Books to look forward to in 2020
Hello and welcome to my list of books to look forward to in 2020. First up, I need a prepare you for how ridiculously long this list is. After me saying that 2019 hadn’t been a great year for my reading, 2020 looks like it’s going to be superb. From highly anticipated novels such as The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John to debuts like Pine by Francine Toon, there’s a little bit of everything on this list. 2020 sees the return of Sarah Pinborough with Dead to Her, and I’m excited to welcome the brand new Serpent’s Tail imprint, Viper Books with A Famished Heart by Nicola White.
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid – Jan 7
When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix, a feminist blogger with the best of intentions, resolves to make things right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.
The Unforgetting by Rose Black – Jan 9
Her fate was decided. Her death was foretold. Her past is about to be unforgotten…
1851. When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she dreams of finding fame on the London stage. But Erasmus Salt wants Lilly not as an actress, but as his very own ghost – the heart of his elaborate illusion for those desperate for a glimpse of the spirit world . . .
Obsessed with perfection, Erasmus goes to extreme lengths to ensure his illusion is realistic. When Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her headstones in the cemetery, she realises that she is trapped, her own parents think she is dead, and that her fate is soon to become even darker . . .
Long Bright River by Liz Moore – Jan 9
I adored Liz Moore’s 2013 novel Heft and although this is a completely different genre, I’m very excited to read her again.
Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.
When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton – Jan 9
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. From the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
When the Dead Come Calling by Helen Sedgwick – Jan 9
Helen Sedgwick’s novel, The Growing Season, was one of my favourite books of 2017 so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that When the Dead Come Calling is just as great.
In the first of the Burrowhead Mysteries, an atmospheric murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where no one is innocent. When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, the local police force of Georgie, Trish and Simon investigate. Leads take them from Alexis’s recent clients to local bullies, exposing a maelstrom of racism, misogyny, abuse and homophobia that has been simmering beneath the surface of the village. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband Fred, Georgie starts to realise something bad is lurking under the soil in Burrowhead, while someone (or something) equally threatening is hiding in the strange and haunted cave beneath the cliffs.
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha – Jan 16
Grace Park and Shawn Mathews share a city – Los Angeles – but seemingly little else. Coming from different generations and very different communities, their paths wouldn’t normally cross at all. As Grace battles confusion over her elder sister’s estrangement from their Korean-immigrant parents, Shawn tries to help his cousin Ray readjust to city life after years spent in prison.
But something in their past links these two families. As the city around them threatens to erupt into violence, echoing the worst days of the early 1990s, the lives of Grace and Shawn are set to collide in ways which will change them all forever.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – Jan 21
Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.
Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.
For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.
Agency by William Gibson – Jan 23
They call Verity ‘the app-whisperer’, and she’s just been hired by a shadowy start-up to evaluate a pair-of-glasses-cum-digital-assistant called Eunice. Only Eunice has other ideas.
Pretty soon, Verity knows that Eunice is smarter than anyone she’s ever met, conceals some serious capabilities and is profoundly paranoid – which is just as well since suddenly some bad people are after Verity.
Meanwhile, in a post-apocalyptic London a century from now, PR fixer Wilf Netherton is tasked by all-seeing policewoman Ainsley Lowbeer with interfering in the alternative past in which Verity and Eunice exist. It appears something nasty is about to happen there – and fixing it will require not only Eunice’s unique human-AI skillset but also a little help from the future.
A future which Verity soon fears may never be . . .
Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah – Jan 23
All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.
Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora Braid for twelve years.
But she can’t resist. She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except…
There’s something terribly wrong.
Flora looks the same, only older – just as Beth would have expected. It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.
They are no taller, no older.
Why haven’t they grown?
The Other People C J Tudor – Jan 23
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.
She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’
It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
He never sees her again.
Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.
Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .
Pine by Francine Toon – Jan 23
Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.
In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.
Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – Jan 30
Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality cop shows, thinks he’s smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job).
When a boy at school goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from episodes of Police Patrol to find him. With Pari and Faiz by his side, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the sprawling Indian city; the bazaar at night, and even the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. But kids continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth.
Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth – Jan 30
I don’t know much about Emma Jane’s forthcoming Adults but I adored her debut, Animals, so much, so that I’ll be tracking this down no matter what.
Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.
Recipe for a Perfect Life by Karma Brown – Feb 4
When Alice Hale leaves a career to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in the basement, she becomes captivated by its previous owner: 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the pages Nellie left clues about her life.
Soon Alice learns that while a Baked Alaska may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister, even dangerous, side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power – Feb 6
Everyone loses something to the Tox; Hetty lost her eye, Reese’s hand has changed, and Byatt just disappeared completely.
It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put in quarantine. The Tox turned the students strange and savage, the teachers died off one by one. Cut off from the mainland, the girls don’t dare wander past the school’s fence where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure as the Tox takes; their bodies becoming sick and foreign, things bursting out of them, bits missing.
But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie in the wilderness past the fence. As she digs deeper, she learns disturbing truths about her school and what else is living on Raxter Island. And that the cure might not be a cure at all . . .
The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray – Feb 6
A WORLD HALF IN DARKNESS. A SECRET SHE MUST BRING TO LIGHT.
2059. The world has stopped turning.
One half suffers an endless frozen night; the other, nothing but burning sun.
Only in a slim twilit region can life survive.
In an isolationist Britain, Ellen Hopper receives a letter from a dying man.
It contains a powerful and dangerous secret.
One that those in power will kill to conceal…
Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica – Feb 6
Marcos Tejo’s job is to slaughter humans. Only no-one calls them that – not since the ‘Transition’. When animals became infected with a virus lethal to humans, they had to be rounded up and killed. Faced with unrest, hunger and an insatiable demand for meat, governments around the world legalized industrial human meat production.
Surrounded by bland euphemisms and routine violence, Marcos simply tries to get on with his job. But when the head of a breeding centre ‘gifts’ him a woman bred for slaughter, the anguished feelings he has been holding at bay threaten to explode the tightly controlled structure of his life.
The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams – Feb 6
It is 1871. At the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter, Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds has descended. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher is waning, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision – revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always – takes shape.
It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: rashes, seizures, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperate, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician – just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ condition worsens, Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities of her world, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable.
Are You Watching by Vincent Ralph – Feb 6
Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.
She was the first of his victims, but not the last.
Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.
The whole world is watching her every move.
And so is the Magpie
The Foundling by Stacey Halls – Feb 6
London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.
Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Feb 6
Hiram Walker is born into bondage on a Virginia plantation. But he is also born gifted with a mysterious power that he won’t discover until he is almost a man, when he risks everything for a chance to escape. One fateful decision will carry him away from his makeshift plantation family – his adoptive mother, Thena, a woman of few words and many secrets, and his beloved, angry Sophia – and into the covert heart of the underground war on slavery.
Hidden amidst the corrupt grandeur of white plantation society, exiled as guerrilla cells in the wilderness, buried in the coffin of the deep South and agitating for utopian ideals in the North, there exists a widespread network of secret agents working to liberate the enslaved. Hiram joins their ranks and learns fast but in his heart he yearns to return to his own still-enslaved family, to topple the plantation that was his first home. But to do so, he must first master his unique power and reclaim the story of his greatest loss.
Propulsive, transcendent and blazing with truth, The Water Dancer is a story of oppression and resistance, separation and homecoming. Ta-Nehisi Coates imagines the covert war of an enslaved people in response to a generations-long human atrocity – a war for the right to life, to kin, to freedom.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano – Feb 20
One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 192 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle’s garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.
As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
A Famished Heart by Nicolar White – Feb 27
The Macnamara sisters hadn’t been seen for months before anyone noticed. It was Father Timoney who finally broke down the door, who saw what had become of them. Berenice was sitting in her armchair, surrounded by religious tracts. Rosaleen had crawled under her own bed, her face frozen in terror. Both had starved themselves to death.
Francesca Macnamara returns to Dublin after decades in the US, to find her family in ruins. Meanwhile, Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are convinced that there is more to the deaths than suicide. Because what little evidence there is, shows that someone was watching the sisters die…
The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey – March 5
Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .
Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.
Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.
As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?
Spark by Naoki Matayoshi – March 5
Tokunaga is young, broke, self conscious and a manzai comedian. Kamiya is an older, more established, frequently drunk and seemingly without any inhibitions whatsoever. They are both desperate to succeed, but will they have to abandon their comedic ideals along the way?
The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel – March 5
Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.
She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .
Turns out her mother is a really good liar.
After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with her daughter – and care for her new infant grandson.
When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend.
But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty won’t rest until she has her daughter back under her thumb. Which is inconvenient because Rose Gold wants to be free of Patty.
Only one Watts woman will get her way.
Will it be Patty or Rose Gold? Mother or daughter?
The Broken Ones by Ren Richards – March 5
A bestselling true crime writer, Nell tells other people’s stories. But there is one story she won’t tell. Ten years ago, she was a teenage mother with a four-year-old she found desperately hard to love. Then the little girl disappeared.
As Nell begins to interview the subject of her next book, a woman convicted of murdering her twin sister, it becomes clear that someone has uncovered her true identity. And they know that Nell didn’t tell the truth about the day her daughter vanished…
This Lovely City by Louise Hare – March 12
With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.
Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.
As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.
The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher – March 17
When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?
Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more – Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants… until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.
Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors – because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.
Keeper by Jessica Moor – March 19
He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.
When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.
But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.
Will you listen to them?
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld – March 26
Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other.
In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community.
Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell – March 31
Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.
She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.
Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.
Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.
Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan – April 2
Liz and Jess have been friends for ten years, ever since they both started a family. But how well do they really know each other?
When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call.
Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets.
As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself.
When something feels so personal, how do you stay professional?
From the bestselling author of The Silence comes a brand-new horror eco thriller. In large areas of the planet, nature is no longer humanity’s friend
In a time when Earth’s rising oceans contain enormous islands of refuse, the Amazon rainforest is all-but destroyed, and countless species edge towards extinction, the Virgin Zones were established in an attempt to combat the change. Off-limits to humanity and given back to nature, these thirteen vast areas of land were intended to become the lungs of the world.
Dylan leads a clandestine team of adventurers into Eden, the oldest of the Zones. Attracted by the challenges and dangers posed by the primal lands, extreme competitors seek to cross them with a minimum of equipment, depending only on their raw skills and courage. Not all survive.
Also in Dylan’s team is his daughter Jenn, and she carries a secret – Kat, his wife who abandoned them both years ago, has entered Eden ahead of them. Jenn is determined to find her mother, but neither she nor the rest of their tight-knit team are prepared for what confronts them. Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way. And here, nature is no longer humanity’s friend.
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin – 16 April (cover TBC)
They look harmless enough: you could even call them cute. A cuddly panda, a brightly-coloured dragon, a miniature crow. They’re part of the latest craze exploding from Croatia to Norway to Brazil: they are ‘Kentukis’.
Not quite a phone, not quite a toy, not quite a robot, Kentukis contain cameras which allow someone on the other side of the planet to access the most intimate moments of another person’s life. And it doesn’t take long for these apparently innocent devices to fall prey to our dark obsession with technology.
Notes From an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell (non-fiction) – April 16
In the remote mountains of Scotland, in high-tech bunkers in South Dakota and in the lush valleys of New Zealand, small groups of determined men and women are getting ready.
They are environmentalists who fear the ravages of climate change; billionaire entrepreneurs dreaming of life on Mars; and right-wing conspiracists yearning for a lost American idyll. One thing unites them: their certainty that we are only years away from the end of civilization as we know it.
Not unconcerned himself by the possibility of the end of days, Mark O’Connell set out to meet them.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – April 30
Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.
Cleanness by Garth Greenwell – April 30
Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song.
In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with a younger man opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh – May 7
Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back.
But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?
Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.
Pursuit by Joyce Carol Oates – May 7
As a child, Abby had the same recurring nightmare night after night, in which she wandered through a field ridden with human skulls and bones. Now an adult, Abby thinks she’s outgrown her demons, until, the evening before her wedding, the terrible dream returns and forces her to confront the dark secrets from her past she has kept from her new husband, Willem. The following day less than 24 hours after exchanging vows Abby steps out into traffic. As his wife lies in her hospital bed, sleeping in fits and starts, Willem tries to determine whether this was an absentminded accident or a premeditated plunge, and he quickly discovers a mysterious set of clues about what his wife might be hiding. Why, for example is there a rash-like red mark circling her wrist? What does she dream about that causes her to wake from the sound of her own screams?
Slowly, Abby begins to open up to her husband, revealing to him what she has never shared with anyone before the story of a terrified mother; a jealous, drug addled father; and a daughter’s terrifying captivity.
Dear Child by Romy Hausmann – May 14
A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: Meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.
One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace 14 years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle which doesn’t quite seem to fit.
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami – May 14
Breasts and Eggs follows the lives of three women: the 30-year-old unmarried narrator who is desperate to have a child, her older sister Makiko, an aging hostess who’s obsessed with getting breast implants and her teenage daughter, Midoriko who refuses to communicate with her mother except through writing. With humour and compassion, Kawakami paints a portrait of womanhood in contemporary Japan, probing questions of motherhood, beauty norms and how time works on the female body.
Devolution by Max Brooks – May 14
As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.
But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing – and too earth-shattering in its implications – to be forgotten.
In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the beasts behind it, once thought legendary but now known to be terrifyingly real.
Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.
Yet it is also far more than that.
Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us – and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.
The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – May 19
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.
Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates – May 28 (cover TBC)
An explosive book examining the rise of secretive, extremist communities who despise women. In this ground-breaking investigation, Laura traces the roots of misogyny across a complex spiders web of groups extending from Men’s Rights Activists and Pick up Artists to Men Going their Own Way, Trolls and the Incel movement, in the name of which some men have committed terrorist acts. Drawing parallels with other extremist movements around the world, Bates seeks to understand what attracts men to the movement, how it grooms and radicalises boys, how it operates and what can be done to stop it. Most urgently of all, she traces the pathways this extreme ideology has taken from the darkest corners of the internet to emerge covertly in our mainstream media, our playgrounds and our parliament. Going undercover on and offline, Laura provides the first, comprehensive look at this hitherto under-the-radar phenomenon, including fascinating interviews with former members of these communities, the academics studying this movement and the men fighting back.
The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker – May 28
A twisting new thriller from the author of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of two brutal murders.
Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and arrest the murderer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.
But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still out there, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been proved horribly true.
What happened to Stephanie Mailer?
What did she know?
And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?
A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill – June 2
Noah Turner’s family are haunted by monsters that are all too real, strange creatures that visit them all: His bookish mother Margaret; Lovecraft-obsessed father Harry; eldest sister Sydney, born for the spotlight; the brilliant but awkward Eunice, a gifted writer and storyteller – the Turners each face their demons alone.
When his terminally-ill father becomes obsessed with the construction of an elaborate haunted house – the Wandering Dark – the family grant his last wish, creating themselves a legacy, and a new family business in their grief. But families don’t talk about the important things, and they try to shield baby Noah from horrors, both staged and real.
As the family falls apart, fighting demons of poverty, loss and sickness, the real monsters grow ever closer. Unbeknownst to them, Noah is being visited by a wolfish beast with glowing orange eyes. Noah is not the first of the Turners to meet the monster, but he is the first to let it into his room…
The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig – June 4
When Hannah is invited into the First-Class carriage of the London to Penzance train by Jinni, she walks into a spider’s web. Now a poor young single mother, Hannah once escaped Cornwall to go to university. But once she married Jake and had his child, her dreams were crushed into bitter disillusion. Her husband has left her for Eve, rich and childless, and Hannah has been surviving by becoming a cleaner in London. Jinni is equally angry and bitter, and in the course of their journey the two women agree to murder each other’s husbands. After all, they are strangers on a train – who could possibly connect them?
But when Hannah goes to Jinni’s husband’s home the next night, she finds Stan, a huge, hairy, ugly drunk who has his own problems – not least the care of a half-ruined house and garden. He claims Jinni is a very different person to the one who has persuaded Hannah to commit a terrible crime. Who is telling the truth – and who is the real victim?
The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machell (non-fiction) – June 4
Stephen Jackley was a young, British Geography student with Asperger’s Syndrome. When the global financial crisis hit in 2007, he became obsessed with the idea of Robin Hood. With no prior experience, he resolved to become a bank robber. He would steal from the rich and give to the poor. Against all likelihood, his plan actually worked. Jackley used disguise, elaborate escape routes and replica pistols to successfully hold up a string of banks, making away with thousands of pounds. He committed ten robberies in south-west England over a six-month period. Bank notes marked with ‘RH’ – ‘Robin Hood’ – began finding their way into the hands of the homeless. The police, despite their concerted efforts, had no idea what was going on or who was responsible. That is until Jackley’s ambition got the better of him. This is his story.
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante – June 9 (UK cover TBC)
Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly. The sentence was uttered under his breath, in the apartment that my parents, newly married, had bought in Rione Alto, at the top of Via San Giacomo dei Capri. Everythingthe spaces of Naples, the blue light of a very cold February, those wordsremained fixed. But I slipped away, and am still slipping away, within these lines that are intended to give me a story, while in fact I am nothing, nothing of my own, nothing that has really begun or really been brought to completion: only a tangled knot, and nobody, not even the one who at this moment is writing, knows if it contains the right thread for a story or is merely a snarled confusion of suffering, without redemption.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce – June 25
It is 1950. In a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover their best selves.
Sisters by Daisy Johnson – July 2
Something unspeakable has happened to sisters July and September.
Desperate for a fresh start, their mother Sheela moves them across the country to an old family house that has a troubled life of its own. Noises come from behind the walls. Lights flicker of their own accord. The dank basement, where July and September once made a blood promise to each other, is deeply disquieting.
In their new, unsettling surroundings, July finds that the fierce bond she’s always had with September is beginning to change in ways she cannot understand.
Zed by Joanna Kavenna – July 4
Self-anointed guru of the Digital Age, Guy Matthias, CEO of Beetle, has become one of the world’s most powerful and influential figures. Untaxed and ungoverned, his trans-Atlantic company essentially operates beyond the control of Governments or the law.
But trouble is never far away, and for Guy a perfect storm is brewing: his wife wants to leave him, fed up with his serial infidelities; malfunctioning Beetle software has led to some unfortunate deaths which are proving hard to cover up; his longed for deal with China is proving troublingly elusive and, among other things, the mystery hacker, Gogol, is on his trail.
With the clock ticking- Guy, his aide Douglas Varley, Britain’s flailing female PM, conflicted national security agent Eloise Jayne, depressed journalist David Strachey, and Gogol, whoever that may be – the question is becoming ever more pressing, how do you live in reality when nobody knows anything, and all knowledge, all certainty, is partly or entirely fake?
The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams – July 16
Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.
Peter Winceworth, a disaffected Victorian lexicographer, inserts false entries into a dictionary – violating and subverting the dictionary’s authority – in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. In the present day, Mallory, a young overworked and underpaid intern employed by the dictionary’s publishing house, is tasked with uncovering these entries before the work is digitised. As the novel progresses and their narratives combine, as Winceworth imagines who will find his fictional words in an unknown future and Mallory discovers more about the anonymous lexicographer’s life through the clues left in his fictitious entries, both discover how they might negotiate the complexities of an absurd, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, undefinable life.
The Resident by David Jackson – July 16
Thomas Brogan is a serial killer, and he has nowhere left to hide. At least until he finds an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he discovers that he can access three other houses through the attic space, the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Brogan enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…
The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi by Megan Campisi – July 23
A Sin Eater’s duty is a necessary evil: she hears the confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite. Stained by these sins, she is shunned and silenced, doomed to live in exile at the edge of town.
Recently orphaned May Owens is just fourteen, only concerned with where her next meal is coming from. When she’s arrested for stealing a loaf of bread, however, and subsequently sentenced to become a Sin Eater, finding food is suddenly the last of her worries.
It’s a devastating sentence, but May’s new invisibility opens new doors. And when first one then two of the Queen’s courtiers suddenly grow ill, May hears their deathbed confessions – and begins to investigate a terrible rumour that is only whispered of amid palace corridors.
Afterland by Lauren Beukes – July 28
Cole and her twelve-year-old, Miles, are on the lam. Fleeing across the American West, they’re desperate to find a safe haven. Until they do, they must maintain their disguise–as mother and daughter. Because Miles, a boy, is the most valuable commodity in the world.
Within just a few, horrifying years, ninety-nine percent of the global male population has died in a pandemic. Now, women run everything, from neighborhood bars to police departments to research programs searching for a way to keep the human race going.
Stealthily and swiftly carving a trail from luxury bunker to anarchist commune to nomadic religious cult, Miles and Cole will need all their cunning, planning, and luck to outmaneuver the very bad, very dangerous people who are hot on their heels-among them, Cole’s own sister.
True Story by Kate Reed Petty – Aug 4 (cover TBC)
After a college party, two boys drive a girl home: drunk and passed out in the back seat. Rumours spread about what they did to her, but later they’ll tell the police a different version of events. Alice will never remember what truly happened. Her fracture runs deep, hidden beneath cleverness and wry humour. Nick – a sensitive, misguided boy who stood by – will never forget.
That’s just the beginning of this extraordinary journey into memory, fear and self-portrayal. Through university applications, a terrifying abusive relationship, a fateful reckoning with addiction and a final mind-bending twist, Alice and Nick will take on different roles to each other – some real, some invented – until finally, brought face to face once again, the secret of that night is revealed.
Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough – Aug 6
When Marcie met Jason Maddox, she couldn’t believe her luck. Becoming Jason’s second wife catapulted her into the elite world of high society. But underneath the polite, old money manners, she knows she’ll always be an outsider, and her hard-won life hangs by a thread.
Then Jason’s widowed boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, beautiful, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Jason.
Something you can never, ever undo…
Marcie refuses to be replaced so easily. People would kill for her life of luxury. What will Marcie do to keep it?
When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins – Aug 6
She had lived a lie for thirteen years, and the perfect life as she had known it was about to change forever.
Everyone remembered Sara and Shannon Carter, the little blonde haired sisters. Their Dad was the local GP and they lived in the beautiful house on the hill. Their best friend, Brinley Booth, lived next door. They would do anything for each other but everything shifted on that fateful day when Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were stabbed fourteen times with a pair of scissors in what has become the most talked about double murder of the modern age.
The girls were aged ten and twelve at the time. One, nicknamed the Angel of Death, spent eight years in a children’s secure unit accused of the brutal killings. The other lived in foster care out of the limelight and prying questions. Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down one of the sisters, persuading her to speak about the events of that night for the first time.
Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and Brinley Booth, now a journalist, is tasked with covering the news story which brings to light fresh evidence and triggers a chain of events which will have devastating consequences.
The Edge by James Smythe – Aug 6
James Smythe is one of my favourite authors of all time, and if you haven’t read any of his novels you’re doing life wrong. The Edge will be the third in The Explorer series, following on from The Explorer and The Echo:
Years ago, a vast and mysterious object known as the Anomaly was discovered in deep space. All missions to explore and explain it have failed.
Now, as it draws close to Earth, threatening to swallow up the planet, a team of scientists desperately seek a way to destroy it or arrest its progress.
The Less Dead by Denise Mina – August 20
The Lomg Drop by Denise Mina was one of my favourite books of 2017 so I can’t wait to read more from her:
When Margot goes in search of her birth mother for the first time, she meets her aunt, Nikki, instead. Margot learns that her mother, Susan, was a sex worker murdered soon after Margot’s adoption. To this day, Susan’s killer has never been found.
Nikki asks Margot for help. She has received threatening and haunting letters from the murderer, for decades. She is determined to find him, but she can’t do it alone…
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – Sept 15
Susanne Clarke’s debut best-selling novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was published in 2004, and 2020 sees her highlly anticipated return:
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.
In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides which thunder up staircases, the clouds which move in slow procession through the upper halls.
On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food and waterlilies to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.
Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?
Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata – Oct 1
I’m very excited for the next novel from the writer behind Convenience Store Woman:
Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what. Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?
There you have it, my choice of books to look forward to in 2020 (and possibly the longest list of books I’ve ever done on this blog!). I hope you’ve found at least one book that gets you excited to go to your nearest bookshop. If I’ve missed anything you’re dying to read please let me know in the comments below. I’m especially on the hunt for more YA and horror.
If you’ve enjoyed this, take a look at my reviews for my favourite books of all time.
I had a few of this on my wishlist, and I’ve added a few more, thank you.
Let me know what you think of them when you read them! I’m going to try and get round to as many of these as I can. I’ve just started American Dirt and the opener is incredible.