The Ghost Theatre

Mat Osman

Bloomsbury, £16.99 (ebook £11.89)

Hauntingly beautiful, Mat Osman’s The Ghost Theatre is a unique blend of history and fantasy, set against the backdrop of Elizabethan London. The story follows Shay, a messenger-girl and hawk trainer who sees the future in the patterns of birds, and Nonesuch, the dark star of the city’s child theatre scene. Drawn together by their shared love of art, they create The Ghost Theatre, an underground troupe that performs fantastical plays in the city’s hidden corners. As their performances incite rebellion among the city’s outcasts, the pair’s relationship sparks and burns against a backdrop of the plague and London in flames. Osman’s evocative prose brings Elizabethan London to life with vivid detail, seamlessly merging fact and fiction with fantastical brushstrokes, creating a world that is both familiar and completely new. Thrilling and thought-provoking, Osman’s unique creation will leave readers pondering its mysteries long after the final page.


The Story Of The Forest

Linda Grant

Virago, £18.99 (ebook £11.49)

With her books previously shortlisted for both the Booker and Women’s Prizes, Linda Grant is most comfortable writing period novels – and The Story Of The Forest, set in 1913, is no different. The story begins in Latvia with Mina’s revelatory walk in the forest to collect mushrooms, and follows her escape from an overbearing father – with the help of her older brother – to the city of Liverpool, in a bid to reach New York, but then on to London.

The novel has a lightness of touch, and the tale is told with humour and sensitivity. Mina is central to the family saga, and Grant’s own Eastern European roots in a culture with few written records and a strong tradition of storytelling, informs the narrative.


August Blue

Deborah Levy

Hamish Hamilton, £18.99 (ebook £9.99)

Elsa M Anderson, a famous pianist who walked out of a concert in Vienna, witnesses a mysterious woman buying mechanical horses in a flea market. From this moment, Deborah Levy takes us on a journey of discovery and introspection, as Elsa attempts to discover the truth behind her identity. Set against a post-pandemic backdrop, where the world is struggling to emerge from years of suppression and control, Elsa is forced to brutally prise open the shell of her restricted and disciplined upbringing in order to set herself free. Through the fractured mirror of Elsa’s sense of self, she chases the woman through cities across the world, as she struggles to understand herself as an artist and a person. Levy’s lyrical, pitch-perfect prose, where every word is weighted with significance, is an exploration of our reasons for living, the forces that drive us and the inner music that controls our dance through life



I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was

Ruby Wax

Penguin Life, £18.99 (ebook £9.99)

There is no-one as witty, inspiring and frank as Ruby Wax when it comes to mental health – this book provides a brutally honest and thoughtful insight into Wax’s journey, including conversations with therapists and the highs and lows of fame. Despite being written by someone in the spotlight, the book is surprisingly relatable to anyone who has had mental health difficulties. Wax combines anecdotes about her time in a mental institution with her incredible celebrity adventures without it feeling disjointed. It feels as though Wax is now ready to start a new, more mindful chapter of her life, and the sense of closure in this book is cathartic, encouraging readers to do the same. An open account of the benefits of therapy, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy, can only benefit readers and is a firm reminder that everyone can struggle mentally, and you are not alone.


Children’s book

Amy Gets Eaten

Adam Kay, illustrated by

Henry Paker

Puffin, priced £7.99 (ebook £5.99)

This book will have you chuckling throughout – and amidst the laughter, it’s still very much an educational read. It gives a very entertaining and amusing view of the journey of a piece of sweetcorn – called Amy – through a young boy called Noah’s digestion system. Amy is a very happy piece of sweetcorn who helps the other pieces of food throughout their journey, encouraging them to make the most of the adventure. She then takes her own advice. The illustrations are very colourful and keep you focused. The book also helps bring out the brighter side to a topic some might not feel comfortable discussing. It’s a delightful book.