It’s November. We’ve just about made it through Halloween – which means the big c-word is looming just over the horizon, and supermarkets are preparing to replace their aisles of werewolf masks with endless rows of tinsel and advent calendars. Luckily, in preparation for the festive season, some fantastic books are being released over the next month. The only problem is that any books you buy as gifts, you’re going to want to keep for yourself. Dammit.
1. Heartless – Marissa Meyer
When I saw that this novel was set in the over-written Wonderland, I was kind of put off it, if I’m honest. However, I read on to find that it’s a really innovative spin-off about the Queen of Hearts’ time as a girl trying to figure out how to spend her life, before being caught up in a romance with the then-unmarried King of Hearts. It’s definitely one of the more original takes on the timeless Lewis Carroll classic.
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay – J.K. Rowling
Not only do we have the new film to get excited about, but J.K. Rowling is also treating us to her screenwriting debut. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set quite a few years before Potter’s time and follows the Magizoologist Newt Scamander as he tries to control the creatures he will later write a Hogwarts textbook about. If you’re desperate to see the film but will mope around afterwards because you have to wait for it to be released on DVD, this is perfect – you can take it home with you and have the magic of Rowling’s words at your fingertips.
3. The Hanging Tree – Ben Aaronovitch
Originally a screenwriter for programmes such as Doctor Who, Ben Aaronovitch took up prose writing and is now releasing the sixth book in his Rivers of London series. The Hanging Tree is a quaint book about Peter Grant, a London wizarding police officer, and his experiences dealing with scandals, the rich, and the powerful. And of course, what’s a book about a police constable without a couple of deaths and some very suspicious activity?
4. Evelyn, After: A Novel – Victoria Helen Stone
Victoria Helen Stone (also known as Victoria Dahl, author of Talk Me Down) has begun writing under this pseudonym in the hope that her more dramatic novels aren’t caught up in the same pool as her romance novels. Evelyn, After follows Evelyn Tester after an affair between her husband and one of his patients is messily uncovered. It’s a story about choices, reputation and consequences, and a woman’s way of saving her family after betrayal.
5. The Midnight Gang – David Walliams
After the success of other books such as The Boy in the Dress and Gangsta Granny, David Walliams’ new book was bound to be good, and it certainly looks like a lot of fun. The comedian is emerging in the kids’ fiction world as someone who could be the new Roald Dahl – and no, that’s not because Quentin Blake illustrates his books. They’re light-hearted, funny, and charming; The Midnight Gang could be an awesome stocking filler for your little’uns.
6. Overview: A New Perspective of Earth – Benjamin Grant
This one’s a cheat – it’s not a novel, but a photography collection by the wonderful Benjamin Grant. Having said that, the photos can probably tell you as much about the Earth as a full-length novel, just because the documentary and aesthetic qualities are so powerful. If you’re interested in photography, nature, or both, I’d really recommend this book.
7. Night School – Lee Child
Jack Reacher returns in Night School, the 21st Lee Child novel following his adventures. A Saudi courier, an old Army friend, and a couple of highly intelligent FBI agents are in the line-up with Reacher, promising a book as intense, dramatic and action-packed as the other twenty. Come on – if he’s had this many books about the same guy, they’re bound to be pretty good.
8. Blood Lines – Angela Marsons
Blood Lines is the fifth and final book in Angela Marsons’ thriller series about Detective Kim Stone. In this dramatic finale, there’s a very complex and long-winded murder (naturally), and it’s Stone’s job to get to the bottom of it, whilst avoiding all the twists and turns that come with being the leader of a team of detectives. It seems like one of those books that you need to just storm through, and then sit and think over afterwards, with all the suspense hot on your breath. Perfect for a chilly autumn evening, don’t you think?
9. Enid Blyton for Grown Ups – Bruno Vincent
The new-wave Famous Five adventures are probably not as innocent and carefree as the classics you’re familiar with. The titles include Five Give Up the Booze, Five On Brexit Island, Five Go Parenting, and Five Go Gluten Free. They’re just funny, satirical novellas recreating everyone’s favourite childhood stories in more contemporary and probably realistic scenarios.