It’s that time of year where we look back on the books we’ve loved most this year.
In 2021 I’ve read a total of 170 books (well, I will have by the end of tomorrow lol) so you can imagine that narrowing it down to just 21 was no easy task. I went back and forth over this list for weeks, struggling to get it down from 30 and then 25.
Thirteen of these book are by new-to-me authors, eleven are debuts and two are part of a series. Three of the author, Stacey Halls, Ellen Alpsten and Jessica Ryn, have had all of their books in my list of favourites in the year each was released and were all in my list of 20 favourites of 2020.
I plan to do a stack of the books that almost made it in the coming days so keep an eye on my social media for that. But for now, here are the 21 books I loved most in 2021:
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
The Lamplighters is a truly accomplished debut. Haunting, mesmerising and atmospheric, it tells the story of the disappearance of three men and their warring widows. Drenched in mystery and with a hint of the paranormal, it is a vividly told and addictive read that I devoured quickly. I loved that it was based on a true story, adding even more intrigue to this already fascinating tale.
Published March 4th 2021 by Picador. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker
This crazy psychological thriller still vividly lives rent free in my mind almost a year after reading. Like the author herself, this is a vivacious, darkly funny and compelling debut that I loved. It tells the story of every parents’ worst nightmare come true, of how longing can become twisted into evil, and the ripple effects of trauma and pain. Mummy remains one of the most terrifying creations I’ve read, mostly because I understand her and why she became who she is. If you love a well-written thriller then read this book.
Published February 25th 2021 by Viper Books. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
I’m a sucker for a multi-generational friendship so I was immediately on board for a story about a seventeen-year-old girl and eight-three-year-old woman. Lenni and Margot are residents of the hospital’s terminal ward and build a friendship in the art room, telling their stories through paintings that illustrate the many highs and lows of their shared one hundred years. Hypnotic, mesmerising and heart-rending, this is a book that reaches into your soul and changes you forever. A story of life, death, all the magical moments in between.
Published February 18th 2021 by Doubleday. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Asylum by Karen Coles
Claustrophobic, haunting and addictive, The Asylum is a spectacular debut that doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. Exquisitely written, it transports you to the bleak, shadowy rooms of the asylum and the anguished recesses of Maud’s mind. Fans of historical and Gothic fiction will not want to miss this book.
Published April 1st 2021 by Welbeck. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
Once again Elizabeth Macneal has created a masterpiece. Captivating, illuminating and consuming, I was under the spell of this story from start to finish. This is a story about the outcasts, about finding your place in the world and what it is to be human. Circus of Wonders is dazzling piece of historical fiction that is not to be missed.
Published May 13th 2021 by Picador. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
Oh, my heart. When I think of this book that is my first thought. A story about love, sacrifice, fear and survival set against the backdrop of a remote Scottish island during World War II, The Metal Heart is a breathtakingly beautiful story that I will never forget.
Published April 29th by Michael Joseph. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Atmospheric, lush and evocative, Ariadne is a rich tapestry that swept me away. In this glorious debut, Jennifer Saint brings to life many of the familiar Greek myths through a new lens, tells them from the perspective of the women who were previously relegated to the sidelines. And it is utterly spectacular, sparking my obsession with Greek mythology. I loved it so much that I not only bought the beautiful hardback, but also the Waterstones special edition. This is a book that I recommend to everyone, whether you’ve previously been interested in Greek myths or not.
Published April 29th by Wildfire. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
If Ariadne ignited my obsession with Greek mythology, The Wolf Den solidified it. The first in an exciting new trilogy, it tells the story of Amara, a former Doctor’s daughter sold into slavery and now one of the she-wolves at Pompeii’s infamous brothel. Lush, evocative and atmospheric I was transported to the doomed city’s dusty streets and immersed in Amara’s fight for survival and freedom. I am counting down to book two in May so I can find out what happens next.
Published May 13th by Head of Zeus. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
The Stranding is a story about the end of the world. About humanity, love, hope and survival. Imaginative, original and utterly magnificent, it surpassed all my expectations. I still find it hard to believe this is a debut. Exquisitely written and beautifully observed, this was a masterclass in storytelling. I will certainly be buying anything Ms. Sawyer writes in the future.
Published June 24th 2021 by Coronet. Buy here* Read my full review here.
This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
This is the book that I always recommend when anyone asks for a 2021 book they might not have read. A truly astonishing novel from an extraordinary talent, I think this book deserves to be on everyone’s reading list. It is a story about the nuances and complexities of being human that is full of heart, warmth and wisdom. A story that is unflinchingly honest and achingly real. I have a son with autism and am so thankful to Louise for writing a book that doesn’t show us a cliché, but a real person who is as individual as anyone else. Please read this book.
Published June 24th by Orenda Books. Buy here. Read my full review here.
The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
Another masterpiece in the Tsarina series by Ellen Alpsten. Her debut novel, Tsarina, was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I am not surprised that the follow up was every bit as good. This time she tells the story of Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, following her highs and lows after Russia is torn apart and her fortunes drastically change. The Tsarina’s Daughter is dazzling piece of historical fiction that I couldn’t put down and left me eagerly awaiting book three.
Published July 8th 2021 by Bloomsbury. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bulbitz
A murder mystery with a twist, this startling debut tells the story from the perspective of the victim rather than those investigating the case. And this creative author goes even further, also highlighting what it is like to be the person who discovers the body, a person we rarely hear more than a passing sentence or two about in most thrillers. Timely, brave and thought-provoking, it stands out from the crowd of other thrillers. A must read for fans of the genre.
Published July 15th 2021 by Sphere. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Mrs England by Stacey Halls
Stacey Halls once again shows why she is a Queen of historical fiction and one of my favourite authors with this slow-burning novel. Atmospheric, eerie and full of menace, it follows Ruby, a Norlander Nurse, on her latest job caring for the four England children is West Yorkshire. But all is not quite what it seems with Mr. and Mrs. England, and secrets are slowly revealed in this haunting and twisty novel.
Published June10th by Manilla Press. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Beresford by Will Carver
Will Carver is an author with a quirky, twisted and original style that is all his own. And The Beresford is another outstanding example of his creative genius. It opens with a murder then follows the residents of The Beresford, a halfway house for the disillusioned and vulnerable that has a life of its own, living and breathing as much as the physical characters of the story. Seductive and unsettling, The Beresford is my favourite Will Carver book to date.
Published July 22nd 2021 by Orenda Books. Buy here. Read my full review here.
The Last Library by Freya Sampson
The Last Library is my favourite uplit of 2021. A bibliophile’s dream, this is a hug in book form and is now one of my favourite books of all time. It follows a varied cast of characters as they fight to save their beloved local library from closure. It is a celebration of books and the power of stories, but also of community, friendship, kindness and courage. A charming, funny and uplifting story that I can’t recommend highly enough.
Published September 2nd by Zaffre. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
A perfect family is fractured and torn apart when illness invades their lives and not only tests their strength, but makes them question their core beliefs and values in this extraordinary piece of historical fiction. Powerful, moving and thought-provoking, this beautifully written story is one you won’t forget.
Published September 2nd by Head of Zeus. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Maid by Nita Prose
I was lucky to be selected as a VIP for the Tandem Collective readalong of this highly anticipated debut. A murder mystery that was also a balm for my soul, this book exceeded all expectations and was like nothing I’ve read before. I adored Molly, the heroine of this wonderful story. Quirky and endearing, the world would be a better place if we were all a little more like her. Nita Prose is an author with a bright future ahead and I have no doubt that this book will be a sensation when it’s released next year and I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation that is already in the works.
Published January 20th 2022 by Harper Collins UK. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
A book about the pandemic doesn’t sound like something that would be on my list of top books, but Jodi Picoult has added her magical touch to make that so. A story about resilience, hope and survival that explores the fear and trauma of the pandemic and the limitless potential of the human mind. Beautiful, heartwarming and absorbing, I got lost in this book. I thought I knew what I was getting when I started reading, but I had no idea. When that twist comes it blows your mind and shakes you to the core. This is one of Ms. Picoult’s best books to date.
Published November 25th 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton. Buy here* Read my full review here.
The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn
Sometimes you pick up a book and it is exactly what you need. That was the case when I decided to read this book on a whim. Uplifting, heartwarming and hopeful, this is a beautiful story of friendship, community and forgiveness. Just as she did with her debut novel, Jessica Ryn has given us another everyday heroine to root for and I was behind Violet every step of the way. Ms. Ryn has solidified her place on my list of auto-buy authors and I can’t recommend her books highly enough.
Published November 25th by HQ. Buy here* Read my full review here.
A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington
One of those books that is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, A Girl Made of Air is a mesmerising and magical tale. It tells the story of an nameless and unwanted protagonist, following her from the days as a neglected child living in a circus in England then all the way to New York, where she found fame as the greatest Funambulist of all time. For this dazzling debut, Nydia Hetherington merged Manx folklore, fairy tales, circus freaks and fiction to create a story about the strange and the extraordinary. My only regret is that I left it to languish on my shelf for so long. Pick it up now.
Published September 3rd 2020 by Quercus. Buy here* Read my full review here.
Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar
I am so glad that I saved this spellbinding story to read over Christmas as it is on Christmas Eve that most of the magic happens in Everwood. Marietta dreams of being a ballerina but her high society family have another path for her life that she must follow. As she prepares for final performance, Marietta discovers a hidden magical world full of wonder hidden in the scenery. But this enchanting place holds magic darker than she ever imagined and Marietta soon finds herself fighting to find a way to break free of Everwood’s hold and return home. A mesmerising debut sprinkled with magic, this is the perfect winter read.
Published October 28th 2021 by HQ. Buy here* Read my full review here.
BOOK OF THE YEAR
I have agonised for weeks over what book should be given the title of Book of the Year. I had two main contenders: Ariadne and This Is How We Are Human. It was only now, while writing this post and putting together my thoughts about the books, that it became clear which book would get the title. It is a book that lives in my heart and soul, one that I am passion about having other people read and that I truly believe has the power to educate and change minds. That book is This Is How We Are Human by the incomparable Louise Beech. If you’ve not read it, please do. And let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Happy New Year and I will see you in 2022. Emma xxx
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Magical Realism, Coming-of-Age Story Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
In the darkness of night, magic awaits…
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.
After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…
“Only the most magical things happen at midnight. When mortal folk are dreaming, safe in their beds, it is then that the sprites and goblins creep out and the air crackles with wild magic.”
Nottingham, 1906. Marietta longs to be a ballerina but she is torn between the life she wants and the one her high society family expects her to have.
On Christmas Eve, as she prepares for final performance, Marietta discovers a hidden magical world full of wonder hidden in the scenery built by mysterious new neighbour Dr. Drosselmeir. But this enchanting place holds magic darker than she ever imagined and Marietta soon finds herself fighting to find a way to break free of Everwood’s hold and return home.
I’d saved Midnight in Everwood to read over Christmas and I am so glad I did. I started it on Christmas Eve, which is when most of the magic happens in Everwood, and was so enthralled that I had to force myself to stop reading at 2am so I would be able to function the next day. I was spellbound by this magical tale that I feel sure will become a future Christmas classic.
“… once magic has entered your life, you stay in it’s glittering clutch forever.”
Luminous and enchanting, Midnight in Everwood is a dark fairytale for adults. An air of creeping menace lingers over every page like a silent shadow waiting to strike, making my heart race and sending shivers down my spine. Richly imagined and beautifully told, I was transported to another world as I followed Marietta’s journey. Ms. Kuzniar is a gifted wordsmith, her glorious prose and evocative imagery bringing the stifling rigidity of high society in the early 1900s and the dazzling beauty of Everwood to life as vividly as if I’d stepped inside them myself.
Like Marietta, I was enchanted by Everwood, a wondrous dreamworld with its sugar-spun castle, frozen landscape and magical charms. But beneath the glittering facade is a much darker side. Less of a dream and more of a nightmare. A place ruled by a tyrant who enjoys torture and pain.
“Never dull your sparkle for anyone else, flame fiercely into your own glittering future.”
This is a book filled with spectacular characters. Marietta is a brilliant protagonist who I immediately liked. Feisty and determined, she doesn’t fit the mould expected of her and refuses to acquiesce. I loved this and was rooting for her from the start. That feeling only grew after she’s captured in Everwood and I was cheering her on and hoping she would find a way to escape the king’s clutches. I loved the relationship she had with her brother, Frederick, himself a great character who I could have happily read a lot more of. But it was her friendship with Pirlipata and Dellara I enjoyed most of all. This wonderful trio were a delight to read, Dellara in particular bringing an ebullience to the page that made her captivating. I loved watching their bond grow and cheering them along as they came together to find a way home.
Shimmering, incandescent and haunting, Midnight in Everwood is a mesmerising debut sprinkled with magic. The perfect book to get lost in on a cold winter’s day while snuggled under a cosy blanket, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is one that I will treasure forever.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world which inspired her children’s series The Ship of Shadows. Her adult debut novel Midnight in Everwood was inspired by her love of ballet and love of The Nutcracker.
Can you believe that we are almost in October? The nights are drawing in, the air is cooler and spooky season is upon us in the book world. And I’m thrilled! I’m also looking forward that the Christmassy books are starting to be released too. It comes together to make this month’s anticipated releases an eclectic and exciting mix.
The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
Published: October 7th, 2021 Publisher: Duckworth Genre: Ghost Story
SYNOPISIS: A CHILLING DEBUT TEEMING WITH SPIRITS, SÉANCES AND SCANDAL.
Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism, attending séances in the hope they might reach their departed loved ones.
William Jackson Crawford is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sitting around the circle, voices come to him – seemingly from beyond the veil – placing doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen’s parlour tricks gone too far?
Based on the true story of Professor William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunted, twisted tale of power, paranoia, and one ultimate, inescapable truth…
Published: October 9th, 2021 Publisher: Orenda Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: Estranged brothers are reunited over plans to develop the tower block where they grew up, but the desolate estate becomes a stage for reliving the events of one life-changing summer.
Twins Aaron and Clive have been estranged for forty years. Aaron still lives in the empty, crumbling tower block on the riverside in Deptford where they grew up. Clive is a successful property developer, determined to turn the tower into luxury flats.
But Aaron is blocking the plan and their petty squabble becomes something much greater when two ghosts from the past – twins Annette and Christine – appear in the tower. At once, the desolate estate becomes a stage on which the events of one scorching summer are relived – a summer that shattered their lives, and changed everything forever…
Grim, evocative and exquisitely rendered, Fall is a story of friendship and family – of perception, fear and prejudice, the events that punctuate our journeys into adulthood, and the indelible scars they leave – a triumph of a novel that will affect you long after the final page has been turned.
In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.
Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…
In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.
Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…
All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.
Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…
SYNOPSIS: From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.
If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…
On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.
It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.
Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.
Published: October 14th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Ghost Story, Horror Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome has taken the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea.
Her charge, Mary, is a troubled child. Distracted and secretive, she hasn’t uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William – just days after their former nanny disappeared.
With Mary defiantly silent, Elspeth turns to the islanders. But no one will speak of what happened to William. Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors. Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms.
Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night . . .
As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself trapped.
But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past?
OR THE SECRETS OF THE LIVING..?
Chilling, twisty and emotionally gripping, The Whistling is an atmospheric page-turner with shades of the classics, yet a unique character of its own. Perfect for fans of Susan Hill and Laura Purcell.
We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
Published: October 14th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Genre: Thriller, Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: THE MOST IMPORTANT NOVEL YOU’LL READ THIS YEAR
Not every story is black and white.
Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.
This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.
But can anyone win a fight like this?
We Are Not Like Them is about friendship and love. It’s about prejudice and betrayal. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost.
Published: October 14th, 2021 Publisher: Apollo Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.
Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.
Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.
SYNOPSIS: The Talbots are having one last party at their family home. But Effie hasn’t been invited . . .
Effie’s still not over her parents splitting up a year ago. Her dad and his new girlfriend are posting their PDAs all over Instagram – and no one should have to deal with photos of their dad with the hashtags #viagraworks and #sexinyoursixties. Now they’re selling the beloved family home and holding a ‘house-cooling’ party. When Effie receives only a last-minute ‘anti-invitation’, she decides to give it a miss.
Until she remembers her precious Russian dolls, safely tucked away up a chimney. She’ll have to go back for them – but not as a guest. She’ll just creep in, grab the dolls and make a swift exit. No one will know she was ever there.
Of course, nothing goes to plan. Not only does Effie bump into her ex-boyfriend (who she’s very much not over), she can’t find the dolls. And as she secretly clambers around dusty attics, hides under tables and mournfully eyes up the dessert table, she discovers unexpected truths about her family – and even about herself.
With time (and hiding places) running out, Effie starts to wonder if she’d be better off simply crashing the party. Perhaps that’s the only way to find out what’s really going on with her family…
Expect shocking secrets, hilarious mix-ups and an unforgettable romance. Welcome to the party of the year!
SYNOPSIS: This is the confession of Laurence Jago. Clerk. Gentleman. Reluctant spy.
July 1794, and the streets of London are filled with rumours of revolution. Political radical Thomas Hardy is to go on trial for treason, the war against the French is not going in Britain’s favour, and negotiations with the independent American colonies are on a knife edge.
Laurence Jago – clerk to the Foreign Office – is ever more reliant on the Black Drop to ease his nightmares. A highly sensitive letter has been leaked to the press, which may lead to the destruction of the British Army, and Laurence is a suspect. Then he discovers the body of a fellow clerk, supposedly a suicide.
Blame for the leak is shifted to the dead man, but even as the body is taken to the anatomists, Laurence is certain both of his friend’s innocence, and that he was murdered. But after years of hiding his own secrets from his powerful employers, and at a time when even the slightest hint of treason can lead to the gallows, how can Laurence find the true culprit without incriminating himself? A thrilling historical mystery, perfect for readers of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor, Antonia Hodgson and Laura Shepherd-Robinson.
Published: October 14th, 2021 Publisher: Head of Zeus Genre: Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A spine-chilling Irish horror adventure set in the remote unknown forests of Galway, from debut Irish author A.M. Shine.
You can’t see them. But they can see you.
This forest isn’t charted on any map. Every car breaks down at its treeline. Mina’s is no different. Left stranded, she is forced into the dark woodland only to find a woman shouting, urging Mina to run to a concrete bunker. As the door slams behind her, the building is besieged by screams.
Mina finds herself in a room with a wall of glass, and an electric light that activates at nightfall, when the Watchers come above ground. These creatures emerge to observe their captive humans and terrible things happen to anyone who doesn’t reach the bunker in time.
Afraid and trapped among strangers, Mina is desperate for answers. Who are the Watchers and why are these creatures keeping them imprisoned, keen to watch their every move?
Perfect for fans of Francine Toon, Paul Tremblay and Andrew Michael Hurley.
SYNOPSIS: Some secrets can never be concealed . . .
Nell Galilee, her husband and twelve year old step-daughter Maude rent a holiday cottage by the sea, needing time and space away from home. Nell grew up in this small, wind-blown town and has mixed feelings about returning, and it isn’t long before she is recognised by a neighbour, seemingly desperate to befriend her. The cottage has been empty for some time, and from the start Nell feels uncomfortable there. Something isn’t quite right about this place . . .
Maude, furious about being brought here against her will, soon finds herself beguiled by the house’s strange atmosphere. There are peculiar marks in the roof beams above her bedroom, and in another room, a hiding place, concealing a strange, unnerving object.
As the house gradually reveals its secrets, Nell becomes increasingly uneasy – and Maude spellbound. But these women – and the women that surround them – are harbouring their own secrets too, and soon events will come to a terrible head . . .
A brilliant, unsettling and chilling novel of mothers and daughters, truth and deception and the lengths people will go to, to obtain power over their own lives, The Hiding Place is the second chilling novel from the acclaimed author of The Wayward Girls.
Published: October 14th, 2021 Publisher: Headline Genre: Memoir
SYNOPSIS: ‘Gradually, I began to feel this dawning awareness that womanhood was coming for me, that it was looming inevitably, and it didn’t feel safe…’
Evanna Lynch has long been viewed as a role model for people recovering from anorexia and the story of her casting as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films has reached almost mythic proportions. Here, in her fascinating new memoir, Evanna confronts all the complexities and contradictions within herself and reveals how she overcame a life-threatening eating disorder, began to conquer her self-hate and confronted her fear of leaving the neatness and safety of girlhood for the unpredictable journey of being a woman, all in the glare of the spotlight of international fame.
Delving into the very heart of a woman’s relationship with her own body, Evanna explores the pivotal moments and choices in her life that led her down the path of creativity and dreaming and away from the empty pursuit of perfection, and reaches towards acceptance of the wild, sensual and unpredictable reality of womanhood. This is a story of the tragedy and the glory of growing up, of mourning girlhood and stepping into the unknown, and how that act of courage is the most magical and creatively liberating thing a woman can do.
Published: October 19th, 2021 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS: In this tense thriller from the bestselling author of What You Did and The Other Wife, a woman finds a dead body. Will she make the same mistake as last time?
When Rachel stumbles upon a body in the woods, she knows what she has to do: run. Get away. Do not be found at the scene. Last time, she didn’t know, and she ended up accused of murder. But when this victim is identified as her boyfriend’s estranged wife, Rachel realises she’s already the prime suspect.
With mounting evidence against her, Rachel’s only hope is to keep the truth about herself well hidden. Because twenty years ago she was someone else―Casey, a young nanny trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. When the family she worked for were brutally murdered, all the evidence pointed to her and she went to prison. Back then, she narrowly escaped the death penalty and managed to free herself on appeal. Now she’s fighting to save the life she’s spent years piecing back together.
But with her behaviour raising suspicion and the police closing in, Rachel can’t help wondering: Was her discovery in the woods really just an awful coincidence, or is someone framing her for murder? Someone who knows who she is, and wants revenge…
Published: October 21st, 2021 Publisher: Sphere Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Horror Fiction, Ghost Story
SYNOPSIS: Eight bestselling, award-winning authors return to the time-honoured tradition of the seasonal ghost story in this dazzling new collection. This is your indispensable companion to the long, dark nights this October
Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularized the tradition, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a ghost story.
Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors-all of them master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre-bring the tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding new collection of original spine-tingling tales.
Taking you from the frosty Fens to the wild Yorkshire moors, to the snow-covered grounds of a haunted estate, to a bustling London Christmas market, these mesmerizing stories will capture your imagination and serve as your indispensable companion to cold, dark nights.
So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the spell of winters past. . .
Published: October 21st, 2021 Publisher: Sphere Genre: Biography, True Crime
SYNOPSIS: While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels. It was this early fascination that led to her job as a pathology technician, trained in forensics and working in mortuaries.
Nearly every Agatha Christie story involves one – or, more commonly, several – dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles.
Of course, Agatha herself didn’t talk of ‘forensics’ in the way we use it now, but in each tale she writes of twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the ‘whodunnit’, Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn’t Easy Carla illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.
Published: October 21st, 2021 Publisher: Hodder Studio Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: When Amira takes her mother Afrah to Ravenswood Lodge Care Home, she thinks they will both be safe. But the past is just around the corner . . .
Amirais struggling to look after her mother, Afrah. So when they arrive at Ravenswood Lodge Care Home, beautiful and imposing against the background of the Scottish Highlands, she hopes it is the right decision for them both.
But soon Afrahinsists her belongings are being stolen, her photographs, her jewellery, her pill boxes, Amira and the staff are convinced it’s just Afrah’s imagination, it’s just her memory.
But Afrah knows Ravenswood Lodge isn’t a safe place. Could it have something to do with the past? She remembers newspaper clippings, hazy images of a fire years ago, a memory she’s spent years forgetting and now she just wants to remember.
Someone wants her gone. But first, she needs to convince Amiraof the truth.
The compelling, heartbreaking debut novel by Farah Cook, about mothers and daughters, and secrets that are never really forgotten . . .
Published: October 26th, 2021 Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Legal Thriller, Political Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author, a new legal thriller about a man who might be the most criminal sitting judge in American history.
In The Whistler, Lacy Stoltz investigated a corrupt judge who was taking millions in bribes from a crime syndicate. She put the criminals away, but only after being attacked and nearly killed. Three years later, and approaching forty, she is tired of her work for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct and ready for a change.
Then she meets a mysterious woman who is so frightened she uses a number of aliases. Jeri Crosby’s father was murdered twenty years earlier in a case that remains unsolved and that has grown stone cold. But Jeri has a suspect whom she has become obsessed with and has stalked for two decades. Along the way, she has discovered other victims.
Suspicions are easy enough, but proof seems impossible. The man is brilliant, patient, and always one step ahead of law enforcement. He is the most cunning of all serial killers. He knows forensics, police procedure, and most important: he knows the law.
He is a judge, in Florida – under Lacy’s jurisdiction.
He has a list, with the names of his victims and targets, all unsuspecting people unlucky enough to have crossed his path and wronged him in some way. How can Lacy pursue him, without becoming the next name on his list?
The Judge’s List is by any measure John Grisham’s most surprising, chilling novel yet.
Published: October 26th, 2021 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Young Adult Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From debut author Carolyn Tara O’Neil comes a thrilling alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.
Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war–the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible–not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna’s offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.
Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now–regardless of her loyalties–Evgenia is too.
Daughters of a Dead Empire is a harrowing historical thriller about dangerous ideals, loyalty, and the price we pay for change. An imaginative retelling of the Anastasia story.
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury YA Genre: Folklore and Mythology, Greek Mythology, Young Adult Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A dazzling, feminist retelling of Greek myth from the internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist, stunningly illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill.
Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love and betrayal.
Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill, this astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation.
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Genre: Fairytale, Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: In the darkness of night, magic awaits…
The Nutcracker for adults, perfect for fans of Robert Dinsdale’s The Toymakers, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Stephanie Garber’s Caraval
’It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittering clutch forever’
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. At the wishes of her family, she will be obligated to marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in her life. Although Drosselmeier’s magic is darker than Marietta could have imagined…
When he constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself walking through a land of snow-topped fir trees leading to a frozen sugar palace silent with secrets and must find a way to return home.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: Tor Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy, Gay Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Witty, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is a gift for troubled times. TJ Klune brings us a warm hug of a story about a man who spent his life at the office – and his afterlife building a home.
Welcome to Charon’s Crossing. The tea is hot, the scones are fresh and the dead are just passing through.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own sparsely-attended funeral, Wallace is outraged. But he begins to suspect she’s right, and he is in fact dead. Then when Hugo, owner of a most peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace reluctantly accepts the truth.
Yet even in death, he refuses to abandon his life – even though Wallace spent all of it working, correcting colleagues and hectoring employees. He’d had no time for frivolities like fun and friends. But as Wallace drinks tea with Hugo and talks to his customers, he wonders if he was missing something.
The feeling grows as he shares jokes with the resident ghost, manifests embarrassing footwear and notices the stars. So when he’s given one week to pass through the door to the other side, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in just seven days.
SYNOPSIS: The brand new feel-good Christmas novel from Sunday Times top ten bestselling author, Jenny Colgan.
Carmen has always worked in her local department store. So, when the gorgeous old building closes its doors for good, she is more than a little lost.
When her sister, Sofia, mentions an opportunity in Edinburgh – a cute little bookshop, the spare room in her house – Carmen is reluctant, she was never very good at accepting help. But, short on options, she soon finds herself pulling into the snowy city just a month before Christmas.
What Sofia didn’t say is that the shop is on its last legs and that if Carmen can’t help turn things around before Christmas, the owner will be forced to sell. Privately, Sofia is sure it will take more than a miracle to save the store, but maybe this Christmas, Carmen might surprise them all…
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: The Borough Press Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller
SYNOPSIS: GET OUT. BEFORE THEY SAVE YOU.
Early 1800s. Thomasina Trelora is on her way to the colonies. Her fate: to be married to a clergyman she’s never met. As the Australian coastline comes into view a storm wrecks the ship and leaves her lying on the rocks, near death. She’s saved by an Aboriginal man who carries her to the door of a grand European house, Willowbrae.
Tom is now free to be whoever she wants to be and a whole new life opens up to her. But as she’s drawn deeper into the intriguing life of this grand estate, she discovers that things aren’t quite as they seem. She stumbles across a horrifying secret at the heart of this world of colonial decorum – and realises she may have exchanged one kind of prison for another.
The Ripping Tree is an intense, sharp shiver of a novel, which brings to mind such diverse influences as The Turn of the Screw, Rebecca and the film Get Out as much as it evokes The Secret River. A powerful and gripping tale of survival written in Nikki Gemmell’s signature lyrical and evocative prose, it examines the darkness at the heart of early colonisation. Unsettling, audacious, thrilling and unputdownable.
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled
SYNOPSIS: The gripping new thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last!
A hidden community… Thirty years ago, in the English countryside, a commune was set up. Led by Uncle Saviour, it was supposed to be a place of love, peace and harmony. But what started out as paradise turned into hell.
A shocking abduction… Now, two young children have vanished from their home in the middle of the night. Their parents are frantic, the police are at a loss.
A twisting case… DI Ottoline is leading the search – her only clue a mask found in the woods. Could the key lie in events that took place decades ago, when a dream of a new way of life became something far more sinister?
Welcome to my second post of my most anticipated books of 2021. Today I’m sharing the twenty-one debut novels being released this year that I’m most excited about. Once again, this was a very difficult list to narrow down as there were many more I’m looking forward to and have on my tbr.
SYNOPSIS: In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.
The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.
But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.
The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr’s breathtaking debut, The Prophets. Pre-order here.
The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.’
My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.
The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.
They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.
Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together. Pre-order here.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘I will never forget her eyes in that moment – I couldn’t look away from them. But I knew what happened as soon as I heard it.
‘I think she pushed him,’ I said to you quietly. ‘I think she pushed him…’ ___
The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right.
I had always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.
My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.
But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.
Is it her? Or is it me? Is she the monster? Or am I? ___
The Push is an unsettling, breathtaking and powerful read about obsession and our deepest fears that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.
How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.
The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.
In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light. Pre-order here.
Girl A by Abigail Dean
Published: January 21st, 2021 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre:
SYNOPSIS: THE BOOK THAT WILL DEFINE A DECADE
SOON TO BE A TV SHOW DIRECTED BY JOHAN RENCK (Chernobyl)
‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’
Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.
Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: The sunniest places hold the darkest secrets . . . ________
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
SYNOPSIS: ‘Rebecca meets The Secret History. Gloriously dark, gloriously gothic’ SARA COLLINS, Costa First Novel Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’. Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be. But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late. Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood and Madeline Miller, Madam is a darkly feminist tale with an electrifying cast of heroines you won’t soon forget. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.
An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.
And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . . Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY
Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.
As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.
Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…
’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home, stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can. But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house. Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’
Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.
Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?
And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in? Pre-order here.
London, 1665. Hidden within a growing pile of corpses, one victim of the pestilence stands out: a young woman with a shorn head and pieces of twine delicately tied around each ankle.
Symon Patrick, rector of St. Paul’s Covent Garden, cannot say exactly why this corpse amongst the many in his churchyard should give him pause. Longing to do good, he joins a group of medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague, each man more peculiar and splenetic than the next. But there is another, unknown to The Society for the Prevention and Cure of Plague, who is performing his own terrible experiments upon unwilling plague-ridden subjects.
It is Penelope – Symon’s unwanted yet unremovable addition to his household – who may yet shed light on the matter. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…
This hugely atmospheric and entertaining historical thriller will transport readers to the palaces and alleyways of seventeenth-century London. Perfect for fans of Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Andrew Taylor and C.J. Sansom.
SYNOPSIS: When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.
Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.
Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones…. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Daniel is the perfect husband. Rory is the perfect brother. Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.
And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.
When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.
Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret… Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.
Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: A bewitching debut from a magnetic new voice in historical fiction. CUNNING WOMEN is sure to be loved by fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mercies.
They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.
1620s, Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwell amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk, the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should your needs require. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.
When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is, a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?
And when a new magistrate arrives to rid out those behind the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.
Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Wildfire Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
SYNOPSIS: A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
SYNOPSIS: Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of book publishing.
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.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
SYNOPSIS: When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger s life months earlier is to blame. An unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable. Pre-order here.
Midnight in Everwood by M. A . Kuzniar
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Historical Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: In the darkness of night, magic awaits…
The Nutcracker for adults, perfect for fans of Robert Dinsdale’s The Toymakers, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Stephanie Garber’s Caraval
’It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittering clutch forever’
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. At the wishes of her family, she will be obligated to marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious new neighbour, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in her life. Although Drosselmeier’s magic is darker than Marietta could have imagined…
When he constructs an elaborate set for her final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself walking through a land of snow-topped fir trees leading to a frozen sugar palace silent with secrets.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…