Category: FC

The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde: classic tales that will delight this Christmas

‘Triumphs of the imagination’ Stephen Fry

The treasured fairy tales of Oscar Wilde in a stunning gift edition featuring exquisite illustrations by the celebrated artist Philippe Jullian with an afterword by Wilde’s son, Vyvyan Holland. For nearly 150 years, the classic fairy stories of Oscar Wilde have been cherished by readers of all ages. Rediscover all nine of the stories first published in The Happy Prince and other stories (1888) and A House of Pomegranates (1891).

Hester: a thrilling tale of witchcraft, desire and ambition

Edinburgh, early 1800s: Isobel, a seamstress, and her husband Edward set sail for New England, in flight from his opium addiction and mounting debts. But, arriving in Salem, Isobel soon finds herself penniless and alone.

When she meets the young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows – while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. Nathaniel and Isobel grow closer and closer. Together, they are dark storyteller and
muse; enchanter and enchanted. But which is which?

***PRAISE FOR HESTER***

‘A masterpiece that should be required reading alongside Hawthorne’s classic tale of adultery. Enthralling, ambitious and a total knockout’ Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

‘Full of lush and colourful prose, Hester proves that a woman will do whatever she must to prosper, even when she is left with nothing but courage – and a few secrets of her own’ Sarah Penner, bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

Arcadian Days: Gods, Women and Men from Greek Myth – From the Winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

The Greek myths, refined by the great poets and playwrights of Ancient Greece, distil the essence of human life: its brief span, its pride, courage and insecurity, its anxious relationship with the natural world – earth, sea and sky, represented by powerful gods and monsters.

Taking inspiration from the incomparably beautiful and intense poetry of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, Spurling – a lifelong classicist and an award-winning playwright and historical novelist – spins five more myths for contemporary readers. These captivating tales centre on male-female pairs – Prometheus and Pandora, Jason and the sorceress Medea, Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, Achilles and his mother Thetis, Odysseus and Penelope – that destroyed dynasties, raised and felled heroes, and sealed the fates of men.

The Spirit Engineer: ‘A fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deception, and power’ Derren Brown

‘A fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deception, and power’ DERREN BROWN

Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism, attending séances in the hope they might reach their departed loved ones.

William Jackson Crawford is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sitting around the circle, voices come to him – seemingly from beyond the veil – placing doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen’s parlour tricks gone too far?

Based on the true story of Professor William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunted, twisted tale of power, paranoia and one ultimate, inescapable truth…

PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT ENGINEER

I adored this book. Haunting, witty and deeply moving, The Spirit Engineer is surely set to become a gothic classic. I was instantly drawn into the mystery and swept along by the shocking twists and turns. A beautifully written novel’ JODIE WHITTAKER, ACTOR

‘A.J. West has history at his fingertips and writes brilliantly – so clever it makes your head spin! The Spirit Engineer is a work of true invention and drama that moves at a cracking pace from the very first page and keeps you guessing. A compelling and daring book’ JEREMY VINE, BROADCASTER

‘Set in a historical moment where science and spiritualism meet, The Spirit Engineer is an ingeniously plotted debut novel’ SARAH BURTON, AUTHOR OF THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF H

‘A marvellous and menacing gothic chiller, filled with secrets and soaked in atmosphere, in which the ghouls and fiends are not of the other world, but this one…’ NEIL BLACKMORE, AUTHOR OF THE INTOXICATING MR LAVELLE 

‘A spooky tale of frustrated ambition, hidden loyalties, and desperation, told with wit, charm and devastating twists. A gothic novel that also manages to make you laugh, even if you shouldn’t’ JONATHAN HARVEY, PLAYWRIGHT

With a skilful misdirection that any Edwardian spirit medium would be proud to demonstrate, A.J. West soon turns the screw in this fascinating novel… Obsession builds until the stunning climax of the final shocking séance and its awful repercussions. Was William rights to be convinced? Did he prove ghosts exist?’ ESSIE FOX, AUTHOR OF THE SOMNAMBULIST

‘A gripping, gothic story anchored in the political and spiritual chaos of Edwardian Belfast. Part horror, part history, The Spirit Engineer is a chilling and thought-provoking tale of exploitation, faith, deception, fraud, séances, hubris, and prejudice… accomplished and page-turning. Fans of Penny Dreadful and The Nevers will love it’ GARETH RUSSELL, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR OF THE SHIP OF DREAMS: THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC AND THE END OF EDWARDIAN BELFAST

The Master of Measham Hall

1665. It is five years since King Charles II returned from exile, the scars of the English Civil Wars are yet to heal and now the Great Plague engulfs the land. Alethea Hawthorne is safe inside the walls of the Calverton household as a lady’s companion waiting in anticipation of the day she can return to her ancestral home of Measham Hall.

But when Alethea suddenly finds herself cast out on the plague-ridden streets of London, a long road to Derbyshire lies ahead. Militias have closed their boroughs off to outsiders for fear of contamination.

Fortune smiles on her when Jack appears, an unlikely travelling companion who helps this determined girl to navigate a perilous new world of religious dissenters, charlatans and a pestilence that afflicts peasants and lords alike.

The Master of Measham Hall is the first book in a page-turning historical series. In lyrical prose, Anna Abney portrays the religious divides at the heart of Restoration England in a timeless novel about survival, love, and family loyalty.  

 

PRAISE FOR THE MASTER OF MEASHAM HALL

‘It’s rare for a historical novel to feel so timely.’ Jo Baker, Sunday Times bestselling author of Longbourn

‘Impeccably researched and wonderfully atmospheric, with a heroine you can’t help rooting for.’ Frances Quinn, author of The Smallest Man 

‘Exciting and immersive. It took me straight into the heart of Restoration England in all its rich and vivid detail. I was gripped! Such beautiful writing too – Anna is a stunning new talent.’ Nicola Cornick, international bestselling author of House of Shadows

 ‘A thoroughly engaging romp… By turns entertaining, surprising and thought-provoking, this is an impressive debut.’ Jane Johnson, author of The Sea Gate

‘A gripping depiction of what people will do to survive, the long-held beliefs and scruples questioned and cast aside as well as the unexpected kindnesses and unusual alliances made. In elegant prose, this enthralling novel puts a human face to the trials, terrors and enduring hopes of the plague years.’ Catherine Meyrick, author of The Bridled Tongue

‘A thrilling and original tale of reinvention! Death in a time of plague is expected. What happens to Abney’s heroine Alethea is not. The Master of Measham Hall  is a vivid and extraordinary journey of survival, and ultimately an exploration of what we gain and what we lose as we pass through this world.’ VL Valentine, The Plague Letters

‘A powerful and engaging story, full of good characters, satisfying plot turns, and excellent scene-setting. With all the details and insights on offer, it feels like a rich and rewarding panorama of English culture in the 1660s. The transformation of Alethea was wonderful to read, and genuinely gripping.’ Richard Hamblyn

Beyond the Secret Garden

The definitive and revealing biography of the author of The Secret Garden.

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s favourite theme in her fiction was the reversal of fortune, and she herself knew extremes of poverty and wealth. Born in Manchester in 1849, she emigrated with her family to Tennessee because of the financial problems caused by the cotton famine. From a young age she published her stories to help the family make ends meet. Only after she married did she publish Little Lord Fauntleroy that shot her into literary stardom.

On the surface, Frances’ life was extremely successful: hosting regular literary salons in her home and travelling frequently between properties in the UK and America. But behind the colourful personal and social life, she was a complex and contradictory character. She lost both parents by her twenty-first birthday, Henry James called her "the most heavenly of women" although avoided her; prominent people admired her and there were many friendships as well as an ill-advised marriage to a much younger man that ended in heartache. Her success was punctuated by periods of depression, in one instance brought on by the tragic loss of her eldest son to consumption.

Ann Thwaite creates a sympathetic but balanced and eye-opening biography of the woman who has enchanted numerous generations of children.

The Young Survivors

What if everyone you loved was suddenly taken away? Five siblings struggle to stay together as the tides of war threaten to tear them apart.

When Germany invades France in the Second World War, the five Laskowski children lose everything: their home, their Jewish community and most devastatingly their parents who are abducted in the night. There is no safe place left for them to evade the Nazis, but they cling together, never certain when the authorities will come for what is left of them.

Inspired by the poignant, true story of the author’s mother, this moving historical novel conveys the hardship, the uncertainty and the impossible choices the Laskowski children were forced to make to survive the horrors of the Holocaust.

***PRAISE FOR THE YOUNG SURVIVORS***

‘A haunting account… a devastating story of twins separated, of grandparents, parents and cousins, entire families, disappeared – a story that had to be told.’ Elizabeth Fremantle

‘A story that will make you weep, wonder and remember.’ Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key

‘A poignant and gripping debut. Set against the darkest days of WWII, the novel reminds us that the bonds of family and the power of love can never be extinguished.’ Alyson Richman, bestselling author of The Lost Wife

‘A heartbreaking yet uplifting story of loss and love told through the eyes of children… gripping and deeply moving.’ James MacManus

‘A hugely impressive debut.’ Michael Newman, CEO of The Association of Jewish Refugees

‘A novel that is arrestingly sincere, full of touching moments and informed by careful research. The beating heart of The Young Survivors is the author’s emotional connection to her characters, which is unmistakably based on longstanding and deep engagement with her own family’s past.’ Dr Toby Simpson, Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library

I, Hogarth

Hogarth’s epoch-defining paintings and engravings, such as Gin Lane and The Rake’s Progress, are renowned. He was London’s painter par excellence, and supplies the most enduring vision of the eighteenth century’s ebullience, enjoyments and social iniquities. From his lifelong marriage to Jane Thornhill, his inability to have children, his time as one of England’s best portrait painters, his old age and unfortunate dip into politics, and ultimately his death, I, Hogarth is the artist’s life through his very own eyes.

Recommended for readers of Peter Ackroyd and Hilary Mantel, this novel charts Hogarth’s personal story in four parts carefully blending the facts of his life with fiction, beginning with a childhood spent in a debtor’s prison and ending with his death in the arms of his wife.

A Mirror for Monkeys

Beneath the floorboards of a ruined house, an 18th-century memoir is discovered. It reveals the life story of William Congreve, the acclaimed English playwright. The lost manuscript is penned by his faithful servant, Jeremy, who tells how they lived together through fierce political division and triumphal nationalism in that era of war with France, the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution.

Upon his death a monument in Stowe is erected to honour Mr Congreve. Atop a slender pyramid sits a monkey peering into a mirror, a court wit seeing reflected the ironies of polite society folding in on itself as Whigs and Tories feud with scant ground for compromise.

Through the prisms of memory and art, award-winning author John Spurling reimagines this tumultuous period and brings to life historical figures Dryden, Vanbrugh, Swift, Pope and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu as never before. 

World War Z

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginning of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight against the horde, World War Z brings the finest traditions of journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of human civilisation.

Read the original cult novel that propelled the zombie genre into the mainstream – now a blockbuster film and game.

 

An absolute must have … Brooks infuses his writing with such precise detail and authenticity, one wonders if he knows something we don’t.’ Simon Pegg

‘Prepare to be entranced by this addictively readable oral history of the great war between humans and zombies . . . Will grab you as tightly as a dead man’s fist.’ Entertainment Weekly

‘As a horror story, it’s exciting. As a parable, it’s terrifying.’ Empire 5* Review

Brilliant.’ Time Out

‘[Brooks’] iron-jaw narrative is studded with practical advice on what to do when the zombies come, as they surely will. A literate, ironic, strangely tasty treat.’ Kirkus Reviews

A sober, frequently horrifying and even moving account. . . . Brooks has delivered a full-blown horror novel, laced with sharp social and political observations and loads of macabre, gruesome imagery.’ Fangoria

‘Max Brooks has charted the folly of a disaster response based solely on advanced technologies and brute force in this step-by-step guide to what happened in the Zombie War.’ Jeb Weisman, National Center for Disaster Preparedness

‘The book opens in blood and guts, turns the world into an oversized version of hell, then ends with and affirmation of humanity’s ability to survive the worst the world has to offer. It feels like the right book for the right times, and that’s the eeriest detail of all.’ The Onion

‘The best science fiction has traditionally been steeped in social commentary. World War Z continues that legacy. . . . We haven t been this excited about a book without pictures since well, since ever.Metro

‘Each story locks together perfectly to create a wonderful, giddy suspense. Brooks also has the political savvy to take advantage of any paranoia a modern reader might feel . . . The perfect book for all us zombie junkies.’ Paste

‘The smartest novel about the undead you’ll ever read… intricately detailed…utterly convincing – and terrifying.’ FHM

Max Brooks really is the godfather of all the zombie stories.’ The Sun