Horror and supernatural fiction

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.

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
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 scare 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.

Star Books
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
Demon

Demon

Author: Matt Wesolowski Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Scott King's podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series. In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world. Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the 'Demonic Duo' who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity. Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act. And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public's ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun...

The Haunting Season

The Haunting Season

A collection that’s billed as ‘Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights’ that features eight award-winning authors – all masters of the mysterious and the macabre - was always going to grab my attention! With a stunning cover and top names, this was bound to be an instant bestseller. Stand out stories for me include Laura Purcell’s, The Chillingham Chair, Lily Wilt by  Jess Kidd and Thwaites’ Tenant which I was unwise enough to read right before bedtime. Perfect bite-sized pieces of supernatural scariness. Selected by Carole Matthews, Our Winter 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.

The Nesting

The Nesting

Author: C.J. Cooke Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Atmospheric, gothic, spine-chilling... The new thriller from C.J Cooke will haunt you long after you turn the last page... It was like something out of a fairytale... The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it's as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale. But this family has a history - and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory. Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don't make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care. But protect them from what?

Star Books
The Piano Room

The Piano Room

Author: Clio Velentza Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Fabulously inventive, and laced with evocative detail and intrigue, Clio Velentza’s The Piano Room boasts bite and a beautifully crafted plot. Taking inspiration from the timeless tale of Faust, this keenly accomplished debut sees an entitled young man make a deal with the devil in order to forge his own destiny, so intense is his desire to renounce the weight of his family’s musical genius. Sandor Esterhazy comes from a long line of formidably talented pianists. His family are also immensely wealthy - his father, for example, dresses in embroidered slippers, shiny tuxedoes, and soft leather gloves; the opulence and elegance of his background are tangible. Sandor, on the other hand, seems cut from a different cloth - “There was no spirit to his music: instead of rising into the air with warmth and spice, the melody clambered out of the instrument and lay on the floor like a lifeless thing.” And so Sandor decides to summon the devil himself to escape his fate. Relieved when nothing happens (“I’m such an idiot. It was all a joke. It’s all right. It’s over”), he’s overwhelmed when the devil later appears and promises, in return for his soul, that Sandor “will be free to lead the life you choose rather than the one laid out for you.” Sandor is left with a mysterious creature, Ferdi, whom he locks in his basement piano room, for a time at least. Exploring self-determination and what it is to be human with wit, delicious gothic atmosphere and a compelling sense of ennui, The Piano Room is an immersive joy.

eBooks of the Month
The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita

Author: Mikhail Bulgakov Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The acclaimed, bestselling translation of Mikhail Bulgakov's masterwork, an undisputed classic of Russian and world literature An audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature. The novel's vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its author's lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the 1960s. Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speech. Now The Overlook Press is reissuing this acclaimed translation in an all-new package. One hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka. The visitors quickly wreak havoc in a city that refuses to believe in either God or Satan. But they also bring peace to two unhappy Muscovites: one is the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate; the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing to literally go to hell for him. What ensues is a novel of inexhaustible energy, humor, and philosophical depth, a work whose nuances splendidly emerge in Diana Burgin's and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor's superb English translation, with an afterword and extensive commentary by Ellendea Proffer.