Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane There is a quote in Neil Gaiman's latest novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane that, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not, sums up the book rather nicely:
”I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.”

The ”I” of the tale is a young boy who, growing up in rural Sussex nearly forty years ago, encounters unspeakable evil from other dimensions. I will keep the plot details sparse and simply urge you to pick up this beautiful, darkly magical book! Part horror, part fantasy, part coming of age, this has something for everyone who loves great storytelling. Something in Gaiman's heartwrenching depiction of just how vulnerable children are, and what can happen when something evil preys upon them, reminds me of Stephen King's finest moments. This isn't an adult story, nor is it a children story. This simply is, and how gloriously so! Easily Neil Gaiman's best efforts in years.


The Killer Next Door (Alex Marwood)

The Wicked Girls was one of the best thrillers I read last year, so I had very high hopes for her latest novel. I finished it in less than 24 hours (clearly, this is the way her books are supposed to be read – I remember pretty much gulping The Wicked Girls down in two sittings) and was genuinely terrified by this tense psychological thriller. Set in a dodgy house in south London, it gives the reader close access to the house's tenants, one of whom is a serial killer. Silence of the Lambs meets Shallow Grave, sort of. Highly recommended – not for the faint of heart, though.

The Killer Next Door (Alex Marwood)  The Wicked Girls (Alex Marwood) 

Into the Darkest Corner (Elizabeth Haynes)

Did I just say ”tense psychological thriller”? Here's another one! Haynes' debut novel – she has written two more just as compelling thrillers since and has a fourth one out soon – deals with domestic abuse, destructive relationships, and OCD. It is absolutely unputdownable, as are her other two books: I've read all three in just over two weeks. I like how all her books depict deeply real problems and how she doesn't shy away from unimaginable darkness but rather revels in it. Her books are perfectly paced with an impressive narrative flow and she often uses multiple points of view in an elaborate and successful way. Clearly one to watch. Liked S J Watson's Before I Go to Sleep? Do yourself a favour and pick this one up, too.

Finally, with the publication of Helena fave Jennifer McMahon's The Winter People but weeks away, I'd like to bring up another McMahon title from 2011: Don't Breathe a Word. It is an utterly enthralling blend of thriller, coming of age, and fantasy, featuring dark Vermont woods, fairies, and lost children. It is every bit as delicious as it sounds - perhaps even more so. That got your attention, didn't it?

Into the Darkest Corner (Elizabeth Haynes) S J Watson –  Before I Go to Sleep Jennifer McMahon – The Winter People Jennifer McMahon – Don't Breathe a Word