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Image / Editorial

#IMAGEReads: 4 gripping book series worth starting while you’re stuck inside


By Jennifer McShane
09th May 2020
#IMAGEReads: 4 gripping book series worth starting while you’re stuck inside

One of the most thrilling things about a great book is its ability to take you into another world. The reader is utterly absorbed until the turning of the final page when you re-enter reality, often deflated that your journey has come to an end. And therein lies the appeal of a series of novels; you simply get more. Continuation of plotlines, depth of character and the extra details that all bookworms thrive on. Below we have four series of books worth starting now that we’re still spending more time indoors. 


Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy

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One of my favourite trilogies ever, nobody makes hard times as funny as Irish author Roddy Doyle. Beginning with The Commitments, in which a pair of penniless friends decide to form a band, the novels follow the life of Jimmy Rabbite (the band’s long-suffering manager) and his family through ups and downs. Alongside The Snapper and The Van, each of these delivers many laugh-out-loud moments. The movie adaptations are also viewing gold, but my love affair with Doyle started with his written prose, so the books top the poll every single time. All three are beloved classics at this stage, yet I still encounter so many who haven’t read even one. In hard times, the stories will be a balm to your bruised soul.

V.C Andrews’s Dollangagner series 

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Andrews’s first series of novels were published between 1979 and 1986. There are five books in total, with the last being finished by a ghostwriter following Andrews’ death. Many of her manuscripts were subsequently published once she passed, but they didn’t captivate as this series does.

The first two, Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind, focus on the four children: Chris, Cathy and twins Cory and Carrie, who, after losing their father, are imprisoned in an attic for years. Flowers in the Attic tells of their harrowing incarceration and subsequent escape, with Petals on the Wind picking up directly after when they attempt to adjust to the real world. With If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday, the story also includes Cathy’s children, Jory and Bart and Garden of Shadows is a prequel (and my least favourite but it offers insight into how the events ultimately came to pass) which tells the grandparents’ story.

V.C Andrews is a master storyteller; she makes an unrealistic storyline feel utterly real and incredibly terrifying. Originally released as YA novels, I re-read all five as an adult and found them as enthralling as ever. Stay away from the film and TV adaptation and delve straight into the books instead.

Nick Bantock’s Griffin & Sabine trilogy

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I picked up this series after being intrigued by the concept of an epistolary novel (a novel comprised primarily of documents), and all three stories take this form. The trilogy begins with Griffin receiving a serendipitous letter from a stranger named Sabine and follows the extraordinary correspondence between the two in a series of love letters and postcards, which the reader must literally open to read. An unashamed romantic, I was hooked from the get-go, and the unique concept serves to make the reader a true part of the story. The series would also make a wonderful gift as its accompanying artwork is beautiful.

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series

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By now you’ve likely seen the film adaptations (David Fincher’s remains superior however the original movies are completely atmospheric), but it is the source material that must be read. Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novels, set in Sweden and featuring fascinating heroine Lisbeth Salander, are full of gripping intrigue and mystery; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest follows after, chronicle Salander’s complicated relationship with journalist Mikael Blomkvist, her dark past and entanglement in a murder plot.

Main photograph: Pexels