2020, and it looks set to be another excellent year of books! I’ve tried to put together a list of ten books that I’m particularly looking forward to reading this year.
It’s not deliberate, but there’s a strong blue theme running through these covers. It pleases me all the more for being accidental! 🙂
Pine by Francine Toon
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.
Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.
In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.
Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern Gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.
Pine ticks a lot of boxes for me – the small-town setting, mysteries, a touch of Gothic… I’ll be sharing my review of Pine as part of the blog tour later this month. Pine is published by Doubleday on 23 January.
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.
Now the women must fend for themselves.
Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilised world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.
Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.
I enjoy historical fiction, and the setting and the inspiration for the novel make this a very appealing read. The Mercies is published by Picador on 6 February 2020.
The Foundling by Stacey Halls
Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything…
London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.
Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.
From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds…
I adored Halls’ debut, The Familiars and it was one of my top reads of 2019. This second novel sounds just as intriguing, and I can’t wait to read it. The Foundling is published by Manilla Press on 6 February 2020.
The Deep by Alma Katsu
Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.
Deaths and disappearances have plagued the vast liner from the moment she began her maiden voyage on 10 April 1912. Four days later, caught in what feels like an eerie, unsettling twilight zone, some passengers – including millionaire Madeleine Astor and maid Annie Hebbley – are convinced that something sinister is afoot. And then disaster strikes.
Four years later and the world is at war. Having survived that fateful night, Annie is now a nurse on board the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. And she is about to realise that those demons from her past and the terrors of that doomed voyage have not finished with her yet…
Bringing together Faustian pacts, the occult, tales of sirens and selkies with themes of guilt and revenge, desire and destiny, The Deep offers a thrilling, tantalising twist on one of the world’s most famous tragedies.
I loved The Hunger which gave a supernatural twist to the tale of the ill-fated Donner Party. A similar vibe for the Titanic?! Yes please! The Deep is published by Bantam Press on 3 March 2020 as an eBook, and 5 March 2020 in hardback.
Q by Christina Dalcher
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.
Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.
Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.
But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…
VOX is another novel that I loved, and I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that Dalcher’s follow up is due for publication this year. Q is published by HQ on 30 April 2020.
The Mist by Ragnar Jónasson
1987. An isolated farmhouse in the east of Iceland.
The snowstorm should have shut everybody out. But it didn’t.
The couple should never have let him in. But they did.
An unexpected guest, a liar, a killer. Not all will survive the night. And Detective Hulda will be haunted forever.
I loved both The Darkness and The Island, the first two instalments of this trilogy told in reverse chronological order. To say I have high hopes for The Mist doesn’t even begin to cover it. The Mist is published by Michael Joseph on 30 April 2020.
The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith
Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’… hospitals where no one ever gets well.
Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.
Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.
I’m really excited about this novel, which offers a mystery set in a distinctly dystopian future. The Waiting Rooms is published by Orenda Books on 9 May 2020 as an eBook and 9 July 2020 in paperback.
The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joël Dicker
A twisting new thriller from the author of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.
In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of two brutal murders.
Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and arrest the murderer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.
But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still out there, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been proved horribly true.
What happened to Stephanie Mailer?
What did she know?
And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair was outstanding, and I can’t wait to read this latest novel of Dicker’s to be translated into English. The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer is published by MacLehose Press on 28 May 2020.
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
From the brothels and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham, as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget…
Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know…
Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s debut, Blood & Sugar, was another of my favourite novels of 2019, and I can’t wait to read her second novel. It sounds excellent. Daughters of Night is published by Mantle on 25 June 2020.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.
The outstanding new novel from Stuart Turton, author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
I couldn’t find a better blurb for this novel than the one above, but to be honest, I’m not that concerned. Murder, detectives, demons? Colour me intrigued. Turton’s debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was outstanding and my favourite book of the year for 2018, so I was always going to pick up his second novel when available. The Devil and the Dark Water is published by Raven Books on 1 October 2020.
So, there you have ten of my most eagerly awaited reads for 2020. Intrigued by any of the above? Do let me know!
Publication dates are correct at time of writing – please don’t hate me if they change! 😀