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Fiction Preview: 22 books to look forward to reading in 2023

Fiction Preview: 22 books to look forward to reading in 2023

2023 is off to a rainy start, but looking on the bright side, the constantly gloomy weather gives us bibliophiles a valid excuse to stay at home and hunker down with a good book. And there are certainly plenty of exciting new fiction titles to lose yourself in over the next few months and beyond.

From enthralling fantasy and sizzling romance, to transportive historical fiction and atmospheric sagas, it felt more difficult than ever to narrow down this year’s fiction picks. It’s by no means a comprehensive list, with plenty more wonderful books to be featured across the year, but these are just a small selection of some of the novels worthy of your attention in 2023.

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo needs no introduction. The Grishaverse author gained a legion of devoted fans with the Shadow and Bone series, and more still with her 2020 adult debut, Ninth House. Now protagonist Alex Stern is back for another tale of dark magic, murder and monsters. And when I say dark magic, I mean the darkest. Once against set amongst the Ivy League elite, Hell Bent sees Alex playing with forces far beyond her control as she determines to break fan favourite Darlington out of hell. Thrillingly imaginative and wholly immersive, this is one sequel that lives up to the hype. (10 January, Gollancz)

The Circus Train by Amita Parikh

Step aboard the World of Wonders with Amita Parikh’s beautifully written and evocative tale of love, loss and war. Equally heart-warming and heart-wrenching, it centres around Lena, the daughter of a famed illusionist who refuses to let the limitations of her wheelchair prevent her from discovering the real-world magic of science and medicine. The arrival of a charismatic French boy called Alexandre changes everything for Lena, but war is approaching and it will change everything once more. Set against the bright lights of a travelling circus train, this debut is easily my first favourite book of 2023. (12 January, Sphere)

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace

Icebreaker hasn’t even been published in the UK yet but it’s already one of the most talked about and hotly anticipated contemporary romance books of January (thanks in no small part to TikTok). Sparks fly when competitive figure skater Anastasia Allen is forced to share the rink with ice hockey team captain Nate Hawkins. Their relationship might get off to a rocky start but it’s not long before they start to warm to each other. Icebreaker sets the bar high for deliciously spicy sports romance, offering up a star couple who will steal readers’ hearts with their sizzling chemistry. (19 January, Simon & Schuster)

Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood

It’s a hot summer’s day when Grace Adams snaps. Stuck in traffic on her way to pick up her sixteen year old daughter’s birthday cake, Grace abandons her car and walks away. But this isn’t a woman walking away from all the things in her life that have gone wrong. This is a woman set on proving to the world – including her estranged daughter and a husband who wants a divorce – that she’s still amazing. Set against one North London day, Fran Littlewood’s moving debut is a redemptive story of womanhood, motherhood and marriage. You won’t forget Grace Adams in a hurry. (19 January, Michael Joseph)

Becoming Ted by Matt Cain

Ted Ainsworth is at a crossroads. Having worked for his family’s ice-cream business in a quiet Lancashire town his whole life, he’s not exactly been living his best life. He doesn’t even like ice cream. So when Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, Ted has the opportunity to finally follow his dreams. He has a little help too – in the form of his flamboyant best friend Denise, who’s determined to help Ted on his way. Readers adored Matt Cain’s previous novel and it’s titular protagonist Albert Entwistle. Ted is just as endearing, and his journey of self-discovery is a joy to follow. This is a pure comfort read full of friendship, humanity and heart. (19 January, Headline)

Exes & O’s by Amy Lea

Following on from the popularity of her debut rom-com Set on You, Amy Lea is back with another contemporary novel inspired by the influencer world. Tara Chen is a romance novel obsessive and as such, her standards are sky high. But she’s still determined to find her perfect match, and she thinks it could be one of her ten exes. Helping her on her second chance at love mission is her new firefighter flatmate, Trevor, but could he be the man she’s been searching for all along? Blending delicious banter, slow-burn romance and loveable characters, this is a perfectly swoony friends-to-lovers story. (19 January, Penguin)

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Eleanor Shearer’s debut about a mother’s desperate search to find her stolen children introduces a powerful new voice to the literary world. Inspired by the real life stories of women who tried to put their families back together again after the abolition of slavery, River Sing Me Home chronicles Rachel’s escape from the plantation and her journey across the Caribbean – a journey driven by fierce perseverance and a mother’s love. Readers travel with Rachel from Barbados to British Guiana to Trinidad, living every moment of her relentless quest. A tender and incredibly affecting historical novel. (19 January, Headline)

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

Teddy Colne arrives in the town of Rye wanting to leave the past behind him. Despite warnings from the locals about the proprietor, he takes a job at a peculiar old shop, eager to understand what’s really hiding behind its doors. When he meets Ada, a lonely single mother ostracised by the community, old secrets are uncovered, including the mystery of a family who vanished fifty years earlier. But the more they’re drawn to each other, the more Teddy and Ada’s respective pasts threaten to catch up with them. Eerily atmospheric, with brilliant characterisation and a small-town location that feels like a character in itself, So Pretty is a compulsively readable novel that really gets under your skin. (19 January, Orenda Books)

The House At The End Of The World by Dean Koontz

Traumatised by a devastating event, Katie now lives alone in a fortress-like house on Jacob’s Ladder Island. Once a rising start in the art world, she finds an escape in the solitude and refuge in her painting. But the neighbouring island of Ringrock houses a secret government facility and when two agents arrive in search of someone or something they refuse to identity, Katie discovers that she’s not so alone after all. In true Dean Koontz style, The House at the End of the World is a book that grabs your attention right from the start and drags you along on a breathless struggle of survival. Unnerving, mysterious and expertly paced, it’s another winner from the master of suspense. (24 January, Thomas & Mercer)

The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore

Moving between London and the picturesque beaches of the Isle of Wight, Georgina Moore’s compelling family saga explores the relationship between three sisters doomed to grow up in the shadow of their parents’ ruined love affair. Driven by its cast of complex, flawed and fascinating characters – chiefly sisters Rachel, Imogen, Sasha and their mother Margo – The Garnett Girls is a story of complicated families, messy secrets and the scars of childhood that are carried into adulthood. Vividly described with an evocative backdrop, it’s difficult to believe this is a debut. (16 February, HQ)

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

Once upon a time a man who believed in fairytales married a mysterious woman named Indigo. In exchange for her love, Indigo asked one thing of her bridegroom: he must never pry into her past. When the couple are forced to return to Indigo’s childhood home, the shadowy and crumbling House of Dreams, the bridegroom is drawn into the secrets of his wife’s past – a place where the lines of reality and fantasy blur. Billed as Mexican Gothic meets The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Roshani Chokshi’s spellbinding adult debut weaves a gothic tale of secrets, stories, danger and tragedy. Gorgeously dark and lyrically written, this book will haunt your thoughts in all the best ways. (16 February, Hodder & Stoughton)

Nocturne by Alyssa Wees

Alyssa Wees’ debut novel centres on a promising young ballerina in Depression-era Chicago. Grace has always wanted to dance. An immigrant child who becomes an orphan, she seeks a new home amidst the exclusive world of ballet. Years later, on the cusp of becoming a prima ballerina, Grace attracts the attention of the enigmatic Master La Rosa. As she begins to unlock her mysterious patron’s secrets, Grace discovers that there might be another way to achieve the transcendence she’s always sought. A mix of dreamlike fairytale and enchanting historical fantasy, Nocturne has a real flavour of Phantom of the Opera. Add in a touch of Beauty and the Beast and this is the perfect escape from reality. (21 Feburary, Del Rey)

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

The first of two mythological novels to be featured in this list, Clytemnestra explores the story of the titular heroine. She’s known as many things: the betrayed daughter, the concerned sister, the vengeful mother, the scheming adulterer and the murderous wife. Clytemnestra is a notorious woman with a warrior’s heart, and whilst her story has been explored in other novels, this one brings another dimension to a truly fascinating and multifaceted character. Split into five parts, Casati’s emotional and dramatic retelling is another absorbing addition to the Greek mythology genre. (2 March, Michael Joseph)

One Moment by Becky Hunter

When Scarlett unexpectedly dies, her best friend Evie can’t contemplate life without her. And she certainly can’t forgive Nate, the man she blames for her friend’s untimely death. Now stuck in a sort of strange limbo, Scarlett watches as Evie struggles to move on and live her life. Told from both Scarlett and Evie’s perspectives, One Moment is a poignant, uplifting and life-affirming tale of friendship, love, grief and learning to let go. It’ll have you welling up one moment and smiling the next. And by the end, your heart will feel a little fuller. (2 March, Corvus)

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden

It’s 1852 and young widow Margaret Lennox accepts a position as governess at isolated country house Hartwood Hall. Despite her fondness for her bright pupil Louis, Margaret is certain that something is odd about her new home and its inhabitants. Unsure who to trust, she embarks on a forbidden relationship with gardener Paul, but she still can’t shake the feeling that something is very wrong. As her own past catches up with her, Margaret must trust her instincts before it’s too late. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Jane Eyre, Katie Lumsden’s debut is a twisty Victorian mystery full of intriguing characters and a creepy gothic atmosphere. (30 March, Michael Joseph)

See Also

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

Jennifer Saint has told the tales of Ariadne and Elektra. Now it’s time for Atalanta – a reinterpretation of the fearless, legendary woman and the mythical voyage she undertakes. Saint’s previous novels, whilst highlighting strong women, were darker stories of loss, grief and tragedy. By self-admission, the author’s latest book leans more towards the joyful side of mythology, exploring a story “that’s rooted in nature, full of thrills and led by a woman fuelled by passion, courage and rebellion.” Following Atalanta as she leaves her forest home to join Jason’s band of Argonauts, Saint’s retelling is utterly compelling and unmissable. (13 April, Wildfire)

Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon

The one thing you should always expect when it comes to Paige Toon’s novels is a story packed with emotion. Only Love Can Hurt Like This is no exception (and with a title like that, you’d expect no less). It follows Wren and Anders, two lost souls whose paths cross amidst the cornfields and fireflies of Indiana. As they grow closer, a secret Anders is harbouring threatens to ruin everything. Wren doesn’t want to walk away but can she really stay once she knows the truth? A heartening romantic drama with American farm-country vibes and wonderfully endearing characters. (27 April, Penguin)

The Launch Party by Lauren Forry

Ten people have won a place at the most exclusive launch event of the century: the grand opening of the Hotel Artemis, the first hotel on the moon. But the prize isn’t quite what the winners were expecting and when one of the guests is murdered, fear begins to spread. This Agatha Christie-esque story set in space is an entertaining and cleverly plotted locked-room mystery that will keep you guessing. I’m ready and waiting for an adaptation announcement because, like Andy Weir’s The Martian, The Launch Party feels like it was written for the big screen. (22 June, Zaffre)

That’s a wrap on the adult fiction round-up but for readers who enjoy YA too, here are four must-read young adult books to add to your 2023 reading list.

Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

If you’re a fan of Maureen Johnson’s YA series following Stevie Bell, you won’t want to miss out on the author’s latest whodunnit which sees the amateur sleuth travelling to London and investigating a double-murder cold case. The crime was supposedly a burglary gone wrong but someone’s lying about what happened that night in 1995 when a game of hide-and-seek turned deadly. It’s up to Stevie to solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading the previous books in the Truly Devious series, this inventive and suspenseful country house murder mystery can be read perfectly as a standalone too. (5 January, KTegenBooks)

Influential by Amara Sage

Almond Brown has no friends in real life but millions of followers online. Thanks to her internet-famous mother, she was born influential. But it isn’t a life Almond would have chosen for herself. Whilst online she keeps up the pretence of her ‘perfect life’, Almond’s offline world and mental health is suffering. If only she could see that it’s her real life – and the real people in it – that has the power to save her. Inspired by Sage’s lived in experience of the darker side of social media and growing up in an internet world, this is an incredibly thought provoking and perceptive YA debut. An essential read for both young adults and adults alike. (5 January, Faber & Faber)

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

The first book in Maiya Ibrahim’s epic and enchanting fantasy series centres on a girl caught between her love for her brother and her duty to her country. Ever since her brother was discovered stealing the nation’s coveted secret spice, Imani’s reputation as a monster-battling Shield has been in tatters. But with signs that her brother might be alive, and with a convoy sent to hunt him down, Imani joins the mission in order to find and protect him. Accompanied by a rival Shield who both enthrals and enrages her, Imani must decide where her loyalties lie before it’s too late. Spice Road is an intriguing and adventure-filled Arabian-inspired tale that weaves together a fascinating magic system, complex characters and the complicated bonds of family. (24 January, Hodder & Stoughton)

The Chaperone by M Hendrix

In New America, girls are never alone. And like every girl, Stella knows the rules. She can’t go out without a chaperone, she can’t learn the things she’d like to learn, and she certainly can’t spend time with boys except at formal Visitations. When her friendly chaperone suddenly dies, Stella is assigned a new one. But Sister Laura isn’t like the other chaperones. She doesn’t follow the rules and she forces Stella to question everything she thought she knew about their protective world, propelling her on a dangerous journey that risks everything. June might feel like a long way off at the moment but with an eerie dystopian backdrop and echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Chaperone is more than worth the wait. (6 June, Sourcebooks)

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