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Shuffling of the Shelves – November Part 1

By Serena Kerrigan-Noble, Hannah Moore, Lucy Shardlow and Melissa Tran

As we look towards darker nights and more cosy reading days inside, we are rounding up some of the latest thrilling and unsettling reads for the season!

After the Halloween festivities, we’re keeping things spooky as we move deeper into Autumn, with some top picks from WHSmith’s Fiction Books Chart. At number eleven is a new release from the bestselling author of Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait. The beauty and richness of the novel’s Italian Renaissance setting is belied by the sinister machinations of Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferraras’s husband Alfonso whom she suspects has plans to murder her at his remote country villa. In this evocative and propulsive reimagining of the turbulent life of a young woman beset by the threat of male violence, O’Farrell has created a narrative every bit as enchanting and troubling as Hamnet. Speaking of dark crimes and gripping plots, John Grisham’s latest thriller The Judge’s List is also climbing up the fiction charts. The novel follows investigator Lacy Stoltz in her attempts to make a murderous judge pay for his own crimes, without becoming a victim herself.

In the Waterstones chart this week, at number four, is the winner of The Booker Prize 2022, The Seven Moons of Maali Almedia by Shehan Karunatilaka. The novel is a satire set in Sri Lanka during the civil war of 1990 and follows Maali Almeida who is a war photographer who finds himself dead in an afterlife resembling a visa office. Karunatilaka’s novel provides a funny yet brutal picture of Sri Lanka’s difficult history in a completely unique novel well deserving of the prize it holds. Further down the chart is The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake, which has risen in the charts after its success on TikTok. Blake’s novel follows the story of six young magicians, chosen to join a society only five of them will survive. A perfect dark academia read for the colder months, The Atlas Six is a smart take on the fantasy genre. Additionally, Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshinkazu Kawaguchi has made a reappearance in the charts after its success at the beginning of the year.

After the release of her latest novel, It Starts With Us, it comes as no surprise to see that Colleen Hoover claims the top spot on the Amazon Most Sold chart this month! The highly anticipated sequel to It Ends With Us, Hoover’s latest novel reveals even more about Atlas’ past and follows Lily as she embraces her second chance at love. Hoover picks up exactly where she left off in the epilogue of her first novel, proving that all endings can have new beginnings. Swiftly making its way up the ranking is Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin. Set centuries before Game of Thrones, we discover the thrilling history of the Targaryens. The inspiration for Sky’s latest series House of Dragon, Martin’s novel is all anyone seems to be talking about with media outlets naming his work “a masterpiece” (Sunday Times), and “a feast of pure imagination” (SFX).

The Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker is getting some well-deserved recognition across BookTok this month! This is the second book in their fantasy series, following on from The Keeper of Night which has been widely successful. The Empress of Time follows Ren, a half-British, half-Japanese Shinigami who has become the goddess of death and has to navigate this new role and those who wish to overthrow her. The book explores themes of family, identity and revenge with a whole lot of magic and mystery. Another stand out book on BookTok is Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai – a rom-com with a twist. The twist being that as Mira and Naveen begin to rekindle their relationship, they end up tangled in Mira’s dark, family secrets. Chaos soon ensues as they have to escape jewel thieves and crime bosses but this strange set-up appears to allow for the character’s love to grow!

Our noteworthy book this month is Daisy Darker by bestselling author Alice Feeney. Known for hits such as Rock Paper Scissors and Sometimes I Lie, Feeney’s work has been compared to the likes of Agatha Christie as she creates the perfect murder mystery with dramatic endings. Following the estranged Darker family, this psychological thriller sets out the ultimate whodunnit plot. An estranged family who have not been in the same room for over a decade, come together for their grandmother’s birthday at their ancestral home set on a small, private island. What could possibly go wrong? Feeney’s novel has been described by critics as “gritty, twisty [and] impossible to put down” which is a common theme for Feeney’s novels (Amazon reviews). Crime novels always have a place in the charts, and with winter creeping in we predict that mysterious, page turning novels will inevitably find themselves hitting the top spots!


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