| | My Mother's House by Francesca Momplaisir What it is: the stylistically complex debut novel of poet and Fulbright Scholar Francesca Momplaisir, which tells the story of a troubled Haitian-American Louverture family and the unique house they live in.
Read it for: the experimental storytelling techniques, such as this novel's self-aware house (which is given its own chapters of the story to tell).
Is it for you? Momplaisir doesn't shy away from the details of the Louverture family's unhealthy dynamics, which serve the story but might be too much for some readers.
| | Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella The setup: College freshman Cady Archer has just enrolled at Harvard, the same school where her brilliant older brother Eric died by suicide in the middle of his physics degree after he stopped taking medication for his schizophrenia.
What happens next: Cady becomes increasingly suspicious about the circumstances of her brother's death and during her investigation she begins hearing voices, a hallmark symptom of the same mental illness her brother struggled with. Is she onto something, or is she just losing her grip on her own sanity?
| | Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar Starring: Kate Aitken, a troubled archivist; Miranda Brand, an iconoclastic (and recently deceased) photographer who left behind a disorganized and disquieting body of work; Miranda’s son Theo, who hired Kate to deal with his mother’s papers.
What goes wrong: Her natural curiosity about the aloof Brand family coupled with the intimacy of her assignment lead Kate to start crossing personal and professional lines in pursuit of the truth about Miranda's life and death, and soon she's in serious danger.
| | The End of October by Lawrence Wright What it's about: A highly contagious new virus has appeared in an Indonesian refugee camp, and the World Health Organization has dispatched a renowned epidemiologist to study it. But when a carrier goes on hajj to Mecca, millions of his fellow pilgrims are exposed and soon enough the disease begins to pose an existential threat to all of humanity.
Author alert: Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Right is best known for his nonfiction, including The Looming Tower, Going Clear, and God Save Texas.
| | The Visitors by Catherine Burns What it's about: Middle-aged Miriam Zetland lives a reclusive life in a tumbledown seaside mansion with her cruel and overbearing brother John, a former school teacher who spends most of his time in the cellar building model airplanes -- and occasionally receiving visitors whom Miriam never gets to meet.
Read it for: the atmospheric and creepy tone, which builds tension slowly and deliberately until circumstances force Miriam to get closer to the disturbing secrets her brother has been hiding behind the (locked) cellar door.
| | With You Always by Rena Olsen The premise: Julia Hawthorne has never been especially religious, but when she begins dating handsome lawyer Bryce Covington and learns that his parents run a church, she starts attending services with him. Unexpectedly she has a profound spiritual experience, and soon she's becoming increasingly committed to both her faith and her relationship.
The problem: Julia's sister Kate is suspicious of Bryce and of the church almost immediately but Julia won't hear of it. As she grows increasingly isolated from her old life and more dependent on the church, Julia learns the Bryce isn't who she thought he was. Now Julia can't see a way out, especially once the church services start to take a turn for the bizarre.
| | Baby Doll by Hollie Overton What it is: an intricately plotted story of survival in which a woman held captive since her teenage years fights to rebuild her life and keep her kidnapper behind bars.
Starring: Lily Riser, who has spent the last eight years trapped in a basement; Rick Hanson, a high school English teacher and Lily's kidnapper who is determined to punish her for escaping; Abby Riser, Lily's twin sister who faced her own struggles while Lily was missing; and Sky, Lily's young daughter who has never lived in the outside world.
| | The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware Too good to be true: On the surface Rowan Caine's new nanny job seems great -- the girls are charming, the parents seem nice, and she'll be living with them in a beautiful house in the Scottish countryside
What happens next: Once Rowan takes off her rose-colored glasses she starts noticing creepy things about her employers and their house, and when one of the children is found dead, Rowan becomes the prime suspect.
Why you might like it: This homage to the Henry James novel The Turn of the Screw is framed as a letter Rowan is writing to her lawyer from prison as she tries to defend herself and figure out what really happened.
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