There are few things we love better than that moment when you have to throw a book across the room because the plot twist was so good. It’s that ‘I can’t believe that just happened’, ‘oh my God it makes so much sense now’, ‘I am mind blown’ moment that makes us fall in love with reading all over again.
But there are a lot of things that go into a truly mind bendingly good plot twist; It has to make sense – the authors can’t just throw in a twist for pure shock factor – it has to make sense when you reread the book with the knowledge you have now. It also has to make you rethink everything you think you know about the plot, the characters and world that the book is set in. And lastly, it needs to make you actually exclaim ‘OH MY GOD’ out loud – and we’ve lined up a few books for you to try out this autumn that does exactly that:
‘Never Let Me Go’ Kazuo Ishiguro
I wasn’t right for days after this book. It keeps you guessing almost right up to the end and will have your stomach dropping out from under you. Probably one of the best twists ever written in my opinion.
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.
Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.
‘The Betrayals’ by Bridget Collins
This book also has another mind bending moment that really makes you rethink every word said in the entire book. It makes you want to reread it immediately just to fully absorb it with the knowledge you have now. 10/10 plot twist that I did not see coming.
If everything in your life was based on a lie…would you risk it all to tell the truth?
At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.
Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.
Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…
‘Madam’ by Phoebe Wynne
This one is great for anyone who’s into the dark academia aesthetic. Inspired by Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, it’s also set in a school that has sinister vibes and a questionable teaching code…It will leave your jaw hanging.
A darkly feminist, modern gothic tale pitched against a haunting backdrop, and populated by an electrifying cast of heroines.
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.”
It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor—a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere—than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it.
‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood
This one has several twists and turns that will have you keeping a sharp eye out for small, seemingly innocuous details throughout – as we know with Atwood, no detail is unimportant and this book is a ‘testament’ (sorry) to that.
When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
"Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." –Margaret Atwood
‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens
Another jaw-dropper, if you haven’t gotten around to this recent best-seller, don’t wait any longer and deprive yourself of this amazing book.
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.
But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.
In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
The story asks how isolation influences the behaviour of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.
‘The Perks of Being a Wallpaper’ by Stephen Chbosky
Unbelievably heartbreaking, but another twist that explains a lot when we finally get to it. Not as ‘Oh My God’ as the others, because it’s sadder, but still a very ‘Ooooh I get it’ moment that can be really satisfying.
Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction.
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.
Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte
A classic for a reason, I have to imagine Jane Eyre’s twist shocked audiences in the eighteenth century just as much as it shocks modern readers. A twist that inspired an entire spin off novel (read ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys afterwards), it will keep you guessing up to the end.
Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again? And what are the dark presences lurking around Thornfield Hall?