Jane Healey

(Pan, £8.99)

In 1939, Hetty Cartwright is assigned to evacuating the Natural History Museum’s collection of stuffed mammals to Lockwood Manor for the duration of the war, where she will look after them. Hetty hopes this job will propel her to greater things, but Lockwood Manor turns out to be quite the ordeal. Widower Lord Lockwood is cantankerous and lascivious, the staff are disdainful and animals start to go missing or move around the reputedly haunted mansion. The one bright point is that she’s growing closer to Lockwood’s daughter, the fragile and somewhat disturbed Lucy, who has suffered tragedy in her past. Jane Healey was, apparently, named after Jane Eyre, and she recreates the foreboding of a gothic melodrama, sinister housekeeper and all. Unhurried, and a little anti-climactic, if it clings too closely to the tropes of its gothic predecessors to stake out its own territory, it’s still an absorbing, atmospheric effort.


Colum McCann

(Bloomsbury, £8.99)

Seven novels into his writing career, the acclaimed Colum McCann has turned out his most significant book yet. The title, Apeirogon, refers to a mathematical object with an infinite number of sides – McCann’s way of rejecting binary, oppositional thinking – and is inspired by the real-life friendship between a Palestinian, Bassam Aramin, and an Israeli, Rami Elhanan. Both men lost their daughters in the conflict between their peoples and have since campaigned for its peaceful resolution. Divided into 1,001 micro-chapters over 480 pages, Apeirogon is based on interviews with the duo, around which McCann has moulded his “hybrid novel”, intermingling the stories of the bereaved men with many other strands, which can go off at tangents whose relevance gradually becomes clear. In this powerful, compassionate book, McCann has done justice to the story of two men from the opposing sides of a bitter conflict, whose friendship and mutual understanding stand as a model for the future.


Matt Wesolowski

(Orenda, £8.99)

Deity is the latest of the Six Stories series, books Wesolowski has been turning out every winter since 2016. Set out like transcriptions of true-crime podcasts, their one constant is presenter Scott King, who re-examines old criminal cases, usually with a supernatural element, by talking to six interviewees who offer their own perspectives on them. In Deity, the subject is singer Zach Crystal, who died in a fire at his Highlands mansion and whose reputation has since been tarnished by allegations that he acted inappropriately with teenage fans. While King’s interviewees keep us shifting back and forth on Crystal’s guilt or innocence, stories surface about Crystal’s dealings with an otherworldly creature known as the Frithghast, a local legend. The supernatural aspect and the unsavoury nature of the allegations against Crystal create a chilling creepiness that Wesolowski is well equipped to spin into a compelling narrative that keeps surprises up its sleeve right to the end.