Nov 20, 2020 | LIFE | By Abby Mercier | Illustrations by Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez

As the nation considers another lockdown, and our fall and winter breaks approach, we’re all going to be on the hunt for some new books to add to our reading list.

In the last couple of months, I’ve read three standout books that I believe you may enjoy: “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “Girl Last Seen” by Nina Laurin, and “The Word is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz. The books cover a wide array of genres and themes but have one underlying word in common — creepy.

I’m hoping you will read some of these titles, so I promise there will be no spoilers here. Happy reading!

The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood: 7/10

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a fantastic dystopian reality set in Gilead, the newly run America. The Sons of Jacob have — in their eyes — saved a dying population and planet by forcibly herding up the fertile women and claiming them as their handmaids.

The story is told through a handmaid, Offred’s, perspective by flashing back and forth from vivid accounts of her present to the old times and memories with her husband, daughter, and best friend. The storytelling builds a strong connection between reader and character.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is not for the faint of heart, as it describes brutal torture scenes and pulls at the reader’s empathy on every page.

Margaret Atwood does a brilliant job of writing a piece that feels something like a warning: the book stands as a glimpse into a possible future if both the planet and extremist views get out of hand.

As icing on the cake, the book has been turned into a television series on Hulu. There are three seasons and plenty of hours to help fill your idle time at home.

Girl Last Seen” by Nina Laurin: 8/10

“Girl Last Seen” is a very quick and easy read, yet riveting nonetheless. The book hits close to home, as Laurin makes it clear that this story could happen to anyone.

The story begins with a main character, Lainey (or Laine to her closer “friends”), who was kidnapped and held captive for three years when she was 10. By sheer luck, her captor let her walk free.

The book takes place 13 years later, as Lainey tries to navigate a new world where her deepest fears and trauma lurk behind every corner and in the face of every man she meets.

Lainey’s life is turned on its head when she learns that her captor has, for the first time since her escape, kidnapped someone again. Forced to remember the darkest years of her past, Lainey struggles between doing what is easy and what is right to help save Olivia Shaw, the new captive.

I read this book in two nights. With its deep character development and constant slew of unanswered questions, it feels as if the only way to give Lainey justice is to simply keep reading.

If you’re looking for an easy page turner that will leave you breathless, this is your next quarantine read.

The Word is Murder” by Anthony Horowitz: 9/10

I like mysteries — always have, and always will. This book shook my definition of that genre.

The book is clever, humorous, and somehow manages to intertwine a light vibe with a dark message that leaves the reader feeling … well, unsettled.

In his piece, Anthony Horowitz steps into the pages as a writer and the narrator. Horowitz (yes, now a character in the book) is recruited to follow around an off-the-books detective, Hawthorne, who is investigating a curious murder. The victim, Diana Cowper, is the mother of a famous actor. Diana arranged her own funeral just hours before she was brutally murdered in her flat. Weird, huh?

Both Hawthorne and Horowitz have curious backgrounds and thoroughly conflicting personalities. The two seem to be waltzing between friendship and hatred, but in the end must work together to get the job done.

I found myself completely befuddled about what truly happened, and Hawthorne was (frustratingly) always three steps ahead of both me and Horowitz.

If you’re looking for a tastefully written mystery that I promise you won’t be able to solve before the last page of the book, this is your piece. It’s one of my all-time favorite books.

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