What’s better than reading the third book by your favorite author? Discovering the first book by a new and wonderfully talented debut author! Find out what the literary world has been missing with these seven smashing must-read debuts.
“You Had Me at Hello”:
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.
Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.
Do You Believe in Magic?:
The Waking Land by Callie Bates
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and fantasy fiction.
Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.
Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father. Feeling a strange connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the powers that are suddenly stirring within her.
But an all-too-human threat is drawing near and now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance.
Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes:
Passage by Khary Lazarre-White
Warrior, a young black man navigating the winter streets of Harlem and Brooklyn in 1993, is constantly confronting the urban forces that surround him. For Warrior and his peers, the reminders that they, as black men, aren’t meant to be fully free, are everywhere and he is haunted by the spirits of ancestors and of the demons of the system of oppression. Though the story told in Passage takes place in 1993, there is a striking parallel between Warrior’s experience and the experiences of black male youth today. Every memory in the novel is the memory of thousands of black families. Every conversation is a message both to those still in their youth and those who left their youth behind long ago. Passage is a novel for then and now.
Prepare for Powerful Prose:
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.
Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin.
Then Turtle meets Jacob, and for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
This celebrated, unforgettable first novel, shortlisted for the prestigious Bailey’s Prize, gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage–and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.
Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine.
Read with the Lights On:
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
From actress, producer, and writer, Krysten Ritter, comes an unforgettable debut novel with tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles.
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home. But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
As she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret it will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community.
Séance Infernale by Jonathan Skariton
An extraordinary, dark, fast-paced, and thrilling debut novel.
Alex Whitman, movie memorabilia dealer, is hired to locate what could be the first film ever made, Séance Infernale. Its creator, Augustin Sekuler, is considered to be the true inventor of motion pictures.
Sekuler was to present to the world in 1890 his greatest new invention, the first of its kind—a moving picture machine—but he never arrived. He and his moving picture machine vanished, his claim in history as the inventor of the moving image vanishing with him.
In this riveting story of suspense, the search for the answers lead to curious riddles—setting in motion a frantic hunt taking Whitman from Los Angeles and Paris, to Geneva, and finally to Sekuler’s ancient labyrinthine city of Edinburgh—that may (or may not) shed light on Sekuler’s darkest secret.
Looking to discover more first-time writers? Dip into our Debut Fiction Sampler and get a taste of 9 great novels hitting shelves this fall.