As the Second World War brews across Europe, Jack Miller seizes an opportunity to escape London, where he lives in poverty and loneliness. He joins an Arctic expedition as a wireless operator, and whilst he’s conscious of the class differences between himself and his crewmates, they quickly warm to each other. So when Jack ends …
The nineteen year old protagonist of Elle Nash’s debut novel is destructive and reckless. When she’s not working at the Radio Shack, she’s snorting her mother’s prescription pills in the bedroom of their trailer or having meaningless sex with her boss. When Frankie and Matt initiate a sadistic three-way relationship with her, they christen her Lilith. Matt tries to educate her in the ways of Satanism while Lilith desperately tries to please them both, lest she lose their attention. Her feelings soon morph into obsession, but an obsession for Matt alone; an obsession that Frankie will not let stand.
The sea has encroached far into the United States, leaving pockets of people fighting for survival along the newly defined coastline. Mir lives with her parents and her baby brother, but something’s not quite right with her new sibling. Meanwhile, sightings of strange sea creatures on land have the coastal folk worried, almost driving a local school teacher to suicide. Jersey, Mir’s best friend urges her to join him in seeking a better life inland, but there’s no guarantee that things get better away from the ever-invading ocean.
During the summer of 1969, four siblings hear of a curious fortune teller who can predict the day you die. Pooling their pocket money and eager for a cure to the monotony of the long summer, they seek her out, entering her cramped and crowded apartment one by one. Simon, the youngest, enters first, followed wild-haired Klara, sensible Daniel, and finally the eldest, Varya, nervously follows her siblings. They come out the other side forever changed by what they heard. Over the next five decades, the fortunes they were told shape each of the siblings’ lives, pushing the power of their familial bond to the limit.
Sofia’s mother, Rose, has spent most of her life in what she describes as excruciating pain, yet simultaneous numbness. Unable to get to the bottom of her illness, Sofia and Rose spend thousands of pounds, remortgaging their home in the process, to travel to the enigmatic Dr. Gomez in arid Spain in the hope that he may offer an explanation and some relief for Rose’s condition. Up until this point, Sofia had been sleeping on a camp bed in the storeroom of the coffee shop she worked in, after dropping out of her PhD program. A keen anthropologist, Sofia quietly studies those whom she meets in this little Spanish town, whilst battling with her own identity issues. She quickly becomes involved with an intriguing German seamstress, but struggles to determine whether her emotions are that of love or obsession.
When Jen and Hugh Maddox’s daughter, Lana, goes missing on an art retreat in the Peak District, they fear the worst. But four days later, Lana is found, bruised and bleeding but alive. When they ask her what happened, and where she had been, her only answers are ‘I got lost’ and ‘I can’t remember’. The family try to return to their normal lives, but Jen’s need to know what happened leaders to her constant surveillance of Lana’s life, driving them further and further apart, until Jen’s obsession steers her into dangerous territory.
The Strange Bird sees Jeff VanderMeer return to the world that spawned Borne, crafting a novella from the point of view of a piece of Company biotech. The story follows its eponymous bird, who escapes from the laboratory in which she was built. Once in the outside world, she cannot connect with other wildlife and struggles to know which humans she can trust in a landscape destroyed by technology and the people that created it.
Alix Nathan’s debut short story collection follows a variety of characters and their lives during 18th century England, a time when the country is shrouded in the atmosphere of revolution and reaching the height of the Enlightenment.
Drawing on her personal experiences of growing up fat and constantly dieting, Virgie Tovar teaches others to reject that same mindset. She discusses diet culture, fat phobia, sexist fashion and more, arguing that we must unlearn what society has taught us since childhood in order to embrace our bodies, and to learn that it is fine to be fat.
Kate Weinberg’s debut novel, The Truants, pulls dark academia out of the elite and picturesque colleges of America and plunges it into a Brutalist-style university found in the east of England. Jess Walker begins her undergraduate degree enthralled by her enigmatic professor, Lorna Clay, whose class on the master storyteller Agatha Christie sets the scene for the rest of the novel and its mysteries. The Truants is a story about stories, but in particular, it’s about the reliability of our storytellers. Just how much of what they’re telling us is the truth?