Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough. Writes great books. All the time. Every time. I’ve loved them all (so far!)  Enjoy!


Publication Date: February 2016 from Orion/Gollancz

Source: Netgalley

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

13 minutes is a brilliantly constructed YA crime novel – and psychological thriller- that has some incredibly fascinating characters, that magical Sarah Pinborough touch when it comes to getting all up inside your head and is also as addictive as chocolate. More. More addictive than chocolate.

Tasha is pulled from the water and revived – she can’t remember why or how she ended up there but is starting to distrust her closest friendships. She turns to her ex best friend Becca to help her discover the truth, but the truth could be darker than either of them can imagine.

Teenage female friendships – can be some of the closest and most intense of our lives, with 13 minutes Sarah Pinborough casts a wry and realistic eye ( and a very twisted one but then there is an absolute truth in that somewhere) over this and gives us added intrigue. I seriously could not bear to put this down until I found out what had happened to Tasha that night next to the river and why. There are some really insightful observations along the way and boy some of this is thought provoking and pretty scary but madly excellent reading with the kind of twisted dark heart that really appeals to me.

It is a tangled web, gorgeously done to get maximum impact every step of the the way – Ms Pinborough always uses language to the best effect, digging you into the narrative and gripping tightly every step of the way. This is no exception, 13 minutes was impossibly good at just enveloping you into the lives of these girls and those around them. The ending was typically haunting and overall this was, well, just damn terrific. One of my favourites of the year.

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Happy Reading Folks!



Publication Date: 26th Feb 2015 from Gollancz

Source: Advance Reading Copy.

Toby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.
Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.
No one returns from the sanatorium.

The Death House was a marvel of a read, beautifully emotional, so terribly addictive that I read it in one afternoon and just as a warning, will stomp all over your heart and make it bleed.

Toby lives in “The Death House”. Taken from his family having tested positive for the “defective” gene, he spends his days sleeping and his nights wandering. In a place where death seems to be the only possible outcome, Toby has established himself as the leader of his small dorm group, going day to day and waiting for the axe to fall. When a new group of teenagers enter the house however, everything changes as Toby and his companions begin to start living…

I loved the ambience of this one – the kids live the Boarding School life – dormitories, meals, leisure time,lessons – but there is a creepy sense of menace hidden just below the surface. A careful watchfulness that comes across elegantly in the prose – a simple sniff attracting sidelong glances, ever wondering whether the sickness is about to descend and upon whom. There is a formed hierarchy amongst the occupants that ebbs and flows with the days, and for pages you can forget that this is anything other than a coming of age tale, then BAM something hits you right in the gut.

It is all the more intriguing because the threat is so elusive – No-one is clear on what exactly DOES happen to those who end up in the sanatorium, the sickness itself is ambiguous, but the weight of it, the seeming lack of hope, stays with you throughout. There are some very sad moments but there are also some very uplifting ones, reasons to laugh and reasons to cry. The characters are, every single one, outstanding – you will care about what happens to them so much, even the sometimes unlikeable ones. I adored Will and Louis, I even liked Daniel. Jake is magnificent, Toby is captivating,  and Clara is so vibrantly alive that you ache for them and the thought that they may not have much time left.

Sarah Pinborough has once again managed to reject that thing which they call genre – everyone reading this gorgeously good story will take something different from it. For me I think it was an all emcompassing love story – not just romantic love but Love, in all its forms and with all its sacrifices, pain and joy.

Brilliant. All the stars in the world and a puppy for this one. Have the tissues handy!

Happy Reading Folks!




Publication Date: May 1st 2014 from Jo Fletcher Books.

Thank you SO much to all concerned for the advance reading copy. It meant I didnt have to commit murder myself…

Dr. Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, is still recovering from the event of the previous year when Jack the Ripper haunted the streets of London – and a more malign enemy hid in his shadow. Bond and the others who worked on the gruesome case are still stalked by its legacies, both psychological and tangible.

But now the bodies of children are being pulled from the Thames… and Bond is about to become inextricably linked with an uncanny, undying enemy.

So after Mayhem there was Murder and as Ms Pinborough wove her unique brand of literary magic around me again I was immediately transported back to Victorian London and the weird and wonderful world of Dr Thomas Bond.

Here we find him recovering from the events of “Mayhem” and finally finding some form of equilibrium again – his life back on track, love in his future and much to be grateful for. But the darkness has not been completely banished and life is about to take an unexpected turn.

In “Mayhem” life and soul was given to some real life characters from History, here that mythology deepens and expands in the most delightful way. I was engrossed, addicted, often sitting WAY too close to the edge of my seat and the sheer genius of the tale was absolutely compelling. And frankly, often scaring the bejesus out of me. Which is not easy to achieve.

The writing is sublime. The storytelling is intelligent and engaging. The descriptive prose and creeping sense of menace is beyond any words I have to describe it –  add to that probably the best scene setting I’ve seen for a while with the ability to put you right on the streets of London as it was and you have a heady mix of reading mayhem. Yep that was intentional.

Sarah Pinborough is absolutely one of my favourite authors. Definitely the best lady on the block. And coming close to kicking the ass of Stephen King who has had my No 1 spot forever. What else is there to say?

Read it. Live it. Love it.

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Written with F Paul Wilson. More info on his other novels here.

But now it’s death’s turn….
It spreads like a plague but it’s not a disease. Medical science is helpless against the deadly autoimmune reaction caused by the bite of the swarming African flies. Billions are dead, more are dying. Across the world, governments are falling, civilization is crumbling, and everywhere those still alive fear the death carried in the skies.

So, just as an aside to start this off, I’m going to have to go and check out some of F Paul Wilson’s other stories – so my to be read pile is probably about to significantly increase. Sigh. Ah well. Life throws us these curveballs…

Here we have a pretty much character driven end of days tale…following along mainly with a married couple, Abby and Nigel, as the world falls apart around them and they each find their own way of coping, it is both horrific and fascinating all at the same time.

I’m not going to say too much about what they do or why, as that really is the point of the whole thing and you need to find that out for yourself when you read this – which I highly recommend that you do – but there are many themes woven seamlessly together here, love, loss, redemption, science v faith, ultimately creating a very human story.

The writing is brilliant, I expected nothing less, but the best thing about this for me was the emotional response it elicited in me when it came to these two characters. I hated Abby with a fiery vengeance but equally I can see many readers will adore her. By the end of the book I loved Nigel with something close to hero worship, but equally I can see many readers will want to throw things. When you get characters like this, drawn with such depth and substance that they really make you FEEL then you know you are onto a good thing.

Add to that an interesting take on the apocalypse, some often disturbing descriptive prose and some very authentic scenario’s when it comes to the reactions of the general public and you have a truly terrific tale. I love reading drama’s about the destruction of humanity (hey its not just me ok?) and this is a great example of that with the added Pinborough (and Wilson of course) magic that gives it just a bit of an edge over everyone else.

Highly Recommended.

Happy Reading Folks!





A woman sits beside her father’s bedside as the night ticks away the final hours of his life. As she watches over her father, she relives the past week and the events that brought the family together . . . and she recalls all the weeks before that served to pull it apart.

So I was lucky enough to attend the launch for “The Language of Dying” the other evening – I met a lot of lovely people, including Sarah herself, who is just as wonderfully lovely and funny in real life as she is on social media, and the beautifully mad but insanely talented writer Will Carver who you can see interviewing Sarah in the picture above. After a highly entertaining evening, I started reading the novella on the train home – then read on into the early hours, now I find myself with a Mission Impossible..HOW do I put into words the sheer emotion and heart that is in every part of this story – or how it made me feel. Don’t worry – this post will not self destruct, however I have had to take the weekend to try and make some sense of what I want to say.

There are probably two parts to this review. The personal and the professional if you like. Lets start with the personal because really, thats how I read. Every book gives me something – whether it be fantasy or crime or science fiction. Whether its a bit of time in another world, or a heart stopping rollercoaster thrill ride, every book I read adds a piece to me…no book left behind. Then occasionally,VERY occasionally, one comes along that touches my heart and soul in a way that is almost indescribable. Those books are few and far between and “The Language of Dying” is one of them.

At the launch, Sarah told us some of the background to her story – I knew at that point that this book was probably going to open up some old wounds, my experiences being strangely similar except, of course, very different in the way that loss is different for everyone. Still, as I read I was transported back to a time in my life that still often haunts me in those darker hours.

When I was a teenager I lost my Father – who at the time was the one person in my life who I felt really understood me. It wasnt quick – he suffered a second stroke and over the course of many weeks he just faded away. I can’t say much more about it, it is still not something I talk about often – but so much of what Sarah has put into this novella mirrors my own senses and emotions from that time. She has captured here those things that at the time I was unable to clarify – how all your senses open up while you are waiting for the inevitable, how the sounds and smells of the room can overwhelm you at the time and also take you back to that moment months, years, even decades later. The Language of Dying is not just made up of words, it is a language of sense and feeling. This was cathartic for me – yes I cried a million tears again but they were good tears. And the memories that came back to me were not just of those final weeks but of all the weeks, months and years that came before that, the precious memories, the ones you hold in your heart. Flashes of time spent with someone you loved who also loved you. See, now I’m crying again writing this review…So enough of that lets move on, but before I do. Thank you Sarah.

From a professional point of view there is not an awful lot I can say. If you have read any of her previous novels you will already know that Sarah Pinborough is a terrific weaver of words and magic on the page and this is no different in that respect. She has put her own twist on the tale as usual, there is a dark and magical side to the story that I will let you discover for yourselves – because of course you are all going to read this now right? The sheer power of the descriptive prose that brings the entire family and their relationships into focus is superbly done, clever and evocative writing that takes you right to the heart of the matter and keeps you there until you are through. I am absolutely in love with this one – it will stay with me forever.

I really cannot recommend this highly enough. If you have ever suffered loss this will speak to you in ways I can’t describe even though I have made my best effort above. Even if you have not, this is fantastic storytelling – one of those you wish you could just make everyone read. Just because. Short but bittersweet, it is a timeless tale…age will not diminish its power.

If you would like to get a copy for yourself clickety click here – if you are a lover of physical books this one is stunning. I mean just look at that cover! Happy Reading Folks.




This review from my good friend Hayley Hunt who STOLE THIS BOOK from me before I had a chance to read it. Naughty girl! But hey, she loves them. Who am I to stand in the way?

I have also read it now and I have to say – I agree totally with the following review. Come on Sarah, we need Beauty!

Hayley’s review

Well, not wanting to spoil the plot of Charm I can sum it up in 2 words – Bloody fantastic. It is the Cinderella “sequel” to Poison (the Snow White one, which if you haven’t read it do so NOW! before reading Charm).

Charm is a very fantastic retelling of a classic fairytale only better than the original. I always thought Cinders couldn’t have been as perfect as the Disney version, or the Fairy Godmother as innocent, or Buttons as sweet or even the ugly sisters as ugly as that!

Sarah Pinborough has worked her wonderful magic again in telling a classic story more believable than any that have come before it (except maybe Roald Dahl of course) and tying it in to clear up some of the “loose ends” from Poison with some wonderful twists and turns that you won’t see coming. It kept me gripped in one sitting, well with a break to grab chips!

And the only disappointment I have suffered? The fact I have to wait until October for Beauty.




Well Sarah Pinborough has done it again hasnt she? Wow. Loved this book and its highly entertaing. And a bit dark. As I’m in a dark place occasionally at the moment I really did go with the flow right along with it. There is the Supernatural touch but mostly its just a great story. In a time when recession has left the world in a very dark place,everyone owes “The Bank”. Cass Jones, detective, has his own worries. Two boys dead after a shooting and the pesky serial killer known as the “man of flies” causing him a headache he could do without what with all the personal stuff he’s putting up with on top. Then his dead brother REALLY puts the boot in….
A mystery. A thriller. A supernatural tale. All and none of these things as usual for Ms Pinborough – you can’t put her in a box because she just breaks out of it and sticks her tongue out at you as she runs off to write something else to bend your brain. I love it. I can relate to it. I hope she writes forever into eternity. I’ll be there.




Sarah Pinborough has woven a wonderful little tale based on the “Snow White” original fairytale..where our heroine is not quite as snowy and white as she once was, and the evil Queen has hidden depths and an agenda not seen in the wonderful world of Disney. I will caution – this is for adults, don’t be reading it to the little ones, this one is all for us grown ups (well those of us who are perhaps not QUITE as grown up as we appear!) Ms Pinborough is adept at weaving in elements of the story we all remember from our childhood, whilst turning it on its head and giving us a brand new interpretation which is an absolute joy to read. The ending was stunning – and what with threads of other fairy tales dotted about in there, I think I see a pattern emerging. “Charm” and “Beauty” are following soon and I will be first in line to devour them. In the meantime we will have “Mayhem” to keep us busy – if this is what the author can do with Snow White I am really looking forward to what she may do with Jack the Ripper! On a final note: If you can, get yourself a hardcopy of this book rather than the Kindle version (I picked one up from my local bookshop) – it is absolutely beautiful, and the illustrations that send you headlong into each chapter are fantastic and add to overall aesthetic feel of the novel. I stand in awe. More please.

A more beautiful looking book you would be hard put to find out there in the literary world at the moment – the cover art is stunning and it immediately entices you to dive right in. A brilliantly woven tale, “Mayhem” is set during the time of Jack the Ripper, but concerns a completely different set of murders. When a rotting torso is found in the vault of New Scotland Yard, we meet Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, drafted in to investigate from a medical standpoint, who quickly realises that something sinister is occurring. Eventually becoming obsessed with tracking down this killer, we follow Dr Bond on his foray into the seedier side of London and into darkness. I have to tell you – I fell madly in love with this book very early on and pretty much read it in a day..something I regret somewhat now as I’m very sad to see it done. Ms Pinborough has used real people and real events and then twisted them into a macabre and enthralling tale, with a supernatural twist and some absolutely stunning scene setting. Other real characters grace the story with their presence and each one is terrifically imagined – I wouldnt be at all surprised if the author has the personalities spot on, but I guess we’ll never know! The ongoing investigation into the Ripper killings sits nicely alongside our story – some of the characters are involved in both cases- and this adds to the ambience and addiction that this novel brings. Atmospheric and at times very scary, writing this review I am actually tempted to look over my shoulder at what might be lurking there..but perhaps I won’t. Just in case. Shiver.

One Response to Sarah Pinborough

  1. Gary Shepherd says:

    Spot on Liz! I adore books like this. I have been hooked on historical mysteries for some time and the best ones, such as Mayhem, are absolutely soaked in the atmosphere of the period. This is the start of a series that could definately run and run. And after reading Mayhem, you may well want to run and run some more!

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