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21 of the best fiction books to give as gifts this Christmas

21 of the best fiction books to give as gifts this Christmas

From epic fantasy and dark thrillers to immersive illustrated classics and short story collections, we’ve rounded up some of this year’s best fiction to gift your friends and loved ones this Christmas.

Dystopian & Post-Apocalyptic fiction

Wayward by Chuck Wendig

Many readers discovered a new favourite author when they read Chuck Wendig’s 2019 bestseller Wanderers. Now he’s back with Wayward, an intricately woven and richly detailed sequel that picks up the epic journey of the remnants of society struggling in the aftermath of a malady that led to the end of the world. Exploring how humanity can seek to rebuild in the wake of such devastation, this thought provoking and suspenseful book serves to reaffirm why Wendig is considered a natural successor to Stephen King. (Del Rey)

Poster Girl by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth is no stranger to dystopian fiction. Yet Poster Girl, the author’s second adult fantasy book, cements her place as one of the genre’s most influential voices. It follows Sonya Kantor, the titular former poster girl of a toppled oppressive regime, who’s offered a chance to earn her freedom from imprisonment if she finds a missing girl stolen from her parents. But to gain redemption, Sonya must delve into the past and her family’s dark part in it. The story is both haunting and disconcerting, offering an astute social commentary on surveillance, obedience, complicity and justice. (Hodder & Stoughton)

Immersive Fantasy

Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

The second installment in Victoria Aveyard’s Realm Breaker series reunites readers with the story’s band of unlikely outcast heroes – including a former squire, an immortal, a pirate’s daughter and an assassin – as they attempt to save the realm and stop the Queen-led rival forces from razing the kingdoms to the ground. Featuring corpse armies, otherworldly beasts, sorcerers and the kind of epic peril you’d find in a Tolkien novel, Blade Breaker is an ambitious sequel with stellar world building. Pure fantasy heaven. (Orion)

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The words ‘TikTok sensation’ don’t always signify a good book. But in the case of Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six, it really is sensational. An intelligent and addictive tale of secrets, seduction, passion and betrayal, it takes place against the backdrop of a contest to join the secretive Alexandrian Society, who guard lost knowledge from ancient civilisations. Power and prestige awaits the recruits but first they’ll need to prove themselves. Full of mystery, magic and devious characters (not to mention some gorgeous artwork by Little Chmura), this is the perfect book for anyone who loves dark academia. (Tor)

Regency Faerie Tales by Olivia Atwater

A whimsical blend of history and fantasy, Olivia Atwater’s Regency Faerie Tales series is an utter delight. From the warm and witty Half a Soul, which gives Bridgerton a run for its money, to the Cinderella-esque Ten Thousand Stitches and the queer romance Longshadow, these books offer a complete escape from everyday life. They don’t take themselves too seriously but neither are they airy . If you’re looking for a trio of books that are chock full of heart, wit and charm, you’ve found it. (Orbit)

Gods & Superheroes

Loki by Melvin Burgess

Melvin Burgess’ debut adult novel takes readers on a journey through Norse mythology as told by the legendary trickster Loki. A contemporary retelling that delights in bending minds, it explores tales that are both familiar and less well known; tales of patriarchal and all-powerful gods; stories of monsters and corruption, love and jealousy. In true Loki form, it’s a mischievous, unpredictable and clever book that breathes new life into an already fascinating character and godly race. (Coronet)

Black Panther: Panther’s Rage by Sheree Renée Thomas

With the recent cinema release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it’s an ideal time to delve into new adaptations of the legendary superhero. In Sheree Renée Thomas’ Panther’s Rage, T’Challa returns to Wakanda to find discontent and rebellion brewing in his people. When his mentor is murdered, T’Challa must channel the strength of his bloodline to tackle his foes – including Erik Killmonger. This prose reimagining of the original comic series by Don McGregor, Rich Buckler and Billy Graham adds another dimension to the Black Panther/Marvel universe and makes a great collector’s edition too. (Titan Books)

Collector’s Classics & Short Story Collections

The Bell Jar: The Illustrated Edition by Sylvia Plath (Illustrated by Beya Rebaï)

Faber’s illustrated edition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is a true thing of beauty. Offering a glimpse into mental illness and 1950’s society, this seminal, semi-autobiographical novel proves to be just as popular and relevant now as it was when it was originally published almost sixty years ago. Plath’s only novel deserves a place in any classic book lover’s home and this edition, featuring atmospheric artwork by Beya Rebaï, is one that should be treasured. (Faber & Faber)

The Six Who Came To Dinner by Anne Youngson

This short story collection from Anne Youngson, whose debut novel Meet Me At The Museum was shortlisted for the Costa Best First Novel Award, features six mysteries that revel in the darker side of humanity. From a reimagining of a famous Irish ballad, to a vengeful dinner party with more on the menu than a simple roast, these stories are full of grisly deeds, complicated motives and surprising suspects. They’re easy to dip in and out of, but curl up with this book under a blanket and you’re more likely to inhale them in a single sitting. (Doubleday)


Skip To The End by Molly James

Amy Daniels has a unique gift – if you can really call it that. When she kisses someone, she sees in vivid detail how their relationship will end. Screaming arguments, emails sent to the wrong recipient, escaping from bathroom windows. Amy has seen it all and she’s given up trying to change the future. But when she drunkenly kisses three men at a wedding, she sees three possible endings. Two bad, one perfect. The problem is, Amy can’t remember who she kissed and which ending belongs to which person… Skip To The End is the kind of poignant and heart-warming novel that reels you in and keeps you hooked until the end. An all-round lovely read. (Quercus)

When Gracie Met The Grump by Mariana Zapata

Mariana Zapata has gained a reputation as the Queen of the slow-burn romance, and When Gracie Met The Grump is only going to secure that title even more. Combining slow-building romance with a Smallville style superhero twist, this novel follows Gracie Castro as she discovers a half-naked superbeing in her yard who just happens to need her help. But when that superbeing is grouchy, rude and stubborn as hell, it’s not quite a dream-come-true scenario. Fans of the grumpy x sunshine trope will find plenty to love with this book, which is the banter-filled superhero romance you didn’t know you needed in your life. (Headline Eternal)


Suicide Thursday by Will Carver

Eli Hagin isn’t good at finishing things. He can’t quit the job he hates. He can’t end things with his girlfriend. And he can never get past the first chapter of the books he attempts to write. But when his best friend Mike kills himself, Eli discovers a newfound motivation to finally end something. Except Eli has trouble separating reality from fiction, and the most recent chapters of his book might not be as fictitious as they’re supposed to be. ‘Dark’ is a word that encapsulates most of of Will Carver’s books, but so is the word ‘brilliant’. And Suicide Thursday is no exception. Told from multiple perspectives, this is perceptive and twisted in equal measure. (Orenda Books)

Keep It In The Family by John Marrs

From the author of the Netflix adapted The One comes this twisty tale of a couple whose dream of turning a derelict house into their first home together dissolves into a nightmare. Whilst renovating the house and preparing for the arrival of their baby, Mia and Finn find a message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. The clue leads to a shocking discovery that reveals their dream home was once a house of horrors. As she struggles to focus on her new baby, Mia can’t shake her fixation with what happened in their house. But she’s not the only one with a worrying obsession. If you’re seeking chills as well as psychological thrills, John Marrs’ Keep It In The Family has all the ingredients to keep you gripped to every single page. (Thomas & Mercer)


The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

The second book in Sarah Pearse’s Detective Elin Warner series sees the DS called to an eco-wellness retreat on an island off the coast of Devon. Once the playground of a serial killer, the island – known locally as Reaper’s Rock – is rumoured to be cursed; a rumour that’s further fuelled when the body of a woman is found on the rocks. With an unnerving pattern emerging, Elin suspects there’s nothing accidental about the deaths she’s investigating. To find the killer and stop history repeating itself, Elin must figure out why someone is targeting the retreat. And more importantly, who the next target might be. An atmospheric and tense whodunnit that guarantees you’ll be reading way into the night. (Bantam Press)

See Also

The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas

Readers have been raving about Claire Douglas’ spine-chilling mystery about three girls who went missing in a rural Wiltshire town. Twenty-years ago, four girls were driving home when their car crashed. Three of the passengers inexplicably disappeared, leaving only Olivia Rutherford to be found. Over two decades later, journalist Jenna Halliday is covering the case but the locals aren’t happy with a stranger digging into the dark secrets of their town. Least of all Olivia. A twisty plot and unnerving undertones make this an unforgettable read. (Penguin)

Historical Fiction

Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory

The third book in Philippa Gregory’s Fairmile series once again explores the lesser-known women of history, this time with Queen Mary of Modena, the second wife of King James II. Taking place in 1685 on the brink of a renewed civil war, and set between the palaces of London, the tidelands of Fowlmire and the shores of Barbados, Dawnlands further delves into Britain’s royal court, revealing the political intrigue, ambitions, alliances and rebellions that shaped history. (Simon & Schuster)

The Empire by Michael Ball

Michael Ball has been bringing people joy and magic with musical theatre for years. Now he’s charming readers with a debut novel of glitz, glamour and high society. Set in 1922 against a dazzling theatrical backdrop, The Empire follows a collection of colourful characters – both on stage and behind the scenes – as the future of their beloved theatre is threatened. It’s too easy to lose yourself in the razzle-dazzle of this romantic historical novel, which is written with heart, humour and an infectious love of all things theatre. (Zaffre)

The Best of the Rest

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman is known for his offbeat stories, as well his perceptive insight into human nature. This third and final book in the Swedish author’s Beartown series sees the residents of the local community struggling to overcome past events, whilst change continues to creep up on them. At over 600 pages, this is a book packed with thought-provoking questions. What makes a family? What holds together a community? And most importantly, what are the residents willing to sacrifice to protect their home? Sad and funny at the same time, this is a fitting end to a beloved trilogy. (Simon & Schuster)

My Soul Twin by Nino Haratischvili

The follow-up to Nino Haratischvili’s bestselling The Eighth Life is billed as a modern day Wuthering Heights and it’s certainly a worthy comparison. The story centres around Stella and Ivo, and the reunion of their unconventional family. Like Cathy and Heathcliff, these two characters have a complicated relationship and an even more complicated history. Brought together as children, they return to one another as adults, embarking on a journey to uncover truth and understanding. This is a multi-layered and complex tale of toxic relationships, the bonds that bind people, and how the past shapes the present. (Scribe UK)

Square One by Nell Frizzell

Square One follows Hanna who, by thirty, expected to have her life together. Instead, she’s in reverse. Not only is she single and has been forced to move in with her father, but she’s inundated with wedding invitations and pregnancy news from her friends. With the pressure to keep up, can Hanna figure out what she really wants from life? Up until earlier this year, Nell Frizzell was best known for her entertaining columns and insightful non-fiction. Given how witty, smart and relatable her writing is, it’s hardly a surprise that her debut novel is all those things and more. (Bantam Press)

Infamous by Lex Croucher

Lex Croucher’s debut novel, Reputation, was a historical rom-com romp and an absolute joy to read. Their second foray into Regency romance sees aspiring writer Edith ‘Eddie’ Miller as she’s invited into a world of eccentric artists and indulgent hedonism. Having been ‘betrayed’ by her best friend Rose, who’s started talking about marriage to a man, Eddie is determined to make a name for herself as a novelist. But she’s about to discover that keeping up with the literati isn’t all poems and pleasure… Witty and entertaining with sparky dialogue, this is every bit as good as the book that came before. (Zaffre)

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