The time between Christmas and New Years’ Eve always feels like a no-man’s land: London streets are mostly empty, email inboxes are vacated, and we sit patiently in the anticipation of a new year heading our way. For many, this stillness is the perfect time to reflect and take stock on the year past — which is exactly what we’re doing with today’s blog post. This has been another fabulous year for fiction, especially for the queer stories and historical fiction that have hit the shelves.
Below, you’ll find some of our marketing staff’s favourite books from the year, and hopefully some extra inspiration for your 2023 TBR!
The Dazzle of the Light
by Georgina Clarke
9780857308306 / Verve Books / PB / £9.99
A staggeringly clever historical thriller with ferocious wit, The Dazzle Of The Light is a compelling, cinematic story through the lens of two women living parallel lives in 1920s London.
Inspired by the notorious all-female crime syndicate known as the Forty Thieves who operated out of the slums of south London, this is deeply layered feminist narrative of class, freedom and morality. Ruby Mills is ruthlessly ambitious, strikingly beautiful — and one of the Forty Thieves’ most talented members. Georgina Clarke plunges us into the Roaring Twenties, spins us into her fast-paced, magnificently driven, sparkling plot and leaves us windswept with exhilaration after this absolute firecracker of a novel!
By Lynne Tillman
9781913512170 / Peninsula Press / PB / £10.99
From the author of the sensational novel Weird Fucks, a witty, bleak, and outrageous account of American girlhood.
Haunted Houses is the story of three young women. Jane’s occasionally violent father reads her the Gettysburg Address at bedtimes, while Emily’s parents are FDR Democrats who only privately concede she may be normal. Grace believes her dolls come alive at night and talk against her, and has a mother who likes animals more than people. Tillman charts the girls’ unsteady drift into womanhood, revealing the multiple forms of inheritance — family, gender, culture — that a girl must swallow or rebel against.
Walking on Cowrie Shells
By Nana Nkweti
9781911648277 / The Indigo Press / PB / £10.99
Walking on Cowrie Shells focuses on the lives of hyphenated-Americans with a multi-cultural heritage in the United States and Africa. The book spans genres — literary realism, horror, mystery, YA, science fiction — and features complex, fully-embodied characters: tongue-tied linguistic anthropologists, comic book enthusiasts and even water goddesses. The author hopes her stories entertain readers while also offering them a counterpoint to prevalent ‘heart of darkness’ writing that too often depicts a singular ‘African’ experience plagued by locusts, hunger, and tribal in-fighting.
By Cate Ray
9781914613135 / September Publishing / HB / £14.99
Good Husbands is a book you won’t be able to put down. Tucked up by the fire, or en route to see family and friends over the festive period — wherever you are, you’ll be thoroughly gripped.
Three wives, one letter, an explosive secret that will change everything. Three very different mothers all receive the same letter, which accuses their husbands of committing rape 20 years ago. Together they must work out the right thing to do… In Good Husbands we follow the three women on their journey from disbelief, dissent, and fear to something like solidarity. There’s Priyanka, a health and ethics teacher at a local secondary school, Jess, an office manager in art gallery and Steffi, a dental receptionist, finally secure in her second marriage, but struggling with three teen girls. As they try to uncover the truth, the women must work out who they believe, what they should do and whether the men they loved can be trusted ever again. This high-concept thriller is perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and Catherine Ryan Howard, taking the domestic drama into a new era.
Where I End
By Sophie White
9781915290045 / Tramp Press / PB / £11.99
Sophie White is back after the breath-taking success of her collection of personal essays, Corpsing, with her second foray with the Tramps and her first ever horror fiction novel!
Teenage Aoileann has never left the island. Her silent, bed-bound mother is a wreckage, the survivor of a private disaster no one will speak about. Aoileann desperately wants a family, and when Sarah and her three young children move to the island, Aoileann finds a focus for her relentless love. A horror story about being bound by the blood knot of family, Ringu meets Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love (Vintage, 1998) in Sophie White’s thrilling horror debut. Beware, this isn’t for the faint of heart, celebrating weirdness and the uncanny. Where I End will creep under your skin and linger there.
Moldy Strawberries: Stories
by Bruna Dantas Lobato & Caio Fernando Abreu
9781953861207 / Archipelago Books / PB / £13.99
Surreal and gripping stories about desire, tyranny, fear, and love, from one of Brazil’s greatest queer writers, whose work is appearing in English for the first time.
In eighteen gripping and daring stories filled with tension and intimacy, Caio Fernando Abreu navigates a Brazil transformed by the AIDS epidemic and stifling military dictatorship of the 80s. Tenderly suspended between fear and longing, Abreu’s characters grasp for connection. Junkies, failed revolutionaries, poets, and conflicted artists face threats at every turn. But, inwardly ferocious and secretly resilient, they heal. For Caio Fernando Abreu there is beauty on the horizon, mingled with luminous memory and decay.
by Davey Davis
9781739784935 / Cipher Press / PB / £10.99
An electrifying novel about the creeping reality of political terror, and the violent pleasures found in Brooklyn’s queer heartlands. Part noir, part erotic thriller, X is a vivid, moody and darkly funny portrait of those living on the margins of an increasingly hostile society. This brilliant novel kept me on the edge of my seat and glued to the page from start to finish.
The Carnivorous Plant
by Andrea Mayo, translated by Laura Mcgloughlin
9781739823634 / 3TimesRebel Press / PB/ £14.99
The Carnivorous Plant is an intense and disturbing novel about a toxic love. A nightmare. An allegation. The story of a siege and yet a decision in favour of life.
What makes a carnivorous plant trap you? How can we avoid it? How can we escape from it devouring us? For the protagonist of this story, it is already too late when she realises that she is completely trapped in a toxic relationship with Ibana (her partner). The Carnivorous Plant is about power rather than love, a thrilling blend of psychological horror and drama centred around the violence that exists in every kind of relationship.
If anything you’ve read about on our blog catches your eye, consider ordering from your local bookshop. Find yours here. Alternatively, you can browse your favourite indies on Bookshop.org.