If cold winds and overcast skies have you homebound this January, pick up one of these January paperbacks, by turns funny, scary, and challenging. Whether you want to warm up with irreverent humor and cackling wit or embrace the chill with a thrilling ghost story, this selection has just what you need. Start the year off right with one of these explosive books that are sure to keep haunting you all throughout the new year.
In MIRRORLAND, Carole Johnstone crafts a chilling psychological thriller about love and revenge. Twin sisters Cat and El have been estranged for years. But when El mysteriously disappears, Cat must return to their Gothic childhood home in Edinburgh. There, she finds a series of clues that seem left just for her, clues determined to take her back to the imaginary world of Mirrorland, which she and her twin sister invented in the dark space beneath the stairs long, long ago.
Told with startling twists and haunting power, Mirrorland is a thrilling psychological suspense novel about twin sisters, the man they both love, the house that has always haunted them, and the childhood stories they can’t leave behind.
Cat lives in Los Angeles, far from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs, full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days, Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband, Ross.
But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which hasn't changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues: a treasure hunt that leads back to Mirrorland, where the truth lies waiting...
A brilliantly crafted story of love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.
It’s 1888 and in the Dakota Territory children are about to walk home from school. That is, until a vicious blizzard leaves young schoolteachers with the impossible decision of whether to keep the children inside and risk freezing to death or send them out in hopes that they can make it home alive. Expertly researched by the author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE, THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD tells the story of three different women trapped within the storm’s wrath, using details gleaned from oral histories of the survivors.
There is something wrong with baby Violet. Her mother, Blythe Turner, is sure of it, despite her husband’s assurances to the contrary. Years later, Blythe’s second-born, Sam, seems like the perfect child, beloved by everyone. But when their quiet family life erupts into disaster, Blythe must face the choices she made that brought her to this devastating moment. An immersive and propulsive family drama, THE PUSH captures the chilling and provocative underbelly of what motherhood truly means.
A modern ghost story from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McMahon, THE DROWNING KIND is a chilling and suspenseful tale of the history that haunts us. When Jax learns that her increasingly manic and paranoid sister, Lexie, has drowned in the pool on their grandmother’s estate, she begins investigating a past far darker than she could’ve imagined. In 1929, a newlywed arrived on the same land, longing for a baby. There, she discovered a natural spring with water rumored to grant wishes but at a price.
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST THRILLER OF 2021
“A haunting exploration of grief and a tale that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.” —Simone St. James, New York Times bestselling author
A woman returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.
Be careful what you wish for.
When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
A modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us, The Drowning Kind “is satisfying on every level: Marvelously chilling, elegantly written, a true page-turner” (Janelle Brown, New York Times bestselling author).
Richly researched and textured with unparalleled archival access, THREE-MARTINI AFTERNOONS AT THE RITZ explore the complex, fierce, and radical relationship between two iconic figures in poetry: Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Introduced at Boston University by poet Robert Lowell, Plath and Sexton spent years as rivals and friends, sharing everything and pushing each other forward. And as their lives unfolded along uncannily similar paths—from professional success to suicide attempts, self-doubt, and interpersonal difficulty—the two women kept in touch through a weekly drinks date where they discussed it all.
In this vividly rendered and empathetic biography of two of the greatest poets of the 20th century—Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton—“the friendship and rivalry that the pair shared—not to mention the titular cocktails at a Boston hotel—is explored in fascinating detail” (Town & Country).
Introduced at a poetry workshop in Boston University, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton formed a friendship that would soon evolve into a fierce rivalry, colored by jealousy and respect in equal terms.
In the years that followed, these two women would not only become iconic figures in literature, but also lead curiously parallel lives haunted by mental illness, suicide attempts, self-doubt, and difficult personal relationships. With weekly martini meetings at the Ritz to discuss everything from sex to suicide, theirs was a relationship as complex and subversive as their poetry.
Based on in-depth research and unprecedented archival access, Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz will leave you “hungering for more of what these two literary comets burned with: the power of a little poetry. Deliriously fast-paced and erudite, this is highly recommended” (Library Journal, starred review).
Anvar was the rebellious type even when his family lived in Pakistan in 1995, during an uptick in Muslim fundamentalism. When the family immigrates to California, Anvar takes it to the next level, determined to become a bad Muslim. Meanwhile, Safwa is living in a devastated Baghdad with her conservative father; but she, too, is determined to make it to America. When Anvar and Safwa cross paths in 2016, their worlds and families will never be the same in this comic and insightful look at a tight-knit Muslim American community.
In this terrifying domestic thriller, one woman risks everything she knows to escape the man who has become her whole world. Her husband calls her Jane, but that is not her name. Nor is the small farm cottage he keeps her in her home. They are surrounded by miles of fields, with nowhere to go. But when Jane discovers she’s pregnant, she knows that now is the time to find a way out, even if it means risking the life that is growing inside her. A perfect heart-pulsing read for fans of Emma Donoghue’s ROOM.
“Immediate, intense, gripping, taut, terrifying, moving, and brilliant.” —Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Invisible Girl
“Brilliantly written...terrifying.”—Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One
A woman being held captive is willing to risk everything to save herself, her unborn child, and her captor’s latest victim in this “intense, dark, and utterly chilling” (Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts) thriller in the tradition of Misery and Room.
On an isolated farm in the United Kingdom, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her seven years ago. When she discovers she is pregnant, she resolves to protect her child, no matter the cost, and starts to meticulously plot her escape. But when another woman is brought into the fold on the farm, her plans go awry. Can she save herself, her child, and this innocent woman at the same time? Or is she doomed to spend the remainder of her life as a captive?
Intense, dark, and utterly gripping The Last Thing to Burn “explores the resilience of the human spirit, even in the face of unfathomable evil. This harrowing journey is one worth taking” (Publishers Weekly).
In this new paperback edition of INTERESTING WOMEN, from RED ISLAND HOUSE author Andrea Lee, a woman visiting Thailand finds herself in a fleeting confessional relationship with another woman. An old-fashioned European prince embarks on an affair with a savvy New Englander half his age. A seemingly average housewife surprises her Italian husband with an unexpected gift. In these sharp, clever, and stylish stories, New Yorker writer Andrea Lee delves into the unexpected lives of bright, autonomous, cosmopolitan women. And while these women will have you believe they know just who they are, Lee’s startling insights reveal the uncertainty we all feel in an increasingly connected world.
From the acclaimed author of Red Island House, Andrea Lee’s brilliant, outrageous collection of short stories confronts identity, desire, colliding cultures, and self-discovery.
In vivid prose infused with wicked irony, award-winning author Andrea Lee takes us on a dazzling international journey into the hearts and minds of a number of extraordinary women—intelligent, cosmopolitan, and fiercely independent—who, with wit and style, grapple with questions of identity in an increasingly connected world where everyone has become, in some way, a foreigner.
In “The Birthday Present,” a seemingly conventional American wife explores the wilder shores of marital devotion by giving her Italian husband an outrageous gift. “Winter Barley” is the account, alternately lyrical and perverse, of the brief love affair in Scotland between an elderly European prince and a thoroughly modern New England beauty half his age. And in the collection’s title story, “Interesting Women,” a woman on vacation in Thailand reflects with wry detachment on the confessional relationships that spring up between women (“another day, another soul laid bare”), before falling into one herself, which culminates in a hilarious and absurd odyssey through the jungle.
Lee’s beautifully crafted stories offer a rare combination: a sensual evocation of the moment, and profound insight into the underlying struggles—of gender, race, and class—that continue to shape our world. Critically acclaimed when it was first published, this collection is ready to be embraced by a new generation of readers.
In this engrossing, multigenerational memoir, Charlie Gilmour can’t remember a time that he wasn’t obsessed with his father’s absence. Instead, he forms a tender relationship with a fragile magpie that arrived in his life and wouldn’t leave. Meanwhile, his father, who abandoned his family years ago, finds himself raising a jackdaw as if it is his son. A tender and generous story of one man’s journey to understand his father, FEATHERHOOD will appeal to fans of Helen Macdonald’s H IS FOR HAWK.
In this “vivid…lovely and inviting” (The New York Times) coming-of-age memoir—the “best piece of nature writing since H Is for Hawk” (Neil Gaiman)—a young man saves a baby magpie as his estranged father is dying, only to find that caring for the bird saves him.
This is a story of two men who could talk to birds—but were completely incapable of talking to each other.
A father who fled from his family in the dead of night, and the jackdaw he raised like a child.
A son obsessed with his absence—and the young magpie that fell into his path and refused to fly away.
This is a story about the crow family and human family; about repetition across generations and birds that run in the blood; about a terror of repeating the sins of the father and a desire to build a nest of one’s own.
College sweethearts Kit and David find themselves in the comfortable, albeit mundane, routines of married life in Brooklyn. While David enjoys a jet-setting career, Kit feels stuck in her job at her family’s bakery. That is, until she begins an affair with a carpenter installing shelves in the kitchen. To cope with her guilt, she pushes her physical self-control with a fad diet called the Radiant Regimen. But as the affair progresses, she’ll have to push her diet to the extreme to manage her conscience. Sharp, moving, and funny, CHEAT DAY explores the boundaries of monogamy.
This clever and witty debut novel about the unexpected consequences of one woman’s attempt to exert control over her life by adhering to a strict wellness routine is “the kind of book you devour in a day or two…sexy and funny, but also very perceptive” (BuzzFeed).
Kit and David were college sweethearts. Now married and in their thirties, they live in Kit’s childhood home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. While David has a successful career, jetting off on work trips to exciting destinations, Kit is stuck in a loop. She keeps quitting her job managing her sister’s bakery to seek a more ambitious profession, but fear of failure always brings her back to Sweet Cheeks. Kit finds a fraught solace in cycling through fad diets, which David, in his efforts to be supportive, follows along with her. Their latest program is the Radiant Regimen, an intense cleanse, and Kit is optimistic about embarking on a new chapter of healthy eating and self-control.
Hungry in more ways than one, she soon falls into a flirtation with a carpenter named Matt who is building new shelves for the bakery kitchen. Unable to resist their mutual attraction, Kit and Matt soon begin a passionate affair. Kit suppresses her guilt by obsessing over her diet, pushing herself in greater extremes. Told in precise, intimate detail, Cheat Day is “an incredibly likable novel of hungers controlled and liberated, and marriage’s gray areas” (Booklist) that explores monogamy versus monotony, deprivation versus indulgence, and limitations of modern wellness.
Photo credit: iStock / plej92