Book reviews: Curl up with three autumn books from Quercus

Curl up with three autumn books from Quercus
Curl up with three autumn books from Quercus

As the nights draw in, enjoy three sparkling autumn reads from the classy stable at Quercus publishing.

The Lost Village by Neil Spring

Back to send shivers down our spine is Neil Spring, an exciting new author whose paranormal debut thriller The Ghost Hunters has been adapted for an ITV drama.

This is Spring’s second novel featuring the notorious real-life ghost hunter Harry Price, an English psychic researcher and author who gained public prominence in the 1920s for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposure of fraudulent spiritualist mediums.

And in another nod to real history, Spring sets his new spooky mystery in Imber, a remote village on Salisbury Plain which its residents were forced to abandon in 1943 to provide an exercise area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe.

After the war, the residents were not allowed to return to their homes and the village remains an eerie, deserted spot, still under the control of the Ministry of Defence. Spring has moved the date of the abandonment to 1914 for the purposes of his story but atmospheric Imber still has the power to dredge up ghosts from the past.

In 1932, Imber is remote, lost and abandoned. The outside world has not been allowed into the village since soldiers forced the inhabitants out, much to their contempt and anger. But what many don’t know is that each winter, on one night only, Imber’s former residents return to visit their loved ones buried in the overgrown churchyard.

They are making the same clandestine visit this year but something has gone badly wrong. Old secrets are surfacing, putting all who come near the village in mortal danger. Ghost hunter Harry Price, loathed and distrusted by many, has reluctantly reunited with his former assistant Sarah Grey.

Once, Sarah worshipped Harry but their relationship has soured. Harry must unlock the mystery of Imber and dig out the dark secrets that someone thought were long buried. He also knows that Sarah could be the key to unlocking the mystery of Imber but will her involvement in the case be the undoing of them both?

Brimming with suspense and ghostly apparitions, Spring’s scorching thriller moves at a cracking pace and with a stunning twist in its devil’s tail, this is the perfect reading companion for the witching hours of winter.

(Quercus, paperback, £7.99)

The Reading Group by Della Parker

Novelist and agony aunt Della Parker reads between the lines of a close group of book club members in this sparkling feelgood novel just made for the dark nights.

Meet the Reading Group… five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton get together every month to share their love of reading and good books. But it’s not just reading on the agenda. Family, love, loss and all those other problems we can all recognise also come under the microscope because no topic is off limits for Grace, Anne-Marie, Kate, Jojo and Serena.

The women might all be very different but they know they can count on each other in good times and bad. Each month they meet in Serena’s beautiful clifftop cottage to discuss a good book, and their lives which sometimes turn out to be stranger than fiction.

Between new loves and old flames, cheating husbands and wayward children, Jane Austen’s Emma and the saucy Lady Chatterley’s Lover, there is always a surprise around the corner... and a glass of red wine to drown their sorrows!

The Reading Group is truly a novel creation… a warm, laugh-out-loud, entertaining tale of friendship and loyalty in which Parker blends both her writing talents and her professional experience to bring us lashings of love, laughter and tears.

The perfect winter warmer!

(Quercus, paperback, £7.99)

Snow Angels by Elizabeth Gill

And cosy up this autumn with a beautiful, moving tale of love and forgiveness from Elizabeth Gill, one of Tyneside’s most treasured saga writers.

Born in a small mining town on the Durham fells, Gill loves her home territory and her many books reflect her natural warmth and her affinity with the folk of this tough northern area.

Author of over 30 books set in and around Tyneside, Gill has a special brand of storytelling which captures both the spirit of the north-east and the hopes and fears of families from every walk of life.

In Newcastle in 1890, Abby Reed is grieving after the loss of her mother but finds an unexpected source of comfort exploring the rugged, snowy countryside with the brooding Gillan Collingwood, son of the biggest shipbuilder on the Tyne.

It isn’t long before she begins to hope that she and Gill might some day be more than just friends. But what she hadn’t reckoned on was Gill meeting his elder brother’s new wife Helen and falling instantly and deeply in love with her.

Abby is shattered by the news and throws herself into a reckless love affair. Her impulsive love-on-the-rebound will take her far away from the frosty wilds of her homeland to London’s glittering social scene. But can she ever forget the boy she left behind?

Gill knows how to tug at our heartstrings and this enchanting, escapist tale has every ingredient for a wonderful winter warmer… drama, romance, nostalgia and a vibrant cast of characters. Fireside reading for frosty nights!

(Quercus, hardback, £20.99)