Let’s take a moment to reflect on all of the top titles from October and revisit reads that you may have missed. It’s no surprise this month’s collection includes a fair share of suspense and mystery but don’t sleep on the heartwarming books hiding here in plain sight. Either way, you can’t go wrong with any of these picks.
The past often has much to teach us, and museums are a good place to learn it. But as every seasoned thriller reader knows, museums can also be home to dark secrets. When Ann Stilwell gets assigned to work at the Cloisters, the medieval art branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, she’s more than a little bummed. After all, she was hoping to work on the main collections as a curatorial associate. The researchers in the Cloisters are a bit strange, with wild theories about fortune telling and divination, theories she dismisses until she finds a fifteenth-century deck of tarot cards that seems to predict the future. Twists and turns abound as Ann must discover who she can trust and what other secrets this gothic building might be hiding in its depths.
The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel following a circle of researchers as they uncover a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
"It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so moved by a novel that I’ve cried the kind of tears that give you a stuffy nose and a bit of a headache. But it was so worth it, feeling like I lived alongside Matthew Quick’s Lucas Goodgame and his friends in WE ARE THE LIGHT. Quick is the author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and has again shown his incredible insights into humanity in this emotional story. There is a tragedy at the Majestic Theater, one that nearly breaks those who have survived it. But Quick turns the tragedy into a full and total love story that encompasses a man, a boy, and their entire community. Healing, powerful, almost spiritual...and definitely a must read.” —Beth Mynhier, Lake Forest Book Store
From Matthew Quick, the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook—made into the Academy Award–winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper—comes a poignant and hopeful novel about a widower who takes in a grieving teenager and inspires a magical revival in their small town.
Lucas Goodgame lives in Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quaint suburb that has been torn apart by a recent tragedy. Everyone in Majestic sees Lucas as a hero—everyone, that is, except Lucas himself. Insisting that his deceased wife, Darcy, visits him every night in the form of an angel, Lucas spends his time writing letters to his former Jungian analyst, Karl. It is only when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard that an unlikely alliance takes shape and the two embark on a journey to heal their neighbors and, most importantly, themselves.
From Matthew Quick, whose work has been described by the Boston Herald as “like going to your favorite restaurant. You just know it is going to be good,” We Are the Light is an unforgettable novel about the quicksand of grief and the daily miracle of love. The humorous, soul-baring story of Lucas Goodgame offers an antidote to toxic masculinity and celebrates the healing power of art. In this tale that will stay with you long after the final page is turned, Quick reminds us that life is full of guardian angels.
Andie’s Pick #1: This mind-bending thriller is at the top of my TBR pile! Reviewers have been saying they can’t say too much or they’ll give too much away, which only piques my curiosity and makes me want to get my hands on a copy of this book immediately. Everyone’s talking about a secret and I NEED to know what it is! From what I do know about Adam Hamdy’s THE OTHER SIDE OF NIGHT, the lives of a disgraced police officer, a prolific author, and an upstanding citizen are inextricably linked by a series of mysterious deaths. The story has been compared to Matt Haig’s THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY, which I loved (and which emotionally destroyed me), so I cannot wait to read this new book.
Read more of 11 Most Anticipated Thrillers Out This Fall
“I couldn’t stop thinking about the story’s incredible twist…like no crime novel I’ve ever read.” —James Patterson
For fans of Matt Haig and Anthony Horowitz, an “intriguing and thought-provoking” (Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish) novel in which the lives of a disgraced police officer, a prolific author, and an upstanding citizen are inextricably bound together by a series of mysterious deaths.
The Other Side of Night begins with a man named David Asha writing about his biggest regret: his sudden separation from his son, Elliot. In his grief, David tells a story.
Next, we step into the life of Harriet Kealty, a police officer trying to clear her name after a lapse of judgment. She discovers a curious inscription in a secondhand book—a plea: Help me, he’s trying to kill me. Who wrote this note? Who is “he”?
This note leads Harri to David Asha, who was last seen stepping off a cliff. Police suspect he couldn’t cope after his wife’s sudden death. Still, why would this man jump and leave behind his young son? Quickly, Harri’s attention zeroes in on a person she knows all too well.
Ben Elmys: once the love of her life. A surrogate father to Elliot Asha and trusted friend to the Ashas.
Ben may also be a murderer.
The Other Side of Night is a thought-provoking, moving “head-spinner of a novel” (John Connolly) with intriguing narratives and plot swerves that will leave you reeling. By the end, you’ll be shaken as each piece slots satisfyingly into place.
By the visionary author of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, WE SPREAD is a genre-bending novel about aging, conformity, and art. Painter Penny has lived in the same apartment for years; that is, until arrangements are made for her to move to a long-term care facility after she suffers a few old age “incidents.” At first, the facility is not only comforting but inspiring for her work. But as she begins to lose grip on reality, Penny is left to wonder if what she is experiencing is just the result of aging or something far more nefarious.
The author of the “evocative, spine-tingling, and razor-sharp” (Bustle) I’m Thinking of Ending Things that inspired the Netflix original movie and the “short, shocking psychological three-hander” (The Guardian) Foe returns with a new work of philosophical suspense.
Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents.”
Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?
At once compassionate and uncanny, told in spare, hypnotic prose, Iain Reid’s genre-defying third novel explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.
In this thrilling look at one of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance, Pope Alexander VI hurries to uncover the blasphemous clues in da Vinci’s The Last Supper before it is too late. For those who love their history with a dash of conspiracy, this is a compulsively readable novel about heresy at the highest levels.
Read more of 10 Vivid Renaissance-Era Books Set Around the World
Milan, 1497: Leonardo da Vinci is completing his masterpiece, The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling -- and blasphemous -- message, which he is determined to decode. The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table and, shockingly, the apostles are portraits of well-known heretics -- none of them depicted with halos. And why has the artist painted himself into the scene with his back turned toward Jesus? The clues to Leonardo's greatest puzzle are right before your eyes....
When you think of suspense, one place your mind might go to is mental hospitals, where horror stories often take place. Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age is the setting for this book, where Mary Engle goes to work as a secretary. But what she finds is an old friend and a terrible secret that will put everything she knew about her world into question. At its heart, this novel is a dark exploration of eugenics, and of the lengths people will go to in order to see their goals and philosophies brought to life. But the most thrilling aspect of THE FOUNDLING is that it is based on a true story, told by author Ann Leary’s grandmother!
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate.
It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel.
Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care.
Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all.
Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”
This soon-to-be-classic memoir shares the true story of Stella Levi, a nonagenarian from Juderia, the Jewish neighborhood on the Greek island of Rhodes. Through her conversations with author Michael Frank over six years, she shares her experience of growing up in Juderia, as well as the destruction of her community when Nazis rounded up all the neighborhood’s inhabitants and deported them to Auschwitz. This important book allows readers to bear witness to not just the tragedy suffered by Stella Levi and her fellow Jews during the Holocaust, but to the richness of her life in Juderia and to how she constructed her life again after her community was destroyed.
Read more of 6 Beloved Books Destined to Become Classics
Recipient of the Jewish Book Council’s Natan Notable Book Award
The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.
With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood in Rhodes where she’d grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium.
Neither of them could know this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other’s company as Stella traveled back in time to conjure what it felt like to come of age on this luminous, legendary island in the eastern Aegean, which the Italians began governing as an official possession in 1923 and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz.
Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time—and to construct a life after that place has vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors drawn at nearly the last possible moment, as well as an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.
After a little girl is abandoned on the streets of Victorian London, she grows up to become a thief and an artist’s muse. Following her eighteenth birthday, this girl travels alongside a group of artists to the beautiful Upper Thames. But after a woman is killed and another goes missing, the truth begins to muddle, leaving everyone in uncertainty for over a century. In this new time period, another young woman is drawn to Birchwood Manor and its dark secrets about the artists are finally revealed.
Read more of Creativity Chronicles: 7 Books About Art and Artists
Jess Kidd has a knack for immersive storytelling, drawing readers into her gothic, historical settings. And her newest novel, THE NIGHT SHIP, is no different. This story, which toggles between two time periods, is based on a true historical event. Back in 1628, an orphaned girl is bound for the Dutch East Indies by boat. Throughout her journey, she spends her time searching for the mythical monsters that are thought to roam the ship. Flash-forward almost four hundred years, where a lonely boy named Gil is sent to live in the islands off Western Australian with his grandfather. While he is there building a new life, Gil discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck, the Batavia. As the lives of these two characters parallel and entwine, a thrilling, twisted, and beautiful tale of friendship and sacrifice unfold. Prepare to be spellbound by another Jess Kidd masterwork.
Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.
In this tenth anniversary edition of Kristin Harmel’s beloved international bestseller, one woman will travel to France to piece together a long-standing family secret. Hope, whose husband recently left her for a twenty-two-year-old, is struggling to raise her preteen and keep her family bakery in Cape Cod afloat. When her grandmother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, gives her a mysterious clue into their family’s past, Hope finds herself jetting off to Paris where she uncovers her own family’s survival story in the midst of the Holocaust and seeks to reunite two long-lost lovers.
The “beautifully complex” (Woman’s Day) classic that made Kristin Harmel a superstar follows a woman who must travel from Cape Cod to Paris to uncover a family secret for her dying grandmother that could change everything. Updated with a new author’s note and recipes for this 10th anniversary edition!
At thirty-six, Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen.
Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie is drifting away in a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in WWII Paris. Armed with a scrawled list of names, Hope heads to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.
What follows is “an immersive and evocative tale of generations struggling to survive” (Publishers Weekly) as Hope pieces together her grandmother’s past bit by bit. Uncovering horrific tales of the Holocaust, she realizes the astonishing will of her grandmother to endure in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake.
“Kristin Harmel is a powerful and dazzling voice in historical fiction.” —Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah