2018 was a fantastic year for new books, and 2019 promises more of the same. Here are ten of my most anticipated reads of the year. This list is by no means exhaustive, but if I were to list all of the books I’m looking forward to this year, it would probably be 2020 by the time I’d finished! 😀
Red Snow by Will Dean (Point Blank, 10 January)
One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?
Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.
Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?
The Binding by Bridget Collins (The Borough Press, 10 January)
Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.
The Binding is an unforgettable, magical novel: a boundary-defying love story and a unique literary event.
The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Zaffre, 7 February)
In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.
Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.
As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?
Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.
Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.
The Island by Ragnar Jónasson (Michael Joseph, 4 April)
Elliðaey is an isolated island off the coast of Iceland. It is has a beautiful, unforgiving terrain and is an easy place to vanish.
The Island is the second thrilling book in Ragnar Jonasson’s Hidden Iceland trilogy. This time Hulda is at the peak of her career and is sent to investigate what happened on Elliðaey after a group of friends visited but one failed to return.
Could this have links to the disappearance of a couple ten years previously out on the Westfjords? Is there a killer stalking these barren outposts?
Written with Ragnar’s haunting and suspenseful prose The Island follows Hulda’s journey to uncover the island’s secrets and find the truth hidden in its darkest shadows.
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (Head of Zeus, 4 April)
“Something has been let loose…”
In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.
When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.
Maud’s battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father’s past.
Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl’s longing to fly free.
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes (Mantle, 2 May)
This was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them…
In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash…
The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across oceans and sky in between. These are the stories of the women embroiled in that legendary war and its terrible aftermath, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all…
Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls and goddesses who, for so long, have been silent.
The Furies by Katie Lowe (Harper Collins, 2 May)
You’d kill to be one of them.
1998. A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing. No known cause of death.
Four girls know what happened.
And until now they’ve kept their silence.
Violet is returning home, back to the sleepy coastal town which holds so many memories.
In 1998, after a tragic accident claimed the lives of her father and sister, she joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls’ school with an unpleasant history of 17th century witch trials.
There she is drawn to Robin, Grace, Alex and their charismatic teacher, Annabel; she is invited to join them in their advanced study group.
There they learn about art, literature and the grisly history of the school. Though Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, she warns them off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology. However, the more the girls learn, the more they start to believe that magic is real, and that together they can harness it.
But when the body of a former member of the society is found on campus nine months after the she disappeared, fingers are pointed at those closest to her. Leading Violet to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.
Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff (Harper Voyager, 5 September)
A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.
The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.
Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Chatto & Windus, 10 September)
The wait is over
And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her – freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ Margaret Atwood
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker, 5 November)
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues – a bee, a key and a sword – that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians – it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose – in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
What books are you looking forward to reading in 2019?