Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It s a small town in the center of the state the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It s good enough for Jeremy: it s a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.
But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store she has an odd complaint: There s something on it, she says, but doesn t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it s not defective, exactly, but altered: There s another movie on this tape.
Jeremy doesn t want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town.
So begins John Darnielle s haunting and masterfully unsettling Universal Harvester the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The novel will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.
The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy (9th Mar 2017)
For five years Edie has worked for the Elysian Society, a secretive organisation that provides a very specialised service: its clients come to reconnect with their dead loved ones by channelling them through living ‘Bodies’. Edie is one such Body, perhaps the best in the team, renowned for her professionalism and discretion.
But everything changes when Patrick, a distraught husband, comes to look for traces of his drowned wife in Edie. The more time that Edie spends as the glamorous, enigmatic Sylvia, the closer she comes to falling in love with Patrick. And the more mysterious the circumstances around Sylvia’s death appear.
As Edie falls under Sylvia’s spell, she must discover not only the couple’s darkest secrets, but also her own long-buried memories and desires ― before it’s too late.
The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker (4 Apr 2017)
In the cold spring of 1936, Arthor Crandle, down-on-his luck and desperate for work, accepts a position in Providence, Rhode Island, as a live-in secretary/assistant for an unnamed shut-in.
He arrives at the gloomy colonial-style house to discover that his strange employer is an author of disturbing, bizarre fiction. Health issues have confined him to his bedroom, where he is never to be disturbed. But the writer, who Crandle knows only as Ech-Pi, refuses to meet him, communicating only by letters left on a table outside his room. Soon the home reveals other unnerving peculiarities. There is an ominous presence Crandle feels on the main stairwell. Light shines out underneath the door of the writer s room, but is invisible from the street. It becomes increasingly clear there is something not right about the house or its occupant.
Haunting visions of a young girl in a white nightgown wandering the walled-in garden behind the house motivate Crandle to investigate the circumstances of his employer s dark family history. Meanwhile, the unsettling aura of the house pulls him into a world increasingly cut off from reality, into black depths, where an unspeakable secret lies waiting.
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (6 Apr 2017)
A feverish new tale from the bestselling author of The Impressionist: two ambitious young musicians are drawn into a dark underworld, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past.
Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten by history — and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow his friend into the darkness.
Trapped in a game they don’t understand, Hari Kunzru’s characters move unsteadily across the chessboard, caught between black and white, performer and audience, righteous and forsaken. But we have been here before, oh so many times over, and the game always ends the same way . . .
Electrifying, subversive and wildly original, White Tears is a ghost story and a love story, a story about lost innocence and historical guilt. This unmissable novel penetrates the heart of a nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge and exploitation, and holding a mirror up to the true nature of America today.
The Truants by Lee Markham (25 May 2017)
Following the suicide of his lover, the last of the ‘old-ones’ ancient immortal beings, as clever as they are ruthless and unable to withstand the light of the sun has decided to end his immortality. As he sits on a bench on the edge of a council estate to await his demise with the rising of the sun, he is mistaken for an old man, held up at knifepoint by a young man and stabbed before the sun burns his body to ashes. His assailant scurries back into the belly of the estate with the knife in his pocket, the blood of the old-one seared into its sharpened edge. But once the blade cuts another person, the congealed blood mingles with that of its victim, and awakens in them the old-one’s consciousness from the depths of the afterlife. It is not long before the knife draws blood again, and one by one the youth living on the estate are taken over by the old-one’s mind. Determined to die, he must find and destroy the knife before his soul becomes irrevocably dispersed in the bodies of the city’s children, trapped forever in its feral underbelly. But someone is out to stop him… Inspired by the murders of Baby P, Jamie Bulger and Damilola Taylor, and by the London riots during the summer of 2011, The Truants is a visceral, intelligent, gripping novel which uncovers the fragility and hopelessness of Britain’s social underclass and the horror of their everyday lives.