My most anticipated reads in 2021

2021 is going to be SUCH a good year for readin’. From new releases to the latest paperback releases, I’ve pre-ordered so many books this season. I’m looking forward to the surprise of each one dropping onto my doormat.

So – I’ve pulled together a list of my most anticipated reads for 2021, including brand new launches, paperback editions, and even a couple of books that are already released but that I haven’t got around to yet. So here goes!

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was possibly my first pre-order of the season, and for a signed edition too! I’m a bit of a sucker for signed editions, especially when they’re by my favourite writers or author friends. This one seems to be such an exquisite blend of artificial intelligence and tenderness… I can’t wait!

The novel tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

Pre-order Klara and the Sun here.

The Second Bell by Gabriela Houston

By the fantastic Gabriela Houston, this book (an early pre-order from me!) really taps into my love of folklore, life in rural landscapes, and relationships in secluded communities. It’s already turning up in lots of ‘hotly anticipated’ lists for 2021, and I’m sure will be a contender when awards season comes around.

Here’s the blurb:

In an isolated mountain community, sometimes a child is born with two hearts. This child is called a striga and is considered a demon who must be abandoned on the edge of the forest. The child’s mother must then decide to leave with her infant, or stay and try to forget. Miriat made the choice to leave and live a life of deprivation and squalor in an isolated village. The striga tribe share the human belief that to follow the impulses of their other hearts is dangerous, inviting unspoken horrors and bringing ruin onto them all. Salka, a headstrong and independent young striga, finds herself in a life threatening situation that forces her to explore the depths of her true nature and test the bonds between mother and child…

Pre-order The Second Bell here.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

I’ve followed Genevieve Gornichec on Twitter for quite some time. I pre-ordered this at the end of 2020, and I’m so looking forward to losing myself in this world of Norse mythology (and seeing another side of Loki, too!)

Angrboda’s story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him-and any of his kind-grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love. Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life-and possibly all of existence-is in danger.

Pre-order The Witch’s Heart here.

The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison

I LOVE books which verge (or totally indulge themselves) in the experimental, and as a result I’ve become interested in the books nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020. These novels are lauded for pushing the boundaries of the novel form, and really open my mind to what’s possible. The Sunken Land Begins to Rise won the Goldsmith’s prize in 2020, and I can’t wait to receive my copy!

Here’s the blurb:

Shaw had a breakdown, but he’s getting himself back together. He has a single room, a job on a decaying London barge, and an on-off affair with a doctor’s daughter called Victoria, who claims to have seen her first corpse at age fourteen. It’s not ideal, but it’s a life. Or it would be if Shaw hadn’t got himself involved in a conspiracy theory that, on dark nights by the river, seems less and less theoretical . . .

Order The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again here.

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

You’ll start to see a bit of a fantastical and historical theme pop up in many of these titles! After 2020, we all need some escapism for sure. And while we can’t necessary go on far-flung adventures or quests of our own, at least our minds can, eh?

Here’s the blurb:

King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.

Pre-order Sistersong here.

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

Another contender for the Goldsmith’s Prize in 2020, I got this with a book voucher I got for Christmas. I chose to find an independent bookshop and treat myself, so emailed Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh and picked up this and a gorgeous tote bag too. It’s the next book on my ‘to be read’ pile, and I’m excited to lose myself in its deep, swirling seas.

Here’s the blurb:

April 1976. St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by this man David and his song.

Order The Mermaid of Black Conch here.

When I Think of My Body as a Horse by Wendy Pratt

Winner of the 2020 International Book & Pamphlet Competition, judged by Imtiaz Dharker (one of my favourite poets!) and Ian McMillan, I’ve been waiting for this poetry collection for a good while. Wendy Pratt is a real talent, and a huge voice in the poetry community. Since several years ago when I reviewed her earliest collections for Three Drops from a Cauldron and then when I read my own work at the launch of her previous collection, Gifts the Mole Gave Me, I’ve been eager to see what she’ll do next. Wendy runs regular writing courses for all levels, and her blog and Twitter are definitely worth a follow, too!

When I Think of My Body as a Horse is about trauma, recovery and the powerful, animal instincts embedded in the act of creating a family. These poems explore motherhood and body identity within the context of baby loss, when there is no ‘rainbow baby’ to add closure to the narrative.

Pre-order When I Think of My Body as a Horse here.

The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra by Adam Cesare, Iris Compiet, and Brian and Wendy Froud

I got this new release for Christmas! As a HUGE Dark Crystal and Brian Froud fan, this book is my dream. I can lose myself for hours in world of Thra, and find this sort of comprehensive encyclopaedia massively inspiring for art and writing alike.

In a world where rocks talk and trees dispense wisdom from across the ages, anything is possible. The Dark Crystal Bestiary is a comprehensive volume that catalogs the many lifeforms of Thra’s unique ecosystem. Drawing from all aspects of the Dark Crystal saga’s universe, this book is visually dazzling and filled with enthralling information about all of Thra’s lifeforms, making it the definitive guide to a world of wonders.

Order The Dark Crystal Bestiary here.

She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

And finally, this is a book I heard about through another blog (that of author Gabriela Houston), and it’s right up my street so had to be added to my list! She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a re-imagining of the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu was the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols, unified China under native rule, and became the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

Here’s the blurb:

In Mongol-occupied imperial China, a peasant girl refuses her fate of an early death. Stealing her dead brother’s identity to survive, she rises from monk to soldier, then to rebel commander. Zhu’s pursuing the destiny her brother somehow failed to attain: greatness. But all the while, she feels Heaven is watching.

Can anyone fool Heaven indefinitely, escaping what’s written in the stars? Or can Zhu claim her own future, burn all the rules and rise as high as she can dream?

Pre-order She Who Became The Sun here.

Is there anything on this list that’s inspired you? Pre-orders help authors and publishers enormously, whatever stage of their career they’re at. But why are they so important, and what happens when you pre-order a book? Find out in my recent blog post!

I’d also be a bad author (*slaps wrist prematurely*) if I didn’t mention my own debut novel, Composite Creatures, which is released on 13th April this year. It’s available for pre-order now and it’d mean the world to me if you’d pick up a copy! Find out more about it here on Goodreads, or find it on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Waterstones, and more good retailers too.

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