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Fiction recommendations: 15 of the best new books to read this month

Fiction recommendations: 15 of the best new books to read this month

It feels like just yesterday that we were stepping into the New Year and already it’s March. Spring is just around the corner, bringing with it brighter days and a brilliant selection of new fiction books. Our round-up this month features everything from compulsive psychological thrillers and a feminist retelling of 1984, to a speculative queer romance and a transportive historical tale set in the aftermath of war. Keep reading for our recommendations of the best new fiction March has to offer, plus a selection of books you might have missed in February too.

If I Let You Go by Charlotte Levin

Every morning Janet Brown goes to work cleaning offices. The cleanliness and neatness soothes her, but it can’t wipe away the guilt she carries about a devastating loss that happened over a decade ago. When she’s involved in a train crash, Janet finds herself hailed a hero and suddenly she sees a path to redemption. But Janet’s story isn’t quite what it seems and as events spiral out of control, she must finally face up to the truths she’s buried deep. Heartrending and surprising, with an very believable protagonist, this is a tale of loss, grief, abuse and fractured relationships. A tremendously moving second novel from Charlotte Levin. (2 March, Mantle)

All The Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

Sunday lives with her teenage daughter, Dolly, in the same house she grew up in. She lives a careful, routine existence, helped along by an etiquette handbook that guides her through confusing social situations. However, the one thing she can’t control is Dolly – clever, rebellious and on the cusp of leaving home. When a glamorous couple move in next door, Sunday discovers a love and acceptance she’s never felt before. But there’s something darker lurking beneath her neighbour’s seemingly perfect life. They might have wealth but they don’t have the one thing Sunday does: a daughter of her own. At once sharply perceptive and lyrically written, All The Little Bird Hearts is an emotional and thought-provoking exploration of autism. It’s a slow burn story but the satisfying end is worth the sympathetic and subtle build-up. (2 March, Tinder Press)

The Institution by Helen Fields

The twelfth novel by crime writer Helen Fields draws upon the author’s career as a criminal barrister to tell a claustrophobic and harrowing story about a forensic profiler’s pursuit to catch a killer. Dr Connie Woolwine is renowned for her ability to get inside the minds of murderers. When a nurse is murdered and her daughter is taken, the clock is ticking for a ransom to be paid. Connie must go deep undercover amongst the most deranged and dangerous men in the world’s highest-security prison hospital in order to find the girl before it’s too late. This is such a scary, intense premise and Fields’ writing is so atmospheric and absorbing. The Institution is the very definition of a page-turner. (2 March, Avon)

The Mother by T. M. Logan

If you enjoyed the recent TV adaptations of T. M. Logan’s The Holiday and The Catch, you won’t want to miss his latest keep-you-up-at-night mystery-thriller. The Mother centres around Heather, who ten years ago lost everything when she was accused of the murder of her husband Liam. Now Heather is free and determined to not only clear her name but to get her children back too. Logan’s books are always fast-paced and full of deliciously weaved twists and turns, and this is no exception. The story is fuelled by the fierce love of a mother who had everything taken from her and is hell-bent on proving her innocence. This is easily one of Logan’s best books to date. (2 March, Zaffre)

Frontier by Grace Curtis

There are few novels like Grace Curtis’ genre-bending debut. An adventurous and original space opera that’s part queer romance, part sci-fi western, it’s set in a distant future where climate change has reduced Earth to a wasteland. When a stranger comes to town, the divided and diverse people of this hardscrabble wilderness are united in their suspicions. As a ship falls from the sky, bringing the planet’s first visitor in three hundred years, we follow the Stranger as she embarks on a quest to find someone important to her. Frontier is a heartfelt, fun and immersive tale of love, loss and laser guns. It’s the perfect read for fans of Becky Chambers. (9 March, Hodderscape)

The Walled Garden by Sarah Hardy

If the cover alone doesn’t draw you to Sarah Hardy’s debut, then the promise of an Anna Hope-esque historical story absolutely should. It’s 1946 and the men are home from war, but the traumas of the conflict cast a dark shadow over the village of Oakbourne. Alice Rayne doesn’t know how to help her husband Stephen. Once gentle and sweet, he returned from war damaged, bitter and angry. In a bid to rebuild both her marriage and their crumbling home, Alice starts with the Walled Garden and finds herself drawn into a new, forbidden love. This is a story about the horrors of war but also the resilience of the human spirit in the face of such horrors. Moving between seasons and set in the Suffolk countryside, The Walled Garden is an evocative and compassionate exploration of survival, suffering and healing. (16 March, Manilla Press)

The Sisterhood by Katherine Bradley

Katherine Bradley’s feminist retelling of 1984 puts a fresh spin on the ‘Big Brother is always watching’ story. Julia is dutiful, subservient, meek and useful. She is a perfect example of what women in Oceania should be. But she is also hiding a secret that would be punishable by death if discovered. For Julia is part of an underground movement called The Sisterhood, whose goal is to find members of their counterpart anti-Party vigilante group, The Brotherhood, and help them overthrow the totalitarian regime. But when she meets Winston Smith, Julia’s past starts to catch up to her, revealing secrets that might cost her everything. Sinister, chilling and heart-breaking, it’s a worthy successor to Orwell’s dystopian classic, allowing readers to explore a new version of Julia’s story. (16 March, Simon & Schuster)

The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything by Kara Gnodde

Art and Mimi are siblings and housemates. Art is an esteemed mathematics professor whose entire life is dictated by routine. Mimi is constrained by her genius brother’s demands but she knows that maths isn’t the answer to everything. When she decides to find love, Art devises an algorithm to help her. Then Mimi meets Frank – another mathematician who just so happens to be a hopeless romantic and isn’t algorithm approved. As Mimi’s feelings for Frank grow, so does Art’s mistrust. Something about Frank doesn’t add up but the siblings’ alternating viewpoints will test their close bond to breaking point. Drawing comparisons to The Rosie Project and Lessons in Chemistry, this debut is a poignant and uplifting tale of love, logic and the devotion between brothers and sisters. In Gnodde’s own words, it’s “a love story of sorts – with maths as its beating heart.” (16 March, Mantle)

End of Story by Louise Swanson

It’s the year 2035 and fiction has been banned by the government. Writing novels is a crime. Reading fairytales is punishable by law. Author Fern Dostoy has been branded a criminal and forced to retrain in a new job outside of the arts. But that doesn’t stop her from furtively scrawling in a notepad to capture what her life has become. When she learns of a rebel group who secretly take calls and read bedtime stories to children, Fern forms a bond with a boy called Hunter. With constant surveillance, Fern knows she’s playing with fire, but the phone line soon becomes a lifeline. End of Story is unsettling, twisty, emotional and so expertly written that you live every dark, discomforting moment with its protagonist. Not just a highlight of March, expect this book to be a highlight of the year. (23 March, Hodder & Stoughton)

Infinity Gate by M. R. Carey

The first book in a new sci-fi duology from the bestselling author of The Girl With All The Gifts, Infinity Gate centres around The Pandominion – a political and trading alliance formed of different realities of the same world: Earth. When an AI threat arises that could destroy everything the Pandominion has built, they’ll eradicate it by whatever means necessary, no matter the cost to human life. Then there’s Hadiz, a scientist seeking a solution to her own Earth’s environmental collapse, who stumbles across the secret of inter-dimensional travel, at the same time as walking into the middle of a war. With an omniscient narrator, this is a mind-bending multiverse novel that feels wholly original. It ends on a cliffhanger, making the sequel a must-read too. (30 March, Orbit)

We missed out on last month’s recommendations, so as a little bonus, here are five of our favourite books from February.

See Also

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler

One of two new first encounter books featuring unusual octopus creatures (the other being Doug Johnstone’s The Space Between Us), The Mountain in the Sea is a speculative sci-fi story and a smart literary thriller wrapped into one. Yet this isn’t a book about aliens. The cephalopod intelligence at the heart of this novel is a species here on Earth and Nayler uses the themes of animal consciousness and science to ask profound and thought-provoking questions. A hugely accomplished debut. (1 Feb, W&N)

In Little Stars by Linda Green

Linda Green’s In Little Stars is a powerful Romeo and Juliet reimagining set in a modern-day West Yorkshire divided by Brexit. But whilst Rachid and Jodie are certainly the star-crossed young lovers of the tale, it’s actually their mothers who take centre stage – as Green explained in her recent guest post. This is a moving and wise tale of two women on different sides of a bitter post-referendum divide, who have more in common than they realise. (2 Feb, Quercus)

Hold My Girl by Charlene Carr

What makes a mother? That’s the question at the core of Charlene Carr’s raw and affecting novel, which follows the fallout after two women’s eggs are switched during IVF. When Katherine and Tess discover that there was a mistake at the fertility clinic, they’re thrown into a custody battle to decide who gets to be the baby’s mother. Alternating between dual POVs, this book really pulls at the heartstrings. (2 Feb, Welbeck)

The Elopement by Tracy Rees

If you’re after a dose of escapist historical romance full of female empowerment, you won’t find anything better than The Elopement. Moving between the luxury and poverty of Victorian England in the late 19th century, it centres on the wealthy and entitled Rowena Blythe as she falls for a wild and Bohemian artist’s assistant – an unsuitable match that will cause scandal for her family if she follows her heart. Told from the perspectives of three very different characters, this is a story of women trying to break free from the social constraints and expectations of the time. (16 Feb, Pan)

Last Violent Call by Chloe Gong

A must-read for all Chloe Gong fans, Last Violent Call features two YA novellas set in the same thrilling and vibrant universe as the Secret Shanghai series. Whilst these stories reunites readers with beloved characters Roma, Juliette, Benedikt and Marshall, they surround the events of Foul Lady Fortune too, so it’s best to read that first. And that’s really all that can be said about the book without spoiling too much. Suffice to say, it’s filled with drama, danger, romance, threats and witty, sharp-tongued dialogue. But then you’d expect nothing less from Gong. (28 Feb, Hodderscape)

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