1. The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett is published in hardback by Viper
Janice Hallett’s latest offering, The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels, tells the tale of true crime writer, Amanda Bailey. She’s attempting to track down a baby who narrowly escaped the clutches of the sinister Alperton Angels cult almost two decades ago, and is now about to turn 18. But Amanda is not the only one on the trail. Once again, Hallett eschews traditional chapters to tell the story via other means – this time mainly through emails, messages and transcriptions. For those not familiar with this style, it could make the story feel confusing at the start, but it’s well worth sticking with. It’s a gripping read, which keeps the reader guessing what really happened to the baby – and the cult – until the last page.
2. The Cloisters by Katy Hays is published in hardback by Bantam Press
The Cloisters covers themes of fate and free will. Ann Stilwell has had a rough year, so when the opportunity arises for her to intern at The Met, she makes it her mission to break free of her mother’s desire for her to stay home in Walla Walla and move to New York. On her first day, she finds her internship is no longer there, but fortuitously she is shuffled to an area called The Cloisters, where her knowledge of arcane languages is sought after. While working for curator Patrick, Ann becomes entwined with fellow researcher Rachel. Something feels off. But what is it? This is a modern, Gothic masterpiece. Successfully linking modern critical thinking with the divinity of the past, and human nature’s desire to believe that there is something else out there.
3. Cold People by Tom Rob Smith is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster
An armada of alien ships fills the sky before a broadcast orders the world’s population to reach Antarctica within 30 days, or face merciless annihilation. Tom Rob Smith, best known for his Child 44 thriller series, effectively makes those reading Cold People imagine what they would do when faced with the frostiest of dilemmas. But the epic exodus of millions is just the start – how do we survive and thrive as a refugee species on a continent not fit for humans? Which moral codes would we twist or break in pursuit of rebuilding civilisation on an unforgiving desert of ice? Petrifying action sequences and passages of pure psychosociological terror make for a gripping page-turner that will certainly give you the chills.
4. The Year Of The Cat by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is published in hardback by Tinder Press
Anyone fortunate enough to share their heart with a cat will no doubt be drawn to this book. And they’ll be richly rewarded, as Guardian journalist and novelist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett weaves stories of other writers and artists through history who’ve adored their felines, with her own tale of adopting a kitten called Mackerel during lockdown. But this is also an exploration of trauma, as Cosslett recounts her experiences with PTSD after surviving a life-threatening attack in her 20s, of growing up a young carer with a severely autistic brother, of a woman finding her way in the world and – through it all – grappling with both the longing and fear of becoming a mother. It is an ode to love, healing, feminism, and above all else a stunning portrait of the web of experiences and conflicting emotions that steer us. Its themes and narrative alone make this memoir a work of art, but Cosslett’s mastery of words and ability to point her lens right on the heart of her topics is beautiful. This is a book that will stay with you for life.
Children’s book of the week
5. I Send You A Hug by Anne Booth, illustrated by Åsa Gilland, is published in paperback by Puffin
If you’re looking for a comforting bedtime read for preschool children, then Anne Booth’s latest picture book, I Send You A Hug – about feeling the presence of love even when separated from someone special – might be for you. When Big Bear must go away, she tells Little Bear of the many ways she will remain with him and he embarks on a journey through raindrops, colours, stars and waves, to find the warm feeling that Big Bear usually brings. This incredibly gentle read is soft and soothing, ideal for that just-before-bed wind-down children often need. However, it doesn’t hold up against the punchier, lyrical picture books on the market, and lacks the strong narrative that slightly older kids enjoy.
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