When the weather’s getting colder (and wetter), I transition from my happy rom-coms to my dark thrillers. There’s something about the idea of being nestled under my sheets while the rain beats off the window, with nothing but a cup of tea and a good book for company. In reality though, it’s more sitting on a sweaty, damp bus surrounded by rowdy school kids and a million sounds I’m trying to block out to get properly engrossed in my latest literary adventure.
On a good week, I can go through about three books. I’m both thrilled and ashamed to say I’ve experienced four good weeks in a row this month. It’s been turbulent – I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve abandoned books halfway through because they’ve bored me half to death, but in the end I’ve came out with a good few solid recommendations that I’d love to share with you.
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Breaking news, small-time blogger recommends Girl On The Train. It’s hardly the most original plug, as it’s one of those books you just can’t seem to escape at the moment. It’s for good reason, though. Released in January this year, the story follows Rachel Watson, a borderline alcoholic coming to terms with the breakdown of her long-term relationship and the speedy moving on of her ex. Rachel finds solace in people-watching, but ends up getting more involved than she bargained for when her interest in piqued by a couple that she sees every day on her commute. The thing that got me about this book is that I’ve never been so involved in a story where I literally don’t like ANYONE. I get that Rachel’s supposed to be our heroine, but as the book went on I found myself with a strong dislike towards her, as well as everyone else she came into contact with. This thriller is fresh, unpredictable and at some times, maddening.
Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson
After TGOTT I was hungry for something like it. Like any normal, fun-loving, party-going young woman, I’m a member of a book club, and turned to them for help when my ideas ran dry. I was told that Before I Go To Sleep had a similar vibe, so I got to downloading and jumped straight in. After a hit-and-run almost claimed her life, Christine Lucas now wakes up every day with no idea where she is, or who she is. Now living with her husband, Ben, Christine takes the news every day and tries to get on with her life as best she can, but something feels off. She’s unsure whether it’s just the way her broken mind’s working, or if it’s something much more sinister. Although it does have the same feel, this story’s much more concentrated on the main character, making it feel a bit more personal. This was Watson’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for us next.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Despite my book-hoarding tendencies and Picoults obvious cult-following, I’ve never took the opportunity to read one of her books before. It’s not exactly her most recent novel, published in 2013, but I decided to try The Storyteller because it sounded different from the other thrillers I’d been bingeing on. Sage is a loner, working as a baker only at night as to avoid prying eyes focusing on her facial deformity. That is, until she befriends an old man and the two become a very unlikely coupling. But the old man wants more than friendship – he wants Sage to help end his life, as he’s plagued by the guilt of his past as a Nazi SS guard. This book truly moved me in a way none other has in a long time. Never reading much into the holocaust before, I found myself consumed by this book, jumping between wonderment and disgust at its events. It’s a great insight from both a Jewish and German point of view, and although it’s a huge cliché, there were times when I honestly felt myself inside the story; smelling Sages bread, feeling the cold of the filthy camps, as well as being part of the side-story, a fairy-tale written by Sage’s grandmother. When a book can make me feel like this one has, I’ll recommended it to anyone that’ll listen.
Forward Slash by Mark Edwards & Louise Voss
I’ve made it my business to read everything ever written by Edwards by the end of the year (it’s going well). I especially love when he co-writes with Voss because, and don’t judge me, the story’s always that little bit more gory. When Amy receives an email from her older sister Becky, informing her that she’s decided to move away, Amy wrestles with feelings of acceptance and the hint that something’s just not right. Determined to find more information, she teams up with Becky’s neighbour, Gary. Unbeknown to her though, a sadistic killer’s watching, and going to extremes to make sure nobody messes up his plan. It’s not like we need another thriller to warn us off the frights of using social media, they’re a dime a dozen. Forward Slash takes a spin on the message though, less about the weirdo you deigned to grab a cup of coffee with and now won’t leave you alone, this is more terrifying all together.
Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott
Is there anything creepier than a thriller based on a child? I’m such a sucker for this type of story, and Stranger Child was no exception. I actually downloaded this on a whim, remembering how much I loved Abbott’s earlier novel Only The Innocent (another one of The Greats). When Emma met her husband David, he was wallowing in the backlash of a horrific accident that killed his wife and left his daughter, Tasha, missing. Six years later, Emma and David are playing at matrimonial bliss, with a young son together. Suddenly their world is turned upside down when David’s daughter returns out of nowhere. Emma knows something horrible must have happened to Tasha, but the unravelling brings forward secrets she never could have predicted. My first adventure with Abbott was filled with that sort of morbid fascination that you can’t look away from, and S/C was no different. With just breadcrumbs for clues throughout, you’ll be guessing the outcome until the very last second – and you’ll still be wrong!
The Blue by Lucy Clarke
If Cosmopolitan Magazine tells me to do something, I’m probably going to do it. The Blue was in their review section (or rather, 50odd words about the plot) and I was just finishing up my latest rom-com and wanted something chilling. Let’s get this out there; the sea creeps me out. There’s weird fish, darkness and probably more dead bodies than you can count (keep this blog in mind next time you’re at the beach. You’re welcome). So, a book set almost entirely at sea intrigued me. After some shock news at home, Lana and her best friend Kitty set off for adventure. They think they’ve hit the jackpot when they meet a group of young sailors, but what started as the trip of a lifetime is halted by a horrible accident. How far will they go to protect the life they’ve forged? Although there were bits I found myself glazing over (I really can’t speak boat, and don’t care for people who do), this book really pulled me in. I felt the isolation of being out at sea, but also the claustrophobia of always being around the crew. Clarke is a talented descriptor and does an excellent job of painting the beautiful scenery in your mind, too.
What have you been reading? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter at @dimmickhead!