The dual timeline narrative is one of my favorite plot devices, both as a writer and as a reader. It works incredibly well for mysteries, but I've seen dual timelines used in just about every genre--from romance to horror to literary fiction. And that's not even mentioning time travel!
I use a dual narrative in my latest release, How Much It May Storm. It's a historical ghost story that alternates between two parallel timelines: 1918 and 1943. If you're a writer, I highly suggest learning about the dual timeline structure so you can add this skill to your writing toolbox. It's a great way to set up a mystery and slowly reveal the truth, twisting and turning the plot to your heart's desire. The ending can be incredibly satisfying when all those threads, past and present, come together.
The following books will show you just how to do that--plus, they're fantastic reads.
And since it's October and almost Halloween, I've made sure that my picks have some harvest-time vibes...So grab your hot apple cider, bundle up in your favorite quilt, and settle in for these spooky reads that'll keep you up late this October.
Ruthie lives in a farmhouse with a dark history. Its former occupant suffered the tragic loss of her daughter in 1908, and then died shortly thereafter. Now, Ruthie's own mother has disappeared, and clues suggest a tie to the events of 1908. But Ruthie's not the only one who's looking for the truth. What really happened at the farmhouse all those years ago?
This book has been compared to Stephen King's Pet Semetary, and while it's not quite that scary, it definitely delivers the creepy atmosphere! It's told partly in the present day and partly through diary entries from 1908. There's something supernatural at work at Ruthie's farmhouse, and in this book, the past does not stay buried.
In the 1950s, Idlewild Hall was a boarding school for troubled girls. Now in ruins, the Hall is supposedly haunted. It's also the place that Fiona's sister was found dead decades ago. Though the killer was convicted, questions still remain about the crime. When another grisly discovery is made at Idlewild, Fiona sets out to right the wrongs of the past.
Simone St. James has written several novels that alternate between the past and the present. This one is pretty unsettling at times, complete with ghosts and murder mysteries, but it's also a beautiful story of friendship, memory, and love. As always, St. James is a master at character development and emotional impact. One of my favorite authors!
Kate finds a murdered woman on the shore of Lake Superior--a woman who died a century ago. This same woman has appeared in Kate's dreams. Soon Kate's having visions of the past. Who is this mysterious woman, and why does Kate share an indelible connection with her?
Told in chapters that alternate between the past and the present, Daughters of the Lake has true gothic style, complete with a haunted house. There's romance in both the past and the present, and a creative folklore angle that I really enjoyed. One of my favorite aspects of the dual timeline is that the past and present eventually intertwine; here, Webb did a great job of bringing the two stories together in unexpected ways.
Maggie moves into Baneberry Hall, her childhood home, after her father's death. The house has a famously haunted history, yet Maggie can't remember what really happened there. She assumes that her father's stories about the place were more fiction than fact. But when strange things start to happen, the memories start to come back...
This book really gets creative with its dual narratives. On the one hand, we have a modern story told by Maggie, who's trying to find out if the house she grew up in is really haunted. And on the other, we have excerpts from House of Horrors, a book written by Maggie's father, who claimed that their family barely escaped the home's malevolent spirits. I love that we don't know for much of the story whether House of Horrors is truth or lies. There are lots of twists and surprises in this one, all the way to the end.
Julia makes a terrible discovery at her new home: a long-buried skeleton that still bears evidence of murder. The body is tied to a series of grisly killings that took place in the 1830s, against the backdrop of an illicit cadaver market that supplied medical schools. When Julia finds several old letters, she's drawn into the mysteries of the past. But the danger will soon become all too real in the present.
This book is a little hard to describe in brief form. Most of it is told in the past, and it's historical fiction at its best. The story touches upon nineteenth-century medicine as well as the real historical figure Oliver Wendell Holmes. Not only that, it's an exciting, chilling search for a serial killer! The present day sections are less impactful, but still reach a satisfying ending. Overall it's a unique and compelling read.
I hope you enjoy these spooky tales as much as I did! And I've got another one for you...My latest release, How Much It May Storm, uses dual timelines to weave a story of dark secrets and betrayal. It's a historical ghost story that spans two world wars, two brave young women, and the terrible truth that binds them. Read it on Kindle Unlimited, ebook and paperback.
Colorado, 1943: When Dinah sees a young soldier out in the snow—a soldier who looks just like Edward Gainsbury, a man who supposedly died in the last Great War—she follows him into the woods. But what she discovers will force Dinah to confront the true history of her town and the dangerous darkness hiding inside those she least suspects.