Contemporary horror and ghost stories

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
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
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.

Demon

Demon

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

The sixth story in Matt Wesolowski’s intense and distinctive Six Stories series. The elusive online journalist Scott King makes a stunning return as his Six Stories podcast explores a 1995 cold case and alleged demon possession. Chills will run down your spine as you read this brilliant new instalment that weaves together fiction, our obsession with true crime and horror.

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.

HAUNTED

HAUNTED

Author: Tony Marturano Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/11/2020

The second book in the series ‘Haunted’ by Tony Marturano continues the story of Marco Battista who, after the events of the first book, heads to the small village of Porthcoe with his wife to recuperate and renovate his late father’s holiday home. It is encouraged before and as you start reading that you begin the ‘Haunted’ series with book number one: Psychosis, and it is something I would also recommend as the events of that first book are referred to a lot. This is a tense thriller filled with ghosts, secrets and questions. I liked the style of narration, for the duration of this book we the reader are a constant confidant to Marco as he tells us of the strange occurrences within the house, even seeking confirmation at times which sent me scooting back up the page to double check. I felt like this added to the creepiness and at least in a bookish sense had me double checking every corner and looking over my shoulder as I read. Also, the references to the events in the previous book, even for those that haven’t read it, suggests that Marco may be an unreliable narrator which is something I liked for adding tension and uncertainty to the story.  Tension, strange dreams, a couple that enjoy jumpscaring each other and the jumpscares built into the plot all amount to a brilliant horror story, ideal for the darker winter months. The scene with the moth still sends shivers up my spine even after I’ve finished reading, eugh! With the addition of character developments and a storyline that you can get invested in (this book is most certainly not all about the scare), I think that this is a brilliantly thrilling, page-turning horror.

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