5 Books About Twins

I love books about twins so much I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourites.

  1. Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews
    This was the book that started my love affair with twins in literature and is the story of 4 young children locked in an attic by their Grandmother. Their father has died and the children are living in their gothic grandparent’s house waiting for the Mother to successfully acquire some money from her strict Grandfather who detests the children. Gradually their mother visits less often and the children are largely left to their own devices. This is a classic YA novel with gothic undertones and themes of greed and betrayal.
  2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    This book is in my Top 10 favourite books of all time. Vida Winter is a successful author and has decided to tell her life story now that she’s dying. She’s given many interviews over the course of her life, but each time she tells a different story. This time she’s serious about revealing the dark truth about her past and Margaret Lea has agreed to be her biographer. But it won’t be easy.
    The novel makes countless delicious references to stories, books and reading and I revelled in the language.
    Here’s a sample from the book: “Do they sense it, these dead writers, when their books are read? Does a pinprick of light appear in their darkness? Is their soul stirred by the feather touch of another mind reading theirs? I do hope so.
    Naturally the plot includes twins and the wonderfully haunted Angelfield House forms the backdrop of the novel in a charming and menacing way. In addition to being a brilliant book, The Thirteenth Tale is also major BBC film starring Vanessa Redgrave and Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones).
  3. Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
    Beside Myself is a psychological thriller and suspenseful read looking at themes of identity and mental illness. Twin sisters Helen (domineering) and Ellie (submissive) play a game one afternoon to swap identities, but Ellie won’t change back. What happens next is an ever growing divide between the sisters and the subsequent decline of one of them. As the consequences of the game last a lifetime, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done in Helen’s situation
  4. A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne
    Continuing the suspense theme, A Dark Dividing is about conjoined twins born 100 years apart and how they’re connected. Alternating between the past and the present, and across 3 different periods, the novel reveals a number of shocking secrets as it progresses.
    Author Sarah Rayne loves to include a creepy building at the centre of her books and this time it was the suitably scary Mortmain House. Originally used as a workhouse for men and women who would otherwise die of starvation, the living conditions at the house were horrendous. Children abandoned at birth or born to families unable to care for them all ended up here and suffered terrible treatment as a consequence.
    As the title suggests, A Dark Dividing is a dark read and I enjoyed finding out how all the characters were connected.
  5. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
    Another gothic novel featuring twins in a creepy estate is historical fiction novel The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. Edie is a book publisher and when her mother receives a long lost letter originally posted in 1941 from Milderhurst Castle, her curiosity is piqued. Her mother is secretive about her past, but Edie finds out she was billeted at the castle for a short time during the war.
    Edie visits the crumbling castle and meets the three elderly sisters residing there. Twins Percy and Saffy live together with their younger sister Juniper and the reasons they each chose to stay at the castle after the war and why they never married or had children inform the plot. Something happened to bond the sisters together for life and it was a thrill to discover. The characters love to read, write and tell stories, and all shared a love of books. The reference to the library in the castle made me weak at the knees.

I hope you enjoyed this list, but I’ve just noticed that almost all the twins in my list are female. I can’t even think of a novel with male twins, can you? Further reading: The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne and The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell.

Spooky Stories for Halloween

Here in Australia, we don’t really have massive shindigs for every single holiday like our American friends do. Give us a beer or a glass of wine and a grassy area and we celebrate in what is usually a much more laidback manner. Living in the opposite season to our Northern counterparts…I’m STILL dreaming of a white Christmas, and the one time in the early ’90s the neighbourhood kids and I actually got it together and planned a Halloween Trick or Treating adventure, the 40 degree weather was not conducive to wearing a black witch costume and we gave up mid-afternoon and jumped in the pool.

But things are changing. Slowly. I’ve even noticed that Woolworth’s has been advertising pumpkins for Halloween, which happens this weekend. So if you’re stuck for something to do on Sunday 31 October, and you’re up for celebrating the creatures of the night, there are some classic and not-yet-classic creepalicious stories that you can curl up on the couch with. Here’s my top three picks for this Halloween:

The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux.

The opera in gay Paris…what could be more romantic? But this isn’t Valentines Day, my friends. There’s nothing like a doomed love story involving a disfigured, tormented dude and a beautiful opera singer to get you shivering. The violence and suspense of this novel makes for drama, drama, drama…and you’ll never dismiss the importance of stagehands again.

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

I first read this book as a book club pick, and when the time came to discuss we had the most crazy-intense conversation, with differing and adamant viewpoints about what had happened in the story. The Thirteenth Tale takes its style of prose and sense of mystery from the greats of Victorian Literature, and it’ll leave you thinking about the plot points long after you’ve turned the final page.

The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The genius behind that spooky fairytale movie Pan’s Labyrinth turns his hand at some surprising vampiric fiction. A homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the book is a modern take, and opens with an airplane stopping dead on the tarmac, full of pale corpses. Oooh.

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These suggestions are really just a starting point. There are tons of Halloween-perfect books out there, so make sure to pick something that will give your imagination more thrills than chills and you’ll have a spooky ol’ time. Just one final piece of advice: try not to pay attention to the little hairs rising on the back of your neck…and whatever you do, don’t answer the phone!

It’ll just be telemarketers, anyway.