first time. The answer is that I fell head long into the story and refused to come up for air until I had finished, I found a darker, and perhaps if possible, a more provocative read, though one that still delivers killer blows of humour. Quite how the writing doesn’t tip over into a farcical blood-bath I’m not sure, it just proves the beautiful balanced touch to the writing that encourages thought, while inducing cackles. The truly fabulous kill list continues, more of Rhiannon’s back story is revealed, a certain little voice adds a delicious note of reasoned absurdity, and oh my word that ending! Trampling over conventionality and kicking conscience in the face, In Bloom is an immensely powerful and stimulating read.
A suspense-filled, compulsively readable, energy-rush of a ride, and a book that I read in one sitting. Events take a decidedly dark turn when Kate Marshall is asked to investigate a death, and she and research assistant Tristan end up in a race to save the intended victim of a killer. This is the second in the Kate Marshall novels and if you are already a signed up fan, then Shadow Sands continues the series in wonderfully dramatic style. I do actually feel as though you could read this as a standalone novel (always the sign of a good writer), but to fully enjoy the storyline I recommend that you begin with the stonkingly good Nine Elms. Set two years after the last book, Robert Bryndza invites us further into the lives of Kate and Tristan and sets up one heck of a scary scenario, along with multiple suspects. He excels in creating a biting tension, and I found myself in that exquisite position of wanting to race ahead yet savour the story. Penetrating and chilling, Shadow Sands is thoroughly recommended if you like to be kept right on the very edge of your seat.