The nights are drawing in, the curtains are tightly shut against the cold, your duvet is pulled up to your chin and you’re all ready to sink into the latest chilling tale – but what to choose?! We thought we’d make it easy with our editors’ top five picks this Halloween.
PABLO DE SANTIS
Set in eighteenth century France, this is a dark, atmospheric tale of a young man caught up in a shadowy enterprise orchestrated by one of the Enlightenment’s most famous minds – the author and philosopher Voltaire.
The son of an undertaker, Dalessius is just 20 when he goes to work for Voltaire. In service to the great man, he, a talented calligrapher, witnesses many wonders – and finds himself cast into the centre of a secret battle between the malevolent remnants of the all-but-dead Dark Ages and progressive elements of the modern age. His adventures carry him to many perilous places – through the gates of sinister castles and the doors of a bizarre bordello; towards life and death confrontations with inventive henchmen, ingenious mechanical execution devices, poisonous fish, and murderous automata. As the conspiracy to halt the Enlightenment’s astonishing progress intensifies, it will take amazing courage on Dalessius’s part – as well as Voltaire’s unique cunning and wit – if they are to survive.
This Halloween I will be curling up with John Harding’s Florence and Giles, a spellbinding gothic thriller written as an homage to Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. Perfect for fans of Edgar Allan Poe, Ann Radcliffe and Daphne du Maurier, John has reinvigorated the gothic genre for the twenty-first century. Vampires should be scared indeed, the ghosts are back!
FLORENCE AND GILES
The story opens in 1891 at Blithe House, a crumbling New England mansion. Florence, a twelve-year old orphan has been abandoned by her neglectful guardian whilst her younger brother Giles attends boarding school. Left to her own devices she breaks in to Blithe’s forgotten library, devouring books in secret. Immersed in a world of Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe she begins to narrate her story in a language completely of her own invention.
Soon a new governess arrives. Miss Taylor has been appointed following the sudden and violent death of the children’s first governess and immediately strange phenomena begin to occur. Florence becomes convinced that Miss Taylor is a vengeful and malevolent spirit who means to do her younger brother Giles harm. She sees Miss Taylor in her dreams, gliding along the corridors of Blithe like a possessed spirit, appearing in mirrors, an ever-present spirit intent on whisking Giles away. Against this powerful supernatural enemy, and without any adult to whom she can turn, Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to both protect Giles and preserve her private world.
Florence and Giles is a novel to devour in one go. Just be sure to leave the light on!
BY J.A. KERLEY
J.A Kerley’s superb Carson Ryder series continues with one of the darkest stories he’s told to date. For anyone who has read The Death Collectors or In the Blood, you will understand just how disturbing this one is.
After witnessing the escape of a violent psychopath from a maximum security prison, Detective Carson Ryder is in desperate need of a break. His holiday is interrupted when an anonymous phone call lures him to a brutal murder scene.
Ryder knows that such a murder cannot just be a one-off and braces himself for what is to come. As the FBI muscle in on an investigation which they don’t understand, more savage killings, twisted clues and red herrings abound. Detective Ryder is also haunted by a looming suspicion that there is a strange connection with his clinically insane brother Jeremy, who has gone on the run…
Kerley knows what scares his readers, and how to make the pages turn. This is full of his trademark dry wit and vividly drawn characters, and makes for an intensely chilling crime novel. An unsettling and discordant story, which is sure to rattle you well beyond the witching hour.
DEAN KOONT’Z FRANKENSTEIN: LOST SOULS
BY DEAN KOONTZ
Dean Koontz is one of the most prolific and successful storytellers alive today. There’s a great quote which calls him ‘the poet laureate of paranoid pop fiction’, which really sums up this latest instalment of his dark, modern reworking of one of the most powerful myths of all time.
The idea, as he re-imagines it, is truly terrifying. It is of course a frightening and readable book, which is dripping with atmosphere, as you’d expect of this talented writer. But, for me, it’s his ability to inhabit blockbuster plots with soaring commentaries on modern life which have made him such a huge worldwide author.
This latest book in his Frankenstein series is a breakneck paced parable about the doomed Deucalion, locked in a tormented embrace with his deranged creator. His creator’s latest clone, Victor Helios, is once again trying to create a grotesque race of monsters to unleash unparalleled carnage on an unsuspecting world.
A topical but timeless take on an ancient theme – playing God can make all hell break loose. A real Halloween story – both a trick and a treat!
Early one morning, in the seaside resort of Whitley Bay, the lifeless body of a young girl, Sophie Washington, is found brutally murdered – her face mutilated beyond recognition.
So starts Danielle Ramsay’s dark and gripping debut novel, Broken Silence – the perfect thriller to get you in the mood for Halloween.
As DI Jack Brady delves into Sophie’s short life, he discovers a far from rosy picture. Back on duty after extended sick leave, he soon finds that the very people who should have looked after Sophie are the ones with the most to hide. Fingers point to her teacher, her step-father and a police detective – but which of them is responsible for such a horrific and vicious act? Or is the killer still at large and biding his time?
This Halloween you’ll see that it really is grim up north as Broken Silence takes you on a tour of the dark and seedy underbelly of Whitley Bay. So lock the doors and close the curtains, but most of all, be careful who you trust…