Francine Toon’s debut novel Pine opens with a young girl and her father driving on a darkened country road in the Scottish Highlands. They’re heading to the nearest settlement – a tiny collection of houses – to go “guising”, or trick-or-treating. Among the surrounding trees, they see a lone figure in a white dressing gown. This apparition haunts the following story, coming as close as young Lauren’s own fireside – where the lady in white is a hideous night-hag, barefoot, moving oddly, incapable of eating, wiping herself from the memory of any adult that encounters her – but otherwise seen in glimpses, as the weird and supernatural hovers over every aspect of Lauren’s childhood.
We’re cheating slightly this month by starting off with four books released not in November but on Halloween, which is close enough for us and it’d be a real shame not to highlight them. Blame publishers for thinking 31 October is a great date to release books. As always, this is not an exhaustive list. If you think there’s a book we’ve caused grave injustice to by leaving off, leave a comment or get in touch.
Ask a horror reader which book of 2019 they’re most excited about and one might reasonably answer with King’s The Institue or Tremblay’s Growing Things, to give two notable examples. In other words, new books from mainstays of the horror genre. I would answer with Andrew Michael Hurley’s Starve Acre. I would say this not only for the simple reason that Hurley is one of my favourite contemporary novelists writing horror fiction but for what Hurley represents.