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We want to introduce to you some spine-chilling tales that inspire concern, fear, or terror... of course accompanied with a delicious feeling of excitement. Walk on the darker side of life, discover wicked characters, eerie locations, and plots that encourage goosebumps to skitter down your arms. If you feel the need to leave the light on, or find yourself a little jumpy after reading these books, just don’t blame us!
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.
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.
A beautifully chilling gothic story set in Victorian England that gripped me from the start. It tells the stories of Ruth Butterham and Dorothea Truelove, two very different women from opposite ends of the social scale. Ruth’s is an abusive, bleak, harrowing tale and the narrative splits between Ruth and Dora as their lives intersect in Oakgate Prison where Ruth is imprisoned for the death of her mistress, and Dora attends to comfort prisoners as part of her charitable work. Dora becomes obsessed with Ruth driven by her interest in phrenology - is she mad or murderer, victim or villain? A story of abuse, murder and a hint of supernatural. I couldn't put it down.
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.
Wonderfully clever and chilling, Changeling is a short novel that contains just as much as it needs to, and so is perfectly formed. This episode of Six Stories, a series of podcasts by online journalist Scott King, takes us to Christmas Eve 1988 and the disappearance of seven year old Alfie. If this is your first taste of this series, I think you could read it as a standalone, however I highly recommend starting at the beginning with Six Stories, followed by Hydra. The cold case podcasts are beautifully written by Matt Wesolowski, the voices so distinctively clear that I almost heard, rather than read the words. Wentshire Forest is deeply dark and exquisitely creepy, full of folklore, ancient belief and strange goings on. My heart battled with my head as I heard each podcast, I thought I had an inkling as to what was happening and will admit to a certain amount of smugness which was soon whipped out of me as the ending packed a real punch. Changeling continues a series which just keeps on getting better and better, it surprises, thrills and enthrals in equal measure.
May 2018 Book of the Month Deliciously and thrillingly creepy, The Craftsman is an intensely gripping, superb read. Thirty years ago Larry Glassbrook confessed and was imprisoned for a series of child murders. Florence Lovelady was at the beginning of her career when she was involved in the case, now Larry is dead, however hauntingly similar events start to surface. The first chapter has huge impact, a mystifying and unexpected blast hit me full on, and then gently faded into the background. Set in two time frames, with thirty years between them, the story is brisk, and I loved the fact that you are expected to keep up. Sharon Bolton balances the knife edge between reality and extraordinary with a beautiful subtlety. This is just so, so readable, once in, I didn’t want to stop, and found myself reading into the small hours, be warned though, reading at night doubles the chill factor. As I raced through the final few chapters, I almost didn’t want the journey to end, yet the last few words sent the most delightful icy goosebumps snaking down my arms. I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, just give yourself up to the glory of the The Craftsman... this I have no doubt, will be one of my favourite reads of the year.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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