Five new books to read this week

Five New Books To Read This Week
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By Prudence Wade, PA

Classicist Natalie Haynes is back with her latest deep dive into Greek mythology…


1. Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford is published in hardback by Faber & Faber on October 5th


Cahokia Jazz
(Faber & Faber/PA)

Imagine an America where the Indigenous people were not entirely decimated and marginalised by European settlers, but instead thrived and enjoyed social and cultural dominance in many pockets of the nation. Francis Spufford – author of the superb Golden Hill – sets this noir-ish mystery in the fictional US city of Cahokia, in a violent but strangely familiar version of 1922, where ‘takouma’ – Native Americans, ‘takata’ – Europeans, and ‘taklousa’ – African-Americans, share an uneasy peace. A grisly sacrificial murder of a Klansman seems engineered to set these tribes against each other, and ‘takouma’ detective Joe Barrow, also an aspiring jazz pianist, and his wisecracking partner Phin Drummond, are at the heart of the action. Race is a clear theme in this gripping crime thriller, and although the exposition can bog the plot down, Spufford’s imagination and darkly humorous dialogue will keep you enthralled.
(Review by James Cann)

2. A Stroke Of The Pen: The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett is published in hardback by Doubleday on October 10th


A Stroke Of The Pen

A Stroke Of The Pen contains 20 short stories written by Terry Pratchett in the Seventies and Eighties under a pseudonym, which have since been unearthed and collated, eight years after his death. This delightful collection is inventive, entertaining and a little quirky, often with a twisty end. Imaginative stories include characters like Og the caveman inventor and ghosts that have been evicted from their home. Several characters and settings make later appearances in the novels that established his career. The comedic fantasies that shape this book make for a fun read. The wit, wisdom and intelligence are interspersed with a lively dose of naivete, with entertaining results.
(Review by Amanda De-beer)

3. A Haunting On The Hill by Elizabeth Hand is published in hardback by Sphere. Available now.


A Haunting On The Hill by Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand’s A Haunting On The Hill is a suspenseful and gripping read – the first novel authorised to return to the world of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House. It follows the playwright Holly Sherwin, who is close to getting her big break. Having received a grant to develop her new play, Witching Night, all she needs is time and space to bring her vision to life. Then, on a weekend away, she stumbles upon Hill House – an ornate, yet crumbling gothic mansion, which beckons her and her actors in. Soon enough, the group discovers the dark and unnerving secrets that Hill House has been harbouring for all these years. The short chapters, intriguing and complex characters, and beautifully written (yet sinister) descriptions make the novel an irresistible page-turner.
(Review by Ellie Fleming)


4. Divine Might by Natalie Haynes is published in hardback by Picador. Available now.


You’ve likely heard their names – Hera, Demeter, The Furies – and you may think you know their story. But Natalie Haynes’ Divine Might will shed a new light on the goddesses whose stories have been told countless times, but perhaps never in this way. Haynes, whose other popular titles include Stone Blind and Pandora’s Jar, manages to give these well-known Greek goddesses a new voice by telling their story from a different perspective, and it’s one that really leaves an impact. Author Haynes is no stranger to focusing her lens with a female gaze and with great success. Her 2019 novel, A Thousand Ships – a re-telling the Trojan War from a female perspective – earned her a shortlist spot for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020, and Divine Might is no different. It’s a powerful read that really opens a new dialogue on the Greek goddesses and will leave you feeling like you understand their stories in a way you haven’t before. It will definitely leave you feeling like you want to know more.
(Review by Kerri-Ann Roper)

Children’s book of the week

5. Secrets Of The Forest: 15 Bedtime Stories Inspired By Nature by Alicia Klepeis, illustrated by Kristen Adam, is published in hardback by Neon Squid. Available now.


American children’s author Alicia Klepeis – who has over 170 works for young audiences to her name, all with an educational angle – presents a collection of short stories with rich illustrations from Kristen Adam. Readers are guided through the forest to encounter the inhabitants that live there, including an Alaskan frog, forest-dwelling penguins and a honey-loving sun bear – learning about the real biology and behaviour of these incredible creatures in whimsically told stories. This is a stunningly crafted tome with luscious artwork and delightful bite-sized bedtime stories that should be treasured by families and handed down through generations to come. It’s a great purchase for any science and nature-loving primary school child.
(Review by Holly Cowell)


1. The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith
2. The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman
3. The Armour Of Light by Ken Follett
4. Traitors Gate by Jeffrey Archer
5. The Wake-Up Call by Beth O’Leary
6. So Late In The Day by Claire Keegan
7. The Figurine by Victoria Hislop
8. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
9. In Memoriam by Alice Winn
10. Stop Them Dead by Peter James
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. Unruly by David Mitchell
2. Emperor Of Rome by Professor Mary Beard
3. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart
4. T.V.: Big Adventures On The Small Screen by Peter Kay
5. Berserker!: An Autobiography by Adrian Edmondson
6. Great-Uncle Harry by Michael Palin
7. Divine Might by Natalie Haynes
8. Wild Hope by Donna Ashworth
9. The Diary Of A CEO by Steven Bartlett
10. 5 Ingredients Mediterranean by Jamie Oliver
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith
2. The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman
3. Unruly by David Mitchell
4. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart
5. The Diary of A CEO by Steven Bartlett
6. The River’s Edge by Joy Ellis
7. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
8. Atomic Habits by James Clear
9. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
10. T.V. by Peter Kay
(Compiled by Audible)

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