Ah, the crisp autumn air, pumpkin-spiced everything, and the rustle of leaves underfoot. It’s the perfect season to curl up with a good book. Whether you’re in the mood to unravel the sinister secrets of dark academia, delve into eerie portal mysteries, or time travel with style, these works of fiction are lively literary delights that’ll make you savor the sweater weather.
Critics have understandably compared this atmospheric coming-of-age novel to the classic teen film Heathers. But with her all-black outfits and mommy issues, our teenage protagonist Sarah Taylor strikes me as more of a Wednesday Addams than a Veronica Sawyer. Sarah arrives at the prestigious St. Ambrose School for Girls in 1991 amid grunge and Nirvana. But her classmates are the cashmere and pearl-wearing set—and they make this painfully clear. Underneath the polish, though, lies a horrific mystery, and Sarah is desperate to figure it out. However, battling a crippling illness and lithium addiction while trying to solve the mystery is a challenge she doesn’t know if she’ll beat.
Heathers meets The Secret History in this thrilling coming-of-age novel set in a boarding school where the secrets are devastating—and deadly.
When Sarah Taylor arrives at the exclusive St. Ambrose School, she’s carrying more baggage than just what fits in her suitcase. She knows she’s not like the other girls—if the shabby, all-black, non-designer clothes don’t give that away, the bottle of lithium hidden in her desk drawer sure does.
St. Ambrose’s queen bee, Greta Stanhope, picks Sarah as a target from day one and the most popular, powerful, horrible girl at school is relentless in making sure Sarah knows what the pecking order is. Thankfully, Sarah makes an ally out of her roommate Ellen “Strots” Strotsberry, a cigarette-huffing, devil-may-care athlete who takes no bullshit. Also down the hall is Nick Hollis, the devastatingly handsome RA, and the object of more than one St. Ambrose student’s fantasies. Between Strots and Nick, Sarah hopes she can make it through the semester, dealing with not only her schoolwork and a recent bipolar diagnosis, but Greta’s increasingly malicious pranks.
Sarah is determined not to give Greta the satisfaction of breaking her. But when scandal unfolds, and someone ends up dead, her world threatens to unravel in ways she could never have imagined. The St. Ambrose School for Girls is a dangerous, delicious, twisty coming-of-age tale that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
I love a good magical portal tale, where characters are whisked off to fantastical otherworlds replete with lions, witches, and kindly goat-men who sip tea by the fire. Only T. Kingfisher’s alternate universe is no Narnia. It’s much darker—and full of fear-feasting fiends. When 34-year-old divorcée Kara begins working at the Glory to God Museum, she doesn’t realize that her uncle’s establishment has far more than meets the eye: as when she and the top-hatted barista Simon find a hole in the museum’s drywall. Behind that hole lies a whole new world—and unspeakable horrors. Will curiosity kill the cat once and for all? Or will Kara somehow escape this blood-curdling, willow-whispering realm completely unscathed?
A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds the words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring this peculiar area—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more one fears them, the stronger they become.
With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.
The past and present collide in this time-traveling reimagining of The Scarlet Letter. Mia Jacob, the daughter of a runaway teen who searched for refuge in a puritanical cult, is tired of her oppressive existence in the book-banishing Community. She nearly hurls herself into a river. But right before, she notices an inscription in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel. “To Mia,” it reads, a miraculous sign that convinces our protagonist to persist despite life’s woes. Alice Hoffman’s book takes readers on an enchanting journey. In the process, it proves that Hawthorne's magnum opus isn't as stuffy as its centuries-old setting suggests. Yet Hoffman’s book conveys more than the enduring relevance of Hester Prynne’s tale. It also imparts the lifesaving and life-giving powers of literature at a time when stories are under siege.
From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and the Practical Magic series comes an enchanting novel about love, heartbreak, self-discovery, and the enduring magic of books.
One brilliant June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia’s mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community—an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her?
Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you.
As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
This is the story of one woman’s dream. For a little while it came true.
Black birds aren’t the only things haunting the islanders in Emma Seckel’s novel. Pain pecks at the characters, too—and as ceaselessly as the ever-encroaching crows. After the death of her father, Leigh Welles comes home to the island that she will forever associate with her absentee mother and the hopeful soldiers who never returned from World War II. She’s not the only one suffering. Iain MacTavish, a fighter pilot, carries the guilt of surviving a war that many other soldiers didn’t. When a fellow islander goes missing, Leigh and Iain work together to investigate the disappearance. With their brains occupied, the two characters have less time to lament. But what the mind forgets, the body remembers. The crows seem to remember, too, and they grow more vicious as the islanders try to leave their losses behind.
As a fan of the TV show The Haunted, how could I not devour this gripping psychological thriller about how ghosts get passed down like heirlooms—from one generation to the next? In the present, we meet college filmmaker Brittney, who hosts the hit Haunted web series. But Brittney hopes to unearth more than just the secrets of “Miracle Mansion,” where her abusive mother claimed to have changed for the better. She also wants to find out what happened to a Black girl who lived in the mansion ten years ago. Meanwhile, in the past, we learn about that same girl: Daisy, a psychic whose experience in the manor was far from redemptive. Liselle Sambury’s time-bending and spine-tingling novel shows us that the real ghosts aren’t the empty-eyed apparitions that greet us at night. No, the real ghouls are the generational curses that we carry silently on our shoulders—and the trauma that haunts us even in broad daylight.
The Haunting of Hill House meets Sadie in this evocative and mind-bending psychological thriller following two teen girls navigating the treacherous past of a mysterious mansion ten years apart.
Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…
A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?
As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.
Under the guise of a gossip columnist, Kiki Button has just returned to Paris from Australia, where her estranged mother suddenly passed away. After such a somber year, Kiki wants to clink champagne glasses and schmooze with Coco Chanel in the City of Lights. However, Dr. Fox, her onetime spymaster, has other plans for her. With the help of some incriminating photos, Fox blackmails Kiki into working for him one last time. But Fox isn’t the only problem. Kiki also has to worry about her friends and former lovers, who are all facing the threat of Europe’s rising fascist movement. To make matters worse, her mom’s diary—the only clue to who her mother really was and why she left England several years ago—is missing. And so begins Kiki’s race to uncover her mother’s secrets, protect her friends, and satisfy her spymaster’s wishes—all while maintaining appearances in twinkling 1920s Paris.
After a year away from Paris, Kiki Button is delighted to be back in City of Lights. But danger threatens her return as she is pulled into another spy mission—one that brings her ever closer to the rising fascist threat in Europe.
October 1922. Kiki Button has had a rough year at home in Australia after her mother’s sudden death. As the leaves turn gold on the Parisian boulevards, Kiki returns to Europe, more desperately in need of Paris and all its liveliness than ever. As soon as she arrives back in Montparnasse, Kiki takes up her life again, drinking with artists at the Café Rotonde, gossiping with her friends, and finding lovers among the enormous expatriate community. Even her summertime lover from the year before, handsome Russian exile Prince Theo Romanov, is waiting for her.
But it’s not all champagne and moonlit trysts. Theo is worried that his brother-in-law is being led astray by political fanatics. Kiki’s boy from home, Tom, is still hiding under a false name. Her friends are in trouble—Maisie has been blackmailed and looks for revenge, Bertie is still lovesick and lonely, and Harry has important information about her mother. And to top it off, she is found by Dr. Fox, her former spymaster, who insists that she work for him once more.
Amidst the gaiety of 1920s Paris, Kiki stalks the haunted, the hunted, and people still heartsore from the war. She parties with princes and Communist comrades, she wears ballgowns with Chanel and the Marchesa Casati, she talks politics with Hemingway and poetry with Sylvia Beach, and sips tea with Gertrude Stein. She confronts the men who would bring Europe into another war. And as she uses her gossip columnist connections for her mission, she also meets people who knew her mother, and can help to answer her burning question: why did her mother leave England all those years ago?
In portraying the persecution of women falsely accused of witchcraft, Margaret Meyer’s debut conjures harrowing scenes from The Crucible. At the center of this particular witch hunt narrative is the mute midwife and healer Martha Hallybread. For years, Martha peacefully tended to the medicinal herbs in her garden. But that was before the fanatical witchfinder Silas Makepeace descended onto the coastal community of Cleftwater. Now, innocent women are being rounded up and searched for “devil’s marks,” with Martha forced to assist in these dehumanizing probes. Driven to the edge, Martha reaches for her mother’s wax doll, which, if discovered, would surely send her to the gallows. This book asks us how far we are willing to go to protect those we love—and if things will ever be the same once we choose to act.
“Stylish and raw…seizes the reader’s sympathy and does not let go.” —Anne Enright, Booker Prize–winning author of The Gathering
For readers of Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel, an immersive literary debut inspired by historical events—a deadly witch hunt in 17th-century England—that claimed many innocent lives.
East Anglia, 1645. Martha Hallybread, a midwife, healer, and servant, has lived peacefully for more than four decades in her beloved seaside village of Cleftwater. Having lost her voice as a child, Martha has not spoken a word in years.
One autumn morning, a sinister newcomer appears in town. The witchfinder, Silas Makepeace, has been blazing a trail of destruction along the coast, and now has Cleftwater in his sights. His arrival strikes fear into the heart of the community. Within a day, local women are being captured and detained, and Martha finds herself a silent witness to the hunt.
Powerless to protest, Martha is enlisted to search the accused women for “devil’s marks.” She is caught between suspicion and betrayal; between shielding herself or condemning the women of the village. In desperation, she revives a wax witching doll that belonged to her mother, in the hope that it will bring protection. But the doll’s true powers are unknowable, Martha harbors a terrible secret, and the gallows are looming…
Set over the course of just a few weeks that will forever change history, The Witching Tide delivers powerful and psychologically astute insights about the exigencies of friendship and the nature of loyalty, and heralds the arrival of a striking new voice in fiction.
From the title and cover alone, you might think that the children on the hill are the dead little girls and boys who haunt the backyard of a white-picket-fence family. Jennifer McMahon doesn’t tell that story. Instead, she tells a far more exhilarating one. In 1978, Dr. Helen Hildreth, an acclaimed psychiatrist known for her kindness toward mentally ill patients, brings home Iris, a quiet child with raised scars. Dr. Hildreth’s grandchildren, Vi and Eric, are mystified by their new playmate. But pretty soon, the three kids bond over their love for hunting monsters. Forty years later, when an actual monster abducts a young girl, Lizzy Shelley races to Vermont to solve the case. Shelley hosts the hit podcast Monsters Among Us, but that’s not the only reason she’s on the prowl for this mysterious creature. She has a personal connection to the case and, so, feels a burning responsibility to stop this monster once and for all. But will she be able to do it? And if monsters live among us, how can we distinguish who is who?
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Drowning Kind comes a genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, that brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.
1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.
Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.
Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.
2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.
A haunting, vividly suspenseful page-turner from the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson” (Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant), The Children on the Hill takes us on a breathless journey to face the primal fears that lurk within us all.
When people think of a revenge tale, they may think of Uma Thurman wielding steel while dressed in a bloody bumblebee tracksuit in Kill Bill. Stephen Graham Jones reinvents and reinvigorates this genre with a stunning psychological horror. One snowy night, four Native American friends go hunting on tribal land reserved for elders. They shoot into a herd of elk, but one of them proves hard to kill. When the elk finally dies, Lewis, the one who pulled the trigger, learns that the fallen elk was pregnant—and that its unborn calf is still kicking. A decade passes, and the men are forced to reckon with what happened that night. Lewis, in particular, keeps seeing a woman carrying an elk’s head. The hunt is on, and the former predators are now the prey. In this reverse revenge tale, the animals are out for blood, and the men who abandoned their morals and cultural identities are the ones begging for mercy.
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
In this latest novel from Stephen Graham Jones comes a “heartbreakingly beautiful story” (Library Journal, starred review) of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition.
Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians is “a masterpiece. Intimate, devastating, brutal, terrifying, warm, and heartbreaking in the best way” (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts). This novel follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in violent, vengeful ways. Labeled “one of 2020’s buzziest horror novels” (Entertainment Weekly), this is a remarkable horror story “will give you nightmares—the good kind of course” (BuzzFeed).
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