Horror and supernatural fiction

Her Majesty's Royal Coven

Her Majesty's Royal Coven

Author: Juno Dawson Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/07/2022

The first in a supernatural new series from the author of Wonderland, Her Majesty's Royal Coven follows a top secret government department of witches and the deadly threat to the nation that they must confront. Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within. There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple … but now it’s about to get apocalyptic. Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series. A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.

The Other Black Girl

The Other Black Girl

Author: Zakiya Dalila Harris Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/06/2022

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she's thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They've only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella's desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It's hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career. Dark, funny and furiously entertaining, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

eBooks of the Month
The Dying Squad

The Dying Squad

Author: Adam Simcox Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

DYING IS HELL . . . SOLVING YOUR OWN MURDER IS PURGATORY When Detective Inspector Joe Lazarus storms a Lincolnshire farmhouse, he expects to bring down a notorious drug gang; instead, he discovers his own dead body and a spirit guide called Daisy-May. She's there to enlist him to the Dying Squad, a spectral police force made up of the recently deceased. Joe soon realises there are fates far worse than death. To escape being stuck in purgatory, he must solve his own murder. A task made all the more impossible when his memories start to fade. Reluctantly partnering with Daisy-May, Joe faces dangers from both the living and the dead in the quest to find his killer - before they kill again.

Star Books
Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility

Author: Emily St. John Mandel Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

The award-winning author of Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel returns with a wondrous novel of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment. Sea of Tranquility is a virtuoso performance and an enormously exciting offering from one of our most remarkable writers. In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. In British Columbia, he enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and for a split second all is darkness, the notes of a violin echoing unnaturally through the air. The experience shocks him to his core. Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth, far away from her home in the second moon colony. Within the text of Olive's bestselling novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him. When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe. Sea of Tranquility is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. Perceptive and poignant about art, and love, and what we must do to survive, it is incredibly compelling.

Shadow Girls

Shadow Girls

Author: Carol Birch Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

I loved this atmospheric, coming-of-age novel, with its ghostly and tragic undertones. Shadow Girls explores the fragility and intensity of teenage friendships in the mid-1960s. The book instantly conjured up memories of my own school days in the 1980s – adolescent emotions, rebellious behaviour, first relationships and cliquey peer groups. The characters leapt out of the page, thanks to the stunning, highly descriptive prose and believable dialogue. The first half of the book is a slowburn, building up the tension and feelings of nostalgia; the second half is unsettling and much darker. The supernatural element of the book worked well for me too, sending a chill down my spine, and with an unreliable narrator it was very difficult to know what was real and what wasn't. Shadow Girls is also a beautiful written novel about mental health and the psychological impact of grief. It's a haunting read, and one that stayed with me long after I turned the final page. 

Books of the Month
Annihilation

Annihilation

Author: Kaylin McFarren Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2022

‘Annihilation’ by Kaylin McFarren is Book 2 in the Gehenna series. I would recommend that you start with ‘Soul Seeker’ in order to make the most of the plot and learn more about Crighton and Ariel’s unusual soul-mate connection. After the demise of Lucifer, his daughter Lucinda has assumed control of Hell and former soul-collecting demon Crighton Daemonium and his newly formed family face a whole new host of challenges. There’s a few sections that need some editing, missing words and the odd typo throughout, but ‘Annihilation’ is an intense and fast paced fantasy drama. There’s plenty on offer that will surely appeal to a range of readers: biblical folklore, underhand deeds, conspiracies, prophecies and serpentine twists and turns to keep you on your toes while the threat of a great war between heaven and hell looms. Also, as we’re dealing with Hell, and it’s creatures, there's lots of opportunities for heat and steam with these lust- filled characters, potentially not one to read if you don’t like mature content, and with more than one incidence of rape. Left on a cliffhanger ready for the next book in this fiery series, ‘Annihilation’ is an intense and dramatic power struggle and like a jigsaw puzzle, lots of different pieces that hide the bigger picture until the end. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Woman, Eating

Woman, Eating

Author: Claire Kohda Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/03/2022

Funny, unsettling and searingly affecting Claire Kohda’s Woman, Eating is a devour-in-one-sitting kind of novel. A feverish feast of female-centred fiction that explores our fundamental yearning to belong, and our complex relationship with food, hunger and our bodies through a brilliantly-bold, freshly-told twist on vampire tales. Lydia’s vampiric condition is revealed in wry style when she rents a studio space for artists. For a few pages, her sensitivity to sun and light could be interpreted as a medical affliction, before bam! We learn of Lydia’s struggle to source fresh pigs’ blood, and that her institutionalised, centuries-old mother was responsible for turning her into the part-human, part-demon she now exists as. An existence that’s left her unbearably isolated, feeling “like my body is a puppet”, and with a complex relationship to hunger and food. While she can’t digest the kind of sustenance humans enjoy, Lydia is acutely aware of the way humans “give food a lot of power…If you lose control in your life, you can find control in your food”. This is the first time Lydia has lived apart from her mother. Her loneliness is excruciating, and exacerbated when she meets new people at the studio and during her gallery internship. Lydia’s longing for physical and emotional closeness is palpable, as is her struggle to contain her impulse to feed herself fresh blood. Alongside this, the novel explores colonialism as vampirism — Lydia is a young British woman born to a Japanese father and a Malaysian mother whose father was “a white British man who had arrived in Malaysia as part of a colonising power. He ate many women, but for some reason had her drink from him so she would become what he was”. Such questions around identity and an intense sense of hunger sear through this uniquely powerful novel.

Books of the Month
Sundial

Sundial

Author: Catriona Ward Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/03/2022

So exquisitely haunting it hurts, Sundial slithers into thoughts to carve out a spot and make itself at home. Fearing for the future of both her daughters, Rob takes troubled Callie to her own childhood home in the Mojave Desert and revisits the past. I have been of fan of Catriona Ward since her debut Rawblood, each of her subsequent novels has become my new favourite, and that is most certainly the case here. Just reading the synopsis sent a shiver through me, I had to have this book! As I started to read, goosebumps shivered and skittered their way down my skin to declare just how special this was going to be. A quiet menace slipped past my boundaries to create a heightened sense of fear for what was to come. The smallest yet most vital of moments are created to tip feelings already in the balance. Trust is a scarce commodity, love though, love is more than evident as mother and daughter test their relationship. There is also a grace to be found, in the eloquence of words as they slice and then stitch to form the most vividly real and vibrant story. Sundial is an intensely dark and blazingly beautiful novel about the love that can hold us together, or shatter us into pieces. This stunning tale that hovers on a sharp edge of horror has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month, it will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.

Star Books
The Soul Stealer

The Soul Stealer

Author: Graham Masterton Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

'God, he's good.' Stephen King A Native American demon is unearthed in the present day. Original, disturbing and utterly terrifying, this is the new standalone from master of horror, and author of The Manitou, Graham Masterton. Nemo Frisby used to be a detective. Now he drives an Uber between billionaire mansions in California. But he never lost the nose for the case - and when his housecleaner Trinity Fox discovers a young woman lying dead in her neighborhood, she persuades him to help her prove it wasn't suicide. Their investigation leads them to the Bel Air home of a wealthy movie producer, who built his mansion over a Native American burial site. Ancient mythology tells of a demon who, if unearthed, can imbue evil men with terrible power. But only if the demon is fed by the sacrifice of innocent lives... Graham Masterton is a true master of his genre, famous for his original, disturbing, and utterly terrifying novels. The Soul Stealer will stand alongside The Manitou as one of horror's most chilling explorations of the native magic of the ancients.

The Leviathan

The Leviathan

Author: Rosie Andrews Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Set in the 17th-century during “a time of witches, a time of saints”, an era of “Gods and monsters, myths and legend”, Rosie Andrews’ The Leviathan smoulders with atmosphere and the tension of its turbulent political context. It’s unique enchantments will surely delight fans of The Essex Serpent, The Binding and The Familiars. It’s 1643 and England is in the throes of civil war when Esther Treadwater calls her brother back to their family farm fearing their father has been drawn into the “corruptions” of their new servant. From the off, the writing dances and enthrals with absorbing imagery and detail to create an utterly immersive world. By the time Thomas reaches home, their father has suffered a stroke and the servant has been accused of witchcraft, whereupon readers are plunged into village life, the courtroom, rural inns, and the increasingly beleaguered family home. Indeed, the siblings’ conflicts and predicaments have you in their thrall as much as the richly-realised world - these are characters who feel thoroughly alive. Considering himself a forward-thinking man, Thomas has little time for superstition, but it’s not long before Esther is afflicted by unknown internal torments, and he uncoils an uncanny ancient event that might explain their present tribulations. What a divinely dark, accomplished debut this is.

Debut Books of the Month
The Key In The Lock

The Key In The Lock

Author: Beth Underdown Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/01/2022

I read this beautifully stormy dark gothic mystery while perched high up on the edge of my seat. A dreadful fire has haunted Ivy for years, she mourns two deaths, and now seeks the truth. Beth Underdown’s debut  The Witchfinder's Sister was a bestseller and winner of the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award 2017, this is her second novel and it more than lived up to my expectations. The two time frames, sitting either side of the First World War, are initially fractured before they gradually fuze together. Information dripped and then seeped into the pages before hiding in my thoughts. The story is secretive, occasionally sullen as it begins to unfurl. Cornwall, and the house in particular cast a brooding presence which adds to the intensity of this tale. The characters are perfectly imperfect, trust is a scare commodity, and each casts a deep shadow. I was held in limbo while I read, totally immersed in the writing. Expressively powerful The Key in the Lock thrills and chills in equal measure. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book, this historical mystery is a worthy contender for the very top of your reading list.

Star Books
Fragile

Fragile

Author: Sarah Hilary Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Everything she touches breaks . . . Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong. So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own. But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . . A dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

Star Books