It’s been a rather slow reading summer for me. Partly because I’m deep in a first draft (the sequel to my upcoming novel, Miss Aldridge Regrets). Many editors have been generous and sent me advance reading copies of some fabulous books that come out early next year. Three feature here. I usually try not to share so many books that aren’t readily available, but these are at least available for pre-order. I loved them!
The Key in the Lock – Beth Underdown
Beth’s debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister, was a huge success a few years ago. This, her second novel, is perfect for anyone who loves the Cornwall of Daphne du Maurier. Ivy Boscawen is mourning the loss of her only son in the Great War, but finds herself haunted not only by him but by the death of another boy, from years before. Perfect for anyone who loves a good gothic mystery where the past haunts the present.
Everyone Is Still Alive – Cathy Rentzenbrink
This novel is very reminiscent of the TV show Motherland. Juliet has just moved into her late mother’s West London home along with her husband and young son. She’s the main breadwinner and so it’s husband Liam who does the school run and becomes a favourite amongst the local mums. Juliet feels a little uneasy about the time Liam spends with these other women but tells herself she’s being ridiculous – until one of the women splits from her husband… This is a lovely, funny and light novel but I loved how it digs deep into the realities of suburban married life.
The Thief on the Winged Horse – Kate Mascarenhas
I love novels that are set in our world but with a touch of magic, so I knew this was going to be right up my street. The Kendrick family have been making dolls for sale from their island workshop for over 200 years. Not only are they exquisitely crafted, they each have an emotion laid upon them – touch the doll and you will feel that emotion as if it’s your own. Despite descending from four Kendrick women, more recently the secrets of the workshop have been hoarded by the men. When a stranger arrives, claiming to be a long lost relative and knowing more than the average person should, And then the most famous doll goes missing…
Black Cake – Charmaine Wilkerson
Out in February, the TV adaptation is already underway for this debut novel (and Oprah is involved!). This is SO good – I can’t believe it’s a debut. Perfect for anyone who likes tales about dysfunctional families. Estranged siblings Byron and Benny reunite for their mother’s funeral. Their inheritance is two fold – first, an eight hour voice recording made by their mother in her last days, revealing the truth about her past, a murder committed many years ago, and the secrets that she kept from her children and husband. Secondly, she has left a traditional black cake for her children to share when the time is right. Split between past and present, this is an expertly woven novel and I loved it.
Theatre of Marvels – Lianne Dillsworth
Another debut out next year (sorry!) in April, Theatre of Marvels is a delight set in Victorian London. Zillah performs nightly at Crillick’s Variety Theatre as the great Amazonia. She might have to file her nails to points and dress up as the warrior she knows she isn’t, but for a mixed race girl, all alone in the city, it’s easy money. It’s only when Zillah meets a Black merchant, appalled at her performance, that she starts to think about the example she is setting. And when Crillick’s new salacious act goes missing, Zillah knows that has to take action.