The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Thrillers

My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby

A 2022 December Read This Next! Title

In this novel, readers are introduced to a story where religion, region, karma, and race intersect. Nathan, (former marine and ex-cop) has experienced loss of his own, and he’s dealt his own hand of karma to others. So, when the local sheriff’s office doubles down on corruption, he takes the case of a local minister’s death into his own hands in an attempt to bring peace to the congregation. This novel is full of twists and turns that will leave your jaw on the floor. This novel dissects the weight of loss on a person’s moral compass. In this small Virginia community is where the darkest secrets are revealed–where the darkest prayers are heard. S.A. Cosby is a force to be reckoned with.

My Darkest Prayer by S. A. Cosby (List Price: $16.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250867636, December 2022)

Reviewed by Leo Coffey, Union Ave. Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Indigenous woman Kari James loves heavy metal, Stephan King novels, and her local bar. When her cousin unearths a bracelet that belonged to Kari’s mother, Kari is suddenly haunted by both her mother and a horrible entity. In order to rid herself of both spirits, Kari will have to face her past and unearth secrets about her family. This engrossing debut blends horror with mystery with a deft hand, and I look forward to what Wurth does next.

White Horse by Erika T. Wurth (List Price: $27.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250847652, November 2022)

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

The Cloisters by Katy Hays

The Cloisters by Katy Hays is what I imagine Mary Shelley might write if she lived in the 21st century. There are elements of horror, a little romance, an eerie setting, characters that will keep you guessing, and an ending you won’t see coming. But more than that, The Cloisters seems to play with a lot of the same themes that Mary Shelley did – ambition and fallibility, romanticism in nature, dangerous knowledge, secrecy, and isolation. But where Shelley writes about what makes us human (or not), Hays writes about what agency we have as humans. Do we have free will? Is anything predestined? Or is everything just fate?

When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination. Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.

Sound intriguing?

Come tiptoe through the hushed hallways of The Cloisters, teeming with dark academia that whispers ancient secrets from the shadows. Mysteries smolder at the edges. What begins as a slow burn will have you holding your breath as you race to the end. The Cloisters is chock full of art history, architectural delights, and occult vibes.

This was one of those books that took over my world while I was reading it – casting a thin veil of darkness and tension over everything until I was so immersed in the characters and story that I was thinking about them and what would happen next throughout the day. Even almost a week later, I’m still pondering… the secrets we all hold, the dreams we have for ourselves and how far we’re willing to go to reach them. And whether any of that is our choice… or just fate.

Get ready to break out your tarot cards -I sure did!

The Cloisters by Katy Hays (List Price: $28.00, Atria Books, 9781668004401, November 2022)

Reviewed by Emily Lessig, The Violet Fox Bookshop in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Spotlight on: Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

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I love to be scared. And I love telling spooky stories. It’s a book that kind of explores all of these somber topics like addiction, like grief, exploring the kind of outer parameters of death and loss. I love ghost stories, the oral tradition that you find down South. I feel like there’s just this great value to spinning yarns and kind of immersing your, your listener, your reader, your audience in this notion that they are kind of being pulled into a story around the campfire.” ―Clay Chapman, Interview, Virginia Living

 

The Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

What booksellers are saying about The Ghost Eaters

  • This creeping horror novel will down right terrify you. A southern ghost story that won’t let you go even after you’ve turned that last page. All while dealing with the anxiety of love, grief, and addiction. I’ve never read anything like it
      ―Rayna Nielsen from Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, LA | Buy from Blue Cypress Books

  • Reminiscent of Boy Parts and Ninth House, this novel is exceptionally dark, anxiety-inducing, relatable, and oh so very addicting. Ghost Eaters is by far my favorite horror read of 2022!  ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • “Do you want to get Haunted?” Ghost is a drug that haunts a person instead of a place. Lost a loved one? Take Ghost and you can see them again. The problem is that you can’t take just one. This is a story of addiction, revenants, and imagery so grotesque that your skin crawls. This book is INTENSE and I recommend it to all horror fans!  ―Suzanne Carnes from Underground Books in Carrollton, GA | Buy from Underground Books

About Clay McLeod Chapman

Clay McLeod Chapman writes novels, comic books, and children’s books, as well as for film and TV. He is the author of the horror novels The Remaking and Whisper Down the Lane. Visit him at claymcleodchapman.com.

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We Spread by Iain Reid

A September 2022 Read This Next! Title

I adore the way Iain Reid can make you feel so clueless and enthralled at the same time. During most of We Spread I had no idea what was going on and it was completely fine by me. The way he writes, even the most horrifying feeling, is soothing. I found myself trying to read slower as I neared the end because the experience passed too quickly.

We Spread by Iain Reid, (List Price: $26.99, Gallery/Scout Press, 9781982169350, September 2022)

Reviewed by Mary Salazar, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I love Alice Feeney and a locked-room mystery, so this was perfect for me. Daisy Darker’s family gathers at Daisy’s Nana’s secluded beachside home for one final night. Nana isn’t expecting to live much longer and she has things to say to her descendants – things they won’t like. After announcing Nana’s plans for her estate has the expected results, the family reties for the evening, but the night is just beginning. People start turning up dead and questions start to fly. I had to stay up way past my bedtime to finish this one and I have no regrets!

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney, (List Price: $28.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250843937, August 2022)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas

An idyllic cottage for the couple in number 9 turns out to be anything but idyllic when two bodies are uncovered in the garden during some remodeling. Rose, the original owner of the cottage is now in her late seventies and living in a care home with dementia. Her granddaughter Saffie, who is expecting her first child, and Saffie’s husband Tom were thrilled when given the cottage by Saffie’s mother Lorna. Little did any of them know that their remodeling would uncover and bring to light many unanswered questions from the past. Why didn’t Lorna know her mother owned this cottage? Why did Rose never talk about Lorna’s father other than to say he died before he was born? Who was Rose’s mysterious boarder and what happened to her? Why did Lorna always seem to be running away from something? Who is the man who claims to be a PI and says that Rose has evidence his client wants and will use force if necessary to obtain it? And of course – who were the people buried in the garden and what happened to them? Told from several points of view and several time frames Douglas is an expert at slowly feeding you information while at the same time leaving you with many new questions. All of the information finally comes together in a twisty ending you won’t see coming.

The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas, (List Price: $16.99, Harper Paperbacks, 9780063138148,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Spotlight on: Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

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Sarah Gailey

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes something scary. I think that there’s a lot to be said for danger, for the unknown, for hostility to life. Crocodiles are scary because they want to eat you. The dark is scary because it wants to hide things from you. Outer space is scary because it wants nothing from you at all, it is not even aware of you, and yet it can take everything from you with less conscious effort than you and I spend on a heartbeat. But the scariest thing, I think, is not a thing but a place; that place isn’t really a place so much as a relationship. The scariest thing is the space under your bed.” –Sarah Gailey, Letter to readers

 

 

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

What booksellers are saying about Just Like Home

  • Just Like Home is a splendidly twisted story that left me both delighted and disturbed in equal measure. Sarah Gailey checked all of the boxes with this one, and I couldn’t be happier. ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Sarah Gailey leaned all the way into the truism that haunted house stories are a way to talk about how horrifying domesticity can be. How families can be a confusion of unkindness and violence and complicity. How home isn’t always something safe (that last one is something Gailey especially makes haunting amoeba strips from). Gorgeous; dark, and glistening. Like soul chemotherapy.
      ―Kyra Rathmann from Letters Bookshop in Durham, NC
    Buy from Letters Bookshop

  • Home is not always where the heart is! Gailey terrifies and amazes with the tale of Vera, who has been summoned back to her childhood home to watch her mother fade away from cancer. The old house is full of memories of Vera’s serial killer father and has become a shrine to his crimes, visited by gawkers, crime writers, and artists who want to get into the wicked mindset of a killer. Vera swore never to return but she just can’t escape the pull of home – and all that it contains. This is chilling and impossible to put down!  ―Andrea Richardson from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Sarah Gailey’s books are wildly imaginative and addictive. Just Like Home is a deeply twisted horror novel about the Crowder family and the symbiotic relationship they have with their house. The horror of the story lies in facts (Vera knows that her father was a serial killer) and in things too disturbing to be real (is there something living under Vera’s bed?) Where reality and the supernatural meet is the brilliance of this novel.  ―Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, South Carolina
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Sarah Gailey

Hugo Award Winner and Bestselling author Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe. Their short fiction credits include Vice and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was a 2018 Hugo and Nebula award finalist. Their bestselling adult novel debut, Magic For Liars, was published in 2019. Their most recent novel, The Echo Wife, is available now. You can find links to their work at sarahgailey.com and on social media at @gaileyfrey.

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Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey leaned all the way into the truism that haunted house stories are a way to talk about how horrifying domesticity can be. How families can be a confusion of unkindness and violence and complicity. How home isn’t always something safe (that last one is something Gailey especially makes haunting amoeba strips from). This is the kind of book that’s hard to summarize because ultimately very little happens; or a lot happens but it’s all hinted-at and spoilers. Just memories and remembrances looping around and around in both a slow lead-up to the past and a constant questioning. You spend a lot of time basically knowing what’s likely around the corner, but still being lured in by how twisty it gets – until you don’t know who to root for, or if you’re supposed to be rooting for anyone, or if the serial killer is the villain. Gorgeous; dark, and glistening. Like soul chemotherapy.

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey, (List Price: $26.99, Tor Books, 9781250174727, July 2022)

Reviewed by Kyra Rathmann, Letters Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina

Project Namahana by John Teschner

This is the best mystery/thriller I’ve read yet set in Hawaii. Instead of concentrating on Honolulu and all the other touristy places Mr. Teschner takes us into the out of the way places, the homesteads and small towns, where the locals live and depend on jobs offered by big corporations who put profit before people everyday. He introduces us to the people, their patois and, most of all, their closeness as they rely on each other, in this case after three boys die swimming in a supposedly clean stream, to do what the authorities won’t.

Project Namahana by John Teschner, (List Price: $27.99, Forge Books, 9781250827197, June 2022)

Reviewed by Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

I loved The Kingdoms of Savannah. It read like a dark, gothic Conroy novel, concerned as much with the grit of the city as the moonlight and magnolias. The Musgrove family are some rare birds. I really hope Mr. Green is planning to bring them back for more.

The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green, (List Price: $27.99, Celadon Books, 9781250767448, July 2022)

Reviewed by Ashley Warlick from M Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC

Spotlight on: Hide by Kiersten White

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Kiersten White

Anxiety is actually why I write. It’s why I started telling stories to myself as a child, because I found if I could feed my anxiety a story then it wouldn’t rip me apart, and so I always had a story going on in the back of my head to tell myself instead of going through worst case scenarios of my own life. Part of what makes a lot of people with high anxiety good storytellers is your brain is constantly coming up with the worst case scenarios and playing through things and replaying them and replaying them and replaying them, and that lends itself well to writing and storytelling. ”Kiersten White, interview, BookPeople

 

 

Hide by Kiersten White

What booksellers are saying about Hide

  • Hide is an absolute funhouse of a book about a not-so-harmless game of hide and seek in an eerily abandoned amusement park with an unexpected (but very much appreciated) dash of Greek mythology. White’s adult debut is sure to amuse and haunt. ―Kassie Weeks from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL
    Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Get ready for one horrifying game of hide-and-seek… White’s vivid, razor-sharp, and terrifying story will sink its claws into you, and hold on tight. This book is shocking, heart wrenching, and beautiful, and I am now utterly obsessed with it!   ―Lucile Perkins-Wagel from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

  • Hide is a rollercoaster ride (pun intended) of a story that brings a few delightfully dark twists to the usual aspects of a horror novel. Mack, a young heroine with a terrifying past, is put in the position of fulfilling her destiny in a game of hide-and-seek where the stakes are life & death. White presents a diverse cast of characters and several are irredeemable… but there a few “rough-around-the-edges” outcasts that had me cheering for them the entire time. This is a great October-ish read that’s perfect for any season of the year.   ―Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, TN
    Buy from Novel

  • Kiersten White is incredible, capable of capturing the fantasy of the contemporary world, and how you can build mythology into anything. Including a hide and seek competition at an abandoned theme park in the middle of nowhere. This entire book is the creeping feeling that you’re being watched, and you know who is watching you, and you know they’re going to stab you in the back, the question is just when and where. Hide has the perfect eerie, horrific atmosphere with a good helping of social commentary that fans of Until Dawn and Us will absolutely love.   ―Caitlyn Vanorder from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Kiersten White

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning, and critically acclaimed author of many books, including the And I Darken trilogy, the Sinister Summer series, the Camelot Rising trilogy, and her adult debut, Hide. Her books have been published in over twenty territories, and her novel The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is currently in development with Sony Pictures Television.

Kiersten lives with her family in San Diego, where she can regularly be found pressing her hands against the glass of her back door, furtively whispering I love you to her deeply ambivalent tortoise, Kimberly.

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Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel

OMG this book a WILD ride! It is practically a guarantee that I will thoroughly enjoy just about any book that involves cults… but a cult centered out reproduction and motherhood? Holy moly count me in. What really stood out to me about Just Like Mother (and what I believe sets it apart from other reproductive-themed thrillers) was how it features a child-free protagonist and explores the many layers of being a woman who decides to not have children. To a cult of women who deify motherhood as the pinnacle of being, who is a woman that rejects motherhood? A radical, a traitor, and a threat to their entire identity and ethos. The sense of dread and tension that permeates and persists throughout the entire story really is fantastic. Every moment that I was listening to the audiobook, my stomach was turning with the feeling that some horrible, terrible, ever-worsening doom was just around the corner. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Joanne Ramos’s The Farm, and to anyone who has been searching for a child-free perspective in the reproductive thriller genre!

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel, (List Price: $26.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250787514, May 2022)

Reviewed by Caroline Barbee, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

I watched the Netflix Series Behind Her Eyes and loved the suspense and supernatural themes. So, when I saw that Sarah Pinborough wrote Insomnia I knew that I had to read it! The story itself reminded me of Behind Her Eyes and the movie Hereditary. You have a mother as the main character who is doing everything she can to find out about her estranged mother’s life as she tries to uncover family secrets to protect her family. But, is she protecting her family from the impending danger, or is she the danger her family needs protecting from? The whole story you are in just as much disbelief as the main character…she doesn’t know if she is awake or asleep, if she is sane or going mad like her mother, and as things twist and turn deeper into the story a mind-bending and time-bending twist is added!

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough, (List Price: $27.99, William Morrow, 9780062856845,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Kait Layton, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Fantastic thriller with a tender narrative running throughout as two ex-convict fathers come to terms with each of their sons’ homosexuality too late. Highly recommended!

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby, (List Price: $17.99, Flatiron Bookss, 9781250252715,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Laura Taylor, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

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