NEW BOOKS FEBRUARY 2019

FICTION

Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry

Boston, 1833 

Aboard the USS Orbis as it embarks from Boston and surges south to round Cape Horn, Hiram Carver takes up his first position as ship’s doctor. Callow and anxious among the seasoned sailors, he struggles in this brutal floating world until he meets William Borden.

Borden. The Hero of the Providence. A legend among sailors, his presence hypnotizes Carver, even before he hears the man’s story. Years before, Borden saved several men from mutiny and led them in a dinghy across the Pacific to safety.

Every ship faces terror from the deep. What happens on the Orbis binds Carver and Borden together forever. When Carver recovers, and takes up a role at Boston’s Asylum for the Insane, he will meet Borden again – broken, starving, overwhelmed by the madness that has shadowed him ever since he sailed on the Providence.

Carver devotes himself to Borden’s cure, sure it depends on drawing out the truth about that terrible voyage. But though he raises up monsters, they will not rest. So Carver must return once more to the edge of the sea and confront the man – and the myth – that lie in dark water.

China Dream by Ma Jian

In seven dream-like episodes, Ma Jian charts the psychological disintegration of a Chinese provincial leader who is haunted by nightmares of his violent past. From exile, Ma Jian shoots an arrow at President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ propaganda, creating a biting satire of totalitarianism that reveals what happens to a nation when it is blinded by materialism and governed by violence and lies. Blending tragic and absurd reality with myth and fantasy, this dystopian novel is a portrait not of an imagined future, but of China today.

NON-FICTION

The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found by Bart Van Es

Little Lien wasn’t taken from her Jewish parents – she was given away in the hope that she might be saved. Hidden and raised by a foster family in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, she survived the war only to find that her real parents had not. Much later, she fell out with her foster family, and Bart van Es – the grandson of Lien’s foster parents – knew he needed to find out why.

His account of tracing Lien and telling her story is a searing exploration of two lives and two families. It is a story about love and misunderstanding and about the ways that our most painful experiences – so crucial in defining us – can also be redefined.

Winner of the Costa Biography Award

The Death of Democracy by Benjamin Carter Hett

A riveting account of how the Nazi Party came to power and how the failures of the Weimar Republic and the shortsightedness of German politicians allowed it to happen.

To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship.

Benjamin Carter Hett is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Germany and a gifted storyteller whose portraits of these feckless politicians show how fragile democracy can be when those in power do not respect it. He offers a powerful lesson for today, when democracy once again finds itself embattled and the siren song of strongmen sounds ever louder.

MYSTERY/THRILLER

To Die in Vienna by Kevin Wignall

Freddie Makin is a spy for hire. For a year he’s been watching Jiang Cheng, an academic whose life seems suspiciously normal. To Freddie it’s just a job: he never asks who’s paying him and why—until the day someone is sent to kill him, and suddenly the watcher becomes the watched.

On the run from whoever wants him dead, Freddie knows he must have seen something incriminating. The only trouble is, he has no idea what. Is the CIA behind all this—or does it go higher than that? Have his trackers uncovered his own murky past?

As he’s forced into a lethal dance across Vienna, Freddie knows one thing for sure: his only hope for survival is keeping the truth from the other side, and making sure the secrets from his past stay hidden.

Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary.

With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

CHILDREN'S FICTION

Ten Nasty Little Toads by Steve Cole

In these delightfully humorous tales of a decidedly blackish hue, ten follysome toads can never change their beastly habits despite the efforts of goodly witch Madame Rana who reminds them ‘It’s never too late to change.’

The Toad With Square Eyes develops mutant thumbs and fingers and finds himself on the other side of the screen; Cherry Oddfellow, the Dirty Little Toad, is part-girl, part-mudslide; and Jeremiah Bratson, the Spoiled Little Toad, finds himself face-to-face with a perfect robot replica.

Featuring toady facts, quizzes and games, this collection of tales is a warning to certain children that there must come an hour when they pay the price…

The Train to Impossible Places (Volume 1) by P. G. Bell

(Ages 10-14 years) A train that travels through impossible places. A boy trapped in a snow globe. And a girl who’s about to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Impossible Postal Express is no ordinary train. It’s a troll-operated delivery service that runs everywhere from ocean-bottom shipwrecks, to Trollville, to space.

But when this impossible train comes roaring through Suzy’s living room, her world turns upside down. After sneaking on board, Suzy suddenly finds herself Deputy Post Master aboard the train, and faced with her first delivery—to the evil Lady Crepuscula.

Then, the package itself begs Suzy not to deliver him. A talking snow globe, Frederick has information Crepuscula could use to take over the entire Union of Impossible Places. But when protecting Frederick means putting her friends in danger, Suzy has to make a difficult choice—with the fate of the entire Union at stake.

CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS

The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth 

There was once a little boy who was afraid of the dark. There’s nothing unusual about that. Most children are afraid of the dark at one time of another. But this little boy was a Prince, and he decided that when he became King, he would do something about the dark – he would ban it.

When the King bans the dark completely, installing an artificial sun, and enforcing “anti-dark” laws, it seems like a good idea. The citizens don’t need to worry about any of the scary things that might live in the dark.

But what happens when nobody can sleep, and the citizens revolt? Will the King face his fears and turn the lights off?

The King Who Banned the Dark is a beautiful and thought-provoking story about how we need the dark in order to enjoy the light.

Once Upon a Snowstorm by Richard Johnson 

The story of a father and his son who live by themselves in a cosy cabin in the woods. But, one day they are separated out in the beautifully falling snow. The boy is lost and falls asleep. When he wakes up he is surrounded by blinking eyes, a rabbit, a fox, an owl and all manner of other creatures have surrounded him! But with a bear hug he and the woodland animals become best of friends! But soon he misses his dad and so the animals bring him back home. The father opens up his heart and home, and lets nature and love envelop their previously lonely existence.

The Unicorn Prince by Saviour Pirotta

The fortunes of a young woman are magically transformed when she shows kindness to a unicorn in this enchanting contemporary fairy tale, based on a Scottish fable and gloriously illustrated by Hans Christian Andersen Award nominee Jane Ray.

Annis and her grandmother live in a cold, draughty castle on top of a hill, which they share with their chickens and their cow. They may be poor, but Annis’s heart is full of kindness. Offering a home to an injured unicorn and a family of fairies one day, her kindness is magically rewarded. But will her good fortune bring her happiness and love?