A collection of new, recent, and upcoming books that didn’t wow me enough to write full reviews, but were still interesting enough to share with other readers.

The Manningtree Witches
A.K. Blakemore

The concept was interesting but I couldn’t get into the writing style.

from the publisher: Rebecca West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only occasionally by her infatuation with the handsome young clerk John Edes. But then a newcomer, who identifies himself as the Witchfinder General, arrives. A mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, Matthew Hopkins takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about what the women on the margins of this diminished community are up to. Dangerous rumors of covens, pacts, and bodily wants have begun to hang over women like Rebecca—and the future is as frightening as it is thrilling.

Publisher:‎ Catapult (August 10, 2021)
Language:‎ English
Hardcover:‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10:‎ 1646220641

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The Family Plot
Megan Collins

The first half was absolutely riveting, but as it progressed — especially into the reveal — it becomes less compelling.

from the publisher: At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen. After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house, where the family makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax. Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, while the rest of her family reacts to the revelation in unsettling ways.

Publisher: Atria Books (August 17, 2021)
Language:‎ English
Hardcover:‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10:‎ 1982163844

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The Girl in the Walls
A.J. Gnuse

Again, an interesting concept and a fresh style but it took far too long for anything to actually happen.

from the publisher:

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what. Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

Publisher: ‎Fourth Estate; 1st edition (April 1, 2021)
Language: ‎English
ISBN-10: ‎000838102X

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The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream
Dean Jobb

The first third of this book was interesting and well-organized. As it goes on, however, it slowly unravels and becomes little more than a trial transcript.

from the publisher: In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream murdered as many as ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedent. Poison was his weapon of choice. Largely forgotten today, this villain was as brazen as the notorious Jack the Ripper. Structured around the doctor’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Dr. Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Publisher: ‎Algonquin Books (July 13, 2021)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: ‎432 pages
ISBN-10: ‎1616206896

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The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women
Nancy Marie Brown

The information is fascinating but it is diluted by cutaways to imagined scenarios. I found them distracting rather than illuminating.

From the publisher: In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior in a high-status grave in Birka, Sweden was actually a woman.The Real Valkyrie weaves together archaeology, history, and literature to imagine her life and times, showing that Viking women had more power and agency than historians have imagined. Nancy Marie Brown uses science to link the Birka warrior, whom she names Hervor, to Viking trading towns and to their great trade route east to Byzantium and beyond.

Publisher: ‎St. Martin’s Press (August 31, 2021)
Language: ‎English
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: ‎1250200849

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Phoebe Wynne

The setup was enjoyable enough but the denouement is predictable and telegraphed.

from the publisher: For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.” Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs–not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”

Publisher: ‎St. Martin’s Press (May 18, 2021)
Language: English
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1250272041

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