In my last blog post I said I was going to do a rundown of my favourite spooky reads, but the week passed, and so did Halloween, and I didn’t do it. It feels a bit silly writing that post now, when everyone’s pumpkins have been made into soup or gone into the compost, so instead here are some books I have read – and loved – recently. They include one very spooky story, so I haven’t entirely failed on the Halloween theme.
I am possibly the last person in the world to read this book, which has been on the bestseller lists for forever, but I am so glad I did. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read; almost every page had me laughing out loud, wincing or cringing in pain, disgust or sheer incredulity. It is also a total eye-opener – one NHS doctor’s perspective of the never-ending shifts, sacrifices and horrendous situations they have to deal with on a daily basis. In many places, it’s heartbreaking. A brilliant book that everyone should read. Entertaining, but also very important. Here’s the blurb:
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.
I’m not generally a fan of a witchy book. Ghosts, yes, but witches, not so much – until I read this book. Set in 19th Century America, Lydia’s family have to flee Boston following a family scandal and end up in beautiful, but isolated, Willow Hall. Lydia soon realises that not everything is quite as it seems, and she is forced to face up to the fact that the strange goings on might have as much to do with her as with their new home. I was utterly captivated by this book; it is subtly, menacingly spooky, but it’s also full of warmth and heart, and there’s a romantic thread that kept me pressing my Kindle page turn button (or whatever it’s called) relentlessly. I read most of it in a day, and Hester Fox is on my ‘auto buy’ list as a result. Historical, atmospheric, romantic fiction to drool over. Here’s the blurb:
Growing up Lydia Montrose knew she was descended from the legendary witches of Salem but was warned to never show the world what she could do and so slowly forgot her legacy. But Willow Hall has awoken something inside her…
1821: Having fled family scandal in Boston Willow Hall seems an idyllic refuge from the world, especially when Lydia meets the previous owner of the house, John Barrett.
But a subtle menace haunts the grounds of Willow Hall, with strange voices and ghostly apparitions in the night, calling to Lydia’s secret inheritance and leading to a greater tragedy than she could ever imagine.
Can Lydia confront her inner witch and harness her powers or is it too late to save herself and her family from the deadly fate of Willow Hall?
I’m not sure whether I should admit this or not, but . . . here goes: This was my first ever Mills and Boon book. I know. I hang my head. But it is definitely not going to be my last! The Duchess Deal is brilliant in so many ways. It has a wonderful, strong heroine in Emma, and Ash is the perfect hot, tortured hero. Now I’ve put them in those boxes, I have to explain that they are not cardboard cut-outs – far from it. They’re both warm, human, flawed. I love them! Their story is dizzyingly romantic, seriously sizzling and so, so funny. The best way I can think of describing it is like (very) adult Disney. It’s the first one in a series – hurrah – so there is lots of loveliness to come. Here is the blurb:
When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.
His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.
But Emma is no pushover. She has secrets and some rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…
I mentioned in my last blog post how much I loved the Netflix series inspired by this book, and I’d had this on my shelf for a while, so just before Halloween I picked it as my next read. The original story is quite different to the series, though they do pay homage to it in lots of ways, and I enjoyed spotting the elements they’d used and how they’d adapted them.
In the book, Eleanor is invited to join a scientist as part of a small party investigating Hill House, which has supposedly had spooky goings-on happening in it for years. She is a mixture of excitement and nerves, and when she arrives at Hill House it has an immediate effect on her. Eleanor is so relatable; she wants to fit into the group and be liked, to be part of something. But as the story progresses, things in the house become more and more sinister, and Eleanor starts to change.
This book sucks you in. It is a masterclass in tension and slow-burning horror, and the atmosphere is overwhelming. If you want to hold onto that Halloween feeling, then I would definitely recommend this. Here is the blurb:
Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely assistant; Luke, the future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Have you read any of these? What did you think? Which are your favourites?
I’m currently reading A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, which is turning out to be as good as Fatal Inheritance – her second book. I also have the new Karen Swan, The Christmas Lights, to devour – my first festive read of 2018.
I’d love to hear what you’re reading, and loving, at the moment.