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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!
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.”
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.
It will come as no surprise to learn that Ben Elton has written another remarkable book, ‘Time and Time Again’ however, captures the flag of remarkable and nails instead to the mast, extraordinary. The first chapter seizes your attention, the second captivates it entirely, so rub your hands with glee and settle in for a stonkingly good read. Hugh ‘Guts’ Stanton is an intensely thrilling character, not by any means perfect, oh no, but definitely someone with the ability to change the world, change history even. There is such exceptionally clever writing here, groups of words can seduce and entice, then without warning, gang up and assail your senses. The surprises are also sneaky and capable of leaving you open mouthed in shock. A galloping great read, this is a book to fall in love with, to tell your friends about and as your mind replays the action, you will want it close by to dip into and read again and again.
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
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.
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
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.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. A thoroughly perturbing, provocative, yet riveting read. Single parent Ruth wakes one morning to find her two children missing, almost immediately she is surrounding by judgement and condemnation. The first few pages set you in a time, a situation that allows understanding to settle, before you are thrust into 1965 and Ruth’s life just before her children disappear. Emma Flint allows us to see beyond the obvious, gradually peeling away layer after layer, slowly encouraging truth to creep out from where it is hidden. I wanted to throw preconception out of the window, to stamp and howl at assumptions, and yet questions hovered at the back of my mind. ‘Little Deaths’ isn't an easy comfortable read, it jolts and jars at your senses as it takes hold and doesn't let go. Poignant and immensely sad, this well written novel is a truly captivating read. ~ Liz Robinson
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
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.
Gosh, what a striking and chillingly provocative tale this is. Geo’s best friend disappeared when they were 16, 14 years later a body is found, a serial killer is suspected, Geo knows the truth, has always known the truth, but then the murders start again. This has such a clever premise, the choices Geo made at 16 continue to play havoc, I questioned her, and my own thoughts and feelings about her as I read. I was wholly consumed by the writing, Jennifer Hillier has created a world that feels entirely real, I was taken inside the words, to think and feel and ponder. This isn’t about good and evil, or even whether monsters are born or created, it felt to me as though it was about decisions, choices, hearts and minds, in very, very human bodies. The climax sent a shockwave through me, when I reached the end I was left feeling unsettled, in the best possible way. Jar of Hearts is an observant, penetrating read, one that grabs and shakes you, and leaves you thinking about the characters for a goodly while afterwards. Highly recommended.
Well, this is one seriously addictive and fabulous read. Now that I have finished I feel bereft, exhilarated, and have one humdinger of a book hangover. Set in London, it is 1863 and private detective Bridie Devine is on the case of a stolen child. The prologue hooked me as surely as a fish on a line, I gaped, wondered, and leaned in for more. Descriptions opened with vivid intensity in my mind, creating the most glorious views. There is something about Jess Kidd’s writing that speaks directly to my soul, she knows how to lull, tickle, burn. She created a stinging tension, on a number of occasions leaving me hanging while popping into the past. I have to say that Bridie Devine is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve come across. She has taken up a somewhat boisterous lodging in my mind and she’s more than welcome! Information swirled around, making my thoughts whirl, adding to the torrent that I knew was surely coming. And oh, that ending! Things in Jars is a Victorian detective story with a difference, it crosses genres and set light to my imagination. It has been added to my list of favourite books. Bridie Devine to my list of favourite detectives. Jess Kidd has been confirmed on my list of favourite authors. Things in Jars is LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Robinson Pick of the Month… Need I say more?