Yesterday I gave you my top ten books I read in 2014, but which were published prior to that. Today I’m posting my top ten 2014 debuts. Debut novels are always exciting as you’re not only discovering a new world but a new writer as well and any writer you read might be your next favourite writer. This year I collected several new must-read authors. So without further ado my favourite 2014 debuts!
10. Sebastien de Castell – Traitor’s Blade
Traitor’s Blade was a lovely surprise earlier this year. Positioned as Jo Fletcher Books’ big spring title I had expected it to be good, but I I hadn’t quite expected it to be this much pure fun. From my review: “What struck me the most about De Castell’s writing, other than Falcio’s instantly distinctive voice is the fun the book exudes. Not in the sense that it’s a humorous novel, though there is certainly a lot of humour in the dialogues, but in the sense of adventure and derring-do that De Castell seems to gleefully revel in. The narrative has its grimmer moments and isn’t all sunshine and butterflies, but it never loses its joyous sensibility. I found myself reading while grinning like the Cheshire Cat more than once and I was disappointed that I’d finished the book so quickly, because I didn’t want to leave Tristia behind.” I’ll get to go back to Tristia come March, when Knight’s Shadow, the second Greatcoat book is due to be published.
9. Danielle L. Jensen – Stolen Songbird
I adored Stolen Songbird with its fairy tale qualities and its wonderful characters. As I ended my review: “The ending killed me. It made me want more of the story now, right this minute though I expect this was Jensen’s intention. The story certainly isn’t over and we didn’t get a happy ending by a long shot. I adored Stolen Songbird, from its original take on trolls, to its treatment of its awesome heroine. If you like your fantasy adventurous and romantic, then this YA novel should without a doubt be on your radar. Jensen’s debut is certainly one of my favourite books so far this year and I look forward – impatiently might I add – to the rest of the Malediction trilogy.” With the folding of Strange Chemistry last year, for a while it looked like the rest of the trilogy might be up in the air, but luckily Jensen resigned with Angry Robot and Hidden Huntress is due to be published in June.
8. Sarah Hilary – Someone Else’s Skin
Yesterday I mentioned that 2014 brought me lots of new crime authors to follow and Sarah Hilary is another of those. I adored Someone Else’s Skin, which was compelling and chilling. From my review: “Without discussing them too much, for fear of giving away spoilers, the actual perpetrator is not only a surprise, but also a very, very scary individual and they truly gave me chills once Hilary revealed more of their psyche. The plot of the book is very well constructed with plausible alternate suspects and some tricky reveals that were very well done. All of it delivered in competent prose that didn’t distract from the action in the novel and drew me in closer in the more introspective scenes in the book.” I’ve seen people posting their proofs on Twitter for No Other Darkness and I’m just all of the jealous because I can’t wait to read the next Marnie Rome book, which is due out in April.
7. Antonia Hodgson – The Devil in the Marshalsea
Hodgson’s debut just blew me away. As I started my review: ”Set in the early eighteenth century featuring a murder mystery set in one of the most hellish places in London, it sounded like it would hit all my reading buttons. But the book didn’t just meet my hopes and expectations, it exceeded it; within the pages of this first novel I found a compelling narrative telling the story of vibrant and engaging characters, written in a smooth and self-assured style that lends its narrator a strong voice and draws the reader into Georgian London in all its stinking squalor and splendour.” Tom Hawkins was a wonderfully captivating detective and I can’t wait to read more about him in Hodgson’s next The Last Confessions of Thomas Hawkins which will be available in June.
6. Alix Christie – Gutenberg’s Apprentice
None of you is surprised I loved this book, right? I loved Gutenberg’s Apprentice and unabashedly so. As I put it in my review: “Gutenberg’s Apprentice is sneakily compelling. Christie’s prose is evocative and atmospheric, drawing the reader into Gutenberg’s workshop and the streets of Mainz. While this review has focused mostly on Peter and Gutenberg, there are several more wonderful characters, such as Peter’s adoptive father, Johann Fust, and Peter’s sweetheart, Anna to name but two. Gutenberg’s Apprentice shows a world on the cusp of a major technological revolution and if the book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the book, is it just as much a compelling read for those who are interested in societal change and the forms it takes. I loved Gutenberg’s Apprentice and I highly recommend it. Alix Christie is certainly an author whose work I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future.”
5. Liz de Jager – Banished
I started my review for Banished with the words ‘Book, you had me at hello.’ But Banished didn’t just grab me at the start, it kept hold of me for the entire duration. As I concluded my review: “Banished gave me ALL. THE. FEELS. and while not perfect, it’s a wonderful story and a great debut. In Kit, De Jager has created an amazing character, whose potential has only been partially mined in Banished and who can only become stronger in the next Blackhart Legacy book, tentatively titled Vowed. I love Kit and the world De Jager has created and I can’t wait to read more. Vowed is expected to be published in November and I wish it was sooner!” I just finished Vowed last night – a review will be up soon – and it was even better than Banished. Also, I just want to throw a tantrum, because I can find a release date for the last book Judged yet and this means I’ll have to wait far too long to get back to Kit’s adventures.
4. Rebecca Mascull – The Visitors
The Visitors was slipped in with a review copy for the Hodderscape Review Project last year, with an accompanying note that said basically something along the lines of here’s a treat for you, I think you’ll love this. The folks at Hodder? They know me well. Because I did love the book. As I ended my review: “Rebecca Mascull’s The Visitors might seem a slim, little book at 256 pages, but it certainly packs a punch. It is a stunning story, told in beautiful prose and clear visuals. Mascull’s debut combines many elements – history, friendship, romance, ghost stories, adventure – and melds them into a distinctive and unique blend. The Visitors tells a story that will haunt the reader beyond its pages and I for one am glad to have been haunted by it.” I’m looking forward to reading more by Mascull come June when her second novel Song of the Sea Maid is released.
3. Corinne Duyvis – Otherbound
I’ve been burbling about Otherbound all over the internet in the past six months, but in my opinion deservedly so. Duyvis’ debut novel was just stunning and I loved it. From my review: “Regardless of unanswered questions, I LOVED Otherbound. The diversity, the fact that there is no romance between the protagonists, the not-quite-portal fantasy set up, they all served to draw me in. Combined with two incredibly compelling narrators and Duyvis’ assured and smooth writing, and Otherbound was a marvellous read. Also, did I mention the diversity of her world and characters? If this is Duyvis’ first step out if the gate, I can’t wait to see what else she’ll write in the future. Otherbound comes highly recommended and I shouldn’t be surprised if this shows up on one of my favourite reads lists at the end of the year!”
2. Sarah Lotz – The Three
I’ve felt like I’ve been praising this book to all and sundry for what amounts to much of this year. Together with the number one on this list, I think The Three is the one book I’ve recommended to people the most. Especially since it felt rather current. As I put it in my review: ”What made my experience reading The Three extra creepy was that at the time of reading the news was filled with coverage of the search for Flight MH370; the plane has yet to be found and its unexplained disappearance has given rise to numerous theories, reaching from weather trouble, to terrorism, to conspiracy. I adored The Three as I found it clever, compelling, and extremely readable. It has cemented Sarah Lotz as a must-read author and it means I’ll have to put the S.L. Grey and Lily Herne novels on my to-buy lists. The Three is a fascinating thriller that will haunt you with its questions and social commentary as much as with the creepiness of its events. It ends on a perfect note, one that is seeded throughout the book, but surprised me nonetheless. The Three is one of my favourite books so far this year, meeting all my high expectations and blowing them right out of the water. It’ll be published on May 8th and I recommend you run, not walk, to the bookshop to buy it, because it’s just that good.” If you didn’t follow my advice then, I suggest you do so now, because Day Four will be upon us in May.
1. Jessie Burton – The Miniaturist
I don’t need to tell you that The Miniaturist is a brilliant runaway success. Burton’s debut has been going from strength to strength garnering awards and sales records along the way. But I’ll tell you why I think you need to read this book. To start with from my review: “As I said above, I absolutely adored The Miniaturist. While its plot is resolved and the story brought to a resounding close, it left me wanting more. I didn’t want to leave Nella and her household, I wanted to know what happens next, what becomes of them now? Nella’s story may be over, but with The Miniaturist Jessie Burton’s has only just begun. This book is a stellar debut, one of my favourite books read so far this year, and I highly recommend it.” But in addition I’d like to show you the picture below and tell you that seeing this after having read The Miniaturist only reinforced all its magic tenfold. Because Burton has captured the magic of the real Oortman Doll House exquisitely and I’ve been pushing the book on anyone who will listen, just so I can tell them to read it and then visit the Rijksmuseum when they have the chance to see how brilliant the book truly is.