The best novels that give reality a supernatural twist

Audrey Driscoll Author Of The Friendship of Mortals
By Audrey Driscoll

Who am I?

In 1998, I met H.P. Lovecraft's corpse-reanimating doctor, Herbert West. I found him intriguing, but HPL's story didn't tell me enough about what lay behind his bizarre interests. Why did his friend help and support him? To answer those questions, I wrote four genre-blending novels, of which The Friendship of Mortals is the first. Through West's librarian friend, Charles Milburn, I explore their friendship, the choices they make, and how they deal with the consequences of those choices. The setting is a college town in early 20th century New England, but with a supernatural twist.


I wrote...

The Friendship of Mortals

By Audrey Driscoll,

Book cover of The Friendship of Mortals

What is my book about?

Medical student Herbert West can revivify the dead—after a fashion. Miskatonic University librarian Charles Milburn agrees to help him, compromising his principles and his romance with Alma Halsey, daughter of the Dean of Medicine. West’s experiments become increasingly risky, but when he prepares to cross the ultimate border, only Charles can save his life—if his conscience lets him.

The books I picked & why

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The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker,

Book cover of The Golem and the Jinni

Why this book?

I loved this book because it combined unexpected things. New York City in 1899 is full of immigrants from all over the world, living in communities that rub together in crowded, often impoverished situations. In that realistic setting the story places a female golem and a male jinni. Reading about two non-human creatures from Jewish and Arab cultures figuring out how to exist in the human world made me think about what it means to be human and how communities work. Plus there's interesting stuff about Kabbalistic magic, baking, and life in the desert.

The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Golem and the Jinni as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of only two novels I've ever loved whose main characters are not human' BARBARA KINGSOLVER

For fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

'By far my favourite book of of the year' Guardian

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in…


Experimental Film

By Gemma Files,

Book cover of Experimental Film

Why this book?

One reviewer has described this book as "oddly weird," and I agree. There's enough reality to keep you grounded, with creeping weirdness to make you wonder. A 21st-century woman is dealing with recognizable life stresses—job loss and an autistic child—but at the same time she's obsessed with tracking down the work of an early 20th-century woman filmmaker. What is actually happening on a short segment of silver nitrate film? Is it a ceremony carried out by people belonging to an obscure ethnic group of Central Europe? Or is a supernatural entity present? In time, the subject of the investigation intrudes disturbingly into the investigator's real life. I loved the sneaky creepiness!

Experimental Film

By Gemma Files,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Experimental Film as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The award-winning author of the Hexslinger Series "explores the world of film and horror in a way that will leave you reeling" (Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy).

Former film teacher Lois Cairns is struggling to raise her autistic son while freelancing as a critic when, at a screening, she happens upon a sampled piece of silver nitrate silent footage. She is able to connect it to the early work of Mrs. Iris Dunlopp Whitcomb, the spiritualist and collector of fairy tales who mysteriously disappeared from a train compartment in 1918.

Hoping to make her own mark on…

Death's Detective: The Malykant Mysteries, Volume 1

By Charlotte E. English,

Book cover of Death's Detective: The Malykant Mysteries, Volume 1

Why this book?

At first, I thought this was a historical mystery similar to the Sherlock Holmes stories. Nineteenth-century city, maybe in Russia? But what about the weird Bone Forest and the house on stilts? The detective, Konrad Savast, carries out his investigations in distinctly unorthodox ways. Then there are his spirit-serpent helpers, Eetapi and Ootapi. Sherlock never had anything like them! And in addition to the four mysteries to be solved in this book, there's the question of Konrad's relationship with apothecary Irinanda Falenia. Will it ever develop into something more than friendship?

Death's Detective: The Malykant Mysteries, Volume 1

By Charlotte E. English,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death's Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To catch a killer, send a monster.

There's a realm. Wreathed in ice and snow, drowning in the dark, Assevan needs a different kind of hero.

There's a god. Merciless and cold, and quick to anger, the Lord of the Dead insists upon one thing only: vengeance for a murdered soul.

And there's a man. A ruthless killer, Konrad is detective, judge and executioner in one. Dauntless, relentless, monstrous, he stands alone against the dark.

Meet the Malykant. Justice will be served.

Four cases. Four killers. Four executions. Dark fantasy and murder mystery collide in this first collection of the…

The Little Stranger

By Sarah Waters,

Book cover of The Little Stranger

Why this book?

This isn't a happy book, but it's intensely atmospheric and intriguing. I loved the depiction of a family trying to keep up appearances while their once-beautiful house crumbles. Small details of clothing and things like riveted teacups (which I had to look up) show an inevitable decline that goes from gradual to catastrophic. The reader sees everything over the shoulder of the narrator, a doctor who has his own history with the family and the house. When strange and terrible things happen, he steps in to help, but it's not clear if he's telling the truth. Is the evil supernatural or human?

The Little Stranger

By Sarah Waters,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Little Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After her award-winning trilogy of Victorian novels, Sarah Waters turned to the 1940s and wrote THE NIGHT WATCH, a tender and tragic novel set against the backdrop of wartime Britain. Shortlisted for both the Orange and the Man Booker, it went straight to number one in the bestseller chart. In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable…

The Girl in a Swing

By Richard Adams,

Book cover of The Girl in a Swing

Why this book?

I've re-read this book several times, trying to figure out if there was something I missed that would answer the questions raised in the final chapters. An English ceramics expert who values his orderly life meets a woman while on a business trip. He falls in love and marries her. Suddenly his life is delightfully disorderly, except for small, disturbing details. Strange things appear in or near the pleasant country home he's known all his life—a black dog, a child's toy, a voice on the telephone. All this builds up to a terrible revelation. I loved this book for its vivid evocation of atmosphere and emotion, from the idyllic to the erotic to terrifying.

The Girl in a Swing

By Richard Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl in a Swing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alan Desland, who feels himself to be an ordinary and unremarkable man, falls passionately in love with the beautiful but mysterious German stenographer, Karin, who is sent to assist him during a business trip to Denmark. To his astounded joy, she returns his love - but their courtship and marriage will shake his life to its very foundations and test him to the limits of sanity.

About the Author
Richard George Adams (born 9 May, 1920) is an English novelist, author of Watership Down, Shardik, Maia, The Plague Dogs, Traveller, Tales from Watership Down and many other books.

When Watership…

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