Good Morning Readers and welcome to the end of the week! This weekend, in most of the U.S. we will be hitting the back end of Daylight Savings time. The clocks will be set back, and night will 'come earlier'. Winter is coming, and the daylight hours are rapidly shortening so to set the mood, we have a reading list to hunker down under the covers with and stay warm through the chill nights.
Darkness Rising, A Reading List for the Encroaching Night
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
A book deal to die for.
Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.
Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.
But then the women begin to die.
Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.
Weyward by Emilia Hart
I am a Weyward, and wild inside.
2019: Under cover of darkness, Kate flees London for ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a great aunt she barely remembers. With its tumbling ivy and overgrown garden, the cottage is worlds away from the abusive partner who tormented Kate. But she begins to suspect that her great aunt had a secret. One that lurks in the bones of the cottage, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.
1619: Altha is awaiting trial for the murder of a local farmer who was stampeded to death by his herd. As a girl, Altha’s mother taught her their magic, a kind not rooted in spell casting but in a deep knowledge of the natural world. But unusual women have always been deemed dangerous, and as the evidence for witchcraft is set out against Altha, she knows it will take all of her powers to maintain her freedom.
1942: As World War II rages, Violet is trapped in her family's grand, crumbling estate. Straitjacketed by societal convention, she longs for the robust education her brother receives––and for her mother, long deceased, who was rumored to have gone mad before her death. The only traces Violet has of her are a locket bearing the initial W and the word weyward scratched into the baseboard of her bedroom.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Lillah Lawson and Lauren Emily Whalen
When Duff O’Brien moves to Hiawassee, Georgia after a traumatic experience in her Michigan hometown, she’s looking to finish high school with her head down and work at her beloved granny’s barbeque joint. Enter classmate Marian “Mac” Shepherd: ambitious, rough around the edges, and devoted to Duff immediately. The two best friends pick up instruments and along with their new pal, recently-disgraced golden girl Quincy Banks, form The Scottish Play, the hardest-rocking all-female band North Georgia has ever seen.
Five years later, The Scottish Play is living and playing together in Athens, Georgia, getting all the gigs they can with the help of their rhythm guitarist Rosalyn “Ross” Smith and their manager, legendary record executive and father figure Ian Duncan. When the women meet the handsome and enigmatic Lawrence MacLaren at local hot spot The Grit, it’s love at first sight for Marian—and Lawrence envisions even bigger and better things for his new girlfriend’s band. But when Ian mysteriously drops dead, and teetotaler Quincy succumbs to a drug overdose soon after, Duff and Ross begin to suspect that Mac and Lawrence may be involved. Does this have anything to do with the prophecies from The Hecks, a wickedly handsome male trio of Hiawassee witches—one of whom Duff is now dating? And as the band journeys to Scotland’s historic Glamis Castle for the show of a lifetime, Duff wonders if she ever really knew her best friend Mac at all—and more urgently, is she next?
Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas
As the daughter of a rancher in 1840s Mexico, Nena knows a thing or two about monsters—her home has long been threatened by tensions with Anglo settlers from the north. But something more sinister lurks near the ranch at night, something that drains men of their blood and leaves them for dead.
Something that once attacked Nena nine years ago.
Believing Nena dead, Néstor has been on the run from his grief ever since, moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero. But no amount of drink can dispel the night terrors of sharp teeth; no woman can erase his childhood sweetheart from his mind.
When the United States attacks Mexico in 1846, the two are brought abruptly together on the road to war: Nena as a curandera, a healer striving to prove her worth to her father so that he does not marry her off to a stranger, and Néstor as a member of the auxiliary cavalry of ranchers and vaqueros. But the shock of their reunion—and Nena’s rage at Néstor for seemingly abandoning her long ago—is quickly overshadowed by the appearance of a nightmare made flesh.
And unless Nena and Néstor work through their past and face the future together, neither will survive to see the dawn.
Midnight is the Darkest Hour by Ashley Winstead
For fans of Verity and A Flicker in the Dark, this is a twisted tale of murder, obsessive love, and the beastly urges that lie dormant within us all...even the God-fearing folk of Bottom Springs, Louisiana. In her small hometown, librarian Ruth Cornier has always felt like an outsider, even as her beloved father rains fire-and-brimstone warnings from the pulpit at Holy Fire Baptist.
Unfortunately for Ruth, the only things the townspeople fear more than the God and the Devil are the myths that haunt the area, like the story of the Low Man, a vampiric figure said to steal into sinners' bedrooms and kill them on moonless nights. When a skull is found deep in the swamp next to mysterious carved symbols, Bottom Springs is thrown into uproar—and Ruth realizes only she and Everett, an old friend with a dark past, have the power to comb the town's secret underbelly in search of true evil.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don't mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she's used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and...Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he's concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.
As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn't know she was looking for....