In a somewhat back-to-front turn of events, I've written my list of books to look forward to in 2014 before compiling my best of 2013. There's already a lot I want to read, to the point that - as I mentioned on Twitter the other day - I'm beginning to think I need to start keeping track of my to-read list in a colour-coded spreadsheet. So, without further ado...
Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse - 16th January
I'll start with one I've already read: the brilliant Lucie Whitehouse's third novel. Before We Met is a suspenseful thriller about the secrets between a married couple. In my opinion it isn't the author's best, but it's a compulsively readable mystery, and if you're a fan of this type of story it should be on your wishlist.
Season To Taste by Natalie Young - 16th January
Another marriage-based novel, although I expect this one is quite different to the above: it's about a woman who kills and eats her husband of thirty years. Described as 'the most subversive and gloriously unexpected novel you'll ever read about the end of a marriage and its aftermath', the blurb has me incredibly curious.
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane - 16th January
Released in the US in October, Fiona McFarlane's debut is finally published in the UK just in time for the new year. I've read this one too - focusing on a woman living in an isolated beach house whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of a stranger, it's wonderfully eerie.
The Virgins by Pamela Erens - 30th January
'A seductive prep school novel' which appears to be about a destructive love triangle, and is narrated by a detached observer years after the fact. I've already reserved a place on my Secret-History-esque bookshelf.
The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter - 30th January
An odd-couple mystery adventure, set in Calcutta, 1837. Oh, and it has an absolutely gorgeous cover too, I haven't read much good historical fiction in recent times and I'm hoping this will reverse that trend.
Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville - 6th February
A 'dazzling novel of darkness, evil and hope', Eliza Granville's debut is set between Vienna and Germany and explores the symbolism of fairytales in the Third Reich. I'm not sure what to expect from this (I don't even know if it's intended for adult readers or not!) but it sounds like it could be fascinating.
Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis - 13th February
In this suspenseful mystery, an agoraphobic woman's isolated existence is disturbed when a young girl unexpectedly turns up on her doorstep during a snowstorm. I'm tipping this to be the next big thriller in the vein of Before I Go to Sleep et al.
Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss - 27th February
I'm incredibly intrigued by the idea of this: a Hammer horror novella by Lynne Truss - best known for the grammar guide Eats, Shoots & Leaves - which is the 'mesmerising tale of a cat with nine lives'. It also appears the cat can talk. Count me in.
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris - 27th February
As soon as I heard about this, a big 'RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS' alarm started going off. Written by an author better known for her romantic historical fiction, it's the unofficial history of the Norse god of mischief. I do realise it isn't actually about Marvel's Loki - but I'm going to imagine it is, and you can't stop me. I bet Joanne Harris was thinking the same thing anyway.
A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan - 27th February
I've already read this dark, satirical first novel about an extremely unscrupulous estate agent: it's funny, creepy and expertly paced. A must-read for fans of unreliable narrator tales, with plenty to make you think.
The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh - 27th February
Described as a 'meditation on female desire, the variations of marriage, and the politics of raising other people's children', this sounds like it's a sexed-up version of Deborah Levy's Booker-nominated Swimming Home. In fact, it sounds so summery that I might save it for a future holiday.
Everland by Rebecca Hunt - 6th March
Two warring groups of researchers find themselves on the same desolate Antarctic island, a century apart. Split between 1913 and 2013, Hunt's second book touches on a lot of themes I find endlessly interesting, so my expectations are high.
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt - 13th March
Hustvedt's What I Loved is one of my favourite books, and this new novel sounds like it might be a return to form. It follows the fate of a female artist who adopts the guise of a number of men to see if her work will be more successful this way; her involvement with one of these men becomes a psychological game which ends in tragedy. Told through a collection of texts assembled after the artist's death, it promises to be 'emotionally intense, intellectually rigorous, ironic and playful'. I think this is my most-anticipated book of 2014!
A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh - 20th March
I loved Welsh's last novel The Girl on the Stairs; its atmosphere has really stuck with me. Therefore, I was excited to hear she has a new book out soon, although the premise - it's the first of a dystopian crime trilogy - doesn't sound like my usual kind of thing. Still, I'll definitely be interested in giving it a go.
A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick - 27th March
Vampire novels for adults seem to be either pretty terrible (A Discovery of Witches) or absolutely brilliant (The Historian). Naturally, I hope this, the first book for adults by an acclaimed YA author, will fall into the latter category.
The Seeker by R.B. Chesterton - 3rd April
Set around Walden Pond, The Seeker is the follow-up to Chesterton's Southern gothic/horror story debut The Darkling. While similarly dark and mysterious, the plot, involving Henry David Thoreau and a secret journal, sounds different enough to be worth keeping in mind.
Before You Die by Samantha Hayes - 24th April
Hayes' Until You're Mine was one of the big surprises of my summer reading: a mystery I didn't expect much from which turned out to be gripping, tense and unpredictable. This looks like a similar crime thriller, featuring the same detective; I don't expect it to be groundbreaking, but I'm certain it will be very enjoyable.
Glow by Ned Beauman - 8th May
There was an extract from this, Beauman's third novel, in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists 4 issue, and it was brilliant - colourful, funny and dirty, and felt like the author at his best. Can't wait to read the whole thing.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey - 5th June
Emma Healey's debut (originally titled Strange Companions, which I think was a MUCH better title, sorry Penguin) is a book I've been looking forward to since I first heard about the bidding war that took place over the rights. Its unusual heroine is Maud, a pensioner suffering from dementia, who may hold the key to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery.
Her by Harriet Lane - 12th June
Another one of my most-anticipated of the year, since I absolutely adored Harriet Lane's Alys, Always - although I'm trying not to get too excited about Her since it isn't out for six months. It's about a twisted friendship between two very different women whose paths have crossed in the past, and I'm sure it will be excellent.
Breakfast With the Borgias by DBC Pierre - 19th June
While I didn't enjoy Pierre's Petit Mal, I remain a fan of the author, and am hoping for something better from this chilling novella, in which a young academic spends the night at an isolated guesthouse and becomes drawn into the machinations of a formidable family.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton - 3rd July
Like Elizabeth is Missing, this is a debut which sparked a major bidding war at the London Book Fair. It's a 'feminist golden-age fiction' which sounds like it's been exhaustively researched to make it historically accurate, but also has an element of magic.
The Visitors by Sarah Perry - 7th July
I know next to nothing about Perry's first book, except that the author has described herself as 'an unexpected gothic novelist'. That alone is enough to get me interested so I'll be keeping an eye out for further details.
2014 will also see the publication of new books from Sarah Waters (The Paying Guests, September), David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks, also September), Erin Kelly (The Ties That Bind, May) and Louise Douglas (Your Beautiful Lies, August). Needless to say, there's already a lot to look forward to and I'm sure I will be adding extensively to this list in the near future!
What are you most looking forward to reading in the new year? Is there anything I've missed?
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