Janice Hadlow (Pan, £8.99)

In Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the middle Bennet sister: plain, socially unskilled, left behind while her sisters’ lives move on. Hadlow redresses the balance in her debut novel, giving Mary a voice and putting her centre stage. The first part re-tells Pride and Prejudice from her perspective, evoking sympathy for this neglected character by showing how her father ignored her, her mother compared her unfavourably with the other girls and her sisters left her feeling isolated. The remainder takes place two years later. Mary, unmarried and dependent on others, is nevertheless determined to have a life. The advantages of beauty denied her, she cultivates her mind instead, experiencing kindness and learning to accept herself for who she is. Many characters from the original crop up, slightly tweaked by Hadlow to make them more or less agreeable. Modern in outlook, it’s broadly respectful to Austen, honouring her spruce prose and social critique.


Eliza Nellums (Crooked Lane, £13.47)

After having a mental breakdown outside a mall, Siobhan, the mother of six-year-old Aoife, is admitted to hospital. With her lawyer uncle, Donny, looking after her while her mother is away, Aoife gets the idea that if she can solve the mystery surrounding the death of her older brother, Theo, Siobhan will somehow come back. Convinced Theo was murdered, she sets out to investigate, alongside eight-year-old Hannah and imaginary friend Teddy. Theo’s death, however, isn’t the only mystery she has to contend with, and the girls’ investigation threatens to upset a few apple-carts. As a detective, Aoife is brave and clever beyond her years. As a narrator, she has a sophisticated vocabulary for a girl of six, and a precocious way of looking at the world. But Nellums retains enough of a child’s-eye perspective to make her believable, while injecting the tale with a sense of genuine danger.


Merlin Coverley (Oldcastle, £12.99)

Hauntology is a field of study which particularly resonates with British people of a certain age, but it’s one whose precise meaning varies depending on who you talk to. Originally coined by Jacques Derrida, the term has become an amorphous “shorthand for the ways in which the past returns to haunt the present”. Focusing on the key years of 1848, 1921 and 1989, Coverley studies the power that obsolete visions of the future still hold over our collective consciousness – though, as he admits, hauntology has become dominated “by a nostalgia for the pop-cultural artefacts of our recent past”. Mainly concerned with the literary and theoretical side of hauntology, music and television being well catered for elsewhere, his book is by no means too academic to be accessible, painlessly setting out the intellectual basis of this esoteric discipline while still allowing for space for discussion of 1970s folk-horror, Nigel Kneale and the frequently hilarious Scarfolk website.