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Fiction Preview: Books To Look Forward To Reading In 2024

Fiction Preview: Books To Look Forward To Reading In 2024

The world feels like an increasingly uncertain place but the one thing we can be utterly certain of is just how exciting and diverse the year ahead looks for books. Yet this year’s round-up still took a little longer to compile and there’s one simple reason for that: it was a genuine challenge to whittle down the list of books.

From stellar debuts to guaranteed bestsellers by established authors, our preview features some of the most exciting, imaginative, thought-provoking and transportive stories due to hit shelves this year. Whether you enjoy losing yourself in fantasy, sitting on the edge of your seat with a good thriller, having your heartstrings tugged by a romance or travelling back in time to experience another era altogether, this list promises a book for every fiction reader.

Without further ado, here are 20 books to look forward to reading in 2024.


The Book Of Doors by Gareth Brown

Every fantasy reader has dreamt of owning a Narnia-esque wardrobe with the ability to whisk us away to another world. But how about a magical book with the power to transport you anywhere you want? The Book of Doors follows best friends Cassie and Izzy as they come into possession of one such book, sweeping them away from their quiet lives in New York City. But there are those who’d do terrible things to get their hands on the curious magical books and the only one who can help them is Drummond Fox – a man all too familiar with the power of the secret library. A twisty good vs evil contemporary fantasy that’s a testament to the multi-layered magic of books. (15 Feb, Bantam)

A Letter To The Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall

If you loved Heather Fawcett’s Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, then A Letter To The Luminous Deep should be right at the top of your April reading list. A cosy, magical academia novel set in an underwater world, it centres around the pen pal romance between two scholars and the unravelling mystery of their disappearance following a seaquake. The epistolary format is perfect for such a charming, quirky debut – it’s full of atmospheric oceanic world-building, tender romance and heartening found family. There genuinely aren’t enough novels like this, which is what makes it such a treasure. (25 April, Orbit)

The City of Stardust by Georgia Summers

Every so often a debut comes along that’s so imaginative and so beautifully written that you simply can’t believe it’s an author’s first novel. That’s the case with Georgia Summers’ The City of Stardust, which weaves dark fairytale fantasy with volatile gods, generational curses and an exquisitely tragic star-crossed romance between two characters who’ll steal your heart from the off. It’s a difficult book to explain but an easy book to read; one that will transport you to cleverly built worlds and surround you with an intricate kind of magic that’s both whimsical and damning. It’s quite unlike anything else you’ll read all year. (25 Jan, Hodderscape)


Dancers of the Dawn by Zulekhá A. Afzal

Deep in the sweltering desert, an elite troupe of female dancers have been trained to harness their magic in order to become the queen’s most formidable weapons. Both feared and envied, Aasira is a rare flame-wielder whose duty is to execute enemies of the crown. All she wants is to serve her queen and escape her family legacy but as graduation approaches and war looms on the horizon, she begins to question whether being an executioner is her fate after all. Inspired by Afzal’s mixed cultural heritage and love of ballet, the first book in this spellbinding, slow burn romantasy duology introduces readers to an epic high fantasy world of magic, dance, assassins and deadly secrets. (6 June, Rock the Boat)

The Reappearance of Rachel Price by Holly Jackson

18-year-old Bel has lived her whole life in the shadow of her mother’s mysterious disappearance. Sixteen years ago, Bel was the sole witness to Rachel Price’s vanishing. Now a true crime documentary is being made, dragging details of the case into the present. Bel can’t wait for filming to be over but then Rachel suddenly reappears with an unbelievable story about what happened to her. Bel should be happy, only she’s not entirely sure that Rachel is telling the truth… The mere mention of a new Holly Jackson novel is enough to grab the attention of any YA mystery reader but this book is deserving of the hype. A cleverly plotted and twisty thriller that explores complicated family dynamics. (2 April, Electric Monkey)

Sleep Like Death by Kalynn Bayron

Fans of Kalynn Bayron’s Cinderella Is Dead are in for a treat with the author’s latest fairytale inspired novel, an enthralling and original YA reimagining of Snow White that delves into the darkest parts of the original story. It follows strong-willed protagonist Eve as she embarks on a mission to stop a mysterious sorcerer called the Knight, whose beguiling magic is a curse upon their land. Having trained all her life to defeat him, Eve must trust that her own magical powers are enough to save both her kingdom and her cursed family. Sleep Like Death is a tale of loyalty, sacrifice and fighting for peace. It’s not out until June, but it’s well worth the wait. (25 June, Bloomsbury YA)


Meet Me When My Heart Stops by Becky Hunter

This unconventional love story centres around Emery Wilson, who lives with a medical condition that means her heart could stop at any moment. Each time Emery’s heart stops, she meets Nick, whose purpose is to help people adjust to death and move on to the afterlife. When it comes to Emery though, it’s not quite so simple. She never accepts death and never moves on, as her heart is constantly restarted and she goes on living. As the years progress, neither of them can forget the connection they share in those fleeting moments. But for them to be together, Emery’s life must end forever. Becky Hunter’s debut, One Moment, was one of our top books of 2023 and her second novel is another rollercoaster ride of emotions that will capture your heart from the start. (21 March, Corvus)

A Love Song For Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams

Set against the dual backdrop of modern Harlem and the 1920’s renaissance era, Tia Williams’ sweeping high concept romance is a genre-bending story about Ricki Wilde, the artistic daughter of a powerful Atlanta dynasty who’s never fit the socialite mould expected of her. Invited to rent the bottom floor of regal nonagenarian Ms. Della’s Harlem brownstone, Ricki leaves her chaotic past behind in favour of chasing her dream of opening a flower shop. Then one February evening she encounters a handsome stranger who changes Ricki’s world in ways she could never have expected. Beautifully swoony and full of magic, this charming book is both a love letter to Harlem and to the essence of love itself. (6 Feb, Quercus)

Under Your Spell by Laura Wood

Clementine Monroe is not having a good day. She’s been dumped, fired and is about to lose her flat too. So when her sisters get her drunk and revive a childhood ritual called the breakup spell, she goes along with it. The spell leads to a series of unexpected events, chiefly a new job where she has to spend six weeks alone with the handsome and very off-limits rock star, Theo Eliott. Cue the ultimate journey of self-discovery as Clemmie navigates a job she never wanted and a man she definitely shouldn’t be attracted to. Under Your Spell is a pitch-perfect contemporary rom-com complete with a relatable heroine, a heartening sisterly dynamic, fun banter and a genuinely endearing love interest. It might still be winter but expect this to be on all the summer reading lists. (20 June, Simon & Schuster)


The Escape Room by L. D. Smithson

When a thriller is billed as Squid Game meets The Traitors, you know you’re in for something truly twisty. L. D. Smithson’s high concept novel is set amidst the dark world of reality TV, as eight contestants arrive on a remote sea fort off the coast of England to take part a mysterious competition. All they need to do is solve a series of puzzles to win the prize money. With the public watching, the contestants quickly turn on each other and when someone is found dead, it becomes clear that there’s a serial killer inside the fort, and the only way to escape is to win their deadly game. Smart, suspenseful and seriously tense, The Escape Room is the very definition of a page turner. (Hardback: 29 Feb / Paperback: 20 June, Penguin)

The Family Experiment by John Marrs

Set in the same universe as Marrs’ brilliantly original psychological thriller The One, this thought-provoking novel is about the ultimate tamagotchi – a virtual baby. With the world’s population soaring and the economy at breaking point, many people can no longer afford to start a family. For some, the only alternative is to sign up for a VR subscription that gives them the ability to create a virtual child from scratch. To launch the initiative, a TV show follows ten couples as they raise a Virtual Child from birth to the age of eighteen over a condensed nine-month period. The prize will enable whoever wins to keep their computer-generated child or risk it all for the chance of a real baby. Jumping between the contestants as the months progress, The Family Experiment is an eerie and darkly addictive thriller that will have your mind whirling throughout. (9 May, Macmillan)

Every Move You Make by C. L. Taylor

Alex, Lucy, River and Bridget all have one thing in common. They’re all being stalked. They belong to a support group nobody wants to be part of – a group that used to be five, until their friend Nat was followed home by her stalker (an opening that will give you genuine chills). Coming together for Nat’s funeral, they’re handed a wreath and a disturbing message. In ten day’s time, one of them will die. In order to stop that happening, they need to claim the upper hand. But the only way to stop a stalker, is to become one yourself. Split between the four characters’ perspectives, Every Move You Make is as fascinating as it is frightening. The realism woven into each chapter makes you feel every moment of paranoia and anxiety with the victims as they try to regain control of their lives. (28 March, Avon)


The Knowing by Emma Hinds

When Flora meets Minnie, an enigmatic circus performer, she’s offered a chance to escape her life as an abusive tattoo artist’s muse. Earning her keep as a ‘painted mystic’ in Minnie’s freak show, Flora’s gift for communicating with the dead summons the spirit of a murdered boy. Exposing the killer sends Flora and Minnie on a journey across the Atlantic, from New York to Manchester, as they fight to survive the dark criminal underworlds of the 19th century. Inspired by real historical characters including Maud Wagner, one of the first known female tattoo artists, and the characters from PT Barnum’s circus in the 1800s, Emma Hinds’ debut is an evocative gothic tale that brings an enthralling era of history to vivid life. The supernatural thread adds to the dark and transportive feel of the book too. (18 Jan, Bedford Square Publishers)

See Also

The Household by Stacey Halls

Ever since her debut novel was released in 2019, Stacey Halls has quickly become a go-to author for historical fiction readers. Her latest book is another story influenced by real life figures and events in history, this time focusing on Charles Dickens’ home for fallen women. Urania Cottage is a quiet house in the countryside outside London that offers refuge for prostitutes, petty thieves and the destitute. As the house welcomes its new residents, their lives become entwined with that of millionairess Angela Burdett-Coutts, one of the Urania Cottage’s benefactors, who’s left on edge after her stalker is released from prison. With the careful research we’ve come to expect from Halls, The Household is at once atmospheric and educational in its exploration of Dickens’ philanthropy and the struggles of women in Victorian times. (11 April, Manilla Press)

The Women by Kristin Hannah

Raised on California’s idyllic Coronado Island and sheltered by her conservative parents, twenty-year-old nursing student Frankie McGrath imagines a different path for her life. So when her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she impulsively follows his lead and joins the Army Nurses Corps. Overwhelmed by the destruction of war and the traumatic realities of returning home to a changed America, Frankie discovers that the actual war was just the beginning for the veteran women. We’ve read plenty of stories about the experiences of men during and after war, but Kristin Hannah’s novel shines a light on the sacrifice, commitment and heroism of the incredible women often forgotten about in history books. A truly emotional, realistic and unforgettable book. (15 Feb, Macmillan)

The Best Of The Rest

Medea by Rosie Hewlett

There are countless Greek mythology books that we could have featured in our preview but the one you absolutely don’t want to miss is Rosie Hewlett’s Medea. Placing the fabled Witch of Colchis front and centre, it follows her as she goes from princess to helper-maiden to a vengeful sorceress faced with the ultimate betrayal. Medea is such a complex, multifaceted character and Hewlett’s feminist retelling of the ancient tragedy doesn’t shy away from the protagonist’s different sides: Medea the victim and Medea the villain – lines that aren’t always easily definable. A particular highlight is the weaving of other mythical figures, such as the huntress Atalanta and Medea’s enchantress aunt Circe, which further enriches the story. (21 March, Bantam)

Frank and Red by Matt Coyne

Frank is a curmudgeonly old recluse who’s estranged from his friends, a stranger to his son, and whose only company is the ‘ghost’ of his dead wife. Enter Red, the six-year-old boy who’s just moved in next door. Red is struggling with many things: the separation of his parents, starting a new school, and being the target of the school bully. The only good thing in Red’s life is his trampoline. And from the moment Frank sees Red’s head bobbing over the top of the fence that divides their two gardens, an unlikely friendship is set in motion. Heart-warming, perceptive and empathetic, not to mention very funny, Frank & Red is a genuine joy to read. The perfect book for fans of Fredrik Backman’s My Name Is Ove. (1 Feb, Wildfire)

Murder On Lake Garda by Tom Hindle

Wearing its Agatha Christie inspirations firmly on its sleeve, Murder on Lake Garda transports readers to the private island of Castello Fiore, where the illustrious Heywood family have gathered for their son Laurence’s wedding to Italian influencer Eva Bianchi. Naturally, given this is classic whodunnit, the glamorous destination wedding is brought to a shocking halt when someone is murdered. With secrets to hide, reputations to save and family rivalries bubbling over, it’s a tense wait for the police to arrive. But who is the killer and can they be found before they strike again? Full of suspicious characters, crafty red herrings and clever twists, Hindle’s latest murder mystery is a read-in-a-single-sitting book. (18 Jan, Century)

Small Hours by Bobby Palmer

Gerry and Jack are father and son, yet there’s a distance between them that seems unsurmountable. Forced to abandon his city life, Jack is still determined to be the opposite of his father. And Gerry, well, he’d rather talk to animals than his angry son. Then there’s the injured fox that appears when Jack most needs it, a curious creature that might just be able to heal the fractures in this broken family. Second novels can be difficult for authors with lauded debuts but Small Hours more than lives up to its predecessor. It seems like a simple story on the surface; a poignant look at grief, mental health and our connection with other people and the world around us. But it’s the way Palmer captures the complex breadth of human emotions – with such wisdom, sincerity and depth – that resonates long after the book ends. (14 March, Headline Review)

Piglet by Lottie Hazell

For Piglet, getting married to Kit is not only a dream come true but her opportunity for reinvention. Together, they’re the enviable picture of domestic bliss. Yet some things are too good to be true and we’re forewarned early on in the book that Kit will divulge an awful betrayal just two weeks before the wedding, a revelation that threatens to ruin Piglet’s carefully curated life. If she can just make it through the next fortnight, Piglet is certain she can get everything back under control. But as the hours count down to the big day, Piglet is torn between the life she’s always wanted and the ravenousness that comes from not getting what she deserves. A simultaneously strange and brilliant novel about desire, ambition, identity and, of course – given the titular title, food, glorious food. (25 Jan, Doubleday)

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