How on earth are we at the end of yet another year? I don’t know about you but it’s been another challenging one. It seems as though since 2020 every year has been difficult but each one just brings with it a different flavour of shit. I try not to be too negative but its hard sometimes, right? I broke my ankle, tore the ligaments and tendons in my foot at the tail end of November and I’ve been struggling to get mobile again – I have good days and bad but the one shining light of positivity that has emerged from my accident is that I have had loads more time to read. So what were my favourite reads of 2022? Read on and all shall be revealed…

1. We can never leave this place by eric larocca

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REVIEW –

“When you’re given a gift, something else gets taken away.”
A precocious young girl with an unusual imagination is sent on an odyssey into the depths of depravity. After her father dies violently, young Mara is surprised to find her mother welcoming a new guest into their home, claiming that he will protect them from the world of devastation and destruction outside their door.
A grotesque and thrilling dark fantasy, We Can Never Leave This Place is a harrowing portrait of inherited grief and familial trauma.
“We Can Never Leave This Place is the apocalyptic 21st century Grimm’s fairy tale you need in your life. Eric LaRocca plucks images directly from the muck and mire of our id and fashions them into something grotesquely beautiful.” Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World and The Pallbearers Club
“We Can Never Leave This Place is a bleak and tender, monstrous and visceral fable of family and loss, and the courage it takes to confront them both.” Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher

2. In The Arctic Sun by Rowan Hill

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REVIEW

The trees of Alaska’s Arctic wilderness have always been Sarah’s sentries and her house, a fortress, isolated from society and an abusive marriage.
Until it isn’t.
The arrival of a new neighbor and an oil company drilling through primordial, cold earth changes the forest of her valley. It bleeds through the serenity and disrupts her home, her sanity. Plagued with insomnia from the midnight sun, Sarah increasingly suspects something is using her sanctuary to hide from the bright, incessant light. An insidious menace, ancient and beyond explanation, using the wilderness for cover. Her personal demon that cares nothing for Sarah or her mental health. Something that won’t stop until it takes it all.

3. Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

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REVIEW

‘Come home.’ Vera’s mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories – she’s come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there, beneath the house he’d built for his family.

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting . . . but who else could it possibly be?

There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.

4. The App by Stuart James

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REVIEW

The App…

Once you’re in, they’ll never let you leave.

Whatever happens, don’t download The App.

It will come in the form of a link. Maybe in your DM’s on a social media account, the junk folder of your emails or a WhatsApp message from a friend.

* You’ll be enticed by the chance of winning one hundred thousand pounds on offer every Friday, wired straight into the winner’s bank account.

* It’s not a joke.

* This part is genuine.

* Someone can and will win the money.

* But at what cost?

Marty Benson gets the link sent to him by a friend. So what is the harm in looking?
He clicks it, downloads the app and enters a few basic details.
A message prompts him to wait while he’s loaded onto the system.
An hour later, another message.

• Do not delete the app.

• Do not tell anyone outside of your family about the app.

• Send the link to one person who is close to you.

* Do not throw your phone away.

* Always narrate while streaming.

• If you break any of the rules, we’ll kill a member of your family. Then we’ll kill you.

Marty is sent a picture of his wife, who is shopping with her mother in Oxford Street.As Marty struggles to breathe, he clicks the links and watches the most recent streams, realising what happens within the
app.

Every Friday morning, a person is randomly picked from social media.

They now have a bounty on their head—a death warrant. But they don’t know it.

Their profile appears on the app’s main page; all their details are displayed.

Every app member must play the game at least once a month or face the consequences.

Kill the person randomly selected from social media.

Win one hundred thousand pounds.

As Marty watches the terror unfold and everyone streaming the hunt within the app, he realises he has to do something.

But how do you stop a murder, when everyone could be the killer?

5. The Creeper by A.M. Shine

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REVIEW

The Creeper is a masterful tale of horror and suspense from one of Ireland’s most talented emerging authors.

Superstitions only survive if people believe in them…

Renowned academic Dr Sparling seeks help with his project on a remote Irish village. Historical researchers Ben and Chloe are thrilled to be chosen – until they arrive.

The village is isolated and forgotten. There is no record of its history, its stories. There is no friendliness from the locals, only wary looks and whispers. The villagers lock down their homes at sundown.

It seems a nameless fear stalks the streets, but nobody will talk – nobody except one little girl. Her words strike dread into the hearts of the newcomers. Three times you see him. Each night he comes closer…

That night, Ben and Chloe see a sinister figure watching them. He is the Creeper. He is the nameless fear in the night. Stories keep him alive. And nothing will keep him away…

6. We Spread by Iain Reid

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REVIEW

Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents”.

Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?

At once compassionate and uncanny, told in spare, hypnotic prose, Iain Reid’s genre-defying third novel explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.

7. Candles, Bullets, & Dead Skin by L. Stephenson

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REVIEW

From the author of The Goners comes a pocket-sized collection, featuring the best of his previously published works so far.

Outside of Stephenson’s debut slasher novella, his stories tackled subjects such as ableism, gender identity and shockingly true acts of violence.

8. Awake in the Night by Shauna McEleney

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REVIEW

Jessica and Nicole think they’ve finally found their dream house by the sea in the West of Ireland. 17 Montpellier Street has history, character… and so many rooms you could easily lose your way, if you don’t tread carefully.

It has memories, too – so many memories. The new owners haven’t learned them yet. But the girls who lived there decades before, when the church used Montpellier Street to hide away its secrets – they’ve never forgotten.

The ones who survived, anyway.

Montpellier Street remembers every one of the horrors those girls suffered at the hands of the priests, nuns and doctors who should have been their carers. And Jess and Nicole… they’re about to start reliving them, night after night.

Sleep may never come easily again.