Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics

The new year feels well and truly underway now, with marking for work starting to pile up and the last few Christmas treats – a spare tub of mince pies was a wonderful extra find; I thought I’d made more than I’d eaten! – are running out. So this is a time to be grateful and excited for the year ahead and look at the books about to be released that will swell our already groaning tbr lists and bookshelves in the next six months.

Before we begin, one book I will not be buying is the hugely hyped Spare by Prince Harry – I have a mild curiosity about its contents but they seem all to have been leaked to the press already. I fully accept that the royal family – despite its privileges – may not be an easy place to grow up in, and the tragedy of his mother’s death I’d not wish on anyone… but a one-sided, partisan, woe-is-me diatribe from a young man who seems to revel in the same media frenzy that he professes to despise… sorry but no thanks Your Highness.

So, what will I be looking out for instead…

Hell Bent, Leigh Bardugo

Published 10th January

Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory?even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.

Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.

I came across Ninth House almost by accident, as it garnered a lot of praise online and on social media and it was with limited expectations that I read it, only to be thoroughly entertained by the imagination on show in her ghostly, magical campus thriller. It was full of great characters, including the enigmatic but compelling Darlington whose rescue from Hell is the focus in the sequel. Yes, it is on pre-order and I am reading The Cloisters by Katy Hays in anticipation.

Exiles, Jane Harper

Publication Date: 2nd February

A mother disappears from a busy festival on a warm spring night.

Her baby lies alone in the pram, her mother’s possessions surrounding her, waiting for a return which never comes.

A year later, Kim Gillespie’s absence still casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations on a rare break from work is federal investigator Aaron Falk, who begins to suspect that all is not as it seems.

As he looks into Kim’s case, long-held secrets and resentments begin to come to the fore, secrets that show that her community is not as close as it appears.

Falk will have to tread carefully if he is to expose the dark fractures at its heart, but sometimes it takes an outsider to get to the truth…

I loved The Dry for both its sense of place and the parallel revelations about both Falk and the friend whose death he was investigating. Although Falk’s second outing in Force of Nature was a good read, there was less Falk in it – although I suppose you can only give one character so many revelations! I hear tell that this one will be more of a return to him as a character and promises more secrets…

Victory City, Salman Rushdie

Publication Date: 9th February

In the wake of an insignificant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in fourteenth-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for the goddess Parvati, who tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga – literally ‘victory city’ – the wonder of the world.

Over the next two hundred and fifty years, Pampa Kampana’s life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga’s as she attempts to make good on the task that Parvati set for her: to give women equal agency in a patriarchal world. But all stories have a way of getting away from their creator, and as years pass, rulers come and go, battles are won and lost, and allegiances shift, Bisnaga is no exception.

I do find Rushdie a little hit-and-miss but he is such an iconic name and writer – and after the appalling and brutal attack on him last year, it is good to see a new novel. And he is often at his best when his stories are focused on that intersection of politics and story itself, which this seems to be.

A Day of Fallen Night, Samantha Shannon

Publication Date: 28th February

Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose.

To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be.

The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate.

When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat.

Another upcoming sequel, having loved The Priory of the Orange Tree – perhaps not as much as some people loved it – but enough to be excited about more dragons and delving into the past and the mythology of the world of Priory…

Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton

Publication Date: 2nd March

Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice, on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.

But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker – or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?

I loved Catton’s Booker Prize winning The Luminaries – although it was so intelligent I fear most of it went over my head with all the astrology. I loved it so much I followed it up almost immediately with her debut The Rehearsal which blew me away as one of the most powerful, wonderful, hilarious, disturbing books I have every read – and which is one of my most commonly recommended books. So a new Catton, after ten years, yes please!!!

The Book of Eve, Meg Clothier

Publication Date: 2nd March

In the name of the Father, not a word of this. Her letters are forbidden.

Beatrice is the convent’s librarian. For years, she has shunned the company of her sisters, finding solace only with her manuscripts.

Then, one carnival night, two women, bleeding and stricken, are abandoned outside the convent’s walls. Moments from death, one of them presses something into Beatrice’s hands: a bewitching book whose pages have a dangerous life of their own.

But men of the faith want the book destroyed, and a zealous preacher has tracked it to her door. Her sisters’ lives – or her obsession. Beatrice must decide.

The book’s voice is growing stronger.
An ancient power uncoils.
Will she dare to listen?

There seem to be echoes of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose here – but that is perhaps to put too much pressure on any writer! But, mysterious and powerful eldritch books? Who wouldn’t want to read about them?

Cursed Bread, Sophie Mackintosh

Publication Date: 2nd March

If you eat the bread, you’ll die, he said. The statement made no sense, but it filled me with an electric dread.

Elodie is the baker’s wife. A plain, unremarkable woman, ignored by her husband and underestimated by her neighbours, she burns with the secret desire to be extraordinary. One day a charismatic new couple appear in town – the ambassador and his sharp-toothed wife, Violet – and Elodie quickly falls under their spell. All summer long she stalks them through the shining streets: inviting herself into their home, eavesdropping on their coded conversations, longing to be part of their world.

Meanwhile, beneath the tranquil surface of daily life, strange things are happening. Six horses are found dead in a sun-drenched field, laid out neatly on the ground like an offering. Widows see their lost husbands walking up the moonlit river, coming back to claim them. A teenage boy throws himself into the bonfire at the midsummer feast. A dark intoxication is spreading through the town, and when Elodie finally understands her role in it, it will be too late to stop.

Love the title; hate the cover… it sounds like it is right up my street though: a small close claustrophobic community; mysterious events; and sinister baked goods!

Shy, Max Porter

Publication Date: 6th April

This is the story of a few strange hours in the life of a troubled teenage boy.

You mustn’t do that to yourself Shy. You mustn’t hurt yourself like that.

He is wandering into the night listening to the voices in his head: his teachers, his parents, the people he has hurt and the people who are trying to love him.

Got your special meds, nutcase?

He is escaping Last Chance, a home for ‘very disturbed young men’, and walking into the haunted space between his night terrors, his past and the heavy question of his future.

The absolute master of the haunting, poetic, lyrical short form novel – after Grief is the Thing with Feathers and Lanny anything written by Porter is an instant buy! And once again here, he is using language and narrative to explore a stricken mind, a mind that works differently… Such high hopes for this!

August Blue, Deborah Levy

Publication Date: 4th May

‘If she was my double and I was hers, was it true that she was knowing, I was unknowing, she was sane, I was crazy, she was wise, I was foolish? That summer, the air was electric between us as we transmitted our feelings to each other across three countries.’

Elsa M. Anderson is a classical piano virtuoso. In a flea market in Athens, she watches an enigmatic woman buy two mechanical dancing horses. Is it possible that the woman who is so enchanted with the horses is her living double? Is she also looking for reasons to live?

Chasing their doubles across Europe, the two women grapple with their conceptions of the world and each other, culminating in a final encounter in a fateful summer rainstorm.

A vivid portrait of a long-held identity coming apart, August Blue expands our understanding of the ways in which we seek to find ourselves in others and create ourselves anew.

Another novel from the author of Hot Milk and The Man Who Saw Everything? I don’t mind if I do!

The Happy Couple, Naoise Dolan

Publication Date: 25th May

Meet the happy couple. Luke and Celine, are in mutual unrequited love with each other, set to marry in a year’s time.

The best man, Archie, is meant to want to move up the corporate ladder and on from his love for Luke; yet he stands where he is, admiring the view.

The bridesmaid, Phoebe, Celine’s sister, has no long-term aspirations beyond smoking her millionth cigarette and getting to the bottom of Luke’s frequent unexplained disappearances.

Then there’s the guest, Vivian, who with the benefit of some emotional distance, methodically observes her friends like ants.

As the wedding approaches and these five lives intersect, each character will find themselves looking for a path to their happily ever after – but does it lie at the end of an aisle?

Having really enjoyed Exciting Times – and Naoise Dolan’s articles online on social media and in the press about living with autism and being autistic were very powerful – I am excited to see her second novel. There do seem to be echoes of Sally Rooney in the blurb here, but I found Exciting Times to be a much fresher and brighter voice than Rooney’s…

The Other Side of Mrs Wood, Lucy Barker

Publication Date: 22nd June

Mrs Wood is London’s most celebrated medium. She’s managed to survive decades in the competitive world of contacting the Other Side, has avoided the dreaded slips that revealed others as frauds and is still hosting packed-out séances for Victorian high society.

Yet, some of her patrons have recently cancelled their appointments. There are reports of American mediums nearly materialising full spirits and audiences are no longer satisfied with the knocking on tables and candle theatrics of years gone by. And then, at one of Mrs Wood’s routine gatherings, she hears something terrifying – faint, but unmistakable: a yawn.

Mrs Wood needs to spice up her brand. She decides to take on Emmie, a young protégé, to join her show. But is Emmie Finch the naïve ingenue she seems to be? Or does she pose more of a threat to Mrs Wood’s reign and, more horrifyingly, her reputation than Mrs Wood could ever have imagined?

This sounds like a great fun yarn, to be fair – Victorian England saw an intersection of the rational and the spiritual – wasn’t Conan Doyle himself deeply invested in spiritualism? For me personally, I’m hoping that the mediums (media? mediums?) perhaps unwittingly conjure something rather gothic… but I know no more than the blurb!

Overall, 2023 looks like almost all of my favourite authors have new books coming out! A fantastic array of exciting new novels from a parade of wonderful writers! It’s looking like a good year!

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes

January 17: Bookish Goals for 2023
January 24: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022 (If you didn’t read books by 10 new authors, share new-to-you authors whose books you added to your TBR in 2022. Get creative, if needed!)
January 31: Freebie

February 7: 2023 Debut Books I’m Excited About
February 14: Love/Valentine’s Day Freebie
February 21: Favorite Heroines
February 28: Genre Freebie
(Pick a genre and build a list around it. It could a list of favorites, a to-read list, recommendations for people interested in reading books in that genre, “if you like this, try this”, etc.)

17 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023”

  1. A Day of Fallen Night is much pacier than Priory IMO. I was also of the camp of enjoying the first book but not mad about it but I powered through the prequel. I’m eagerly awaiting Hell Bent too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve just gotten me to add a bunch of these that I never heard of to my TBR. And I’m thrilled to start Hell Bent as soon as I can – the waiting is torture!


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