By Anna Robinson, Charlotte Barber, Jaime Butler and Maisy Twaddle
Not That Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams
16 February, Little, Brown
Modern dating is hard – often horrible – and nothing like what books and films make it seem. But in Luci Adams’ hilarious contemporary twist on the classic fairy tales of childhood, we see the realities of millennial dating and the highs and lows of trying to find a partner. In a London flat share lives aspiring author Bella Marble, whose ultimate goal in life is to find love. But one fateful week changes everything. When her best friend moves in with a boring ogre and her parents announce their marriage is ending, Bella’s idea of love and the hope of finding ‘the one’ crumbles.
In an attempt to satisfy both her personal and professional lives, Bella decides it’s time to write a brand-new happy ending. While London may be devoid of princes, there are plenty of frogs to kiss (and then tell). With themes of female friendship and sexual empowerment, this novel will tug at your heartstrings and also make you laugh out loud. Easy to devour in one sitting, it’s an ideal beach read for those sick of swiping on Hinge or hoping to find a decent human in the hellscape of online dating.
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
21 February, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Alex dreams of becoming a published author and just when she has almost given up, she’s invited on a life-changing writing retreat. The month-long trip is held at the estate of renowned feminist horror writer, Roza Vallo. With a chance to revive her career, nothing could stop Alex from attending – not even the fact that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, will also be there.
Soon after their arrival at the retreat, it’s revealed that all writers must complete an entire novel from scratch and the author of the best one will win a seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to prove to herself and those around her that she can make her dream a reality, Alex sets out to write her best novel yet. She tries to ignore the strange happenings around the mansion and its alleged haunting, but when one of the writers disappears during a snowstorm, Alex realises that there may be something more sinister going on.
As her time at the retreat comes to an end, Alex may be running out of time to discover the truth and perhaps even to save herself.
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
21 February, Viking Press
Bodie Kane’s roommate Thalia was murdered back in 1995 – just one of many tragic events marking Bodie’s painful adolescence. Now a successful professor and podcaster, she returns to teach at the very same school she once attended, content that Thalia’s murder was well investigated and justly solved, contrary to what online theorists believe.
But once she is there, Bodie is drawn again into the old investigation. Against her better judgement, she begins to wonder if the easily solved murder was more complex than it originally seemed. Bodie comes face-to-face with uncomfortable truths about her time at Granby School alongside the familial pain of her past. Worst of all, she is forced to consider the possibility that she may have held the key to solving this case all along.
I Have Some Questions for You is a haunting boarding school murder mystery, but told from years after the tragedy occurred. Makkai fills the novel with enticing drama, stirring crime and unforgettable emotion.
Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas
7 March, OneWorld Publications
Hypnotic and sensual, Madelaine Lucas weaves a tender tale of a young woman and the summer she spends adrift after finishing college. She takes a trip with her mother to the isolated Australian coastal town of Sailor’s Beach, and in the search for something to anchor herself and her uncertain future, she meets Jude. Jude is an older man who offers her the stability that she craves, and he will change everything.
Many years later, questions in both the past and present gain urgency, and she must look back on the choices that she made during the summer that changed her life and shaped her into the woman that she had yearned to become.
Headily atmospheric, this debut from Madelaine Lucas is a beautiful account of a young woman at a crossroads, stuck between her loyalty to her family and her desire to forge a life of her own.