Oh, I do love a good haunting tale led by strong, resilient female characters and even more so if it has elements of mystery and a psychological edge too. I’ve read three of such books recently and want to highly recommend them to you here. They are absolutely perfect for these cold winter days and nights! I like to sit wrapped up in a blanket, with a cat (or two or three), a steaming cup of tea (I am in love with apple and cinnamon at the moment) and the radiator on full blast. In my perfect world, the radiator would obviously be a cosy wood burner.
Thornhill by Pam Smy is unlike any book I have ever come across as the story alternates between text and illustration; a totally unique reading experience. The story is of two girls, one in the present day, whose story is told in words, the other back in the 80s (or is she?) and her story is illustrated. I can’t really say much more without giving the plot away but I will say that I loved both characters and that I really felt drawn into the storyline. As well as this, I found the images stunningly effective in their simplicity; I love that each reader adds to the story by what they see in the illustrations.
My second recommendation is The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell. I have to be honest and say that I partly chose this book for the cover alone- truly gothic. And I wasn’t disappointed. A dark, haunting tale of a young widow living in a remote house, who learns about a mysterious ancestor, whose legacy lives on. Moving wooden figures, who have a life of their own, a running exploration of what is real and what is not, who is sane and who is insane, and last but not least, a writing style, which creates such a haunting atmosphere – I loved it and even thinking about it now gives me the shivers.
The last one doesn’t need much of an introduction as talk of Jessy Burton’s The Miniaturist is everywhere, especially since Christmas, when the BBC produced the most brilliant tv adaptation of it. The eerie, mysterious presence of The Miniaturist on the outskirts, who fashions furniture and dolls that predict the future of the dolls’ house owner in intricate detail. Feisty Marin, desperate to remain independent in a man ruled world, sticking to all the rules outwardly whilst her private sphere is full of maps, seeds and ornaments from faraway places. And the wonderful Nella, who tries to navigate her new, complicated, married world and bit by bit, begins to see the world through different eyes. All of this is set in 17th century Amsterdam, a time and a place I knew very little about – of course I researched and loved learning more about Nella’s world.
I would love to hear your recommendations for this genre, my tbr list can never be long enough!