HomeCultureBooksBook Reviews

17 Essential works of fiction for January

BY Farhana Gani

1st Jan 2015 Book Reviews

17 Essential works of fiction for January
New year, new book! And we have a shelf full of new releases for you to browse through. What will you read next?

Her Every Fear

by Peter Swanson

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson, published by Faber & Faber

Kate Priddy is recovering from a brutal attack by her ex-boyfriend when Corbin, an American cousin she barely knows, invites her to swap her apartment in North London for his in Boston for a few months. Uncharacteristically, Kate agrees, seeing it as an opportunity to conquer her fears. But shortly after her arrival Kate makes a shocking discovery. Corbin's neighbour, Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. As the investigation gets underway and Kate begins to learn more about her cousin and the occupants in his apartment building, her worst fears begin to play out…

Once again Peter Swanson delivers a thriller that shoves the recent wave of domestic noirs into the shade. His first bestseller, The Kind Worth Killing, is, in my opinion, the best in the genre and is now being adapted by the Oscar nominated director, Agnieszka Holland.

Her Every Fear is published by Faber & Faber



by Michael Chabon

Moonglow by Michael Chabon, published by 4th Estate

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s sweeping overview of the American Century takes the form of a fictional memoir based on the deathbed confessions of the narrator’s charismatic but wholly unreliable grandfather and crafted ‘with due abandon’. A tour de force of reckless thrill-seeking and incorrigible behaviour that stretches from the Jewish slums of pre-war Philadelphia, German battlefields, a New York prison and a Florida retirement home, via sabotage, subterfuge and a decades-long obsession with the US space programme. An epic story of a restless life that refuses to be dimmed.

Moonglow is published by 4th Estate


Lucky Boy

by Shanthi Sekaran

<em>Lucky Boy</em> by Shanthi Sekaran, published by Penguin Random House

Motherhood and infertility, immigration and adoption are the dominating themes in this novel about two women whose lives become tangled through their love for the same little boy. Pregnant Solimar Castro Valdez has illegally crossed the border from Mexico into California. After giving birth she finds herself in an immigrant detention centre while her beloved son Ignacio is placed in foster care. Kavya Reddy is battling against her parents desire for her to conform to her Indian-American cultural heritage and confronting her inability to conceive. Her life with Rishi would be perfect if they could fill the baby-shaped hole in their marriage. This leads her to Soli's infant boy and she instantly finds herself falling for someone else's child.

Lucky Boy is published by Penguin Random House


Lying in Wait

by Liz Nugent

<em>Lying in Wait</em> by Liz Nugent is published by Penguin Random House

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though she had no idea her pursuit would lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants…  A page-turning domestic noir thriller that packed with killer one liners, irresistible and sinister protagonists and plot twists that grip.

Lying in Wait is published by Penguin Random House


Little Deaths

by Emma Flint

Little Deaths by Emma Flint, published by Picador

Ruth Malone and her husband Gary are separated and a custody battle for their two kids is underway. In the meantime, the youngsters live with Ruth in her Queen's apartment. It's 1965 when the novel opens and the New York is experiencing a heatwave. Ruth wakes up one morning to find the children's bedroom window open and both of them missing. It's not long before the police make a devastating discovery, and Ruth finds herself the prime suspect. The police are relentless in their pursuit. Because Ruth is not like other women. There are no public displays of grief and she finds herself finger-pointed by the press and local gossips for continuing to dress in provocative clothing and wear her hair and makeup immaculately. One journalist, Pete Wonicke, however realises that there is more to Ruth than meets the eye. Can he save her and is she worth saving?

Little Deaths is published by Picador


Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

by Chris Cleave

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, published by Sceptre

Out now in paperback, this became an instant bestseller when it was first published in hardback last year. Inspired by his grandparents' lives and wartime letters, writer Chris Cleave (best known for The Other Hand) has penned a moving World War II novel set in London and Malta. Lives are changed forever and Cleave displays his skill at telling personal stories that chime with the present with pitch perfect writing. Yes, the novel is sentimental but heartstring tuggers are essential every once in a while. With observations like "I suppose we lay flowers on a grave because we cannot lay ourselves on it", you very quickly realise you're in the hands of a master storyteller.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven published by Sceptre


The Nix

by Nathan Hill

The Nix by Nathan Hill, published by Picador

This debut novel is causing quite a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. The fact that a TV series is in the pipeline in only adding to the anticipation. J. J. Abrahms (Lost, Star Wars) is directing and Meryl Streep is already confirmed in the cast. The novel is essentially about Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a college professor whose estranged mother, Faye, reappears decades after abandoning the family, having committed an absurd crime that fuses a media frenzy. The the internet runs amok and press go wild, provoking the already politically divided country. Faye needs Samuel's help but to help her, Samuel needs to delve into their past lives, all the way back to Norway, home of the mysterious Nix…

The Nix is published by Picador


English Animals

by Laura Kaye

English Animals by Laura Kaye, published by Little Brown

A subversive and original debut novel about human attitudes and behaviour when confronted with something or someone a little bit different. 19-year-old Mirka leaves her family behind in Eastern Europe to start a new life in England and ends up working at Fairmont Hall, a country house in the middle of nowhere, owned by a conservative English couple. Richard and Sophie have a drunken and turbulent marriage but they are kind and generous to Mirka. She finds herself happy in her new home and rewarded at work but when Sophie learns that she is gay everything changes.

English Animals is published by Little Brown



by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, published by Penguin Random House

Two sisters, Effia and Esi, find themselves each facing a future that couldn't be more different. One is sold into slavery while the other becomes a slave trader's wife. The impact of their destinies is felt in the generations that follow as we travel from the Gold Cost of Africa to the cotton plantations of Mississippi, from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem. This unputdownable tale spans three continents and seven generations to tell the story of a family and of America itself.

Homegoing is published by Penguin Random House


The Horseman

by Tim Pears

The Horseman by Tim Pears, published by Bloomsbury

The first of what promises to be a dazzling new trilogy from the prize-winning author of In the Places of Fallen Leaves. The Horseman is set in Devon in 1911, in the heart of the farming community. Twelve-year-old Leo Sercombe skips school to help his father in the fields, while dreaming of a job on the Master’s stud farm. The Master’s daughter, Charlotte, is a tomboy and fellow horse lover and the two become the unlikeliest of friends. Divided by rigid social boundaries, they find their friendship tested as adolescence encroaches. This isn’t a book driven by drama and turmoil, although there is plenty of it, but more of a tranquil and very beautiful study of rural life.

The Horseman is published by Bloomsbury


The River at Night

by Erica Ferencik

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik, published by Bloomsbury

After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, Win Allen just wants to get away from her soul-crushing job and spend time with her three best friends. The last thing she wants is to do is go on a white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Pia, the energetic one in the group, has organised it all—an adventure surrounded by mountains and rivers and thousands of miles of remote countryside. Which means no other people, no phones… and no help. A thriller about female friendship that is shocking, disturbing and utterly terrifying.

The River at Night is published by Bloomsbury


Welcome to Lagos

By Chibundu Onuzo

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundo Onuzo, published by Faber and Faber

Chibundu Onuzo’s entertaining and provocative second novel, following on from the award-winning The Spider King’s Daughter, is a dazzling road trip from the badlands of the Niger Delta to Nigeria’s sprawling and chaotic megacity. Two soldiers defy an order to shoot at civilians and abscond, picking up three other runaways in the shape of a teenage militant, an orphan girl and a fleeing housewife, all seeking a better life. On arrival in Lagos they stumble into a national scandal surrounding a corrupt government minister who has pocketed a fortune intended for the nation’s schools. Under the global media spotlight, each character faces up to a life-changing choice between morality and truth.

Welcome to Lagos is published by Faber & Faber



by Eleanor Wasserberg

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg, published by 4th Estate

Imagine growing up in a cult that endeavours to create a utopian society, a community where nirvana isn't what it seems. Told from Green's perspective, one of the children living in the 'Family", this gratifying  atmospheric story is about group mentality, superstition, secrets and betrayal in an insular commune that turns bad. Foxlowe is the remote, forbidding mansion in which the Family live and where Green was born, and their leader is Freya, a manipulative matriarch whose on/off lover is another Founder, Richard. Like all the other "grown", he won't speak about the outside world he left behind. Life at Foxlowe is carefree, as long as the rules are obeyed. And then a new baby arrives and Green, who takes an instant dislike to her, is ordered to take care of her. A gothic novel about dysfunctional behaviour and cruelty unfolds into a horrifying read. 

Foxlowe is published by 4th Estate


Innocents and Others

by Dana Spiotta

Innocents adn Others by Dana Spiotta, published by Picador

Meadow Mori and Carrie Wexler, both filmmakers, grew up together in Los Angeles. Carrie makes succesful feminist-oriented feature films while Meadow's documentaries are more avant garde. The women, although having very different views on sex, movie-making and morality, are close friends and deeply loyal to each other. Until a mysterious and powerful woman enters their lives and becomes the subject of one of Meadow's films. This heartbreaking novel about friendship and identity is literary fiction at it's most masterful.

Innocents and Others is published by Picador


You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

by Alexandra Kleeman

You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman, published by 4th Estate

Zadie Smith has declared Alexandra Kleeman’s missing person mystery to be ‘as good a debut as I’ve ever read’. This is a book about consumerism, culture and identity and about the media’s obsession with youth and the body beautiful. Unanimously described by critics as a dry, funny and hyper intelligent blend of postmodern dystopia, pop culture, satire and philosophical investigation, this is destined to be one of the most talked about books this year.

You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is published by 4th Estate


Swimming Lessons

by Claire Fuller

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, published by Penguin Random House

Gil Coleman looks out of a window and spots his wife Ingrid standing on the pavement outside. Twelve years ago she went missing and was presumed drowned. He follows the woman and suffers a catastrophic accident himself as he pursues her. The sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home and together they try to unravel the mystery about their mother's disappearance. Is is dead? Or diid she leave? And is there a truth waiting to be discovered about Gil and Ingrid's marriage, in the unsent letters she wrote to him but secreted in books now scattered throughout the house? A thrilling mystery, beautifully written and satisfyingly tense.

Swimming Lessons is published by Penguin Random House


The Animators

by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker, published by Scribe

Two young women meet in an art class at an elite East Coast college. Sharon, from rural Kentucky, is full of ambition but unsure of herself while Mel, from the Florida backwaters, is talented and full of confidence. Both outsiders they become inseparately friends, bonding over their love of drawing and their similarly dysfunctional working class families. A decade later, Mel and Sharon are an award-winning Brooklyn-based animation duo. They've just released their first feature film and destined for even greater success. But cracks in their friendship begin to appear and then, out-of-the-blue, tragedy strikes and resentments rise to the surface.

The Animators is published by Scribe


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more book and author recommendations

Enjoyed this story? Share it