OTD in 1854, Charles Dickens’ novel, ‘Hard Times’, begins serialisation in his magazine Household Words. Unusually for Dickens, Hard Times is set, not in London, but in the imaginary mid-Victorian Northern industrial town of Coketown with its blackened factories, downtrodden workers & polluted environment. This is the soulless domain of the strict utilitarian Thomas Gradgrind & the heartless factory owner Josiah Bounderby. However human joy is not excluded thanks to ‘Mr Sleary’s Horse-Riding’ circus, a gin-soaked & hilarious troupe of open-hearted & affectionate people who act as an antidote to all the drudgery & misery endured by the ordinary citizens of Coketown.

Macaulay attacked Hard Times for its `sullen socialism’, but 20th-century critics such as George Bernard Shaw and F.R. Leavis have … More

Born OTD in 1936, American poet, novelist, & social activist, Marge Piercy. He, She And It, is a cyberpunk novel by Piercy published in 1991. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction novel in 1993. The novel examines gender roles, human identity & AI, political economy, environmentalism, love, & storytelling through a suspenseful plot, set in a post-apocalyptic America, of the romance between a human woman & the cyborg created to protect her community from corporate raiders.

In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman’s marriage … More

The novel begins in Marseilles “thirty years ago” (c. 1826), with the notorious murderer Rigaud telling his cellmate John Baptiste Cavalletto how he killed his wife. Arthur Clennam is detained in Marseilles with a group of travellers in quarantine. He meets new friends in the quarantine. He is returning to London to see his mother after 20 years in China with his father, handling that part of the family business. His father died there. On his deathbed, his father had given him a mysterious message, murmuring “Your mother,” which message and a watch Arthur mails to Mrs Clennam.

Inside the watch casing is an old silk paper with the initials DNF (do not forget) worked in beads. It … More

Do you dare to read the Tales of Terror? A stunning & commercial new paperback package for this chilling collection of short stories, illustrated throughout by David Roberts & featuring a gloriously creepy new cover! Uncle Montague lives alone in a big house & his regular visits from his nephew give him the opportunity to retell some of the most frightening stories he knows. But as the stories unfold, another even more spine-tingling narrative emerges, one that is perhaps the most frightening of all. Uncle Montague’s tales of terror, it transpires, are not so much works of imagination as dreadful, lurking memories.

Memories of an earlier time in which Uncle Montague lived a very different life to his present solitary existence… Can’t … More

The Last Man is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Mary Shelley, which was first published in 1826. The book tells of a future world that has been ravaged by a plague. Shelley states in the introduction that in 1818 she discovered, in the Sibyl’s cave near Naples, a collection of prophetic writings painted on leaves by the Cumaean Sibyl. She has edited these writings into the current narrative, the first-person narrative of a man living at the end of the 21st century, commencing in 2073 and concluding in 2100.

The Last Man is Mary Shelley’s apocalyptic fantasy of the end of human civilisation. Set in the late twenty-first century, … More

During her lifetime Violet Paget, who wrote as Vernon Lee, was referred to as ‘the greatest of modern exponents of the supernatural in fiction’, and yet today she remains on the periphery of the genre. This collection of her uniquely weird short stories and dark fantasies proves why she was once considered among the best of the genre, and why she deserves to return to those ranks today.

From modernised folk tales such as ‘Marsyas in Flanders’ and ‘The Legend of Madame Krasinska’ to ingenious psychological hauntings such … More

Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other. In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community. Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward.

Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there … More

Howling down the tunnels comes a new collection showcasing the greatest stories of strange happenings on the tracks, many of which are republished here for the first time since their original departure. Waiting beyond the barrier are ghostly travelling companions bent on disturbing the commutes of the living, a subway car disappearing into a different dimension without a trace, and a man’s greatest fears realized on the ghost train of a carnival.

An express ticket to unforgettable journeys into the supernatural, from the open railways of Europe and America to the pressing … More

A figure emerges from a painting to pursue a bitter vengeance; the last transmission of a dying man haunts the airwaves, seeking to reveal his murderer; a treasure hunt disturbs an ancient presence in the silence of a lost tomb… From the vaults of the British Library comes a new anthology celebrating the best works of forgotten, never since republished, supernatural fiction from the early 20th century.

Waiting within are malevolent spirits eager to possess the living and mysterious spectral guardians – a diverse host of phantoms … More

I am Not Sidney Poitier is a hilarious and irresistible take on race, class and identity. The sudden death of Not Sidney Poitier’s mother orphans him at age eleven. He is left with a name no one understands, an uncanny resemblance to an Oscar winning actor, and serious amount of shares in the Turner Corporation. Percival Everett’s novel follows Not Sidney’s tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin colour with his fabulous wealth..

Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not Sidney learns to navigate a world … More