Shea Ernshaw is the award-winning author of the best-selling young adult novels The Wicked Deep and Winterwood. Her adult debut, A History of Wild Places, is a tale about a search for two people who've gone missing at an isolated commune.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (2019).
A can't-look-away psychological thriller about three families living in the same house on the banks of the Thames. Bad things happen (really bad things), and some people don't come out alive. This twisty, suspenseful tale had me cringing and wanting more. It's a read-in-one-sitting kind of book—you've been warned. Buy it here.
The Need by Helen Phillips (2019).
This book is somehow both horrifying and beautiful. Molly is a paleobotanist who unearths strange artifacts at the dig site where she works. Soon, she finds her life thrust upside down, with a stranger in her house and reasons to question her own identity. It's unlike anything I've ever read before: mesmerizing, tragic, and unforgettable. Buy it here.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (2014).
Burton has a way of spinning tales so effortlessly that you hardly feel yourself plunging headfirst until you've lost several hours devouring half of a book. Set in 17th-century Amsterdam, The Miniaturist is magical and enchanting, and a perfect escape from our modern era. Buy it here.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (2015).
The story of a librarian who receives an old book on his doorstep, The Book of Speculation is filled with mysteries, magic, and tales of circus mermaids who always die from drowning on the same day: July 24. Family curses and a seaside setting make this a perfect autumn read. Buy it here.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang (2017).
Weylyn Grey was raised by wolves. Somehow, this is only the first of many peculiar things about him. Beasts is a wonder-filled story of adventure, the forces of nature, and the things that make us different. Buy it here.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (2012).
Perhaps you've never heard of this book, but I hope now that you have you will find a copy for yourself and read it on a cold winter evening. Set in 1920 on the Alaska frontier, it's a story of folktales and hardship, both heart-wrenching and hope-filled. Eowyn Ivey is a master storyteller, and this jewel of a book should be on everyone's shelf. Buy it here.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here