In 2013 I read over 110 books, stories or collections. I reviewed many on Goodreads and have even done some here. What follows are the five best stories I read in 2013. They may not have all gotten five stars and many that received five stars are not here. But what they are is a collection of books that may have gone widely missed but when I finished reading them, I knew that I had just enjoyed an experience as a reader that many of the higher publicized books would not give me.
The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
The Light Between Oceans is one of those small tales that grips you on an emotional level where you can sense every heartbeat and the empty space in between. Tragic and pain filled, it also overflows with hope and redemption.
The tale is about a young married couple who live isolated as lighthouse keepers. They have tried to start a family but after three miscarriages have all but given up hope. Then one morning, in the distance the young wife Isabel hears the cries of a newborn baby. Following the sound she thinks she is going mad when she comes upon a small boat adrift, with a newborn baby and the dead body of a man inside. Her husband Tom wants to alert the authorities immediately but Isabel takes the child feels that God has answered her prayers.
The decision they make and the secret they keep has far reaching and tragic results as they visit the mainland years later to come upon the young mother who has lost her husband and newborn baby.
The Light Between Oceans is one of those tales that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.
The Hum And The Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
To write much about Alex Bledsoe’s The Hum and the Shiver is to open up a Pandora’s box of possible spoilers that once started could not be stopped. So I will avoid that trap and only say that this may be one of the best small novels I have read.
The Tufa of the Smoky Mountains were settled long before the first white men arrived. But are they white? Are they black? Are they native? Or are they something quite different?
Bronwyn Hyatt returns home to the Tufa after being a war hero in the Middle East only to join a battle already raging in the Smoky Mountains between the Tufa and townspeople; and among the Tufa themselves.
The Hum and the Shiver will work its way into your senses until you desire to sing your own song.
Like This, For Ever by SJ Bolton
SJ Bolton, for my money is the best modern mystery writer around. This is the third Lacey Flint novel and takes the detective deeper and darker into herself as she battles the demons that are within and without.
This time young teenage boys are disappearing and being found dead, a slash across their throats. A serial killer with the aid of social media and soulless media personalities drives fear into the city.
Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
I will start this review with the acknowledgement that I have never watched a full episode of The Walking Dead. I have not read or watched World War Z. I have seen the original George Romero Night Of The Living Dead though and consider it absolutely amazing and revolting all at the same time. I also watched Zombieland. Way cool. But as it goes with today’s Zombie fest culture, I am simply not a part of it.
So in keeping that in mind I have to say Red Hill is one of the best reads you will pick up this year!
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Reading Night Film by Marisha Pessl is more an experience than just a read. I have not read such an atmospheric novel in quite a long time. This one really took me away to a place and time and feeling I haven’t enjoyed in quite some time.
The novel tells the tale of the death of Ashley Cordova, daughter to famed and eccentric film director Stanislas Cordova at the age of 24. Ashley committed suicide and her death is the catalyst that sends the other characters into a hunt for the truth behind her act. Disgraced reporter Scott McGrath whose expose on Cordova ending up destroying his own career finds himself once again chasing down the enigma that is Cordova.
McGrath and his team dig deep into the world of Cordova and find unexplained death and missing persons and legend upon legend of the dark director piled upon one another. There is mystery and fantasy and McGrath struggles to separate the two. Is there something truly sinister about Cordova as he has always believed? Are the tales of witchcraft and rituals done on Cordova’s estate The Peak true. The stories that all of Cordova’s films were done sequestered on his estate and that no actors that worked there were ever the same again.