Happy Publication Day to Becoming Ted! I’m delighted to be sharing my review today for this uplifting novel. Thank you to Joe at Headline for the invitation to take part and proof copy of the book.
A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.
Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.
But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.
But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …
“I’ve dimmed my light for decades – now it’s time to turn it up to the max!”
Oh, my heart. A story that will strike a resonant chord with many of us, it pulled on my heartstrings, made me laugh out loud and gave me life. I loved every minute of reading it and now want everyone else to experience that same joy.
43-year-old Ted Ainsworth is happily married to his husband, Giles, of twenty years. They live in the small Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea where Ted works for the family ice cream business. It’s a good life. One he’s happy with. Or so he thinks. When Giles announces he’s leaving Ted out of the blue one Sunday morning, Ted’s whole world is rocked. He has lost his anchor, his future, his everything. As he picks up the broken pieces of his heart, Ted begins to reflect on not only his relationship, but his entire life, and rediscovers a long-forgotten dream that he has kept secret all of his life. Maybe now it’s finally time to become who he was always meant to be…
“Bursting to life in front of them is a colourful chaos of non-conformity.”
I’d heard a lot of great things about Matt Cain’s previous book, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, so I was looking forward to discovering his writing for myself. And let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Beautifully written and compelling, I was completely immersed in Ted’s story from the start. I’m a big fan of slice of life books that allow us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to feel their struggles, heartache and joy. Ted’s journey to find the best version of himself is interspersed with memories of his childhood and his relationship with Giles, giving the reader a greater understanding of how Ted became the man he is, as well as giving glimpses at who he wants to be. So much of this story is recognisable and relatable, from its characters inspired by everyday people, to the themes of heartbreak, self-discovery and friendship, to how it perfectly captures life in a small, northern seaside town. The last part was a particularly enjoyable nostalgia-fest for me.
“In just a few minutes the dull, unremarkable, barely noticeable Ted Ainsworth had blossomed into a glamorous, fierce-looking, powerful queen.”
The eponymous Ted is a marvellous and magnetic character who I fell in love with immediately. His story is one that will strike a resonant chord in many of us, including this 43-year-old straight woman. So many times I felt like I was seeing myself on the page as I read Ted’s story, many times I had been exactly where he was and I wanted to jump into the book so I could hug him. The author’s portrayal of how it feels when your marriage or long-term relationship ends was devastatingly real. I felt like my own heart broke along with Ted’s as he was filled with overwhelming grief and began to question everything he thought he knew. But after every storm, a rainbow appears, and watching as Ted transformed into his best self was emotional, courageous and inspiring. I wanted to shout ‘Yesss Queen’ as this butterfly emerged from its cocoon and lit up the world.
Loud, proud and utterly fabulous, Becoming Ted is a reminder that it is never too late to follow our dreams and become who we are meant to be. Heartwarming, hopeful and uplifting, I think everyone should read this book and meet Ted. I promise you won’t regret it.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Matt Cain is a writer, broadcaster, and a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues.
He was Channel 4’s first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, has written for all the major national newspapers, and presented the flagship discussion show on Virgin Radio Pride. He’s also an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month.
Matt’s first two novels, Shot Through the Heart and Nothing But Trouble, were published by Pan Macmillan. His third, The Madonna Of Bolton, became Unbound’s fastest crowdfunded novel ever before its publication in 2018. His latest, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, was published by Headline Review in May 2021 and Becoming Ted will follow in January 2023.
Born in Bury and brought up in Bolton, Matt now lives in London with his partner, Harry, and their cat, Nelly.
As much as I enjoy darker reads, there’s nothing better than a light-hearted and uplifting story. And if there’s some romance or a pensioner in the pages, even better! Here are the light-hearted books out this year I’m most anticipating.
Becoming Ted by Matt Cain
SYNOPSIS: A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.
Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.
But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.
But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …
Published January 19th by Headline Pre-order here*
The House That Made Us by Alice Cavanagh
SYNOPSIS: One Day meets Up: The House That Made Us is a love story – and a life story – told through a series of photographs and inspired by a true story
When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship.
Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full.
Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?
A heart-breaking story about life and love for readers who love Holly Miller, Jojo Moyes and Hazel Prior.
Published January 19th by Simon & Schuster UK Pre-order here*
Looking Out For Love by Sophia Money-Coutts
SYNOPSIS: … But is she searching in the right places?
Stella Shakespeare isn’t having a good day, or month come to think of it. She’s been unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend,cut off from the bank of dad and at thirty-two years old, she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life.
What Stella really wants is to find love. She wants all-consuming, can’t-think-about-anything-else, can’t-even-manage-to-eat kind of love. What she found beside her in bed that morning wasn’t love. But when a tall, handsome man in a well-fitting suit walks into a Notting Hill pub, she thinks she’s finally found The One.
Everything seems to be falling into place now Stella has met the man of her dreams and has an actual job working with a private investigator nicknamed ‘The Affair Hunter’. Although sadly, life is never that straightforward and Stella starts to question whether she’s been looking for love in the wrong places all along…
SYNOPSIS: A story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances, this is the new novel from international sensation Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and The Giver of Stars
Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?
Meet Sam . . . She’s not got much, but she’s grateful for what she has: a job she’s just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything. She knows she’s one bad day away from losing it all – and just hopes today isn’t it . . .
Meet Nisha . . . She’s got everything she always dreamed of – and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; and . . . she’s just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings . . .
Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined – even as they spiral out of control.
Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost – and desperately alone.
But they’re not.
No woman is an island. Look around. Family. Friends. Strangers. Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend. Because together you can do anything – like take back what is yours . . .
Published Februrary 2nd by Michael Joseph Pre-order here*
Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
SYNOPSIS: After five years’ marriage they’re about to have their first date . . .
Eliza and Graham’s marriage is quietly failing. With their five-year anniversary approaching, neither of them are thrilled about the weeklong getaway they’ve been gifted. The luxury retreat prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it – but for Eliza and Graham it’s the last place they want to be.
After a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham as being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don’t correct him. Suddenly, they’re pretending to be perfect strangers and it’s unexpectedly fun. Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it’s their first date.
Everyone at the retreat can see the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham’s alter egos. But as their game continutes they realize this performance could be the very thing that saves their marriage . . .
Published February 2nd by Pan Macmillan Pre-order here*
The Vintage Shop of Second Chances by Libby Page
SYNOPSIS: Among the cobbled streets of the Somerset town of Frome, Lou is embarking on the start of something new. After the death of her beloved mother, she takes a deep breath into the unknown and is opening her own vintage clothes shop.
In upstate New York, Donna has just found out some news about her family which has called into question her whole upbringing. The only clue she has to unlock her past is a picture of a yellow dress, and the fact it is currently on display in a shop in England.
For Maggy, she is facing life as a 70-something divorcee and while she got the house, she’s not sure what to fill it with now her family have moved out. The new vintage shop in town sparks memories of her past and reignites a passion she’s been missing…
Together, can these three women find the answers they are searching for and unlock a second chance at a new life?
SYNOPSIS: From the author of modern classic The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets comes a feel-good novel about hope, love and the powerful bond between sisters.
It’s 1990. The Happy Mondays are in the charts, a 15-year-old called Kate Moss is on the cover of the Face magazine, and Julia Roberts wears thigh-boots for the poster for a new movie called Pretty Woman.
February Kingdom is nineteen years old when she is knocked sideways by family tragedy. Then one evening in May she finds an escaped canary in her kitchen and it sparks a glimmer of hope in her. With the help of the bird called Yellow, Feb starts to feel her way out of her own private darkness, just as her aunt embarks on a passionate and all-consuming affair with a married American drama teacher.
THIS COULD BE EVERYTHING is a coming-of-age story with its roots under the pavements of a pre-Richard Curtis-era Notting Hill that has all but vanished. It’s about what happens when you start looking after something more important than you, and the hope a yellow bird can bring…
Published February 16th by Simon & Schuster UK Pre-order here*
Not That Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams
SYNOPSIS: One damsel + one wolf + many, many, many frogs = DISTRESS
Gloriously fun, romantic and feel-good, discover a 21st century London fairytale with an unforgettable twist . . .
Bella Marble is a true, hopeless, despairing romantic. Above all things, even above her wish to be a writer, she wants love.
But when her beautiful best friend moves out of their flat share to live with the most boring ogre in history, and her perfectly paired parents tell her their own love story is coming to an end, Bella’s illusions of a happily ever after start to shatter. If they can’t find ‘the one’, what chance does she have?
Disenchanted, Bella throws herself into looking for love in all the wrong places. London may be fresh out of knights in shining Armani, but it’s got a surplus of frogs – and as Bella learns, kissing frogs can be extremely fun.
But Bella is forgetting the essential rule of all fairytales.
There is nothing more powerful than a first kiss . . .
Published Feburary 16th by Little Brown Book Group Pre-order here*
One Moment by Becky Hunter
SYNOPSIS: One moment in time can change everything…
The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn’t feel fair that she’ll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams. And now, she’s still … here – wherever here is – watching the ripple effect of her death on the lives of those she loved the most.
Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend’s death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie’s life in directions she’d never let herself imagine possible. Ways, perhaps, even those closest to her had long since given up on.
If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of that one moment in time, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?
SYNOPSIS: A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances and the joy in finding the perfect match
Dr Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalised, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants…? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s ‘pain in my ass’ scale.
But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter. It’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her ‘sob closet’ and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses.
When Jacob turns out to be the perfect donor for her brother, Bri starts to realise that this quietly sexy new doctor might just be her perfect match, too.
SYNOPSIS: Don’t miss the next heartwarming, uplifting and painfully relatable book from Amy Lavelle…
‘If you loved Fleabag, you’ll love this’ Laura Kemp on Definitely Fine
Four sisters. One house. It’s about to get messy…
Poppy, Saffron, Rosemary and Sorrell might be sisters, but they could not be more different…
Oldest Poppy has hit all the milestones before turning thirty, but constantly being in control is starting to feel a bit suffocating; peacemaker Saffron will do anything to keep her sisters together even at her own expense; Rosemary has crafted a perfect façade, but cracks in her engagement are beginning to surface; youngest Sorrell is pregnant after a one-night stand, and is determined to do it all on her own for once – without any help from her sisters!
But when they inherit their family home, the four must make the decision to keep or sell the house – and they’re about to discover that no one gets under your skin quite like family…
Can they ever put their differences aside and find a way to move forward together?
Heartwarming, uplifting and hilarious, Home Sweet Home is a novel about sisters, misunderstandings and growing up. Perfect for fans of Emma Gannon, Olivia Beirne and Helly Acton.
SYNOPSIS: Dear Lost for Words, We are trying to stay at home . . . I am enclosing a cheque and I hope that you will use it to send us some books. Please choose books that we might think are wonderful.
Loveday Cardew’s beloved Lost for Words bookshop, along with the rest of York, has fallen quiet. At the very time when people most need books to widen their horizons, or escape from their fears, or enhance their lives, the doors are closed. Then the first letter comes.
Rosemary and George have been married for fifty years. Now their time is running out. They have decided to set out on their last journey together, without ever leaving the bench at the bottom of their garden in Whitby. All they need is someone who shares their love of books.
Suddenly it’s clear to Loveday that she and her team can do something useful in a crisis. They can recommend books to help with the situations their customers find themselves in: fear, boredom, loneliness, the desire for laughter and escape.
And so it begins.
Published April 27th by Headline Review Pre-order here*
Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon
SYNOPSIS: Neither of them expected to fall in love. But sometimes life has other plans.
When Wren realises her fiancé is in love with someone else, she thinks her heart will never recover.
On the other side of the world, Anders lost his wife four years ago and is still struggling to move on.
Wren hopes that spending the summer with her dad and step-family on their farm in Indiana will help her to heal. There, amid the cornfields and fireflies, she and Anders cross paths and their worlds are turned upside-down again.
But Wren doesn’t know that Anders is harbouring a secret, and if he acts on any feelings he has for Wren it will have serious fall-out for everyone.
Walking away would hurt Wren more than she can imagine. But, knowing the truth, how can she possibly stay?
Published April 27th by Penguin UK Pre-order here*
Preloved by Lauren Bravo
SYNOPSIS: A love story about things…
Gwen’s life has stalled. She’s in her mid-thirties, perpetually single, her friends are busy procreating in the country and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around herbaceous borders and the council’s wheelie-bin timetable. Above all she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone?
When Gwen’s made redundant from a job she drifted into a decade ago and never left, she realises it’s time to make a change. Over what might be the best – and most solitary – meal she’s ever eaten, Gwen vows to find something meaningful to do with her life, reconnect with her family and friends – and finally book herself a dentist appointment.
Her search for meaning soon leads her to volunteer in a local charity shop where she both literally and metaphorically unloads her emotional baggage. With the help of the weird and wonderful people she meets in the shop and the donated items bursting with untold stories that pass through its doors, Gwen must finally address the events and choices that led her to this point and find a way to move forward with bravery, humanity and more regular dental care.
Brimming with life, love and the stories bound up in even the most everyday items, Preloved is a tale about friendship, loss, being true to oneself no matter the expectations – and the enduring power and joy of charity shops.
Published April 27th by Simon & Schuster Pre-order here*
The Cassandra Complex by Holly Smale
SYNOPSIS: Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit.
She likes what she likes (museums, jumpsuits, her boyfriend Will) and strongly dislikes what she doesn’t (mess, change, her boss drinking out of her mug). Her life runs in a pleasing, predictable order. Until now.
She’s just been dumped. She’s just been fired. Her local café has run out of banana muffins.
Then, something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past.
Now, Cassie should be able to find a way to fix the life she accidentally obliterated. And with time on her side, how hard can it be…?
SYNOPSIS: Find out why readers LOVE Christina Lauren . . .
A romance novelist and a documentary filmmaker set out to craft the ultimate movie romance – but only if they can keep their own feelings for each other under control in this electrifying love story from the author of The Unhoneymooners.
SYNOPSIS: 19-year-old Phoebe and her courier father Al have recently moved to Devon, to a small cottage with a river at the end of the garden.
Struggling with her health, Phoebe doesn’t go out much these days. Instead, she spends her time playing detective – trying to deduce from her father’s deliveries what kinds of lives her neighbours lead.
When Phoebe finds an abandoned baby otter by the river, it’s just the push she needs to finally step into her new community. Taking the otter to the local sanctuary, she feels a joy that she has not felt in a very long time. But she soon starts to suspect that something is amiss at the local sanctuary – and she will need to put her detective skills to good use if she wants to save the otters.
A gorgeous feel-good novel about a young woman finding the courage to step back into the world, with the help of new friends and some very cute otters.
SYNOPSIS: Esther is out with her two friends, bemoaning her lack of relationship, when she finds a magazine from the noughties. Seeking comfort – and a laugh – she turns to the dating advice only to find an article that feels a little too close to home. According to the journalist, there are seven people a woman will date before finding the one:
The First Love, The Work Mistake, The Friend with Benefits, The Overlap, The Missed Chance, The Bastard and The Serious One.
Her friends laugh but Esther realises each of her exes fits these roles perfectly. Deciding that she’s mistaken her true love in the reject pile she decides to contact each of her exes to find out which is the one that got away…
Published May 25th by Simon & Schuster UK Pre-order here*
Lovestruck by Laura Jane Williams
SYNOPSIS: This isn’t one love story. It’s two.
Becca Calloway is calling it: she’s ready for Mr Right, and she’s ready now.
She even goes as far as to hold a manifestation ceremony for him – and when she receives a text from her ex five minutes later, she knows it’s a sign.
The problem is, she doesn’t know which way it’s pointing…
Should Becca reply and reignite things with her old flame Mike? Or delete and block, moving forward with the new man in her life?
Becca has one choice, with two ways this could go. And in Lovestruck, you’re about to see them both…
SYNOPSIS: From the author of tiktok sensations and global bestsellers The Love Hypothesis and Love on the Brain
Rival physicists collide in a vortex of academic feuds and fake dating shenanigans in this delightfully STEMinist romcom.
The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away at grading labs and teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. By other day, Elsie makes up for her non-existent paycheck by offering her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people-pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs.
Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet gig – until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Because Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and arrogant older brother of her favourite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career and undermined the reputation of theorists everywhere. And he’s the same Jack Smith who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing right between Elsie and her dream job.
Elsie is prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but… those long, penetrating looks? Not having to be anything other than her true self when she’s with him? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice?
SYNOPSIS: As the bombs began to fall, the book club kept their hopes alive…
The most emotional, uplifting and captivating story of wartime London and the extraordinary power of books to shine a light and draw people together in the darkest of days, inspired by true events.
London, 1938. Bookseller Gertie Bingham is facing difficult times, having just lost her beloved husband, Harry, and with a lingering sadness at never having been able to have a child of her own. Struggling to face running the bookshop she and Harry opened together, Gertie is preparing to sell up and move away when she is asked if she would be willing to take in a young Jewish refugee from Germany. Gertie is unsure and when sullen teenager Hedy Fischer arrives, Gertie fears she has nothing left to give the troubled girl.
But when the German bombers come and the lights go out over London, Gertie and Hedy realise that joining forces will make them stronger, and that books have the power to bring young and old together and unite a community in need in its darkest hour…
Published July 11th by Headline Review Pre-order here*
The Art of Belonging by Eleanor Ray
SYNOPSIS: Grace’s life is perfectly fine, thank you very much. A widow of seventy-two, she lives quietly, and although hearing a little more from her daughter and granddaughter would be nice, she has her health, her friends, her octogenarian yoga (however reluctantly attended) and most of all her weekly club where she creates exquisite, miniature train sets.
However, when her estranged daughter rings her in shock, about to lose her home, Grace invites Amelia and her daughter Charlotte to live with her. With them, they bring all the messy, complicated feelings from the past, and the more Grace gets to know her granddaughter Charlotte, the more she adores her. As Charlotte enlists her help to solve a mystery at school, the small family begin to find each other again. Grace is about to discover that although opening her heart again may be painful, in the end it’s the only thing that makes life worth living . .
SYNOPSIS: When a relationship expert’s own marriage falls apart, she invites four strangers to Italy for a vacation of healing and second chances in this uplifting new novel from the author of The Messy Lives of Book People.
Ginny Splinter, acclaimed radio host and advice expert, prides herself on knowing what’s best for others. So she’s sure her husband, Adrian, will love the special trip to Italy she’s planned for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. But when Ginny presents the gift to Adrian, he surprises her with his own very different plan—a divorce.
Beside herself with heartache, Ginny impulsively invites four heartbroken listeners to join her in Italy instead while live on air. From hiking the hills of Bologna to riding a gondola in Venice to sharing stories around the dining table of the little Italian hotel, Ginny and her newfound company embark on a vacation of healing.
However, when Adrian starts to rethink their relationship, Ginny must decide whether to commit to her marriage or start afresh, alone. And an unexpected stranger may hold the key to a very different future… Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment—even if it means leaving the past behind.
SYNOPSIS: Bridesmaids meets Emily in Paris–in London–this is a hilarious and heartfelt story of one woman who escaped to London after her moment of ridiculous revenge on an ex went viral, and the life-changing summer she discovers new love and her best self–and finally gets the sweetest revenge.
“I love-love-love Lizzy Dent.”–Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Book Lovers
Her past is a mess. But her present is about to get delicious.
Amy is more than the one disastrous night that ended in drunken revenge on her boss/ex-boyfriend’s canvas top Audi. The night that tanked her rising TV career and led to a hasty move to London for a fresh start. She is thirty-two years of awesomeness. At least, that’s what Amy tells herself every morning before trekking to her mediocre job making trailers at a failing British TV channel.
Two years later, she’s finally starting to believe it. But just as sparks fly between her and her handsome new downstairs neighbor and she starts to make inroads at work, the ex-boyfriend who wrecked her life is hired as her new boss and past and present are about to epically collide.
Published July 25th by Viking
The Wake-Up Call by Beth O’Leary
SYNOPSIS: ‘Beth O’Leary is that rare, one-in-a-million talent who can make you laugh, swoon, cry and ache all in the same book’ Emily Henry
Two sworn enemies. A failing hotel. One chance to save the season…
It’s the busiest season of the year, and Forest Manor Hotel is quite literally falling apart. So when Izzy and Lucas are given the same shift on the hotel’s front desk, they have no choice but to put their differences aside and see it through.
The hotel won’t stay afloat beyond Christmas without some sort of miracle. But when Izzy returns a guest’s lost wedding ring, the reward convinces management that this might be the way to fix everything. With four rings still sitting in lost property, the race is on for Izzy and Lucas to save their beloved hotel – and their jobs.
As their bitter rivalry turns into something much more complicated, Izzy and Lucas begin to wonder if there’s more at stake here than the hotel’s future. Can the two of them make it through the season with their hearts intact?
Published September 28th by Quercus Pre-order here*
Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below
Historical and gothic fiction is, for me, a joint favourite genre with thrillers. So I’m very excited about the books on today’s list. What do you think of my choices?
A Marriage of Fortune by Anne O’Brien
SYNOPSIS: England. 1469.
A fortunate marriage will change history. A scandal could destroy everything…
Margaret Paston, matriarch of the Paston family, knows that a favourable match for one of her unruly daughters is the only way to survive the loss of their recently acquired Caister Castle. But as the War of the Roses rages on, dangerous enemies will threaten even her best laid plans.
Margery Paston, her eldest daughter, has always strived to uphold the Paston name and do her mother proud. But when she loses her heart to a man below her station, she must make a terrible choice: will she betray her family and risk everything for a chance at true love?
Anne Haute, first cousin to the Queen, is embroiled in a longstanding betrothal to Sir John Paston, the eldest son and heir to the Paston seat. But despite his promises, Anne can’t help but doubt that he will ever keep his word and make her his wife…
In the midst of civil war, each of these women must decide: Head or heart? Love or duty? Reputation- or scandal?
SYNOPSIS: Be careful what you wish for… it may just come true.
At The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, rumours are circulating of a curse.
It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.
What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the Muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders if the rumours are true, and fears that when the Muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.
SYNOPSIS: Lena has her life mapped out. While her sister obsesses about fortune-telling gypsies and marriage, Lena studies the way the heart works. She isn’t going to let being a girl stop her from becoming one of Poland’s first female doctors. But the world has other plans for Lena. Instead of university she finds herself a reluctant army wife, lonely and unmoored by the emotions of motherhood. And as she tries to accept a different future from the one she wanted, the threat of global war becomes reality. Lena must face just how unpredictable life can be.
Deemed Enemies of State by the invading Soviets, she and her family are exiled from their Polish village to a work camp in the freezing hell of Siberia. It’s here, despite the hunger and back-breaking work, Lena learns something remarkable; it is possible to fall in love even at the edge of life. And for that love, Lena must make a decision, the consequences of which will haunt her for ever.
Tender, brutal and passionate, The Snow Hare is about living with impossible choices and our incredible ability to cultivate hope in the darkest places.
Published February 2nd by John Murray Press Pre-order here*
A Gift of Poison by Bella Ellis (The Bronte Mysteries 4)
SYNOPSIS: Haworth 1847 – Anne and Emily Brontë have had their books accepted for publication, while Charlotte’s has been rejected everywhere, creating a strained atmosphere at the parsonage.
At the same time, a shocking court case has recently concluded, acquitting a workhouse master of murdering his wife by poison. Everyone thinks this famously odious and abusive man is guilty. However, he insists he is many bad things but not a murderer. When an attempt is made on his life, he believes it to be the same person who killed his wife and applies to the detecting sisters for their help.
Despite reservations, they decide that perhaps, as before, it is only they who can get to the truth and prove him innocent – or guilty – without a shadow of doubt.
Published February 9th by Hodder & Stoughton Pre-order here*
The Shadow of Perseus by Claire Heywood
SYNOPSIS: The myth of Perseus, told through the story of the three women who knew him best – his mother Danae, his wife Andromeda, and his victim, Medusa.
History remembers him as a hero. But the women who knew him best remember a different man…
Perseus grows up wanting to be a hero, but he cannot become one if his mother Danae still sees him as a boy. When his stepfather Polydektes casts him away on a voyage across the sea, Perseus is determined to fulfil the great destiny of the son of a god and the grandson of a king. But the line between heroism and monstrosity is thin, and when Perseus attempts to seduce first gentle Medusa and then beautiful Andromeda, before finally reuniting with Danae, they each learn of the dangers of resisting a boy prepared to risk it all for greatness . . .
Published February 21st by Hodder & Stoughton Pre-order here
The Book of Eve by Meg Clothier
SYNOPSIS: In the name of the Father, not a word of this. Her letters are forbidden.
Beatrice is the convent’s librarian. For years, she has shunned the company of her sisters, finding solace only with her manuscripts.
Then, one carnival night, two women, bleeding and stricken, are abandoned outside the convent’s walls. Moments from death, one of them presses something into Beatrice’s hands: a bewitching book whose pages have a dangerous life of their own.
But men of the faith want the book destroyed, and a zealous preacher has tracked it to her door. Her sisters’ lives – or her obsession. Beatrice must decide.
The book’s voice is growing stronger. An ancient power uncoils. Will she dare to listen?
SYNOPSIS: From the author of the intoxicating bestseller The Lost Apothecary comes an entrancing exploration of the blurred lines between truth and illusion and the grave risks women take to avenge the ones they love.
May mercy be upon the man who finds himself the enemy of a vengeful medium…
1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.
Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…
Published March 21st by Legend Press Pre-order here*
The Lodger by Helen Scarlett
SYNOPSIS: This second novel from the author of The Deception of Harriet Fleet takes us back to the aftermath of the Great War in another haunting, atmospheric Gothic tale.
London in 1919 was a city of ghosts and absences, haunted by the men who marched away but never came back from ‘the war to end all wars.’
Grace Armstrong believes that she has come to terms with her own loss, the death of her fiancé, the brilliant and dazzling best friend of her brother. He was declared Missing in Action during the Battle of the Somme, but he starts to reappear both in her waking life and dreams.
Grace is appalled when a body, dragged from the Thames, is identified as Elizabeth Smith, who has lodged with Grace and her family for the last eight years before suddenly disappearing.
Elizabeth had been more than a lodger; she had become a close friend to Grace, who feels compelled to find out what happened. In doing so she is drawn reluctantly into the sordid and dangerous underbelly of London and a scandal that rocked Edwardian society. Soon Grace finds herself under threat, and the only person prepared to listen is the brooding Tom Monaghan. But Tom has dark shadows of his own to navigate before being able to put his past behind him to help Grace in her quest for the truth.
SYNOPSIS: The mesmerising story of the only female Argonaut, told by Jennifer Saint, the bestselling author of ELEKTRAand ARIADNE .
When a daughter is born to the King of Arcadia, she brings only disappointment.
Left exposed on a mountainside, the defenceless infant Atalanta is left to the mercy of a passing mother bear and raised alongside the cubs under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis.
Swearing that she will prove her worth alongside the famed heroes of Greece, Atalanta leaves her forest to join Jason’s band of Argonauts. But can she carve out her own place in the legends in a world made for men?
SYNOPSIS: From the bestselling author of The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton, comes a breathtaking mystery of love, lies and a cold case come back to life, told with her trademark intricacy and beauty.
Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959.
At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek in the grounds of a grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tumbilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia.
Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital.
At a loose end in Nora’s house, Jess does some digging into her past. In Nora’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime – a crime that has never been truly solved. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find . . .
An epic novel that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, and how we protect the lies we tell. It explores the power of motherhood, the corrosive effects of tightly held secrets, and the healing nature of truth.
SYNOPSIS: The gripping and unforgettable new novel from Caroline Lea, based on one of history’s most shocking but largely untold scandals
‘Gorgeous. Prize Women . . . took my breath away. I haven’t stopped thinking about it’ JENNIFER SAINT, bestselling author of ARIADNE
Masterful. Caroline Lea is a superb storyteller, and Prize Women deserves a huge readership. So good, I had to pull myself away’ ELIZABETH MACNEAL, bestselling author of THE DOLL FACTORY ___________
Toronto, Canada, 1926
Best friends Lily di Marco and Mae Thebault were once inseparable. They lived under the same roof and cared for each other’s children. But with mouths to feeds and demanding husbands to keep happy, both women are forced into terrible decisions as the Great Depression tightens its grip.
When lawyer Charles Vance Miller’s will promises a handsome sum of money to the woman who can produce the most babies in the next ten years, it is initially dismissed as a vanity project. But as the Great Depression worsens, and times get increasingly tough across the world, for the most desperate in society this contest known as The Great Stork Derby suddenly seems like a way out.
Ten years later, Lily and Mae couldn’t be further apart. And as The Great Stork Derby continues to make headlines, for all the wrong reasons, both these women must face up to their part in it, and the consequences…
Published April 27th by Michael Joseph Pre-order here*
The Woman on the Bridge by Sheila O’Flanagan
SYNOPSIS: A stunning historical novel from multi-million-copy bestselling author Sheila O’Flanagan Dublin. The 1920s. As war tears Ireland apart, two young people are caught up in events that will bring love, tragedy – and the hardest of choices.
In a country fighting for freedom, it’s hard to live a normal life. Winnie O’Leary supports the cause, but she doesn’t go looking for trouble. Then rebel Joseph Burke steps into her workplace. Winnie is furious with him about a broken window. She’s not interested in romance. But love comes when you least expect it.
Joseph’s family shelter fugitives and transport weapons. Joseph would never ask Winnie to join the fight; but his mother and sisters demand commitment. Will Winnie choose Joseph, and put her own loved ones in deadly danger? Or wait for a time of peace that may never come?
Ireland’s tumultuous independence struggle is the backdrop for an unforgettable story of courage and heartbreak, in which heroes are made of ordinary people. Inspired by the story of Sheila O’Flanagan’s grandmother, The Woman on the Bridge is the unmissable, compulsive new novel from a bestselling author.
Published April 27th by Headline Review Pre-order here*
A Lady’s Guide to Scandal by Sophie Irwin
SYNOPSIS: The captivating new historical novel from the author of the Sunday Times bestseller A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Pre-order the most delightful, escapist historical of the year from the Sunday Times bestselling author!
Recently widowed from her marriage of convenience, Eliza, now Dowager Countess of Somerset, is bequeathed a fortune, hers to keep as long as she can steer clear of scandal.
It should be simple – Eliza has spent a lifetime following the rules – but now that she is rich, titled and independent, misbehaviour is much more tempting…
Published May 11th by Harper Collins Pre-order here*
The Ghost Theatre by Mat Osman
SYNOPSIS: TO LOVE IS TO FALL . . .
On a rooftop in Elizabethan London two worlds collide. Shay is a messenger-girl and trainer of hawks who sees the future in the patterns of birds. Nonesuch is the dark star of the city’s fabled child theatre scene, as famous as royalty yet lowly as a beggar.
Together they create The Ghost Theatre: a troupe staging magical plays in London’s hidden corners. As their hallucinatory performances incite rebellion among the city’s outcasts, the pair’s relationship sparks and burns against a backdrop of the plague and a London in flames. Their growing fame sweeps them up into the black web of the Elizabethan court, where Shay and Nonesuch discover that if they fly too high, a fall is sure to come.
Fantastical and captivating, The Ghost Theatre charts the rise and dramatic destruction of a dream born from love and torn apart by betrayal.
SYNOPSIS: A gripping, gut-punch of a novel about a Cherokee child removed from her family and sent to a Christian boarding school in the 1950s—an ambitious, eye-opening reckoning of history and small-town prejudices from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble.
Since her mother’s death, Kit Crockett has lived with her grief-stricken father, spending lonely days far out in the country tending the garden, fishing in a local stream, and reading Nancy Drew mysteries from the library bookmobile. One day when Kit discovers a mysterious and beautiful woman has moved in just down the road, she is intrigued.
Kit and her new neighbor Bella become fast friends. Both outsiders, they take comfort in each other’s company. But malice lurks near their quiet bayou and Kit suddenly finds herself at the center of tragic, fatal crime. Soon, Kit is ripped from her home and Cherokee family and sent to Ashley Lordard, a religious boarding school. Along with the other Native students, Kit is stripped of her heritage, force-fed Christian indoctrination, and is sexually abused by the director. But Kit, as strong-willed and shrewd as ever, secretly keeps a journal recounting what she remembers—and revealing just what she has forgotten. Over the course of Stealing, she slowly unravels the truth of how she ended up at the school—and plots a way out.
In swift, sharp, and stunning prose, Margaret Verble spins a powerful coming-of age tale and reaffirms her place as an indelible storyteller and chronicler of history.
Published May 11th by Harper Collins Pre-order here*
Vita and the Birds by Polly Crosby
SYNOPSIS: A haunting mystery for fans of Eve Chase, Kate Morton and Kate Mosse.
1938: Lady Vita Goldsborough lives in the shadow of her controlling older brother, Aubrey. Trapped and isolated on the East Anglian coast, Vita takes solace in watching the birds that fly over the marshes. But then she meets local artist Dodie Blakeney. The two women form a close bond, and Vita finally glimpses a chance to escape Aubrey’s grasp and be as free as the birds she loves.
1997: Decades later and in the wake of her mother’s death, Eve Blakeney returns to the coast where she spent childhood summers with her beloved grandmother, Dodie. Eve hopes the visit will help make sense of her grief. The last thing she expects to find is a bundle of letters that hint at the heart-breaking story of Dodie’s relationship with a woman named Vita.
Eve and Vita’s stories are linked by a shattering secret that echoes through the decades, and when Eve discovers the truth, it will overturn everything she thought she knew about her family – and change her life forever.
Mrs Porter Calling by AJ Pearce (The Emmy Lake Chronicles)
SYNOPSIS: The heartwarming, moving and uplifting new story of friendship, love and finding courage when all seems lost from AJ Pearce, TheSunday Times bestselling author of Dear Mrs Bird and Yours Cheerfully.
London, April 1943.
Emmy Lake is an agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine, doing all she can to help readers as they face the challenges of wartime life. With her column thriving and a team of women behind her, Emmy finally feels she is Doing Her Bit.
But when the glamourous new owner arrives, everything changes. Charming her way around editor Guy Collins, Emmy quickly realises the Honourable Mrs Cressida Porter plans to destroy everything readers love about the magazine.
With her best friends by her side, Emmy must work out how she can bring everyone together and save Woman’s Friend before it’s too late.
SYNOPSIS: A grand hotel, a famous opera star and a psychoanalyst with a hidden agenda. Kate Mascarenhas’s third novel offers her readers a glamorous, thrilling ride through murder, madness and the darkest recesses of the mind.
February, 1929. The Regent Hotel in Birmingham is a place of deception and glamour. Behind its six-storeyed façade, guests sip absinthe cocktails on velvet banquettes, while the hotel’s red-jacketed staff scurry through its lavish corridors to ensure the finest service is always at hand.
In the early evening, a psychoanalyst checks in under a pseudonym: Nora Dickinson. Nora is young, diligent and ambitious. Though she doesn’t see herself as a liar, she is travelling with an agenda. Having followed the famous opera singer, Berenice Oxbow, from Zurich to Birmingham, she’s determined not to let her out of her sight.
But when a terrible snow storm isolates the hotel – and its guests – from the outside world, the lines between nightmare and reality begin to blur…
SYNOPSIS: From the author of stunning historical fiction books comes a new story of crime, deceit, and murder, set in the early 1920s…
In the hot summer of 1914 a boy vanishes, never to be seen again.
Now, in 1920, the once esteemed Stilwell family of Darkacre Hall find their already troubled lives thrown into disarray when new evidence leads to the boy’s case being reopened – and this time they themselves are under police scrutiny.
As the dead return to haunt the living, old resentments resurface and loyalties are tested, while secrets risk being unearthed that could destroy them all.
SYNOPSIS: Exploring universal themes of love and loss, the power of redemption and what it means to be unique,The Fascination is an evocative,glittering and bewitching gothic novel that brings alive Victorian London and darkness and deception that lies beneath…
Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions…
Twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn’t grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father’s quack elixir as they tour the country fairgrounds, at the age of fifteen the girls are sold to a mysterious Italian known as ‘Captain’.
Theo is an orphan, raised by his grandfather, Lord Seabrook, a man who has a dark interest in anatomical freaks and other curiosities … particularly the human kind. Resenting his grandson for his mother’s death in childbirth, when Seabrook remarries and a new heir is produced, Theo is forced to leave home without a penny to his name.
Unable to train to be a doctor as he’d hoped, Theo finds employment in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy in London, and here he meets Captain and his theatrical ‘family’ of performers, freaks and outcasts.
But it is Theo’s fascination with Tilly and Keziah that will lead all of them into a web of dark deceits, exposing the darkest secrets and threatening everything they know…
Exploring universal themes of love and loss, the power of redemption and what it means to be unique, The Fascination is an evocative, glittering and bewitching gothic novel that brings alive Victorian London and darkness and deception that lies beneath…
Published June 22nd by Orenda Books Pre-order here*
The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
SYNOPSIS: ‘The queen of the historical crime novel’ – CJ Tudor
‘My father had spelt it out to me. Choice was a luxury I couldn’t afford. This is your story, Red. You must tell it well . . .’
A girl known only as Red, the daughter of a Cornish fortune-teller, travels with her father making a living predicting fortunes using the ancient method: the Square of Sevens. When her father suddenly dies, Red becomes the ward of a gentleman scholar.
Now raised as a lady amidst the Georgian splendour of Bath, her fortune-telling is a delight to high society, but she cannot ignore the questions that gnaw at her soul: who was her mother? How did she die? And who are the mysterious enemies her father was always terrified would find him?
The pursuit of these mysteries takes her from Cornwall and Bath to London and Devon, from the rough ribaldry of the Bartholemew Fair to the grand houses of two of the most powerful families in England. And while Red’s quest brings her the possibility of great reward, it also leads into her grave danger . . .
Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s The Square of Sevens is an epic and sweeping novel set in Georgian high society, a dazzling story offering up mystery, intrigue, heartbreak, and audacious twists.
SYNOPSIS: A mystery lies hidden within an old book… Unlock the secrets of The Birdcage Library.
‘Gothic, gorgeous and vividly atmospheric; an immersive literary page-turner to be swept up in’ Ellery Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author _________
A rich, beguiling story of long-buried secrets and dark obsession, The Birdcage Library is the dazzling new novel from Freya Berry, author of The Dictator’s Wife, as seen on BBC2 Between the Covers.
Dear Reader, the man I love is trying to kill me…
Emily Blackwood, adventuress and plant hunter, travels north for a curious new commission. A gentleman has written to request she catalogue his vast collection of taxidermied creatures before sale.
On arrival, Emily finds a ruined castle, its owner haunted by a woman who vanished years before. And when she discovers the ripped pages of a diary, crammed into the walls, she realises dark secrets lie here, waiting to entrap her too….
Discover a mystery within a mystery in The Birdcage Library, a novel that will hold you in its spell until the final page.
SYNOPSIS: At a time of extraordinary change, two women must harness their talents to take control of their own destiny . . .
Bristol, 1896. Used to scraping a living as the young assistant to an ageing con artist, Cecily Marsden’s life is turned upside down when her master suddenly dies. Believing herself to blame, could young Cec somehow have powers she little understands?
Meanwhile Eadie Carleton, a pioneering early film-maker, struggles for her talent to be taken seriously in a male-dominated world, and a brilliant young magician, George Perris, begins to see the potential in moving pictures. George believes that if he can harness this new technology, it will revolutionise the world of magic forever – but in order to achieve his dreams, he must first win over Miss Carleton . . .
As a group of illusionists prepare for a grand spectacle, Cec, Eadie and George’s worlds collide. But as Cec falls in love with the bustling realm of theatre and magic, she faces the fight of her life to save the performance from sabotage and harness the element of real magic held deep within her.
THE ILLUSIONS is the captivating new novel from the much-lauded author of THE GIFTS. Inspired by real-life illusionists and early film pioneers, this astonishing story of women and talent, magic and power, sweeps you into a world where anything is possible and nothing is quite as it seems . . .
Published June 22nd by Manilla Press Pre-order here*
73 Dove Street by Julie Owen Moylan
SYNOPSIS: When Edie Budd arrives at a shabby West London boarding house in October 1958, carrying nothing except a broken suitcase and an envelope full of cash, it’s clear she’s hiding a terrible secret. And she’s not the only one; the other women of 73 Dove Street have secrets of their own . . .
Tommie, who lives on the second floor, waits on the eccentric Mrs Vee by day. After dark, she harbours an addiction to seedy Soho nightlife – and a man she can’t quit.
Phyllis, 73 Dove Street’s formidable landlady, has set fire to her husband’s belongings after discovering a heart-breaking betrayal – yet her fierce bravado hides a past she doesn’t want to talk about.
At first, the three women keep to themselves. But as Edie’s past catches up with her, Tommie becomes caught in her web of lies – forcing her to make a decision that will change everything . . .
Published July 20th by Michael Joseph Pre-order here*
The Only One Left by Riley Sager
SYNOPSIS: Bestselling author Riley Sager returns with a Gothic chiller about a young caregiver assigned to work for a woman accused of a Lizzie Borden-like massacre decades earlier.
At seventeen, Lenora Hope Hung her sister with a rope
Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.
Stabbed her father with a knife Took her mother’s happy life
It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer–I want to tell you everything.
SYNOPSIS: BEFORE ROMEO LOVED JULIET, HE LOVED FAIR ROSALINE . . .
Was the greatest ever love story really a lie?
Romeo Montague is handsome and charming and the first time he sees young Rosaline Capulet, who has secretly snuck into his family’s masquerade summer ball, he falls instantly in love.
At first Rosaline is unsure of Romeo’s attentions but with her father determined that she join the nunnery, Romeo offers her the chance of a different life. Gradually he convinces her that only true love could make him feel this way, that he is enraptured by her beauty. Indeed, he cannot live without her!
And so begins the story of Romeo and Rosaline. These star-crossed lovers must keep everything hidden from Rosaline’s family, at least until they are wed. But when a destitute young girl appears, claiming to be carrying Romeo’s child, Rosaline starts to doubt all that she has been told. And as whispers of more girls reach her ears, what once felt like a courtship begins to feel more like a pursuit.
As Rosaline recognises Romeo for the villain he truly is, his gaze turns suddenly towards Rosaline’s adored and beautiful cousin, thirteen-year old Juliet.
Can Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way . . ?
Hamnet meets My Dark Vanessa in this fierce, feminist, intensely gripping, unmissable novel; captivating and chillingly relevant, FAIR ROSALINE takes everything you thought you knew about Romeo and Juliet and turns it on its head . . .
Published August 3rd by Manilla Press Pre-order here*
House of Odysseus by Claire North
SYNOPSIS: ‘CLAIRE NORTH BRINGS A POWERFUL, FRESH AND UNFLINCHING VOICE TO ANCIENT MYTH’ Jennifer Saint, author of Sunday Times bestseller Ariadne
Following the critically acclaimed Ithaca comes House of Odysseus, the second novel in Claire North’s Songs of Penelope trilogy – anexquisite, gripping tale that breathes life into ancient myth. This is the story of Penelope of Ithaca, famed wife of Odysseus, as it has never been told before.
On the island of Ithaca, queen Penelope maintains a delicate balance of power. Many years ago, her husband Odysseus sailed to war with Troy and never returned. In his absence, Penelope uses all her cunning to keep the peace – but this is shattered with the arrival of Orestes, King of Mycenae.
Orestes, son of Agamemnon, is mad. Wracked with guilt for putting his own mother to death, he grows ever more unhinged. But a king cannot be seen to be weak. To keep him safe from the ambitious men of Mycenae, his sister Elektra brings him to Ithaca to recover under the protection of Penelope. But no sooner has Orestes arrived then his uncle Menelaus, the blood-soaked king of Sparta, comes looking for him. Menelaus hungers for Orestes’ throne – and if he can seize it, no one will be safe from his violent whims.
Caught between Sparta and Mycenae, Penelope must protect Ithaca from two mad kings on the edge of war. Her only allies are Elektra, desperate to protect her brother, and Helen of Troy, Menelaus’ wife. Each woman has a secret, and their secrets will shape the world . . .
SYNOPSIS: Inspired by the real-life diaries of Eliza Raine and Anne Lister – ‘the first modern lesbian,’ also known as Gentleman Jack – Donoghue’s mesmerising historical novel is a tour de force of rich characterisation and period detail.
Published August 24th by Pan Macmillan Pre-order here*
The Black Feathers by Rebecca Netley
SYNOPSIS: PRE ORDER THE NEXT CHILLING AND TWISTY GHOST STORY FROM THE AUTHOR OFTHE WHISTLING
Where ghosts tread, black feathers fall . . .
When Annie marries widower Edward Stonehouse and arrives at Guardbridge, his estate on the Yorkshire moors, she thinks she has finally put darkness behind her.
She is mistaken.
Edward’s sister, Iris, still lives in the family home. A taxidermist and medium, she urges Annie to watch out for black feathers – claiming that they mark the spot where a spirt has visited.
At first, Annie dismisses her warnings. But, before long, she begins to feel haunted.
What exactly happened to Edward’s first wife? Why is Iris so disturbed?
And should Annie really be watching for signs from the dead – or is she the one being watched?
SET ON THE YORKSHIRE MOORS IN THE 1800S, THE BLACK FEATHERS IS A GHOSTLY TALE OF MAGIC AND WICKEDNESS.
Published October 12th by Michael Joseph Pre-order here*
The Temple of Fortuna by Elodie Harper (The Wolf Den Triolgy 3)
SYNOPSIS: The final instalment in Elodie Harper’s Sunday Times bestselling Wolf Den Trilogy
‘Beautiful, moving, captivating.’ Jennifer Saint ‘Vivid, unsentimental and compelling.’ The Times
Amara’s journey has taken her far; from a slave in Pompeii’s wolf den to a high-powered courtesan in Rome… though her story is not over yet.
While Amara plays for power in Rome’s imperial palace, those dearest to her remain in Pompeii. But it is AD 79, and mighty Mount Vesuvius is about to make itself known…
Welcome to my list of most anticipated books being released in August.
As always, the month is full of exciting new books and it was a struggle to narrow down my list to the ones you see here.
So, here are the thirty books out next month that I’m most looking forward to:
Small Angels by Lauren Owen
Published: August 2nd Publisher: Tinder Press Genre: Ghost Story, Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Lesbian Literature
SYNOPSIS: When Chloe turns the key to Small Angels, the church nestled at the edge of Mockbeggar Woods where she is to be married, she is braced for cobwebs and dust.What she doesn’t expect are the villagers’ concerned faces, her fiancé’s remoteness, or the nagging voice in her head that whispers to her of fears she didn’t even know she had.
Something in the woods is beginning to stir, to creep closer to the sleeping houses. Something that should have been banished long ago.
Whatever it is, it’s getting stronger, and pretending it’s not there won’t keep the wedding, or the village – or Chloe - safe.
SYNOPSIS: The truth of what happened that night lies with a secret witness.
Quarter to Midnight is the first thrilling novel in a brand new series by Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Rose, set in New Orleans.
Rocky Hebert walks into his death at quarter to midnight one New Orleans night.
His son Gabe cannot accept the official verdict of suicide and enlists the help of the Burke Broussard Private Investigation Agency to discover the real cause of death.
PI Molly Sutton knows what it’s like to lose a father in tragic circumstances and will go to any lengths to crack the investigation, as she tries to fight off her growing feelings for Gabe.
They soon realise Rocky was working on an investigation of his own; one that threatened to expose the deep corruption going all the way to the top of the police department. And that the key to the puzzle lies with a young witness to a murder that happened years earlier: Xavier Morrow.
Just what did Rocky know? And who might have shut him up?
As they get closer and closer to the truth, they realise that the killer is not going to stop at Rocky. And that Xavier is in very real danger. Someone will go to any lengths to protect what he witnessed that night coming out…
Published: August 4th Publisher: HQ Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Literary Fiction, Satire, LGBTQ Literature
SYNOPSIS: Bridesmaids meets Black Mirror in the most twisted and entertaining thriller of 2022.
Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. They’ve been through everything together, from Robin coming out to the death of Ellie’s dad. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honour, Robin is reluctant.
It’s not that Robin isn’t happy for Ellie, she just hates everything about weddings and marriage – plus the guy Ellie’s engaged to. There’s also the matter of the crazy (not to mention dangerous) wedding rituals that couples are resorting to in the hope of securing a lifetime of happiness.
Despite her misgivings, Robin finally says yes. But as the wedding day approaches, she gets the feeling that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. And it seems Ellie is willing to do anything for the perfect day. After all, marriage is about sacrifice…
Published: August 4th Publisher: Harvill Secker Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Three nuns play the lottery to save their failing convent, resulting in a story of friendship, community, faith and love.
The 1990s are proving tough for the convent. The order of the Sisters of Saint Philomena is down to its three last nuns. The place that Sisters Margaret, Bridget and Cecilia call home is in dire need of repairs and, with no savings and no new recruits, they are facing the prospect of having to sell up and leave behind their friends and neighbours in the parish community that they love.
That is, until ninety-year-old Cecilia decides to play the newly launched National Lottery and a series of small miracles begins to unfold.
Small Miracles takes the reader on a joyful and uplifting journey as these three unforgettable nuns learn more about life, love and friendship than they could ever have imagined.
This is the perfect feel-good read for fans of AJ Pearce, Rachel Joyce, Katie Fforde and Joanna Cannon, as well as Sister Act, Rev and The Vicar of Dibley. It’s a story about love in its many guises and how it can heal us.
Daughter of Darkness by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr
Published: August 4th Publisher: Hot Key Books Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Horror Fiction, Myths and Legends, Greek Mythology, YA Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Enter the Underworld in an epic new fantasy, where the Gods of ancient Greece rule everything but fate.
Deina is trapped. As one of the Soul Severers serving the god Hades on earth, her future is tied to the task of shepherding the dying on from the mortal world – unless she can earn or steal enough to buy her way out.
Then the tyrant ruler Orpheus offers both fortune and freedom to whoever can retrieve his dead wife, Eurydice, from the Underworld. Deina jumps at the chance. But to win, she must enter an uneasy alliance with a group of fellow Severers she neither likes nor trusts.
So begins their perilous journey into the realm of Hades. . . The prize of freedom is before her – but what will it take to reach it?
From the authors of A THRONE OF SWANS and A CROWN OF TALONS comes a stunning new YA duology set in a world inspired by the mythology of ancient Greece.
Perfect for fans of Alexandra Bracken’s LORE and Jessie Burton’s MEDUSA.
Published: August 4th Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Gothic Fiction
A remote village.
A deadly secret.
An outsider who knows the truth…
Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…
When she was five years old, without proof, Maggie announced that someone in the remote village of Blairmore in the Outer Hebrides had murdered a local man, sparking a media storm.
Now, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, Maggie’s own life is in danger…
From the critically-acclaimed author of Mirrorland comes a darkly disturbing new thriller that will chill you to the bone.
SYNOPSIS: Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery.
They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think. The things that I know.
1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .
1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.
Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .
A captivating, atmospheric new novel from the lauded author of The Long, Long Afternoon, This Wild Wild Country simmers with secrets, lies and terrible betrayal, unravelling the lives of three women at the mercy of their times.
Published: August 4th Publisher: Picador Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A sweeping, breathtakingly ambitious novel about power, wealth and truth, told by four unique, interlocking voices and set against the backdrop of turbulent 1920s New York.
The legendary Wall Street tycoon whose immense wealth gives him the power to do almost anything. The second-generation Italian immigrant tasked with recording his life story. The reclusive, aristocratic wife. And the writer who observes them from afar.
In a city devoted to making money and making stories like no other, where wealth means power, who gets to tell the truth? And to rise to the top of a glittering, destructive world, what – and who – do you have to sacrifice?
Published: August 11th Publisher: Canongate Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: 1628. Embarking on a journey in search of her father, a young girl called Mayken boards the Batavia, the most impressive sea vessel of the age. During the long voyage, this curious and resourceful child must find her place in the ship’s busy world, and she soon uncovers shadowy secrets above and below deck. As tensions spiral, the fate of the ship and all on board becomes increasingly uncertain.
1989. Gil, a boy mourning the death of his mother, is placed in the care of his irritable and reclusive grandfather. Their home is a shack on a tiny fishing island off the Australian coast, notable only for its reefs and wrecked boats. This is no place for a child struggling with a dark past and Gil’s actions soon get him noticed by the wrong people.
The Night Ship is an enthralling tale of human brutality, providence and friendship, and of two children, hundreds of years apart, whose fates are inextricably bound together.
SYNOPSIS: Behind closed doors is a secret someone is willing to kill for.
I walk into the bright, open living room of my new apartment, and I know this is the fresh start I’ve been dreaming about. As I double lock my pretty red door each night, I feel like I can finally be happy. I can finally be safe.
But when I’m woken one night by the sound of my neighbours arguing through the wall. I swear I hear one of them saying my name. Why would they be talking about me?
Michaela and Kirsty seem so nice, always stopping to chat when we pass in the hallway, and inviting me round for a glass of wine after work.
I know I’m being paranoid, but then my favourite hair clip goes missing and I start to feel like someone’s watching me.
Nobody was meant to know where I am. And I was careful. I did everything right. But I can’t help but fear my past has caught up with me and this time, I might not escape…
If you love gripping psychological thrillers like Gone Girl and Mark Edwards’s Here to Stay, you’ll be blown away by The Houseshare. Addictive, tense and with an ending you won’t see coming, you’ll be up all night turning pages.
Published: August 18th Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Gothic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Daisy Darker is an all-consuming tale of psychological suspense with a spectacular twist from the internationally bestselling author Alice Feeney
Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .
Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .
SYNOPSIS: Someone’s trying to frame me for murder. But I can’t prove my innocence. Because then I’d have to confess about… my other husband.
*Pre-order the brand new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Dorothy Koomson.
Cleo Forsum is a bestselling novelist turned scriptwriter whose TV series, ‘The Baking Detective’ is a huge success. Writing is all she’s ever wanted to do, and baking and murder stories have proved a winning combination.
But now she has decided to walk away from it all – including divorcing her husband, Wallace – before her past secrets catch up with her.
As Cleo drafts the final ever episodes of the series, people she knows start getting hurt. And it’s soon clear that someone is trying to frame her for murder.
She thinks she knows why, but Cleo can’t tell the police or prove her innocence. Because then she’d have to confess about her other husband . . .
A series of terrifying murders. A set of complex lies. And a woman with no way to clear her name.
My Other Husband is the latest gripping thriller from the Queen of The Big Reveal.
Published: August 18th Publisher: HQ Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Magical Realism, Supernatural Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The change is coming…
Nessa: The Seeker Jo: The Protector Harriett: The Punisher
With newfound powers the time has come to take matters into their own hands…
After Nessa is widowed and her daughters leave for college, she’s left alone in her house near the ocean. In the quiet hours, she hears voices belonging to the dead – who will only speak to her.
On the cusp of fifty Harriett’s marriage and career imploded, and she hasn’t left her house in months. But her life is far from over – in fact, she’s undergone a stunning metamorphosis.
Jo spent thirty years at war with her body. The rage that arrived with menopause felt like the last straw – until she discovers she’s able to channel it.
Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. The police have written off the victim. But the women have not. Their own investigations lead them to more bodies and a world of wealth where the rules don’t apply – and the realisation that laws are designed to protect villains, not the vulnerable.
So it’s up to these three women to avenge the innocent, and punish the guilty…
Published: August 18th Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Contemporary Literature, Dystopian Fiction, Medical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Reminiscent of the works of Margaret Atwood, Deborah Harkness, and Octavia E. Butler, The Women Could Fly is a feminist speculative novel that speaks to our times. A piercing dystopian tale about the unbreakable bond between a young woman and her absent mother, set in a world in which magic is real and single women are closely monitored in case they are shown to be witches . . .
Josephine Thomas has heard every conceivable theory about her mother’s disappearance. That she was kidnapped. Murdered. That she took on a new identity to start a new family. That she was a witch. This is the most worrying charge, because in a world where witches are real, peculiar behaviour raises suspicions and a woman – especially a Black woman – can find herself on trial for witchcraft.
But fourteen years have passed since her mother’s disappearance, and now Jo is finally ready to let go of the past. Yet her future is in doubt. The State mandates that all women marry by the age of thirty – or enrol in a registry that allows them to be monitored, effectively forfeiting their autonomy. At twenty-eight, Jo is ambivalent about marriage. With her ability to control her life on the line, she feels as if she has her never understood her mother more. When she’s offered the opportunity to honour one last request from her mother’s will, Jo leaves her regular life to feel connected to her one last time.
In this powerful and timely novel, Megan Giddings explores the limits women face – and the powers they have to transgress and transcend them.
Published: August 18th Publisher: Picador Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The hugely anticipated novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Pull of the Stars and Room
Three men vow to leave the world behind them and start anew . . .
In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks – young Trian and old Cormac – he travels down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, and claim it for God. Their extraordinary landing spot is now known as Skellig Michael. But in such a place, far from all other humanity, what will survival mean?
Haunting, moving and vividly told, Haven displays Emma Donoghue’s trademark world-building and psychological intensity – but this tale is like nothing she has ever written before . . .
Published: August 18th Publisher: Harper Voyager: Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A gorgeous new fantasy horror – a book about stories and fairytales with family and love at its dark heart…
Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Coraline), Susanna Clarke (Piranesi) and Let the Right One In.
Hidden across England and Scotland live six old Book Eater families.
The last of their lines, they exist on the fringes of society and subsist on a diet of stories and legends.
Children are rare and their numbers have dwindled, so when Devon Fairweather’s second child is born a dreaded Mind Eater – a perversion of her own kind, who consumes not stories but the minds and souls of humans – she flees before he can be turned into a weapon for the family… or worse.
Living among humans and finding prey for her son, Devon seeks a cure for his hunger. But time is running out – for her family want her back, and with every soul her son consumes he loses a little more of himself…
This is a story of escape, a savage mother’s devotion and a queer love that will electrify readers looking for something beguiling, thrilling, strange and new.
Published: August 18th Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Fairy Tale, Mythology, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: When Scottie Bains realises that she may never become a mother, she makes the heart-breaking decision to flee to the remote North Atlantic archipelago of St Hia.
Lashed by storms and far from the mainland, the islands are dangerous. Many have been lost to the ferocious tides known as the Hollow Sea – and local folklore warns that St Hia was once the home of a witch. Her name was Thordis, and when she was unable to provide her husband with a child, she was driven to a terrible act…
The islanders warn newcomers against examining the past, but Scottie can’t look away from the mystery of what happened to Thordis.
Could it be that St Hia’s troubled history holds the key to Scottie’s future?
Published: August 18th Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Hardboiled
SYNOPSIS: If you liked I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK and SHARP OBJECTS, you will love this!
What really happened to January Jacobs?
A MYSTERIOUS COLD CASE… Twenty-five years ago, January Jacob’s parents awoke to find their daughter’s bed empty, a horrifying message spray-painted onto their wall. Hours later, January’s body was found discarded in a ditch. Her murder was never solved. But the town remembers.
A DANGEROUS OBSESSION… Journalist Margot Davies is tired of reporting meaningless stories. One night, she stumbles upon a clue in the most infamous crime in her hometown’s history: the unsolved murder of six-year-old January.
A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS… As Margot digs deeper, she begins to suspect that there is something truly sinister lurking in the small community: a secret that endangers the lives of everyone involved…including Margot.
A gripping, twisty thriller for fans of cold crime cases – from the #1 CRIME JUNKIE podcast host Ashley Flowers.
SYNOPSIS: PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation – if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years. It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). But it’s not long before Phoebe realises that Sam might be something much scarier – a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.
Published: August 23rd Publisher: Sphere Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romanc
SYNOPSIS: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis – with explosive results.
Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.
Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.
Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas … devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?
Published: August 25th Publisher: Hogarth Genre: Mystery
SYNOPSIS: I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.
Cassandra Williams is twelve; her little brother Wayne is seven. One day, when they’re alone together, there’s an accident, and Wayne is lost forever. Though his body is never recovered, their mother can’t stop searching. The missing boy cleaves the family with doubt: How do you grieve an absence? And how does it feel?
As C grows older, she relives and retells her story, and she sees her brother everywhere: in cafes, airplane aisles, subway cars. Here is her brother’s older face, the light in his eyes, his lanky limbs, the way he seems to recognise her, too. But it can’t be, of course. Or can it? And then one day, there’s another accident, and C meets a man both mysterious and familiar, a man who’s also searching for someone, as well as his own place in the world. His name is Wayne.
Namwali Serpell’s piercing new novel captures the ongoing and uncanny experience of grief, as the past breaks over the present, like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a masterful story of mistaken identity, slippery reality, black experience, and the wishful and sometimes willful longing for reunion with those we’ve lost.
SYNOPSIS: ‘Someone swore that, as a little girl, he once saw you touch a tiger. And that the tiger didn’t harm you, it let you stroke it. It was always said that you had charmed the beast.’
The breathtaking new novel from the author of Hamnet, the Sunday Times No.1 bestseller (2021) and winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, The Marriage Portrait is a dazzling evocation of the Italian Renaissance in all its beauty and brutality.
Winter, 1561. Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara, is taken on an unexpected visit to a country villa by her husband, Alfonso. As they sit down to dinner it occurs to Lucrezia that Alfonso has a sinister purpose in bringing her here. He intends to kill her.
Lucrezia is sixteen years old, and has led a sheltered life locked away inside Florence’s grandest palazzo. Here, in this remote villa, she is entirely at the mercy of her increasingly erratic husband.
What is Lucrezia to do with this sudden knowledge? What chance does she have against Alfonso, ruler of a province, and a trained soldier? How can she ensure her survival.
The Marriage Portrait is an unforgettable reimagining of the life of a young woman whose proximity to power places her in mortal danger.
The Dragon’s Promise (Six Crimson Cranes Book 2) by Elizabeth Lim
Published: August 30th Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fantasy Series
SYNOPSIS: A dragon’s kingdom. A star-crossed love. And a cursed pearl with the power to mend the world, or break it . . .
Shiori’s quest continues in the soaring sequel to the New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy Six Crimson Cranes.
Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all the while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood.
The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next – threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.
The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Published: August 30th Publisher: Kensington Books Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: In this powerful novel of survival and resilience, New York Times bestselling author Ellen Marie Wiseman takes readers on a gripping, emotional journey as one brave young woman’s search for the truth about her sister leads her to an infamous institution called Willowbrook . . .
Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.
Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.
Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined . . .
May is shaping up to be another fabulous month for new releases in 2022. There are a plethora of exciting new releases, including many debuts, and it was a hard challenge to get this list down to the twenty-nine on this list.
Here are the books on my list of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures for May:
The Book of Night by Holly Black
Published: May 3rd Publisher: Del Rey Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Thriller, Supernatural Fiction
SYNOPSIS: #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black makes her stunning adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of shadowy thieves and secret societies.
Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make. She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie.
Now, she’s trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but going straight isn’t easy. Bartending at a dive, she’s still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that her shadowless and possibly soulless boyfriend has been keeping secrets from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends back into a maelstrom of murder and lies. Determined to survive, she’s up against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, gloamists, and the people she loves best in the world – all trying to steal a secret that will allow them control of the shadow world and more.
Published: May 3rd Publisher: Hot Key Books Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Dystopian Fiction
SYNOPSIS: In a world where girls and women are taught to be quiet, the dragons inside them are about to be set free …
In this timely and timeless speculative novel, set in 1950s America, Kelly Barnhill exposes a world that wants to keep girls and women small – and examines what happens when they rise up.
Alex Green is four years old when she first sees a dragon. In her next-door neighbour’s garden, in the spot where the old lady usually sits, is a huge dragon, an astonished expression on its face before it opens its wings and soars away across the rooftops.
And Alex doesn’t see the little old lady after that. No one mentions her. It’s as if she’s never existed.
Then Alex’s mother disappears, and reappears a week later, one quiet Tuesday, with no explanation whatsoever as to where she has been. But she is a ghostly shadow of her former self, and with scars across her body – wide, deep burns, as though she had been attacked by a monster who breathed fire.
Alex, growing from young girl to fiercely independent teenager, is desperate for answers, but doesn’t get any.
Whether anyone likes it or not, the Mass Dragoning is coming. And nothing will be the same after that. Everything is about to change, forever.
And when it does, this, too, will be unmentionable…
SYNOPSIS: A family with a secret. A past about to catch up with them.
At thirty, Hanna has finally decided she’s better off without her family. They hold her responsible for the incident that ruined their lives fourteen years ago and they’ve barely spoken since.
But then, whilst browsing a true crime website, she sees her family home listed as the site of a brutal murder. Number of victims: three. Date of crime: today. When the police investigate, they find no bodies, but the house is abandoned. Hanna’s family have disappeared.
To find them, Hanna will have to confront what happened all those years ago.
And the person determined to make her pay for it . . .
SYNOPSIS: FOUR FRIENDS. ONE MURDER. A GAME THEY CAN’T ESCAPE
‘It was only a game.’
Until a boy went missing.
‘No one was meant to get hurt.’
But a body has been found.
‘Just some innocent fun.’
Except one of them is a killer.
Ready or not, here I come.
It’s time to play hide and seek again.
THE WHISPER MAN meets THE GUEST LIST in this gripping story; DI Fleet is up against some of the most powerful people in the country as he attempts to discover the truth about what happened on the day of the game…
SYNOPSIS: Isobel lives an isolated life in North London, working at a nearby library. She feels safe if she keeps to her routines and doesn’t let her thoughts stray too far into the past. But a newspaper photograph of a missing local schoolgirl and a letter from her old teacher are all it takes for her ordinary, careful armour to become overwhelmed and the trauma of what happened when she was a pupil at The Schoolhouse to return.
The Schoolhouse was different – one of the 1970s experimental schools that were a reaction to the formal methods of the past. The usual rules did not apply, and life there was a dark interplay of freedom and violence, adventure and fear. Only her teenage diary recorded what happened, but the truth is coming for her and everything she has tried to protect is put at risk.
Set between the past and the present, The Schoolhouse is a masterful and gripping novel about childhood, secrets and trust.
SYNOPSIS: London. Nine million people. Two hundred and seventy tube stations. Every day, thousands of chance encounters, first dates, goodbyes and happy ever afters.
And for twenty years it’s been where one man and one woman can never get their timing right.
Jennifer and Nick meet as teenagers and over the next two decades, they fall in and out of love with each other. Sometimes they start kissing. Sometimes they’re just friends. Sometimes they stop speaking, but they always find their way back to each other.
But after all this time, are they destined to be together or have they finally reached the end of the line?
The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper (The Wolf Den Trilogy Book 2)
Published: May 12th Publisher: Apollo Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel
SYNOPSIS: ‘Beautiful, moving, captivating… A brilliant sequel to The Wolf Den‘ Jennifer Saint
Freed from Pompeii’s brothel. Owned as a courtesan. Determined to have revenge. Her name is Amara. What will she risk for power?
Amara has escaped her life as a slave in Pompeii’s most notorious brothel. She now has a house, fine clothes, servants – but all of these are gifts from her patron, hers for as long as she keeps her place in his affections.
As she adjusts to this new life, Amara is still haunted by her past. At night she dreams of the wolf den, and the women she left behind. By day, she is pursued by her former slavemaster. In order to be truly free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.
Amara knows she can draw strength from Venus, the goddess of love. Yet falling in love herself may prove to be her downfall.
The House with the Golden Door is the stunning second novel in Elodie Harper’s celebrated Wolf Den Trilogy, which reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.
Published: May 12th Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Regency Romance
SYNOPSIS: The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…
Kitty Talbot needs a fortune.
Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.
With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.
The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost.
Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…
Published: May 12th Publisher: Bantam Press Genre: Urban Fiction, Erotic Literature, Coming-of-Age Story, Religious Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘Follow your heart and speak your truth.’
For Samantha Miller’s young fans – her ‘girls’ – she’s everything they want to be. She’s an oracle, telling them how to live their lives, how to be happy, how to find and honour their ‘truth’.
And her career is booming: she’s just hit three million followers, her new book Chaste has gone straight to the top of the bestseller lists and she’s appearing at sell-out events.
Determined to speak her truth and bare all to her adoring fans, she’s written an essay about her sexual awakening as a teenager, with her female best friend, Lisa. She’s never told a soul but now she’s telling the world. The essay goes viral.
But then – years since they last spoke – Lisa gets in touch to say that she doesn’t remember it that way at all. Her memory of that night is far darker. It’s Sam’s word against Lisa’s – so who gets to tell the story? Whose ‘truth’ is really a lie?
‘You put yourself on that pedestal, Samantha. You only have yourself to blame.’
Riveting, compulsive and bold, IDOL interrogates our relationship with our heroes and explores the world of online influencers, asking how well we can ever really know those whose carefully curated profiles we follow online. And it asks us to consider how two memories of the same event can differ, and how effortlessly we choose which stories to believe.
Published: May 12th Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel, Lesbian Literature, LGBTQ Literature
SYNOPSIS: Pre-order this immersive, emotionally gripping novel about jealousy, loyalty, and the secrets we keep to protect those we love . . .
1955: In an apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers. Dancing behind closed curtains, mixing cocktails for two, they guard their private lives fiercely. Until someone guesses the truth . . .
1975: Twenty years later in the same apartment, Ava Winters is keeping her own secret. Her mother has become erratic, haunted by something Ava doesn’t understand – until one sweltering July morning, she disappears.
Soon after her mother’s departure, Ava receives a parcel. Addressed simply to ‘Apartment 3B’, it contains a photo of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across it. Ava does not know what it means or who sent it. But if she can find out then perhaps she’ll discover the answers she is seeking – and meet the woman at the heart of it all . . .
Published: May 12th Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Gay Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: THE DARKNESS FROM HIS PAST WILL FINALLY COME TO LIGHT
For sixteen years, DS Adam Tyler has been searching for answers to his father, Richard’s, death. Convinced it wasn’t suicide, he has been investigating the case in secret.
When a body is found in a frozen lake, linked to a cold case from 2002, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the death of his father – except Tyler knows Richard was investigating the same case shortly before he died. And Tyler doesn’t believe in coincidences.
As he throws himself into finding out what really happened that day, Tyler uncovers a string of botched investigations, mysterious disappearances and, ultimately, deep-seated police corruption. There are dangerous people who don’t want Tyler asking questions – and the truth always comes at a price.
Published: May 12th Publisher: Phoenix Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘Shot through with spirit and hope, it’s one hell of a book’ Stylist, Books You Can’t Miss in 2022
Montgomery, Alabama. 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference in her community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.
But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a tumbledown cabin, she’s surprised to find that her new patients are just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling their welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her new responsibilities, she takes India and Erica into her heart and comes to care for their family as though they were her own. But one day she arrives at their door to discover the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same.
Inspired by true events and a shocking chapter of American history, Take My Hand is a novel that will open your eyes and break your heart. An unforgettable story about love and courage, sisterhood and solidarity, it is also a timely and hopeful reminder that it only takes one person to change the world.
SYNOPSIS: THE BUNKER IS DESIGNED TO KEEP THEM ALL SAFE.
In the end, very few people made it to the bunker. Now they wait there for the outside world to heal. Wolfe is one of the lucky ones. She’s safe and employed as the bunker’s pharmacist, doling out medicine under the watchful eye of their increasingly erratic and paranoid leader.
BUT IS IT THE PLACE OF GREATEST DANGER?
But when the leader starts to ask things of Wolfe, favours she can hardly say no to, it seems her luck is running out. Forming an unlikely alliance with the young Doctor Stirling, her troubled assistant Levitt, and Canavan – a tattooed giant of a man who’s purpose in the bunker is a mystery – Wolfe must navigate the powder keg of life underground where one misstep will light the fuse. The walls that keep her safe also have her trapped.
How much more is Wolfe willing to give to stay alive?
Beautifully written and utterly gripping, The Pharmacist will be a guaranteed conversation starter when it is published.
Published: May 12th Publisher: Coronet Genre: Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The wise and gloriously big-hearted debut novel from the much-loved broadcaster, Sara Cox
Becky: a single mum who prides herself on her independence. She knows from painful experience that men are trouble. Louise: a loving husband, gorgeous kids. She ought to feel more grateful. Jameela: all she’s ever done is work hard, and try her best. Why won’t life give her the one thing she really wants? Sheila: the nest is empty, she dreams of escaping to the sun, but her husband seems so distracted.
The inhabitants of the Inventor’s Housing Estate keep themselves to themselves. There are the friendly ‘Hellos’ when commutes coincide and the odd cheeky eye roll when the wine bottles clank in number 7’s wheelie bin, but it’s not exactly Ramsay Street.
The dilapidated community centre is no longer the beating heart of the estate that Becky remembers from her childhood. So the new pottery class she’s helped set up feels like a fresh start. And not just for her.
The assorted neighbours come together to try out a new skill, under the watchful eye of their charismatic teacher, Sasha. And as the soft unremarkable lumps of clay are hesitantly, lovingly moulded into delicate vases and majestic pots, so too are the lives of four women. Concealed passions and heartaches are uncovered, relationships shattered and formed, and the possibility for transformation is revealed.
Published: May 12th Publisher: Picador Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Domestic Fiction, LGBT Literature
SYNOPSIS: Strasbourg, 1518. In the midst of a blisteringly hot summer, a lone woman begins to dance in the city square. She dances for days without pause or rest, and as she is joined by hundreds of others, the authorities declare an emergency. Musicians will be brought in to play the Devil out of these women.
Just beyond the city’s limits, pregnant Lisbet lives with her mother-in-law and husband, tending the bees that are their livelihood. And then, as the dancing plague gathers momentum, Lisbet’s sister-in-law Nethe returns from seven years’ penance in the mountains for a crime no one will name.
It is a secret that Lisbet is determined to uncover. As the city buckles under the beat of a thousand feet, she finds herself thrust into a dangerous web of deceit and clandestine passion, but she is dancing to a dangerous tune . . .
Set in an era of superstition, hysteria, and extraordinary change, and inspired by the true events of a doomed summer, The Dance Tree is an impassioned story of family secrets, forbidden love, and women pushed to the edge.
Published: May 12th Publisher: Penguin Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance
SYNOPSIS: Nora is a cut-throat literary agent at the top of her game. Her whole life is books.
Charlie is an editor with a gift for creating bestsellers. And he’s Nora’s work nemesis.
Nora has been through enough break-ups to know she’s the woman men date before they find their happy-ever-after. That’s why Nora’s sister has persuaded her to swap her desk in the city for a month’s holiday in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. It’s a small town straight out of a romance novel, but instead of meeting sexy lumberjacks, handsome doctors or cute bartenders, Nora keeps bumping into…Charlie.
She’s no heroine. He’s no hero. So can they take a page out of an entirely different book?
Published: May 12th Publisher: Trapeze Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS: She’s accused of four murders. She’s only guilty of three…
When Ruby was a child growing up in Miami, she saw a boy from her school struggling against the ocean waves while his parents were preoccupied. Instead of helping him, Ruby dove under the water and held his ankle down until he drowned. She waited to feel guilty for it, but she never did.
And, as Ruby will argue in her senior thesis while studying psychology at Yale, guilt is sort of like eating ice cream while on a diet – if you’re already feeling bad, why not eat the whole carton? And so, the bodies start to stack up.
Twenty-five years later, Ruby’s in an interrogation room under suspicion of murder, being shown four photographs. Each is a person she once knew, now deceased. The line-up includes her husband Jason. She is responsible for three of the four deaths… but it might be the crime that she didn’t commit that will finally ensnare her.
From the Emmy nominated Executive Producer of The Bold Type, this darkly funny and compulsively page-turning novel is perfect for fans of Caroline Kepnes’ You and Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister the Serial Killer.
SYNOPSIS: *FEATURING THE CHARACTERS YOU LOVED IN THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL!*
From the author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill comes a story about friends who become our chosen family, proving that, even as adults, we all need help from time time. . . Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Nina Stibbe.
When Laura Costello arrives in downtown Los Angeles, her life has somewhat fallen apart.
Her apartment building has caught fire, her engagement to her high school sweetheart has been broken off, and she’s just been caught in a rare LA downpour and has no dry clothes.
But when she seeks shelter in Nina Hill‘s local neighbourhood bookshop, she finds herself introduced to the people who will become her new family. And as Laura becomes friends with Nina, Polly and Impossibly Handsome Bob, things start to look up.
Proving that – even as adults – we all sometimes need a little help assembling and re-assembling our lives. . .
Published: May 24th Publisher: Del Rey Genre: Thriller, Horror Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Suspense, Ghost Story, Paranormal Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White, perfect for fans of Stephen King and SQUID GAME.
The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.
The prize: enough money to change everything.
Even though everyone is desperate to win – to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts – Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.
It’s the reason she’s alive, and her family isn’t.
But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.
Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.
Published: May 26th Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Police Procedural, Medical Thriller, Medical Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: My child has been taken. And I’ve been given a choice… Kill a patient on the operating table. Or never see my son again.
The man lies on the table in front of me. As a surgeon, it’s my job to save him. As a mother, I know I must kill him. You might think that I’m a monster. But there really is only one choice. I must get away with murder. Or I will never see my son again.
I’VE SAVED MANY LIVES. WOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOURS?
DON’T MISS THE HEART-STOPPING THRILLER OF 2022 #DONOHARM
Published: May 26th Publisher: Orion Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: ONCE, SHE SAVED HIS LIFE… NOW, HE’LL TAKE HERS.
When a baby is snatched from its pram and cast into the river Thames, off-duty police officer Lacey Flint is there to prevent disaster. But who would want to hurt a child?
DCI Mark Joesbury has been expecting this. Monitoring a complex network of dark web sites, Joesbury and his team have spotted a new terrorist threat from the extremist, women-hating, group known as ‘incels’ or ‘involuntary celibates.’ Joesbury’s team are trying to infiltrate the ring of power at its core, but the dark web is built for anonymity, and the incel army is vast.
Pressure builds when the team learn the snatched child was just the first in a series of violent attacks designed to terrorise women. Worse, the leaders of the movement seem to have singled out Lacey as the embodiment of everything they hate, placing her in terrible danger…
SYNOPSIS: When a middle-aged couple downsizes to the countryside for an easier life, their two daughters become isolated, argumentative and violent … A chilling, vicious and darkly funny psychological thriller from bestselling author Helen FitzGerald. ________________________________________
Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.
Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.
When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move.
But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.
This is a murder, just waiting to happen…
Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but also a startling look at sister relationships and the bonds they share … or shatter.
SYNOPSIS: Atmospheric historical novel set in 20th-century Suffragette London interweaving fact and fiction from a compelling new voice.
Lotta Rae is a young working-class woman who is viciously attacked by a wealthy gentleman. Lotta’s family are firm believers in justice, so Lotta makes the brave decision to testify in court against her attacker. The guardians of justice support her, or so it seems.
William Linden is a barrister about to lose everything. He is failing to live up to his father’s formidable reputation and if he loses one more case, how will he house, clothe and feed his wife and young son?
Both Lotta and William have decisions to make that will change the course of their lives and the lives of everyone around them for generations to come.
Notorious after her trial and unable to return to the life she had before her attack, Lotta’s quest for her own form of justice takes her from the streets of Spitalfields to a Soho brothel, into the heart of the Suffragette movement, to an unimaginable place. One she could never have foreseen.
Published: May 26th Publisher: Bantam Press Genre: Humorous Fiction, Urban Fiction, Lesbian Literature
SYNOPSIS: Nobody speaks to strangers on the train. But what would happen if they did?
Every day at 8:05, Iona Iverson boards the train to go to work. Every day, she sees the same people and makes assumptions about them, even giving them nicknames. But they never speak. Obviously.
Then, one morning, Smart-but-Sexist-Surbiton chokes on a grape right in front of Iona. Suspiciously-Nice-New Malden steps up to help and saves his life, and this one event sparks a chain reaction.
With nothing in common but their commute, an eclectic group of people learn that their assumptions about each other don’t match reality. But when Iona’s life begins to fall apart, will her new friends be there when she needs them most?
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Published: May 26th Publisher: Faber & Faber Genre: Contemporary Literature, Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel, LGBTQ Literature
SYNOPSIS: Luxuriate in this INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING novelist’s sizzling hot entrance into the world of romance…
‘Emezi is a dream of a writer. My heart soared and shook and panted.’ Bolu Babalola
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime:
Feyi is about to be given the chance to escape the City’s blistering heat for a dream island holiday: poolside cocktails, beach sunsets, and elaborate meals. And as the sun goes down on her old life our heroine also might just be ready to open her heart to someone new.
The only problem is, she’s falling for the one man she absolutely can’t have.
SYNOPSIS: Pearl Winter hasn’t been outside in forty-three years.
Since she arrived on Dartmoor as a girl, an isolated family cottage has been her whole world. A place of safety. But now fifty-nine-year-old Pearl is utterly alone – except for the postman, the local crows, and memories of the summer of 1976.
Teenager Connor Matthews feels like a stranger in his own home.
Since his mother’s death he’s been adrift from his remaining family, troubled by the reality of moving on, and unable to see a future ahead. But when Connor begins a summer job as Pearl’s gardener, an unexpected friendship opens the door to a fresh start for them both. If only Pearl and Connor can take the first steps . . .
Published: May 26th Publisher: Picador Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students – a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own . . .
When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.
And so we meet our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose husband, a charismatic professor at the same small liberal arts college, is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extramarital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder-box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
With her bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured literary debut, Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the strictures of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and surreptitiously moving, Vladimir maps the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the messy contradictions of power and desire.
Welcome to my list of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures for February. It’s another fantastic month with so many books I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a long time finally being published. There’s books from authors I’ve loved before like Marian Keyes, Beth Morrey, Eve Smith and Linwood Barclay, as well as some amazing debuts such as The Leviathan, The Hemlock Cure and The Embroidered Book.
It was hard to narrow down my list, but here are the 25 books I’m most anticipating that are released next month:
SYNOPSIS: SELECTED AS ONE OF THE OBSERVER’S 10 BEST DEBUT NOVELISTS OF 2022
A beguiling tale of superstition, myth and murder, perfect for fans of The Binding, The Essex Serpent and Once Upon a River.
SHE IS AWAKE…
Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft.
Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before.
Something has awoken, and now it will not rest.
Richly researched, incredibly atmospheric, and deliciously unsettling, The Leviathan is set in England during a time of political and religious turbulence. It is a tale of family and loyalty, superstition and sacrifice, but most of all it is a spellbinding mystery and a story of impossible things.
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: A mother. A daughter. A secret waiting to be discovered.
For too long – since the sudden death of her mother as a teenager, since the birth of her daughter, Em, when she was just seventeen – Delphine has been unable to let go of the past, obsessed with protecting Em and clinging to a secret that could ruin everything. She’s been living life in safe shades of grey.
The day that Delphine finally stands up for herself is the day that changes everything.
Delphine begins to remember what it’s like to want more: rediscovering her singing voice, opening herself to friendship, and reviving not only her mother’s roots, but her mother’s memories. As her life begins to fill with colour, can she be brave for herself and for Em? And what would happen if she finally told the truth?
A big-hearted, hopeful novel about finding second chances – and taking them.
SYNOPSIS: An expansive epic spanning the turbulent decades of Korea’s fight for independence, perfect for fans of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko
Beasts take many shapes…
It is 1917, and Korea is yet to be divided into north and south. With the threat of famine looming, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school in cosmopolitan Pyongyang, an act of desperation that will cement her place in the lowest social status. But the city’s days as a haven are numbered.
Jade flees to Seoul where she forms a deep friendship with an orphan boy called JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets. As Jade becomes a sought-after performer with unexpected romantic prospects, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence. Soon Jade must decide between following her own ambitions, or risking everything for the one she loves.
From the perfumed chambers of the courtesan school to the glamorous cafes of a modernising Seoul, the unforgettable characters of Beasts of a Little Land unveil a world where friends become enemies and enemies become saviours, where heroes are persecuted and beasts take many shapes.
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Picador Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: 1836, Prussia. Hanne is nearly fifteen and the domestic world of womanhood is quickly closing in on her. A child of nature, she yearns instead for the rush of the river, the wind dancing around her. Hanne finds little comfort in the local girls and friendship doesn’t come easily, until she meets Thea and she finds in her a kindred spirit and finally, acceptance.
Hanne’s family are Old Lutherans, and in her small village hushed worship is done secretly – this is a community under threat. But when they are granted safe passage to Australia, the community rejoices: at last a place they can pray without fear, a permanent home. Freedom.
It’s a promise of freedom that will have devastating consequences for Hanne and Thea, but, on that long and brutal journey, their bond proves too strong for even nature to break . . .
From the bestselling author of Burial Rites and The Good People, Devotion is a stunning story of girlhood and friendship, faith and suspicion, and the impossible lengths we go to for the ones we love.
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Phoenix Genre: Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours.
He knows what he’s done, and now awaits the same fate he forced on those girls, years ago. Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.
But this is not his story.
As the clock ticks down, three women uncover the history of a tragedy and the long shadow it casts. Lavender, Ansel’s mother, is a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation. Hazel, twin sister to his wife, is forced to watch helplessly as the relationship threatens to devour them all. And Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, is devoted to bringing bad men to justice but struggling to see her own life clearly.
This is the story of the women left behind.
Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes On An Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our cultural obsession with crime stories, and asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the minds of violent men.
SYNOPSIS: A missing woman. A husband suspected. The truth will … Take Your Breath Away
It’s always the husband, isn’t it?
One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn’t build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom – he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business and became a pariah in the place he had once called home.
Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He’s sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he’s not bothered. He’s settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.
But Andy’s peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, ‘Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?’ And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman – who bears a striking resemblance to Brie – is gone. The police are notified and old questions – and dark suspicions – resurface.
Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy’s future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers…
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS: She thought the murders had stopped. She was wrong.
Soon to be a major TV series, developed by Emma Stone
Chloe Davis’ father is a serial killer. He was convicted and jailed when she was twelve but the bodies of the girls were never found, seemingly lost in the surrounding Louisiana swamps. The case became notorious and Chloe’s family was destroyed.
His crimes stalk her like a shadow. Now Chloe has rebuilt her life. She’s a respected psychologist in Baton Rouge and has a loving fiancé. But she just can’t shake a tick-tick-tick of paranoia that, at any moment, it might all come crashing down.
As does something darker. It is the anniversary of her father’s crimes, and Chloe is about to see her worst fears come true – a girl she knows goes missing.
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: CHOSEN AS A BOOK OF 2022 BY VOGUE AND ESQUIRE
A bitingly honest, darkly funny debut about love, sex, power and desire, by a major new British talent
Anna is struggling to afford life in London as she trains to be a singer. During the day, she vies to succeed against her course mates with their discreet but inexhaustible streams of cultural capital and money, and in the evening she sings jazz at a bar in the City to make ends meet.
It’s there that she meets Max, a financier fourteen years older than her. Over the course of one winter, Anna’s intoxication oscillates between her hard-won moments on stage, where she can zip herself into the skin of her characters, and nights spent with Max in his glass-walled flat overlooking the city.
But Anna’s fledgling career demands her undivided attention, and increasingly – whether he necessarily wills it or not – so does Max.
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literature, Domestic Fiction, Saga, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: **A Grazia Instagram ‘IT’ book to watch out for**
‘We can’t go to the island, Bryon. We don’t really know what we’re getting into . . .’
Eleanor Bennett won’t let her own death get in the way of the truth. So when her estranged children – Byron and Benny – reunite for her funeral in California, they discover a puzzling inheritance.
First, a voice recording in which everything Byron and Benny ever knew about their family is upended. Their mother narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder, a story which cuts right to the heart of the rift that’s separated Byron and Benny.
Second, a traditional Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe with a long history that Eleanor hopes will heal the wounds of the past. Can Byron and Benny fulfil their mother’s final request to ‘share the black cake when the time is right’?
Will Eleanor’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Published: February 3rd Publisher: Bantam Press Genre: Dark Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Fantasy Series
SYNOPSIS: And then there were three . . .
Three years ago, the sisters confronted their demon father in that strange other-world called Everwhere. It was a battle that ended in a devastating loss, and the scars they carry seem to have slowly pushed the sisters apart . . .
One sister, still raw with grief, is now a near recluse but determined to use her powers to resurrect what she has lost.
Another has made the journey to learn more of her family, her culture and her roots.
And another seems to have turned her back on what she is and opted to lead a more normal life.
But now the sisters are about to be brought together once more. Because when the clock strikes midnight, when October ticks into November, when autumn wilts into winter, when All Hallows’ Eve becomes All Saints’ Day, the sisters Grimm will turn twenty-one and reach the zenith of their powers.
And on this night, at this time, in this place called Everwhere, anything is possible . . .
SYNOPSIS: It is 1665 and the women of Eyam keep many secrets.
Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about Wulfric, the pious, reclusive apothecary.
Mae, Wulfric’s youngest daughter, dreads her father’s rage if he discovers what she keeps from him. Like her feelings for Rafe, Isabel’s ward, or that she studies from Wulfric’s forbidden books at night.
But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.
When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unspeakable peril.
And meanwhile another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all . . .
Based on the real history of an English village during the Great Plague, The Hemlock Cure is an utterly beguiling tale of fear and ambition, betrayal, self-sacrifice and the unbreakable bond between two women.
Published: February 10th Publisher: Hutchinson Heinemann Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Listen to my history. My adventures are worth hearing. I have lived many lifetimes and been loved by emperors, kings and thieves. I have survived kidnap and assault. Revolution and two world wars. But this is also a love story. And the story of what we will do for those we love.
In Leonardo da Vinci’s studio, bursting with genius imagination, towering commissions and needling patrons, as well as discontented muses, friends and rivals, sits the painting of the Mona Lisa. For five hundred tumultuous years, amid a whirlwind of power, money, intrigue, the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo is sought after and stolen.
Over the centuries, few could hear her voice, but now she is ready to tell her own story, in her own words – a tale of rivalry, murder and heartbreak. Weaving through the years, she takes us from the dazzling world of Florentine studios to the French courts at Fontainebleau and Versailles, and into the Twentieth Century.
I, Mona Lisa is a deliciously vivid, compulsive and illuminating story about the lost and forgotten women throughout history.
House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City 2) by Sarah J. Maas
Published: February 15th Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Romantic Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy Series
SYNOPSIS: Sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller. Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, groundbreaking CRESCENT CITY series continues with this second installment.
Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar have made a pact. As they process the events of the Spring they will keep things . platonic . until the Solstice. But can they resist when the crackling tension between them is enough to set the whole of Crescent City aflame?
And they are not out of danger yet. Dragged into a rebel movement they want no part of, Bryce, Hunt and their friends find themselves pitted against the terrifying Asteri – whose notice they must avoid at all costs. But as they learn more about the rebel cause, they face a choice: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.
In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode – and the people who will do anything to save it.
SYNOPSIS: When a one-night stand leads to a long-desired pregnancy, Susan will do anything to ensure her husband won’t find out … including the unthinkable. But when something horrendous is unleashed around the globe, her secret isn’t the only thing that is no longer safe…
A longed-for baby An unthinkable decision A deadly mistake
In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…
Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now.
But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…
Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, disturbing blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one modification away…
Published: February 17th Publisher: Harper Voyager Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Romantic Fantasy, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: Brimming with romance, betrayal, and enchantment, The Embroidered Book reveals and reimagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before.
‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’
1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.
The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.
In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.
But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.
Published: February 17th Publisher: Manilla Press Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory
In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .
October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.
Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .
THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.
Published: February 17th Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Contemporary Romance, Domestic Ficiton
SYNOPSIS: Twenty-five years after the iconic, 1.5 million-copy bestseller Rachel’s Holiday burst into our lives, Rachel’s BACK!
Pre-order Marian Keyes’ hilarious, heart-warming sequel, Again, Rachel, NOW.
Back in the long ago nineties, Rachel Walsh was a mess.
But a spell in rehab transformed everything. Life became very good, very quickly. These days, Rachel has love, family, a great job as an addiction counsellor, she even gardens. Her only bad habit is a fondness for expensive trainers.
But with the sudden reappearance of a man she’d once loved, her life wobbles.
She’d thought she was settled. Fixed forever. Is she about to discover that no matter what our age, everything can change?
A Good Day to Die (Pretty Boy Thriller Bool 1) by Amen Alogne
Published: February 17th Publisher: Quercus Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Meet Pretty Boy. Vengeance is on his mind.
His real name: Unknown
His code of conduct: Don’t be a pawn in someone else’s game. Never underestimate the enemy. Above all, survive. There is no glory in death.
His mission: It’s been ten years since Pretty Boy left the big city – today he’s back. No one knows why, but it’s clear that revenge is on his mind: he is determined to make the person responsible for his exile from the London scene finally pay. But his plans seem derailed when he takes possession of a bracelet, unaware that its original owner has set a high price for its safe return. Suddenly, the hunter becomes the hunted and Pretty Boy will have to find out if it is indeed a ‘good day to die’.
Jam-packed with action, an unforgettable cast of characters and peppered with dry humour, A Good Day to Die marks the arrival of a fresh and exciting new voice in thriller writing.
SYNOPSIS: Deep in the French countryside, inside the walls of a family chateau, a remarkable legacy awaits . . .
From the international bestselling author comes an escapist, glamorous tale spanning generations & sweeping from Burgundy to Greece and beyond . . .
ONE FAMILY THREE GENERATIONS SOME SECRETS NEVER DIE . . .
Elise would do anything to inherit Sainte Madeleine, the vineyard that’s been home to the Salignacs for generations. Only Laurent Senard, a distant cousin, is a rival for her heart – yet when a family rift sends her on a new and dangerous path, she risks losing them both . . .
Alexandre, Elise’s brother, can’t bear to see their capricious father put the vineyard – and Alex’s birthright – in jeopardy. He leaves to carve out his own fortune in the rich hills of Napa, California. But will turning his back on the chateau be his biggest mistake?
Laurent Senard’s love for Elise was planted at Sainte Madeleine long ago. But with the shadow of war sweeping over Europe, Laurent must leave France to fight. Through the years of longing, secrecy and tragedy that follow, he vows to find his way back – if only it isn’t too late . . .
Sweeping through the 1920s to WWII and beyond, this is the story of the Salignac family – the loves that bind them, the secrets that threaten to divide them, and the chateau that will always call them home.
Published: February 22nd Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Myth and Legend
SYNOPSIS: Don’t chase fate. Let fate chase you.
For generations, deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curse them with death and despair. To appease him, each year a maiden is thrown into the sea, in the hopes that one day the ‘true bride’ will be chosen and end the suffering.
Many believe Shim Cheong – Mina’s brother’s beloved – to be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is sacrificed, Mina’s brother follows her, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.
Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina finds the Sea God, trapped in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man and a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits, Mina sets out to wake him and bring an end to the storms once and for all.
But she doesn’t have much time: a human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking . . .
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a magical feminist retelling of a classic Korean legend, perfect for fans of Uprooted and Miyazaki’s SpiritedAway.
Published: February 22nd Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From debut author Carolyn Tara O’Neil comes a thrilling alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.
Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war–the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible–not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna’s offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.
Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now–regardless of her loyalties–Evgenia is too.
Daughters of a Dead Empire is a harrowing historical thriller about dangerous ideals, inequality, and the price we pay for change. An imaginative retelling of the Anastasia story.
A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.
Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.
Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…
A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.
It’s the start of a new year and with all the Most Anticipated of 2022 lists I’m late sharing my first Emma’s Anticipated Treasures of 2022 and what January releases I’m most excited about.
January is a great month for new books. The 20th is particularly full of new releases that I’m excited for and it was tricky getting this list down to ‘just’ 26 books.
So without further ado, here are the books I’m looking forward to most that are released this month:
The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman
Published: January 4th Publisher: Hot Key Books Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Four siblings. A country in ruin. One quest to save them all.
Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic – a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict – she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.
Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumoured to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by broken relationships and the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key – and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political and unwanted marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani, needs it to clear his name. And Riya, the runaway sibling who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who took her in.
They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harbouring secrets and their own conflicting agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family – and their world – for good.
First in a duology from an incredible new talent, this Indian-inspired fantasy debut is epic, fierce and magnetically addictive, taking you on a thrilling journey where magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war.
Published: January 6th Publisher: HQ Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton, Kate Mosse and Kiran Millwood Hargrave
When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history.
Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape.
Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets.
As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past?
Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child
Published: January 6th Publisher: Doubleday Genre: Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: SEX AND THE CITY with a killer edge for fans of QUEENIE, EXPECTATION and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER
SOON TO BE A MAJOR BBC TV SERIAL ————
Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English. Not all of them choose to see it that way.
Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.
When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.
Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.
Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.
Published: January 6th Publisher: Zaffre Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Ghost Story, Historical Mystery, War Story
SYNOPSIS: A gripping, unsettling mystery with a classic feel, for fans of Agatha Christie
The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .
January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.
Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.
Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?
A haunting, atmospheric mystery set against the raw Irish landscape in a country divided, The Winter Guest is the perfect chilling read.
For Lara and her daughter Eliza, it has always been just the two of them. But when Eliza turns eighteen and wants to connect with her father, Lara is forced to admit a secret that she has been keeping from her daughter her whole life.
Eliza needs answers – and so does Lara. Their journey to the truth will take them on a road trip across England and eventually to New York, where it all began. Dreams might have been broken and opportunities missed, but there are still surprises in store…
Anything Could Happen is a warm, wise, funny and uplifting novel about love, second chances and the unexpected and extraordinary paths life can take us down.
Published: January 11th Publisher: Picador Genre: Historical Ficftion, Dystopian Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From the author of the modern classic A Little Life, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.
‘To Paradise becomes unputdownable . . . Amidst the worst travails and political pressures, the primacy of human bonds is irreducible, a truth that lies at the heart of this frightening and very beautiful novel.’ –Literary Review
‘To Paradise is a transcendent, visionary novel of stunning scope and depth. A novel so layered, so rich, so relevant, so full of the joys and terrors – the pure mystery – of human life, is not only rare, it’s revolutionary.’ – Michael Cunningham
In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him – and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.
To Paradise is a fin–de–siecle novel of marvellous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love – partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens – and the pain that ensues when we cannot.
SYNOPSIS: INSPIRED BY THE WOMAN WHO FOUNDED SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY
The captivating story of a trailblazing young woman who fought against incredible odds to bring one of the most important books of the twentieth century to the world. For readers of The Paris Library and The Paris Wife.
Young, bookish Sylvia Beach knows there is no greater city in the world than Paris. But when she opens an English-language bookshop on the bohemian Left Bank, Sylvia can’t yet know she is making history.
Many leading writers of the day, from Ernest Hemingway to Gertrude Stein, consider Shakespeare and Company a second home. Here some of the most profound literary friendships blossom – and none more so than between James Joyce and Sylvia herself.
When Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Sylvia determines to publish it through Shakespeare and Company. But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous book of the century comes at deep personal cost as Sylvia risks ruin, reputation and her heart in the name of the life-changing power of books…
Published: January 13th Publisher: Viper Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS: It’s time to solve the murder of the century…
Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.
Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?
Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…
Perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Alex Pavesi and S.J. Bennett, The Twyford Code will keep you up puzzling late into the night.
SYNOPSIS: I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unravelling from an upper window, and the terrace bathed in a hectic orange light . . . Now I see that the decision I made at Polneath was the only decision of my life. Everything marred in that one dark minute.
By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.
For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.
But once you open a door to the past, can you ever truly close it again?
From the award-winning author of The Witchfinder’s Sister comes a captivating story of burning secrets and buried shame, and of the loyalty and love that rises from the ashes.
SYNOPSIS: A ground-breaking debut novel that combines the investigatory pleasures of a legal drama with a provocative and literary exploration of the limits of empathy ‘I loved this highly original and compelling story’ Cathy Rentzenbrink
You are about to enter a novel formed of documents and evidence. Here is the blog of a nurse on a dialysis ward attempting to live in the aftermath of bringing a rape trial to court in which the defendant was exonerated. Here are the transcripts of the police interviews with her, and the accused, the emails and texts between them submitted for trial; his journal, his conversations on 4chan, his drama scripts, him, him, him. How will the nurse, Corina, ever get him out of her head?
This is a highly original debut novel that will win plaudits for its inventiveness at the same time as it compels the reader with the pleasures of suspense and family drama. Provocative, blackly funny and moving, it announces a new voice unlike any other.
Published: January 20th Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: I am your maid. I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry. But what do you know about me?
Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?
Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology Book 1) by Sue Lynn Tan
Published: January 20th Publisher: Harper Voyager UK Genre: Fairy Tale, High Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.
A young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm, setting her on a dangerous path where those she loves are not the only ones at risk…
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies, across the earth and skies.
But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream —striking a dangerous bargain, where she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice — where love vies with honour, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.
Published: January 20th Publisher: Mantle Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS; In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance. I’m no Hercule Poirot. I’m her husband’s mistress.
Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.
Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.
After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.
Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .
The Christie Affair is a stunning novel which reimagines the unexplained eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 that captivated the world.
SYNOPSIS: Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.
In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.
Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.
Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.
And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…
Published: January 20th Publisher: Century Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS: November 1924. The Endeavour sets sail to New York with 2,000 passengers – and a killer – on board . . .
When an elderly gentleman is found dead at the foot of a staircase, ship’s officer Timothy Birch is ready to declare it a tragic accident. But James Temple, a strong-minded Scotland Yard inspector, is certain there is more to this misfortune than meets the eye.
Birch agrees to investigate, and the trail quickly leads to the theft of a priceless painting. Its very existence is known only to its owner . . . and the dead man.
With just days remaining until they reach New York, and even Temple’s purpose on board the Endeavour proving increasingly suspicious, Birch’s search for the culprit is fraught with danger.
And all the while, the passengers continue to roam the ship with a killer in their midst . . .
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins
Published: January 20th Publisher: Riverrun Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A darkly funny, soul-rending novel of love in an epoch of collapse-one woman’s furious revisiting of family, marriage, work, sex, and motherhood.
Since my baby was born, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. a) As much as I ever did. b) Not quite as much now. c) Not so much now. d) Not at all. Leaving behind her husband and their baby daughter, a writer gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump and a spiraling case of postpartum depression. Her temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends mutates into an extended romp away from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the past. Deep in the Mojave Desert where she grew up, she meets her ghosts at every turn: the first love whose self-destruction still haunts her; her father, a member of the most famous cult in American history; her mother, whose native spark gutters with every passing year. She can’t go back in time to make any of it right, but what exactly is her way forward? Alone in the wilderness, at last she begins to make herself at home in the world.
Bold, tender, and often hilarious, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness reaffirms Watkins as one of the single writers of our time.
Published: January 20th Publisher: HQ Genre: Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, LGBT Literature
SYNOPSIS: They all have opinions. They all have secrets.
In a small town like West Burntridge, it should be impossible to keep a secret.
Rachel Saunders knows gossip is the price you pay for a rural lifestyle and outstanding schools. The latest town scandal is her divorce – and the fact that her new girlfriend has moved into the family home.
Laura Spence lives in a poky bedsit on the wrong side of town. She and her son Max don’t really belong, and his violent tantrums are threatening to expose the very thing she’s trying to hide.
When the local school introduces a new inclusive curriculum, Rachel and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of a fearsome debate.
But the problem with having your nose in everyone else’s business is that you often miss what is happening in your own home.
SYNOPSIS: 1965. A young white female student becomes involved in the fight for civil rights in North Carolina, falling in love with one of her fellow activists, a Black man, in a time and place where an interracial relationship must be hidden from family, friends and especially the reemerging Ku Klux Klan. As tensions rise in the town, she realises not everyone is who they appear to be.
2010. A recently widowed architect moves into the home she and her late husband designed, heartbroken that he will never cross the threshold. But when disturbing things begin to happen, it’s clear that someone is sending her a warning. Who is trying to frighten her away, and why?
Decades later, past and present are set to collide in the last house on the street…
WINNER OF THE 2020 PRIX GONCOURT. 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD. AN INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON.
What do you do if your life is no longer your own?
When flight Air France 006 enters a terrifying storm, the plane – inexplicably – duplicates. For every passenger on board that day, there are now two – a double with the same mind, body and memories.
Just one thing sets them apart. One plane leaves the storm in March. The other doesn’t land until June. For world leaders, the emergence of the June flight raises serious alarms. No science, faith, or protocol can explain this unprecedented event.
But for the passengers, a bigger question is at stake. What happens to them, now that their life is shared? What happens to those who land in June, when their March doubles make decisions that will change their lives forever?
And as the doubles prepare to meet, they have an extraordinary decision to make.
If there are two of them, and just one life . . . who gets to live it?
Published: January 20th Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘A tour de force of engaged storytelling. With heart-wrenching pathos, The Gosling Girl delineates the bleak aftermath for all concerned when one child kills another’ Peter Kalu
Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again.
When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.
Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done.
The Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is co-opted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.
SYNOPSIS: When we go through something impossible, someone, or something, will help us, if we let them . . .
It is October 1966 and William Lavery is having the night of his life at his first black-tie do. But, as the evening unfolds, news hits of a landslide at a coal mine. It has buried a school: Aberfan.
William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job as an embalmer, and it will be one he never forgets.
His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to forget. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because – as William discovers – giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves
Published: January 25th Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: One extraordinary woman. One hundred years of history. One unforgettable story.
Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first daughter in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.
Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.
In a letter to someone she loves above all others, Violeta recounts devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy, and a life shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics. Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humour will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
SYNOPSIS: ‘Weaves together Ancient Greek myth with suspenseful mystery and beguiling romance…utterly irresistible’ Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
A pure pleasure of a novel set in Georgian London, where the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations and romance.
Perfect for readers who loved The Binding and The Essex Serpent.
London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.
But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.
Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.
SYNOPSIS: You’re on your honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort.
You receive a note warning you to ‘Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours’. At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or further away than any of the others. It’s as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless – but why would anyone do that?
You have no idea.
You also don’t know that you’re about to be murdered, or that once you’re dead, all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could possibly have committed the crime.
So who might be trying to warn you? And who might be about to commit the perfect impossible murder?
How amazing do these sound? I’m fortunate to have already read The Maid and will be a VIP host during Tandem’s 100-strong readalong. It’s going to be a big hit! I am also on the blog tours for a number of these books. So keep an eye out for those reviews.
Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments.