Tanya’s Reading List: 2022

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      I’ve decided to keep a record of the books I read this year, and will add them to a new post once I’ve finished them. I won’t write any reviews, but will add the blurb. To get the ball rolling –

      A Book of Bones by John Connolly:

      He is our best hope.

      He is our last hope.

      On a lonely moor in northern England, the body of a young woman is discovered. In the south, a girl lies buried beneath a Saxon mound. To the southeast, the ruins of a priory hide a human skull.

      Each is a sacrifice, a summons. And something in the darkness has heard the call.

      Charlie Parker has also heard it and from the forests of Maine to the deserts of the Mexican border, from the canals of Amsterdam to the streets of London, he will track those who would cast the world into darkness.

      Parker fears no evil; but evil fears him.


        A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw:

        Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Often hired by families as a last resort, he takes on the case of Maggie St. James–a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books–and is soon led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

        Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it…he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

        Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease–rot–into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed–and that darkness takes many forms.

        Note – this isn’t officially released here in the UK until May (library binding) and September (paperback), but I was able to order a copy through Amazon before Christmas.


          Absynthe by Brendan P. Bellecourt

          Some it kills. Others it transforms. See beyond the illusion.

          The Great War has been over for years, and a brave new world forged. Technology has delivered the future promised at the turn of the century: automata provide, monorail trains flash between mega-cities, medicine is nothing short of magical.

          Liam grew up poor, but now working for one of the richest families in Chicago, he reaps the benefits of his friendship with the family’s son and heir. That’s why he’s at Club Artemis. It’s a palace of art-deco delights and debauchery, filled to bursting with the rich and beautiful – and tonight they’re all drinking one thing. Absynthe. The green liquor rumoured to cause hallucinations, madness, even death.

          While the gilded youth sip the viridescent liquid, their brave new world is crumbling beneath its perfect surface. Their absynthe is no mere folly. Some it kills, others it transforms. But in Liam something different has taken place. A veil has lifted and he can see the world without its illusion – and it isn’t the perfect world the government want the people to believe.


            Hold My Place by Cassondra Windwalker:

            Obsession never dies.

            When librarian Sigrun falls head-over-heels for the sophisticated and very married Edgar Leyward, she never expects to find herself in his bed—or his heart. Nevertheless, when his enigmatic wife Octavia dies from a sudden illness, Sigrun finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance worthy of the most lurid novels on her bookshelves.

            Sigrun soon discovers Octavia wasn’t Edgar’s first lost love, or even his second. Three women Edgar has loved met early deaths. As she delves into her beloved’s past through a trove of discovered letters, the edges of Sigrun identity begin to disappear, fading into the women of the past. Sigrun tells herself it’s impossible for any dark magic to be at play—that the dead can’t possibly inhabit the bodies of the living—but something shadowy stalks the halls of the Leyward house and the lines between the love of the present and the obsessions of the past become increasingly blurred—and bloody.

            Mixing lyrical prose with simmering terror, Hold My Place is a modern gothic horror worthy of Shirley Jackson’s nightmares and Daphne DuMaurier’s dangerous lovers.


              Daughters of the Oak by Becky Wright:

              The English Civil War. The Royalists of King Charles I and Cromwell’s Parliamentarians battle, both eager to lay claim to a tattered country, where life has become cheap and death trivial.

              Though, for the lowly commoner, a greater, far more devious war rages. It threatens the souls of the weak, timid, and needy. Seeking refuge in the Lord’s word, God-fearing folk employ the skills of one man, the Witchfinder. His success speaks of his talent to seek out, punish and rid the countryside of Witches, the Devil’s Whores.

              2016 – A paranormal team are called to investigate, as poltergeist activity brings terror to one family. Under the cover of darkness, in silent suburbia, an endless night of battle against evil ensues, until finally, a new day dawns.

              Lies, secrets, and treachery, it seems, are never forgotten… Welcome to Manningtree.


                The Tangle Box by Dave Kavanagh:

                At the centre of this novel is a suppressed memory of the day Maria and Caroline O’Neill disappeared. In returning to his childhood home, Dan O’Neill attempts to recall what happened there and the consequences that followed.

                At its heart, The Tangle Box is a story of hope and triumph, that has captivated its early readers. One reviewer said of it, ‘once started, I couldn’t put this book down.’

                The Tangle Box is a tightly written debut, narrated in first person by the protagonist and takes us on a journey that begins on a day when Dan O’Neill heard a scream and saw blood, but beyond that, he remembers nothing.


                  The House of Little Bones by Beverley Lee:

                  He thought he was untouchable.
                  David Lansdown, esteemed British horror writer and supernatural sceptic, is used to basking in the glow of the press…
                  Until a hastily snapped photo hits the headlines and makes his affair with his publisher’s son public.
                  When David finds himself at Bone Hollow, a house with a glass wall overlooking a wild and desolate moor, his only concern is writing his next best seller to bury his misdeeds in the past.
                  But something stirs beneath the earth. Something bound to the land. Something determined to take everything from him.
                  Luca Fox-Waite is still in love with the man who cast him aside, but his own childhood demons lurk in his shadow. As he discovers more about Bone Hollow’s history, he finds himself ensnared in its story — a story steeped in time and tragedy.
                  Because curses lie in bones, and they do not die.
                  The House of Little Bones is a tale of avarice, adoration, and of how the sins of the past cling to the living as well as the dead.


                    The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste:

                    Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

                    It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

                    As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why—except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.

                    Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens—and her own unwitting role in the transformations—before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.


                      The Cottingley Cuckoo by A. J. Elwood:

                      Rosemary’s Baby meets Laura Purcell’s Bone China in a dark British fairytale…

                      Captivated by books and stories, Rose dreams of a more fulfilled life, away from the confines of the Sunnyside Care Home where she works to support herself and her boyfriend. She hopes the situation will be short term.

                      Charlotte Favell, an elderly resident, takes a strange, sinister interest in Rose, but offers an unexpected glimpse of enchantment. She has a mysterious and aged stack of letters about the Cottingley Fairies, the photographs made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle, but later dismissed as a hoax. The author of the letters insists he has proof that the fairies exist; Rose is eager to learn more, but Charlotte only allows her to read on when she sees fit.

                      Discovering she is unexpectedly pregnant, Rose feels another door to the future has slammed. The letters’ content grows more menacing, inexplicable events begin to occur inside her home, and Rose begins to entertain dark thoughts about her baby and its origins. Can this simply be depression? Or is something darker taking root?


                        Mr Stoker & I by Becky Wright:

                        My name is Miss Lucinda Meredith.
                        Please, come sit with me a while, let me tell you my story.

                        It was the Summer of 1890.
                        Theatre manager and writer, Mr Bram Stoker, arrived here in Whitby after an arduous theatre tour of Scotland. It was to be a welcome respite before his return to London. What he discovered was far more intriguing.

                        We met at dawn on the East Cliff, in the shadow of Whitby Abbey, on a bench overlooking the sea. So at ease in his company, I felt compelled to share the events that had haunted my existence.

                        And after all these years, I wonder, could our chance encounter have inspired what would become, Bram Stoker’s legacy?

                        “Death finds us all, it is our finality. I had ached for death for so long, to rid me of the misery, torment – plague. Yet, when it came, my end only signified a beginning. The creation of something new.”


                          The Sound of Breaking Glass (and other weird tales) by Christine Makepeace:

                          Do you know what it means to be haunted? To lose yourself in a world where you don’t quite fit? This selection of stories proves that the emptiest rooms can often be the most crowded.

                          With its titular novella acting as anchor, “The Sound of Breaking Glass,” an atypical possession tale, dares you to peer into darkened corners in search of other worlds. From a fry cook’s unlikely ascent to power, to a fashionista’s deconstruction, these stories will wiggle into your brain whether you like it or not.

                          Exploring loss of self, isolation, and the soul-crushing machine that is capitalism, The Sound of Breaking Glass (and other weird tales) is an unflinchingly weird, lush, and mournful collection of fiction.


                            Seed by Ania Ahlborn:

                            With nothing but the clothes on his back—and something horrific snapping at his heels—Jack Winter fled his rural Georgia home when he was still just a boy. Watching the world he knew vanish in a trucker’s rearview mirror, he thought he was leaving an unspeakable nightmare behind forever. But years later, the bright new future he’s built suddenly turns pitch black, as something fiendishly familiar looms dead ahead.

                            When Jack, his wife Aimee, and their two small children survive a violent car crash, it seems like a miracle. But Jack knows what he saw on the road that night, and it wasn’t divine intervention. The profound evil from his past won’t let them die…at least not quickly. It’s back, and it’s hungry; ready to make Jack pay for running, to work its malignant magic on his angelic youngest daughter, and to whisper a chilling promise: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave.

                            Country comfort is no match for spine-tingling Southern gothic suspense in Ania Ahlborn’s tale of an ordinary man with a demon on his back. Seed plants its page-turning terror deep in your soul, and lets it grow wild.


                              The Dirty South by John Connolly:

                              It is 1997, and someone is slaughtering young black women in Burdon County, Arkansas.

                              But no one wants to admit it, not in the Dirty South.

                              In an Arkansas jail cell sits a former NYPD detective, stricken by grief. He is mourning the death of his wife and child, and searching in vain for their killer. He cares only for his own lost family.

                              But that is about to change . . .

                              Witness the becoming of Charlie Parker.


                                The Albion Initiative by George Mann:

                                George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes steampunk mystery series concludes in this thrilling final volume as our Victorian special agent heroes discover a grand plot to that threatens the state of the world.

                                The time has finally come.

                                Queen Victoria has given the order for her agents to move against the Secret Service ― to eliminate the fledgling organisation with extreme prejudice. Caught in the middle of the conflict, Newbury, Veronica and Bainbridge are forced to face up to the truth: that the Queen no longer represents the best interests of the Empire. Now rogue and in league with the Queen’s enemies, they must enact the “Albion Initiative”: a desperate plan to break Prince Edward out of Bedlam and install him on the throne in the Queen’s stead. But with the Queen’s executioner and his army on their trail, as well as a possible traitor in their midst, can they do enough to stop the malign tyrant from destroying everything they once swore to protect?

                                With everything falling apart around them, Newbury and Veronica must uncover the macabre truth behind the crown, and in doing so, unravel the very foundations of the Empire.


                                  Vampire on the Orient Express (Avery and Carter Book 1) by Shane Carrow:

                                  Paris, 1914. American adventurer Sam Carter boards the Orient Express, departing France in style after an impulsive decision to desert the Foreign Legion. British diplomat Lucas Avery is already nursing a drink in the smoking car, resenting his assignment to the distant Ottoman Empire. Neither man expects anything more from the next three days and three thousand miles than rich food, expensive champagne and fine cigars.

                                  But something dangerous is lurking aboard the train, hiding in plain sight among French aristocrats and German businessmen. Through fire and darkness, through blood and ice, the Orient Express is bearing an ancient evil across the continent – and not all its passengers will live to see Constantinople…

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