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Fiction Gift Guide: The Best Books To Give The Readers In Your Life This Christmas

Fiction Gift Guide: The Best Books To Give The Readers In Your Life This Christmas

Looking for some gift inspiration for the reader in your life? We’ve got you covered with our gift guide featuring a selection of our favourite fiction to hit shelves this year. From captivating books for younger readers to the best in romance, thrillers, fantasy and historical fiction, there’s something for every bookish taste.

Best Books For Kids:

Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell

Just announced as Waterstones Book of the Year, Impossible Creatures is a fantastical wonder of a book for ages 9+. It follows a boy called Christopher who learns of a cluster of magical islands where all the creatures of myth live, breed and thrive. It’s there that he meets Mal – a girl in possession of a flying coat and a baby griffin, who’s being pursued by a killer. Together, Christopher and Mal embark on a quest across the wild Archipelago in a bid to save both their worlds. As imaginative, epic and beautifully detailed as the works of C S Lewis and Tolkien, this isn’t just a book to be enjoyed. It’s a story to be treasured. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

The Snow Girl by Sophie Anderson

Inspired by the classic fairytale The Snow Maiden, this foil-covered, illustrated hardback is a wintry adventure that all the family can enjoy. When Tasha moves to her Grandpa’s farm in the valley, she gets to see snow for the first time. She builds a snow girl and makes a wish: that the girl made of snow will come to life and be her friend. A wish that, miraculously, comes true. Swept into a magical frosty world, Tasha begins to finally feel brave again. But when a snowstorm envelopes the valley, she must face her fears to save her ailing Grandpa. Full of warmth and wisdom, The Snow Girl is a wonderful tale of friendship and bravery. (Usborne Publishing)

Foxlight by Katya Balen

Twins Fen and Rey were found curled up in the fiery fur of the foxes at the edge of the wildlands. The sisters are different in temperament but share a yearning for answers about the mystery of their absent mother. When a fox appears late one night, Fen and Rey see it as a sign that will lead them to find their real family and the truth of their joint past. As they venture into the wildlands, their lives will change in more ways than either of them could ever have imagined. A poetic love letter to both nature and sisterhood, Foxlight is also a journey of youthful self-discovery and the meaning of belonging. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Best Books For Young Adults:

Every Exquisite Thing by Laura Steven

Laura Steven’s feminist horror-thriller retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a dream of a book for YA dark academia fans. It centres on Penny Paxton, the daughter of an iconic supermodel, as she joins the elite students at the Dorian Drama School. Given the opportunity to have her portrait painted by a mysterious artist with the power to grant immortal beauty to his subjects, Penny willingly agrees. But when her mentor is murdered, it’s only a matter of time before the killer turns their sinister intentions towards Penny. With a sapphic love triangle at its heart, Every Exquisite Thing is a smart and sharp exploration of identity, beauty and the dangerous pursuit of perfection. (Electric Monkey)

Where He Can’t Find You by Darcy Coates

Abby Ward lives in a town haunted by disappearances. People vanish, and when they’re found, their bodies have been dismembered and sewn back together in unnatural ways. But is it the work of a human killer or something darker? Abby and her younger sister Hope live by a strict set of rules designed to keep them safe – which is why Abbey goes straight to the police when Hope is taken. With the authorities unable to help, Abby and her friends enter into a desperate game of cat and mouse to get Hope back before it’s too late. Darcy Coates’ latest young adult horror is chilling and creepy to the extreme. A twisty page-turner for YA readers on the older end of the scale. (Sourcebooks Fire)

Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis

Seventeen-year-old Ross Quest was raised by a legendary family of thieves. Now her mother has been kidnapped and Ross’ only chance to save her is to win the Thieves’ Gambit, a cut-throat international competition for the world’s best thieves where the victor is granted one wish. To win, Ross must outwit her backstabbing opponents, including her childhood arch-nemesis and a charming boy who might want to steal her heart too. Kayvion Lewis’ debut is a cinematic thriller that mixes the clever heists of Ocean’s Eleven with the twisty secrets of The Inheritance Games. Soon to be adapted for the screen, this is one YA book not to be missed. (Simon & Schuster Children’s)

Best Books For Romance Readers:

This Spells Love by Kate Robb

Nursing a broken heart after she’s dumped by her long-term boyfriend, Gemma drunkenly performs a love cleansing spell which promises to erase her ex from her memory. However, she gets a little more than she wished for when she discovers that not only is her ex out of the picture but her handsome male best friend Dax is too. To reverse the spell, Gemma must get this version of Dax – who doesn’t know who she is – to kiss her. But without years of friendship between them, this alternate reality could be the perfect opportunity to explore her burgeoning feelings for him. A funny and sweet ‘what-if’ romance with just a touch of witchy magic and the perfect amount of spice. (Penguin)

The Wake-Up Call by Beth O’Leary

Fans of Beth O’Leary’s previous bestsellers will love The Wake-Up Call, a delicious enemies-to-lovers rom-com which follows two front-of-house staff rivals battling to save their beloved hotel. Izzy and Lucas are complete opposites who do nothing but bicker and try to one-up each other. But when they’re forced to put their differences aside, they start to see each other in a new light. Suddenly it’s not just their livelihoods on the line but their hearts too. With loveable characters, sizzling chemistry and the kind of sparkling dialogue we’ve come to expect from O’Leary, this is the epitome of a feel-good, make-you-smile book. (Quercus)

A Demon’s Guide To Wooing A Witch by Sarah Hawley

Stripped of his immortality and banished to the mortal plane, snarky but charming demon Astaroth is suffering from a serious case of amnesia. When he’s saved from a demon attack by the hot-tempered personal trainer/witch Calladia, who has her own score to settle with him, the two embark on a tense road trip to restore Astaroth’s memories. Yet the more time they spend together, the more Calladia realises she prefers the new and improved version of the legendary soul bargaining demon… and maybe she doesn’t want him to regain his memories after all. Sexy, witty and whimsical, the second instalment in the Glimmer Falls series is an utter delight from start to end. (Gollancz)

Best Books For Fantasy Readers:

Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman

Genevieve Cogman’s reimagining of The Scarlet Pimpernel looks at Baroness Orczy’s classic story from a new perspective, focusing on lowly maid Eleanor as she enters into the heist of the century. With France in the midst of a revolution and a family of aristocrat vampires facing the guillotine, Eleanor must break every rule of etiquette, disguising herself as a man and associating with powerful vampires, all the while evading the Revolution’s chief agent, Citizen Chauvelin, who’s obsessed with the League’s elusive hero. Vampires, magic, adventure, rebellion, royal impersonations…what more could you want from a historical fantasy book? (Tor)

Powerless by Lauren Roberts

Billed as Red Queen meets The Hunger Games, with a bit of Fourth Wing thrown in for good measure, the first book in Lauren Roberts’ romantasy trilogy takes place in the kingdom of Ilya – a land split between the Elites (those with powers) and the Ordinary (those without). Paedyn Gray is a pickpocketing Ordinary posing as a Psychic to blend in with the Elites. When she unintentionally saves the kingdom’s prince, Kai, she’s entered into the Purging Trials, a brutal competition designed to showcase the Elites’ powers. And if her opponents don’t kill her, the prince she’s lying to just might. Slowburn romance, morally grey characters and a thrilling dystopian fantasy adventure make Powerless an essential read for fantasy lovers. (Simon & Schuster)

Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong

The sequel to Chloe Gong’s Foul Lady Fortune returns to 1930’s Shanghai, reuniting readers with the sharp-minded characters we’ve come to know and love. As national spy Rosalind Lang grapples with the fallout of her secret identity being exposed, she’s also having to deal with the ramifications – both professional and personal – of her fake husband Orion being kidnapped and having his memories wiped. The only way to rescue him is under the guise of a national tour, which inevitably goes wrong, forcing Rosalind and her allies down an increasingly dangerous path. Foul Heart Huntsman is an intricately plotted Shakespeare inspired fantasy set against a true era of political turmoil. A perfect end to the high stakes Secret Shanghai series. (Hodderscape)

Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

If there’s a fantasy reader in your life, chances are they’ve already inhaled the latest instalment in Rebecca Yarros’ Empyrean series. But just in case they haven’t (or they’ve had their eye on one of the coveted special editions), there’s no better romantasy book to give as a gift this Christmas. Picking up where Fourth Wing left off, it follows protagonist Violet Sorrengail as she returns to Basgiath War College for another round of dragon training and brutal combat, only this time she’s armed with the knowledge of the ruinous secrets that have been hidden from the world. Filled with breathless action, heart-fluttering romance, complex world-building and sassy-as-hell dragons, Iron Flame is an unputdownable sequel that promises more heartbreak, more betrayal, and more epic battles to come. (Piatkus)

Best Books For Thriller Readers:

The Escape by Ruth Kelly

When struggling influencer couple Adele and Jack are gifted an idyllic 17th century French chateau by an unknown benefactor, it’s the lifeline they need to leave their troubles behind. Adele intends to document their renovation journey to their thousands of online subscribers but the chateau isn’t all it seems, neither is the secretive local community. Suddenly, Adele stops uploading and the couple vanish. It’s up to Adele’s determined sister Erin to unravel not only the mystery of the couple’s disappearance but the history of the chateau, the nearby town and the anonymous investor. The Escape is a dark, atmospheric and menacing thriller that makes the most of its wintry French setting. You’ll really feel the chills with this one. (Pan)

The Defector by Chris Hadfield

The follow-up to Chris Hadfield’s superior space thriller The Apollo Murders sees NASA Flight Controller and former US test pilot Kaz Zemeckis pulled into another dizzying international game of spies and lies. With the key to Cold War air supremacy to play for, the stakes have never been higher, and Kaz will have to invite a Soviet defector into the heart of the United States’ most secret test site in a bid to reign supreme. Inspired by Hadfield’s time as a test pilot in the US Air Force and Navy, as well as his experience as a fighter pilot intercepting armed bombers, you won’t find a more detailed and politically intriguing thriller set in the final years of the Space Race. (Quercus)

Best Books For Historical Fiction Readers:

The Housekeepers by Alex Hay

Alex Hay’s brilliantly clever debut takes place in early 20th century London. The grandest house on Park Lane has just dismissed its housekeeper after years of loyal service. With the event of the season looming, nothing must go wrong. But the dismissed housekeeper in question, Mrs King, is plotting her revenge and she knows just who to recruit to enact her audacious plan. You don’t see many Edwardian heist novels decorating shop shelves but The Housekeepers shows us exactly what we’ve all been missing out on: a well-crafted and entertaining blend of history, underdog thrills and carefully written characters. (Headline Review)

The Witch’s Daughter by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Based on a true story and set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, the new novel from Imogen Edwards-Jones opens with the murder of Rasputin. Nadezhda – daughter of Grand Duchess Militza, never wanted to be a witch but the occult is in her blood. As the Russian Empire crumbles, Nadezhda escapes the capital, stealing away with a book of generational magic. With danger and darkness creeping ever closer, she’ll be forced to embrace her heritage to save what she loves most. Like Elodie Harper’s The Wolf Den, The Witch’s Daughter is a story of strength and survival, centring around the resilience of women in gruelling, violent times. The book follows on from The Witches of St Petersburg, but it can be read as a standalone too. (Aria)

Best Of The Rest:

Joe Nuthin’s Guide To Life by Helen Fisher

Helen Fisher’s debut novel, Space Hopper, was a profound and life-affirming story about faith, love, loss and learning to let go. Her second book, Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life, is another poignant and thoughtfully written tale with a realistic and relatable protagonist. Joe loves predictability but there are a million things in life he isn’t prepared for. Following the book of advice his mother lovingly wrote for him, Joe does something he’s never done. He steps out of his comfort zone, showing him that even the hardest things are achievable with a little help from his friends. This is a book full of love and compassion – for the things that make us different and the things that make us the same. (Simon & Schuster)

The Stargazers by Harriet Evans

Nobody writes an emotive and engaging intergenerational family saga quite like Harriet Evans. Split between the 1970s and 1954, The Stargazers tells the story of cellist Sarah, who’s spent a lifetime trying to bury the memories of her disjointed childhood and her vast ancestral home, Fane. Now she lives a bohemian life in Hampstead with her husband, but she still can’t escape the pull of the past. As family secrets threaten to unravel the fragile happiness of the present, Sarah must travel back to Fane to confront everything she tried to leave behind. Evans weaves a completely transportive story of complicated family bonds and the legacies of the past that echo through the years. (Headline Review)

A Midwinter’s Tail by Lili Hayward

For something a little more seasonal, you can’t go wrong with Lili Hayward’s A Midwinter’s Tail. It’s nearly Christmas and committed Londoner Mina is close to getting everything she’s ever wanted. However, a letter from her estranged godfather Davy, an artist who lives on the tiny Cornish island of Morgelyn, sees Mina travelling to Cornwall to look after his cottage and his cat whilst he recovers from a stroke. The more time she spends in the cottage, the harder it becomes to leave. And when Mina discovers that ruthless developers threaten the island, she realises she might be the only one who can save it. Infused with the magical spirit of Cornish folklore, this is a beautifully immersive novel for these cold, winter months. (Sphere)

What You Are Looking For Is In The Library by Michiko Aoyama

From the restless retail assistant to the new mother with big dreams, five people at a crossroads in their lives come to their local library in search of some direction. There they encounter the same enigmatic librarian, Komachi, who reads their souls and offers them each a surprising book that changes their lives forever. Translated by Alison Watts, What You Are Looking For Is In The Library is a novel that celebrates the sense of connection that books bring to communities. There’s a special kind of magic in recommending books to other people and Michiko Aoyama captures that perfectly here. This might be a small book but it’s full of charm; a genuine comfort read. (Doubleday)

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