If you’re suffering from Halloween withdrawal symptoms, why not spend the rest of the month indulging your spooky ‘n spiritual side with some thrillers and spookers.
Arm yourself with a cuddle blanket and decide which one of these six chilling reads you’ll try first…
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Like dystopian, post-apocalyptic weirdness? Then the book that’s top of my list is the one for you – unless you’re the kind of person who can’t go upstairs to a dark bedroom after watching a horror film…
‘Most people dismissed the reports on the news. But they became too frequent; they became too real. And soon it was happening to people we knew.
Then the Internet died. The televisions and radios went silent. The phones stopped ringing.
And we couldn’t look outside anymore.’
The beauty of this book is its simplicity. We never see the horror, and nor do the main characters… that are still alive. What we do feel, intensely, is the terror of people who daren’t use the sense most of us primarily rely on to orient ourselves and keep us safe – our sight. What happens to a society literally too afraid to look – yet still unaware what they’ll see when they do?
Massively gripping – and probably not a read for a week when you’re feeling stressed. It does its job too well and you live every agonisingly tense, terrifying moment along with the main character.
The Lie by Cally Taylor
This is a psychological thriller, but it conveys the characters’ terror and confusion so well that it becomes a borderline horror tale.
It makes us ponder how well any of us can really distinguish between good and evil; how easily we can be persuaded that acting out of character and against our instincts is somehow liberating us; and how hard we find it to believe that someone we trust can do the unthinkable.
Unpredictable, twisty and satisfying – a tale about control and the inability to ever put the past behind us completely. Don’t start reading it without a few hours to put aside!
The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse
Beautifully written, as are all of Kate Mosse’s novels, this tale of a grief-stricken young man driving through the French Pyrenees to ease his pain and clear his mind is intriguing and atmospheric.
Set between the world wars, it follows Freddie as he spins off the road and stumbles across a small, friendly village – and a young woman who understands his pain. Yet when he wakes up after a village party, nobody remembers the young woman and everything seems changed. In trying to discover the answer to the mystery and track down the woman, he manages to work through his pain -and hers – and find new meaning in his life.
While not horrific, it’s a spooky read that will haunt you long after you’ve finished it (no pun intended).
Girl Number One by Jane Holland
A gripping thriller in which the main character is forced to question everything she sees and everything she trusts – as do we. Unfortunately, so do the police, who aren’t impressed to be called out to retrieve a dead body in the woods, only to find nothing there -and no evidence that there ever has been.
Eleanor must convince them of what she saw, but are they right? Was this sight – and her other paranoid suspicions – merely the result of the grief and trauma she suffered when she witnessed the murder of her mother?
A great read, although occasionally you may find yourself wondering why Eleanor spends so much time with those she suspects.
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is the chosen evacuee of the mysterious Juniper Blythe, who takes her to live at Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family. Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst where the eccentric Blythe sisters are still unmarried and living together in the crumbling castle, including Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 apparently plunged her into madness.
Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past, and through time hops, so do we. But which clues are red herrings, and which sister knows – and is prepared to tell – the real truth?
Many reviewers have said this book is far too long and I’ll agree that some scenes could have been combined or deleted to make the book tighter, but I still found its twists, turns and atmosphere compelling. It’s an eerie, tragic story that makes for an entertaining but disturbing read, asking how far we might go to protect our family and keep them near.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
How does it feel for a mother to watch her 5-year-old son run into the path of a car when she’s let her attention slip for the tiniest of moments? In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare.
She tries to move on, believing that her home, her town and those traumatic memories are the only things she must leave behind to disappear and start afresh. But she’s wrong…
Grief, paranoia… and then discovering that you’re not paranoid, they really are out to get you. This novel belongs to the thriller rather than horror category, but it’s a tense and sometimes terrifying story that’s impossible to describe without revealing spoilers. In between the ‘aaargh!’ moments, it’s also a great story about a fresh start.
Have you read any of these already – or been inspired to do so by this post? Tell me what you thought of them (and share your own recommendations!)