I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for reading lately, but I have had quite a good run of it with the books I’ve been buying, so it seemed selfish to keep them all to myself, really.

These are the last four books I’ve read, and, luckily for me, every one of them was a good ‘un. You know the kind of book you just kind of sink into for hours, and have to be dragged unwillingly out of, for some pesky chore, like eating, or sleeping, or any one of the other things in life that are not reading? The kind of book where you find yourself saying to your other half, “Oh, I just have to nip to the loo: back in a minute!” but you’re really just off upstairs to sneakily read another few pages of your book? They were THAT kind of book.

Before I start talking about them in more detail, though, let me just quickly caveat this post by saying that although I’ll happily read almost anything, I do have a preference for the gothic. Think Jayne Eyre/Rebecca/anything by Kate Morton, and you’ve basically got my bookshelf. Not all of these books fit into that particular genre, but, well, most of them do, and particularly the first one, which is…

4 books to get lost in for hoursThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is probably one of the best known modern gothic novels around, so I’ve absolutely NO idea why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading it, but I DO know that I absolutely loved it. Like, waking-up-early-just-to-squeeze-in-a-few-more-pages loved it. This is the story of aspiring biographer, Margaret Lea, who is charged with writing the biography of reclusive novelist, Vida Winter. Vida promises to tell Margaret the truth about her life: a truth which takes us back to her childhood, at the now ruined Angelfield House.

“Does the old house have a chilling secret?” asked Terry, who knows me all too well when it comes to my taste in novels. And, unsurprisingly, YES: Angelfield House DOES have a chilling secret! But I’m afraid you’re going to have to read the book to find out what it is…

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

I read The Husband’s Secret, also by Liane Moriarty, a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed it, so I figured it was probably time to try another of her books. Somewhat unusually for me, this is a modern story, and no, there’s no mysterious old house in it. Instead, there’s one woman – the Alice of the title – who falls and bangs her head during a step class at the gym (This is why I avoid gyms like the plague, just FYI…), and loses the last ten years of her memory as a result. If that description sounds like I’m setting the scene for a hilarious, slapstick kinda comedy, don’t worry: while there is some humour to it, this is actually quite a thought-provoking book, which basically asks you to consider what your younger self would think of your life now. That’s the situation Alice finds herself in, after all: she wakes up thinking she’s the same person she was a decade ago, only to find that both she, and the people she loves, have changed in ways she couldn’t even have imagined. I found the basic premise of this book fascinating, and it definitely lived up to expectations, so I’ve earmarked some more of Liane’s books for future consumption!

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

This book kept coming up in my Amazon recommendations, and I snobbishly kept ignoring it, because of the “Richard & Judy Bestseller!” line that always accompanies it. Then I remembered that I normally LIKE Richard & Judy’s recommendations, so I had a firm word with myself, bought the book, and didn’t look back. This one tells the story of – can you guess?  Yes! It’s a girl called Amy Snow! Abandoned as a baby, and raised as the poor companion of the wealthy Aurelia Vennaway (Sidenote: isn’t that an awesome name?), Amy’s life is thrown into turmoil when Aurelia’s death sees her thrown out on her ear. Fortunately, though, Aurelia has left Amy with a challenge: a treasure hunt in which Amy must follow the clue’s in Aurelia’s letters, to find… what?

Again, I’m not going to give the game away here: I did actually guess what the big secret was in this book, as it’s pretty clearly signposted, but I still enjoyed it, and found myself reminded a bit of Jayne Eyre…which is odd, really, because Amy isn’t a governess, there’s no madwoman in the attic, and there’s definitely no Mr Rochester. Oh well, we can’t have everything, can we?

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

So, this one IS about an old house with a secret – as you can probably tell from the title. This is yet another one of those “mystery from the past is solved in the present” ones (I’d apologise for reading so many of these, but, well, I DID warn you…), and if you like Kate Morton’s books, you’ll probably enjoy this one, too. I felt that the characters in the modern-day storyline weren’t quite as well-developed or interesting as the ones from the past, and there was a bit of suspension of disbelief involved in the first few chapters, but it was still a good read, and one of the characters is called Amber, which always tickles me (Yes, I’m a child), so there’s that, too.

Oh, and speaking of people called Amber (Awkward segue is awkward…), even although it makes me feel like a bit of an asshole, I don’t think I can really write a post about books without also recommending my own, which is currently available to download from Amazon. I don’t THINK you can get lost in it, but if you do, just let me know, and I’ll do my best to guide you back out…

19 Comments
  1. I love your book recommendations Amber. I bought most of the ones you recommended last November and they changed my favourite genre forever. I was so excited to see this post and once again I’ve bought nearly all of them. Keep these coming!

  2. I love reading creepy mysterious books in the Autumn months as the colder weather and the long evening add to a more atmospheric reading environment. Lately I’ve been reading Outlander as it has been made into a series on Amazon Prime so I want to know what happen before a new series is aired. xx

  3. So I’ve just added all of these into my “To Read” list on Goodreads – sounds like we have quite similar tastes in books! (Are you on Goodreads by the way?) I read a book last year that’s similar genre to these (I’m thinking along the lines of Rebecca) – Dark Angel by Sally Beauman, definitely recommend it. It’s got a fairly slow start (the first 5%ish if you’re reading on Kindle), but if you do read it, persevere because it gets addictive!

  4. You will absolutely love Mary Stewart; I would start with Nine Coaches Waiting: governess, creepy house, set in Geneva, really, really awesome and well written. She’s great, but be sure you’re not getting her Arthurian series rather than her mysteries. Or Georgette Heyer, the mysteries she wrote, not the romance.

  5. Thank you for these! The last thing in the world that I need is more books (I can never, ever stop buying them!), but I always love your recommendations.

  6. these sound really good, thanks! have you read The Behaviour Of Moths by Poppy Adams? I think you might like it, I mean it mainly is set in a decrepit house with secrets and definitely leans towards the Gothic 🙂

  7. I’ve been looking for a few books about people with mysterious secrets after finishing The Girl on the Train. I’ll be checking The Thirteenth Tale out. You’re the second person to recommend What Alice Forgot so I’ll have to add that to my reading list as well. Thanks for the recommendations!S

  8. Read Amy Snow first as I’ve never read a Richard and Judy recommendation before. It is easy holiday reading, with, as you say Amber a clearly signposted secret.

  9. Finally got round to reading the next book. What Alice Forgot by L Moriarty had me hooked almost immediately. It was intriguing and unputdownable. Great recommendation 😍

  10. Started reading The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield at 10.30pm. Too tired to read any more at 2am. Another fest recommendation, had me hooked within the first few pages. Thank you

  11. Please do more book recommendations!!! I read them all and enjoyed them so much! I usually have such a hard time finding books I really like so this post was such a unexpected treat for me. I’d love to know about some other books you have on your shelf ❤️❤️

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