Books that kept us on the edge of our seat in 2019

Our staff share the books that kept them on the edge of their seats this year.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I was late to the party on this gripping classic, but literally could not put it down. I read it in one sitting, without moving and found the tension near unbearable, in a completely delicious way. I was genuinely sad to finish it, but also incredibly relieved.”

Tye Cattanach

“After selling approximately one million copies of Dervla McTiernan’s first Cormac Reilly book, The Ruin, I had to get my hands on the sequel, The Scholar. And then I understood the hype: this is a brilliant Irish police procedural that I both raced through and didn’t want to finish. I also can’t wait to read her third book, due next year.”

Fiona Hardy

The Trespassers is set in a future where the UK and Europe have become barely habitable due to disease and political instability. Australia remains stable, and becomes the promised land for those suffering in the northern hemisphere. A boatload of immigrants from England, Ireland and Scotland are headed towards Australia, but when a mysterious virus starts to ravage the ships population, their future starts to look grim. This is an intelligent, edge-of-your-seat thriller that also uses a cli-fi lens to look at Australia’s real-life shameful policies on asylum seekers.

Margaret Atwood’s long-awaited follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, absolutely falls into this category for me. I read this book the evening of the day it came out – I stayed up way past my bedtime, but I couldn’t bear to put it down. This is an adventure story, a political thriller, and a great work of speculative fiction all in one.”

Ellen Cregan

“The ending of The Glad Shout; our Readings Prize Winner for New Fiction for 2019. In the closing pages, Alice Robinson juggles about four or five points of tension with remarkable skill keeping us holding our breath right to the very end.”

Amanda Rayner

“I could not get enough of Alison Evans' Highway Bodies – I read it hungrily and avidly until the very last sentence. The story follows three groups of teens during the emergence of a terrifying zombie-producing virus in the greater Melbourne area. Evans makes you care about the fate of every single one of these young characters, and they also create beautiful moments of calm and connection in the midst of the action and chaos. If you like thrilling and atmospheric books, you really must read this!”

Leanne Hall

“I read Kevin Wilson’s new novel, Nothing to See Here, in two sittings. In the story, Lillian accepts a job looking after her old high school friend’s twin stepkids – who happen to catch on fire when agitated. The result is blackly funny and surprisingly sweet, and make for compulsive reading.

I also tore through two new novels from two of my favourite crime writers: Dervla McTiernan’s The Scholar and Emma Viskic’s Darkness for Light. And I was completely hooked by The Cursed Hermit, the second Hobtown Mystery from Canadians Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes, which is another delectable blend of creepy suspense and old school adventure.”

Bronte Coates

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The Scholar

The Scholar

Dervla McTiernan

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