I love non-fiction but sometimes I just want a really good immersive novel that is impossible to leave. Some of my most comforting reads are probably books I read when I was younger (eg Harry Potter) but here’s a few more recent novels that have hooked me in and left me a little lost when I finished them. The kind of ones that make you have to take a moment before you can move on to the next book or even think about anything else, which I think all the best stories do.
One of my favourite books from last year was The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It’s a book that sucks you right in with one hell of a mystery, and the plot is so thick it’s a bit insane to imagine someone coming up with it. A friend of mine had no time to read the novel so asked me to give them a run down, and I would not recommend attempting that. The book centers around a character who relives the same day 7 times, each day waking up in a different body, and trying to figure out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle and what on Earth is going on, since waking up in a different body everyday isn’t exactly the norm. There’s a lot to follow, and so many twists and turns that there’s no way you won’t be surprised. It’s a book to get entangled in and find yourself unable to leave till it’s done. He also has another book out later this year, The Devil and the Dark Water, so if you loved this book, that’s something to look forward to.
Another twisty novel is The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, this is a book I seen in the window of every Waterstones for months but never actually knew anything about. Until the paperback came out and I thought to actually read the blurb and see what all the hype was about. It sounded fun, which could be an insensitive description for a book involving murder, however it didn’t disappoint. It’s a secluded murder mystery where a group of friends get stuck in a lodge in a snowstorm in the Scottish Highlands, someone dies, and there’s obviously a rather limited number of suspects. It’s far less complicated than Stuart Turton’s murder mystery but just as unpredictable and tense. This is another author who has a second novel out this year along the same lines called The Guest List, so there’s plenty of mysteries to get lost in.
Next up, one of my favourite authors, Jessie Burton had a new book out last year, The Confession. Burton is one of those authors that make me rather jealous of their ability to write such enchanting wonderful novels. The plot and characters are as intriguing as ever and the time periods are just bloody lovely to immerse yourself in. This one has two stories running along side each other, one in the present day, and one in the past, as a young woman tries to find out about the mother she never knew. It’s a little similar in style to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I’d very much recommend, especially for anyone who likes that era of the 1950s Hollywood Starlet. Burton’s other books The Miniaturist, and The Muse, are both excellent binge reads as well and her cover art is always almost as enchanting as the book.
A YA novel I enjoyed recently was Savannah Brown’s, The Truth About Keeping Secrets. It’s an enticing story of a teenage girl who is certain her father’s death was not an accident. While following her story, the book explores love and grieving in all their complexities and is revealing and beautifully written. It’s less of a murder mystery and more a romance novel that has its tenser moments. If you like YA I’d highly recommend.
So lucky by Dawn O’Porter makes me feel lucky to read her books. It’s comforting and funny but also tackles the rather big issue of social media and the way we view our lives in comparison to others. It does so in an interesting way through a number of characters and the different insights they get into each other’s lives, and the assumptions they then make. This will make you do A LOT of reflecting on your own experiences on social media. It’s easy to read and comical to the point it made me snort, and just really good fun that’ll leave you unable to put it down. And if, like me, you can’t get enough of what O’Porter has to say, then make sure you listen to her podcast of the same name, where she talks with guests about the concept of luck.
Next is a book I read recently, The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides. I’ve seen it pop up a lot and hadn’t paid much attention but suddenly being in the mood for a good thriller it sounded like just the right thing, and it really was. It’s quite hard to be completely unpredictable with murder mysteries now that we all watch and read so many, but somehow this book still manages to shock. He gives you so many leads, so many people to point fingers at and then somehow leaves you stunned. It’s a very clever book with an ending that you won’t forget.
The Binding by Bridget Collins is for a start a god damn stunning book, I love it when a hardback isn’t just plain under the jacket and they really go in with the gold foil making it look all grand. Thankfully it isn’t just a pretty face, and with a unique intriguing story involving mysterious beautiful books and characters you’ll root for- and possibly make you wish you could shout into the book and tell them what to do- it’s the kind of book that draws you in and keeps you in suspense as everything slowly unravels. It’s a rather beautiful novel inside and out and it’ll definitely make you forget to check your phone for a while. It’s also just recently been announced that Collins’ has another book out later this year, The Betrayals, which I can’t wait to get my hands on.
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite may be a rather short book but it really packs it all in and leaves an impression. It’s a daring and dark- yet comical- look at the strange relationship between sisters, the jealousy and hatred alongside the fact they’d do anything for each other. It’s both fun and jarring and I’m not at all shocked to see it get so many nominations, read it, and you’ll feel its impact too.
Reading The Familiars by Stacey Halls made me go through a bit of a phase with reading that kind of literary fiction, but mainly it made me excited for her latest book, The Foundling, as I just need more of what she does. However, I’m trying to make myself wait till it’s out in paperback and just read the others I have right now, but we’ll see how that goes. The Familiars shows the strength of the friendship of women through the Pendle Witch trials, and is gripping from start to finish. Any story of women coming into their own, and becoming their most powerful selves is captivating in my eyes, and Halls’ does this perfectly.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder has both a stand out cover, and a stand out story. From the beginning it’s a wonderfully written interesting story, but there’s quite the twist as it goes into the second half that completely changes everything. The twist might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re open to a little bit of fantasy, it’s a lot of fun. I found it super addictive and loved every page, I think this might be one of those books you describe as delicious.
It’s a lovely feeling when you find a properly unputdownable book. From the reactions I’ve seen online, these books are ones that are universally loved, regardless of your preferred genre, so hopefully you find something to your taste.