Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-GoffStarring: battle-ready Orpen, raised on a small island in post-apocalyptic Ireland, who must venture to the mainland after tragedy strikes.
What's she fighting? a menacing horde of zombies (aka skrakes); her own fears of life beyond the safety of home.
Why you might like it: With a charming, capable heroine at its center and atmospheric world-building, this action-packed novel will appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and zombie flick 28 Days Later.
Tinfoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve MoultonWhat it's about: After escaping her violent would-be kidnapper, troubled hitchhiker Emma takes an unexpected detour into a creepy small town whose lone inhabitant is a masked 8-year-old boy named Earl.
What happens: A stranded Emma vows to help Earl kill his abusive father, and an unlikely friendship develops as the pair conspires to face their demons together.
Is it for you? Readers who appreciate tales of human horrors like addiction and abuse will want to check out this "unrelenting and artfully crafted" debut (Publishers Weekly).
The Possession by Michael RutgerBack at it: Licking his wounds after a terrifying encounter with an ancient evil (and perhaps an even more terrifying dearth of sales from the book based on his experiences), rogue archaeologist Nolan Moore is ready to investigate a new case for his YouTube series.
Read it for: an intensifying pace centered on witchcraft and possession, a darkly humorous tone, and flawed yet relatable characters.
Series alert: The Possession is the 2nd in the Anomaly Files series, following 2018's The Anomaly.
The Last Astronaut by David WellingtonThen: In 2034, the Orion 6 mission to Mars ended in tragedy, shuttering the space program and Commander Sally Jansen's career along with it.
Now: Twenty years later, Sally is called out of retirement to make contact with a mysterious alien object hurtling toward Earth. The stakes have never been higher -- for both the future of mankind and Sally's own redemption.
Reviewers say: "Readers will be riveted -- and will want to keep all the lights on" (Publishers Weekly).
The Bus on Thursday by Shirley BarrettWelcome to... the seemingly idyllic yet isolated town of Talbingo, where hard-drinking 30-something breast cancer survivor Eleanor hopes to make a fresh start as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse.
What happens: Beset by strange circumstances (a fellow teacher's disappearance, a cabin with too many locks on the door) and even stranger townsfolk (a demonic love interest, an exorcism-obsessed pastor), Eleanor suspects she may be in danger.
Read it for: a wickedly funny storyline that unfolds via blog posts.
The Dead Path by Stephen M. IrwinWhat it's about: Returning to his hometown in Tallong, second sight-afflicted Nicholas investigates the murder of his childhood best friend, whose ghost is among those he sees reenacting their deaths. Will his sleuthing put him in the path of a menacing woodland presence? (Yes.)
Why you might like it: This creepy modern fairy tale features vivid imagery and evocative descriptions of Nicholas' escalating unease.
Want a taste? "Clouds, heavy as slate and swollen like the underbellies of diseased beasts, were rolling across the sky."
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayWhat it is: the haunting story of three schoolgirls' disappearance from a trip in the Australian bush; when one student returns, she has no memory of where she's been...or what happened to her classmates.
Media buzz: Adapted for screens big and small, Picnic at Hanging Rock was most recently revisited in the 2018 Amazon Prime miniseries starring Natalie Dormer.
Try this next: Riley Sager's contemporary psychological suspense novel The Last Time I Lied, itself an homage to Joan Lindsay's 1967 classic.
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte WoodWhat it is: a surreal and disturbing tale of captivity and survival, centered on a group of women imprisoned in the Australian Outback for their perceived sexual misdeeds involving rich and powerful men.
Is it for you? This award-winning and thought-provoking allegorical novel confronts real-life monstrosity, exploring the horrors of sexual politics and misogyny.
For fans of: The Handmaid's Tale and Lord of the Flies.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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