We recently released our favourite films of 2021, so in keeping with this theme here are a selection of our essential books released this year. Enjoy!
The Book of The Baku by R.L Boyle
While R.L Boyle’s The Book of the Baku may seem fantastical from the outside looking in it is a tale very grounded in the story of generational trauma.
Sean hasn’t been able to speak a word since he was put into care, and is sent to live with his grandad, a retired author whom he has never met before. Suddenly living an affluent life, nothing like the world of the estate he grew up in, Sean spends his time drawing and sculpting. But his grandad has secrets of his own in his past. Sean finds one of his stories about ‘The Baku’, a creature that eats the fears of children.
Plagued by nightmares, with darkness spreading through the house, Sean must finally face the truth if he’s to have a chance to free himself and his grandfather from the grip of the Baku.
Rich characterisation and a deeply woven plot make The Book of the Baku frighteningly original whilst feeling oddly familiar.
Exposure by Louis Greenberg
The latest novel from Louis Greenberg takes a lot of political and topical subjects and throws them into a nightmarish world akin to Black Mirror.
We follow the journey of Petra, an immigrant who by fateful happenstance meets Vincent, and their whirlwind romance takes them to an alternative theatre experience known as Metamuse, which may have something sinister going on behind the curtain.
Exposure is a challenging and refreshing read and will certainly appeal to readers after an alternative take to what they think is going on in the world.
When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow
While many of us may not have read too much Shirley Jackson, the recent Netflix series’ of The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor respectively, may have peaked your interest.
I have to admit I wasn’t a massive fan of the Hill House book, but really enjoyed the series, so was cautiously optimistic when reviewing this book. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about given the variation of stories, which are quite frankly mainly excellent.
When Things Get Dark basically has something for everyone, and is jam-packed with excellent stories.
Horseman by Christina Henry
It is fair to say that most horror fans vaguely know the story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, from the animated short, the Tim Burton feature or the FOX TV series, many have tried to keep the legend alive.
Here author Christina Henry goes a step further and tries to continue the story of the town of Sleepy Hollow.
At just under 350 pages this is the type of book that can easily be consumed in a handful of days.
The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix
It’s fair to say after reading The Final Girl Support Group that author/screenwriter Grady Hendrix knows his slasher films.
Such is his knowledge, that even a fan with a limited knowledge of the concept of a final girl and unkillable slashers will be grinning every time he drops a subtle reference in there.
While there is a wobble through the middle The Final Girl Support Group ramps up for a satisfying conclusion that has our appetites whet for the recently announced HBO adaptation of this story.
Come With Me by Ronald Malfi
The latest novel from Bram Stoker finalist Ronald Malfi starts from a relatively straightforward, tragic incident that morphs into something entirely more sinister.
Come With Me is melancholic but also gripping as the plot thickens and you think you have the story sussed and Malfi just throws us a curveball and we are back to square one. While this can be slightly frustrating for the reader it also adds to the intrigue of the story.
As a first time reader of his work, Come With Me has me eager to read more of his previous work.
A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill
Author Shaun Hamill definitely uses the works of Stephen King for his time-spanning novel A Cosmology of Monsters.
Much the same as King’s IT and many other stories, Hamill’s tale is about growing up, realising who and what you want out of life and how the tackle darkness when it comes calling.
Hamill’s tale starts quite linear but has a knack of drawing the reader into this messed up family dynamic with sprinkles of cosmic horror spliced in until we get a full grasp of the larger narrative.
Surprisingly, the two mix quite well and this fast becomes an engrossing read which feels really epic but does not step over 350 pages.
The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro
On the surface it may feel like V. Castro’s The Queen of the Cicadas is a commonly told tale of an urban legend come to life, but it has so many more layers than that.
Early chapters do draw comparisons to tales such as Candyman, but ‘Cicadas’ veers off into many different areas including institutional racism, the role of family and how searching for truth does not always yield the answers you crave but something else entirely.
The Queen of the Cicadas veers into unexpected areas but feels all the better for it and asks some big questions and is so bold in its approach.
Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo
Mixing police procedurals with fairytales is a tricky balancing act which Cynthia Pelayo attempts in her novel Children Of Chicago, which looks to be the first of a series.
Pelayo takes the fairytale of the Pied Piper and although sinister to begin with, takes it to a whole new level and makes the character pretty terrifying.
While the book’s conclusion may be in part, telegraphed by the mid-point this does not take away from the gut punch it provides.
What are your favourite books of 2021, let us know in the comments.