The plot of The Quickening (Arrow/ Hammer, £9.99) by Julie Myerson (pictured) revolves around pregnant, newlywed Rachel and her sinister husband, Dan. Rachel’s ghostly journey begins when Dan suggests a holiday in Antigua. Even though Rachel has a creepy premonition when she sees a photograph of her Caribbean destination, she’s not deterred. Of course, strange things happen when they arrive. Psychic taxi- drivers mumble cryptic warnings. A clairvoyant waitress tearfully begs Rachel to leave the island. Light-fittings fly off the walls. Shadowy figures lumber along sunlit beaches. Locals are murdered in mysterious circumstances. The other English tourists dismiss Rachel’s fears as the crazed delusions of pregnancy — until the surprise ending freezes everyone in their tracks.
Since this book is on Arrow’s Hammer list, I confidently expect it to be made into a horror film. It has all the right ingredients: supernatural entities, exotic locations, locals imbued with preternatural powers and English baddies with posh accents.
But strangely enough, I found it to be genuinely scary and enthralling. Myerson’s gift of breathing life into her characters is so effective that I worried passionately about Rachel and Dan as they stumbled through ever more unlikely plot twists. In short, crisp sentences we are led not only into the disturbed mind of a haunted, pregnant woman, but also into the horrific world of English tourists drinking themselves into oblivion in the Caribbean.