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  • Writer's pictureMarcus Coles

All Time Top 5

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

I've read a lot of novels in the last few years so I've decided to clue you in on my top five. They aren't in any particular order. There's no specific prerequisites as to why they're on my list other than I just absolutely loved reading them.

The Robe by Lloyd. C Douglas

Fiona bought me this for Christmas a few years ago when I had never even heard of it. I usually don't like it when people take it upon themselves to buy me a book they think I'd like. On this occasion though I am so pleased that she did. Apart from A Christmas Carol, this is the only book I have read twice (so far). It is the story of a young Roman soldier who wins Christ's robe at the crucifixion. He then goes on a journey both physical and spiritual to learn more about its previous owner. It was the book that got me into historical fiction and also the book that helped inspire me to write the Fullness of Time trilogy. I loved the characters, the setting and the profound journey the main character goes on. I had never read anything like it and loved every minute of it. It is, to this day, the only book I almost didn't want to keep reading. If I keep reading, I thought, then one day it will end and I don't want that to happen. To me that is a sign of a truly great novel. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do - straight away.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I was stunned by this novel when I first read it and hadn't realised that novels of this size and scope existed. It is the story of the building of a cathedral in Medieval England and encompasses several generations of the same families. There is so much going on with all the brilliant characters and you get an amazing sense of what it must have been like to live at this time. The baddies are really bad and I found myself yearning for their demise. I would sit and read this for hours on end which is unusual for me. Another sign of a truly great novel. It also helped inspire me to write my Fullness of Time trilogy. I had originally intended to write a series of short stories but having read Pillars of the Earth, I decided to try and mould it all together into one epic novel, during which the lives of the main characters all interweave. I love how it says, 'classis masterpiece' on the front cover for that is exactly what it is.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I think this is widely regarded as one of her best if not her very best. It is classic Christie and has been converted into countless films and tv programmes. Ten strangers are invited to a secluded island by a mysterious host. On the first night they realise they have been assembled there as a result of some nefarious deed committed in their past. The poem 'ten little niggers' is framed on the wall. One by one the guests meet a grisly end according to the lines of the poem. It is a book of unbelievable mystery and suspense and as the body count increases it becomes more and more difficult to work out who the elusive killer is. It is a masterpiece of a whodunnit, a work of genius and the best Agatha Christie novel. Before you watch any of the screen adaptations, read the book. You won't be disappointed.

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

I wanted to expand the repertoire of books I read to include different genres. I chose ‘Salem’s Lot because it’s a classic horror story. Stephen King is a renowned storyteller and having previously read The Stand, knew that it would be a real page-turner. Ben Mears is a successful author who returns warily to the small Maine town of his youth: Jerusalem’s Lot. When people start going missing and others begin to look haggard, pale and exhausted, Ben and some others in the town think something sinister is afoot. They’re right. They soon discover that an ancient vampire has taken up residence in the sleepy old town and has set about recruiting the residents to his army of the undead. It’s a classic vampire novel and I absolutely loved it. It was fun, scary, shocking and left me rueing the day I would finish reading it. There is no higher compliment for a book than that. Stephen King is a master storyteller and ‘Salem’s Lot is a triumph

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

I love gothic literature and this is the best one I've read so far. It was written at the end of the eighteenth century and is considered one of the first entrants into the gothic genre. It is the story of a revered monk who is idolised by all who know him. He has had little contact with the outside world, content to confine himself to monastic life. However, when his head is turned and his eyes opened to a wealth of forbidden fruit, he plummets down the slippery slope to sin and debauchery. It is an intriguing look at the impact of sin and evil and the damaging and catastrophic impact of such a fall on many people. It was tense, mysterious and atmospheric: everything one looks for in a good gothic novel. It does not always make for comfortable reading but it is a thrilling novel which all fans of the genre should read. I absolutely loved it.

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