I can’t quite believe we are almost at the end of another year. 2021 for many has been another year of isolating, being ill and a portion of it being in lockdown. I would be quite happy for 2022 to be a year that we break away from all that.
Anyway, with a new year comes new books. By all accounts its shaping up to be an exceptional year for books releases and I’m going to struggle to keep this list small.
1. The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart
A locked-room murder mystery set at a hotel for time travelers—in which a detective must solve an impossible crime even as her own sanity crumbles—from the author of The Warehouse.
For someone with January Cole’s background, running security at a fancy hotel shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
Except the Paradox is no ordinary hotel. Here, the ultra-wealthy guests are costumed for a dozen different time periods, all anxiously waiting to catch their “flights” to the past. And proximity to the timeport makes for an interesting stay. The clocks run backwards on occasion—and, rumor has it, ghosts stroll the halls.
Now, January’s job is about to get a whole lot harder. Because the U.S. government is getting ready to privatize time-travel technology—and a handful of trillionaires have just arrived to put down their bids.
Meanwhile there’s a blizzard rolling in, and the timestream’s acting strange. Which means nobody’s leaving until further notice.
And there’s a murderer on the loose.
Or at least, that’s what January suspects. Except the corpse in question is one that somehow only she can see. And the accidents stalking their prestigious guests…well, the only way a killer could engineer those is by operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once. Which is surely impossible.
There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and forcing her to confront secrets of her own.
Because here at the Paradox Hotel, the past is waiting around every corner.
At once a dazzlingly time-twisting murder mystery and a story about grief, memory, and what it means to—literally—come face to face with our ghosts, The Paradox Hotel is another unforgettable speculative thrill-ride from acclaimed author Rob Hart.
2. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.
Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?
3. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge
Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.
4. Sundial by Catriona Ward
Sundial is a new, twisty psychological horror novel from Catriona Ward, author of The Last House on Needless Street.
“The new face of literary dark fiction.” —Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
You can’t escape what’s in your blood…
All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. Far from her childhood home, Sundial, hidden deep in the wild Mojave Desert.
But beneath the veneer, Rob is terrified for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.
Running from her past has led her directly back to it — what’s buried at Sundial could never stay a secret forever, and Rob must risk one last trip out there to protect her family, and her future.
“A true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end.” —Stephen King on The Last House on Needless Street
5. And Then I Woke Up by Malcolm Devlin
“A scathing portrait of the world we live in and a running commentary on what’s story, what’s truth, and what’s not.”—Stephen Graham Jones
In the tradition of Mira Grant and Stephen Graham Jones, Malcolm Devlin’s And Then I Woke Up is a creepy, layered, literary story about false narratives and their ability to divide us
In a world reeling from an unusual plague, monsters lurk in the streets while terrified survivors arm themselves and roam the countryside in packs. Or perhaps something very different is happening. When a disease affects how reality is perceived, it’s hard to be certain of anything…
Spence is one of the “cured” living at the Ironside rehabilitation facility. Haunted by guilt, he refuses to face the changed world until a new inmate challenges him to help her find her old crew. But if he can’t tell the truth from the lies, how will he know if he has earned the redemption he dreams of? How will he know he hasn’t just made things worse?
6. The Fervor by Alma Katsu
From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger and The Deep comes a new psychological and supernatural twist on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.
1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.
Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.
Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores a supernatural threat beyond what anyone saw coming; the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late.
7. Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak
“Whip-smart, creepy as hell, and masterfully plotted, Hidden Pictures is the best new thriller novel I’ve read in years. Destined to be a classic of the genre.” —Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
From Jason Rekulak, Edgar-nominated author of The Impossible Fortress, comes a wildly inventive spin on the classic horror story in Hidden Pictures, a creepy and warm-hearted mystery about a woman working as a nanny for a young boy with strange and disturbing secrets.
Fresh out of rehab, Mallory Quinn takes a job in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.
Mallory immediately loves this new job. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.
As the days pass, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister, and his stick figures steadily evolve into more detailed, complex, and lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to suspect these are glimpses of an unsolved murder from long ago, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force lingering in the forest behind the Maxwell’s house.
With help from a handsome landscaper and an eccentric neighbor, Mallory sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy—while coming to terms with a tragedy in her own past—before it’s too late.
8. Not Good for Maidens by Tori Bovalino
Salem’s Lot meets The Darkest Part of the Forest in this horror-fantasy retelling of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.”
Lou never believed in superstitions or magic–until her teenage aunt Neela is kidnapped to the goblin market.
The market is a place Lou has only read about–twisted streets, offerings of sweet fruits and incredible jewels. Everything–from the food and wares, to the goblins themselves–is a haunting temptation for any human who manages to find their way in.
Determined to save Neela, Lou learns songs and spells and tricks that will help her navigate this dangerous world and slip past a goblin’s defenses–but she only has three days to find Neela before the market disappears and her aunt becomes one of them forever.
If she isn’t careful, the market might just end up claiming her too.
9. Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes
Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.
A GHOST SHIP.
A SALVAGE CREW.
Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.
What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.
Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.
10. A Black and Endless Sky by Matthew Lyons
From the author of The Night Will Find Us comes a white-knuckled horror-thriller set across the American Southwest.
Road trips can be hell.
Siblings Jonah and Nell Talbot used to be inseparable, but ever since Jonah suddenly blew town twelve years ago, they couldn’t be more distant. Now, in the wake of Jonah’s divorce, they embark on a cross-country road trip back to their hometown of Albuquerque, hoping to mend their broken relationship along the way.
But when a strange accident befalls Nell at an abandoned industrial site somewhere in the Nevada desert, she begins experiencing ghastly visions and exhibiting terrifying, otherworldly symptoms. As their journey through the desolate American Southwest reveals the grotesque change happening within his sister, one thing becomes clear to Jonah: It’s not only Nell in there anymore.
Pursued by a mysterious stranger who knows far more about Nell’s worsening condition than they let on, the siblings race to find a way to help Nell and escape the desert before they’re met with a violent, bloody end. But there are far worse things lurking in the desert ahead… some of them just beneath the skin.