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11 New Books We Recommend This Week

CATHERINE HOUSE, by Elisabeth Thomas. (Custom House, $27.99.) In this horror novel, Ines Murillo, a self-described ghost, is admitted into the mysterious, exclusive Catherine House, “not just a school, but a cloister” of higher learning in rural Pennsylvania. Our reviewer, Danielle Trussoni, calls it a “delicious literary Gothic debut” in her latest roundup of horror fiction: “When Ines discovers the truth about Catherine House, she must grapple with what she has long avoided: who she is and who she might become.”

ENEMY OF ALL MANKIND: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt, by Steven Johnson. (Riverhead, $28.) An account of a 1695 assault by an English pirate on a Mughal ship, Johnson’s new book unfolds in signature style, with fascinating asides on the physics of cannons and the origins of terrorism joining an argument about how the central event changed the course of history. “Johnson is here less interested in the story of Henry Every than in its implications, and its part in a wider meta-narrative,” Adam Higginbotham writes in his review. “The story Johnson tells is populated with concepts and consequences that resonate across the centuries.”

RED DRESS IN BLACK AND WHITE, by Elliot Ackerman. (Knopf, $26.95.) Ackerman’s fourth novel abandons his customary war narratives for a different sort of drama, an entirely absorbing territory of intrigue and tricks: An American woman in Istanbul wants to leave her Turkish husband, but geopolitics will determine the outcome. “Ackerman’s rich knowledge of Turkey, where he was based as a journalist for a number of years, is evident on every page,” Joan Silber writes in her review. “What lasts is the book’s emphasis on hidden machinations of power.”

PARAKEET, by Marie-Helene Bertino. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) A week out from marrying a man she doesn’t love, the 36-year-old protagonist of Bertino’s trippy second novel is visited by the ghost of her grandmother in the form of a wisecracking bird, who imparts some life advice and sends her on a mission of rescue and reconciliation. “The effect is absurd, and at times deeply funny,” Bess Kalb writes in her review. “The result is a story that is disquieting and darkly comic and vulnerable and true. I laughed throughout; I winced more.”

THE VANISHING HALF, by Brit Bennett. (Riverhead, $27.) Bennett’s gorgeously written second novel, an ambitious meditation on race and identity, considers the divergent fates of twin sisters, born in the Jim Crow South, after one decides to pass for white. Bennett balances the literary demands of dynamic characterization with the historical and social realities of her subject matter. “‘The Vanishing Half’ is a brave foray into vast and difficult terrain,” our reviewer, Ayana Mathis, writes. “It is about racial identity, of course, and three generations of mother-daughter relationships. It is also about a particularly American existential conflict — the tension between personal freedom and responsibility to a community. … It would seem that it isn’t quite possible to stop being black in America, no matter how hard you try.”

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