The AU’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022: Jan – Mar

We’re a week in 2022 and it’s already looking like it’s going to be a year for escapism. Case numbers and rising, people are finding themselves in iso. So why not ride it out with a good book?

Once again, the AU Books Team are looking ahead and picking out some choice cuts of the myriad of forthcoming literary delights. There are so many books published each week, month, and year, so this is only the briefest snapshot of what’s coming out; an appetiser really. In March alone, there are so many great books coming out, we were almost left with too many to choose from. 

From Scottish estates, to Western Sydney, from China to rural Norway, these are some of the books we’re most looking forward to in the first months of 2022. We’ll see you back here in late March to see what the next three months have in store. Until then… happy reading! 

January

Hare House – Sally Hinchcliffe

Pan Macmillan | Pub Date: 11th January | Pre-Order HERE

Simon: A mysterious woman arrives in Scotland having left her job in London. Moving into a cottage on the remote estate of Hare House, she begins to explore her new home. Where amongst the picturesque scenery something altogether more sinister lurks: local tales of witchcraft, clay figures and young men sent mad. Striking up a friendship with her landlord and his younger sister, the woman begins to suspect that all might not be quite as it seems at Hare House.

It seems my new January tradition is to read books set in spooky Scottish properties. Last year it was Jenni Fagan’s Luckenbooth, this year I’m looking forward to getting stuck into Sally Hinchcliffe’s Hare House. With promises of wintry folk horror, withcraft and curses, I am looking forward to a delightfully gothic and sinister start to 2022. 

The Christie Affair – Nina de Gramont

Pan Macmillan | Pub Date: 25th January | Pre-Order HERE

Emily: Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame. Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband. Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to…

Already something of a darling on Booktube, this historical fiction debut promises the glitz and glamour, and insight into one of crime fiction’s biggest mysteries – Agatha Christie. I love a new historical perspective on real events, and can’t wait to delve into this one.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess – Sue Lynn Tan

HarperCollins Australia  | Pub Date: 19th January | Pre-Order HERE

Jodie: Xingyin has spent her life in exile, hidden from the Celestial Emperor after her mother stole his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and he discovers her existence, she must leave her mother behind and follow a new path.

Everyone talks about trilogies and standalones but you know what’s really good? DUOLOGIES.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the first in an upcoming fantasy two-parter, blending Chinese mythology with sweeping adventure. It’s been creating a lot of buzz with the reviewing community over on NetGalley, and we won’t have long to wait to find out why!

February

Son of Sin – Omar Sakr

Affirm Press | Pub Date: 22nd February | Pre-Order HERE

Simon: Jamal Smith, a young queer Muslim, is trying to escape his past; a tapestry of violence woven across generations and the globe from Turkey, to Lebanon to Australia, and Western Sydney. It’s a coming of age story, but one told with a distinctly poetic voice. It explores the bonds of family and heritage and shines a light on the forces that can bind or break those bonds. It’s a story of memory, of forgetting, and of humanity.

I am a huge fan of Omar Sakr’s poetry. So to say I am excited for Son of Sin, his debut novel, is putting it mildly. The synopsis reminds me of recent work from Michael Mohammed Ahmed and Peter Polites; but I’m keen to see what spin Sakr is going to put on those classic coming of age tropes – having read his poetry, I’m expecting this to be a moving and powerful affair. And can we just take a moment to appreciate that cover art? Stunning!

If You’re Happy – Fiona Robertson

UQP Books | Pub Date: 1st February | Pre-Order HERE

Emily: A divorced woman discovers a growing sinkhole in her yard, a lonely man finds an abandoned toddler, a second wife in a fundamentalist community questions her religion, a young Australian veteran of the Afghanistan conflict is haunted by a memory from his last mission. Fiona Robertson’s stories traverse the globe to reveal people at moments of change or crisis, as they struggle to repair fractures in their lives and search for something close to happiness.

This is Fiona Robertson’s debut collection, and it already won the 2020 Glendower Award at the Queensland Literary Awards, which may just be the first of many prizes to come.

The team behind University of Queensland Press have made a name for themselves in Australian short fiction, being the publisher of writers like Julie Koh and Laura Elvery. I have an inkling that Fiona Robertson will be yet another short story success.

Where I Can’t Follow – Ashley Blooms

Sourcebooks Landmark | Pub Date: 15th February | Pre-Order HERE

Jodie: The doors have appeared to the people of Maren’s town for as long as anyone can remember. No one knows where they lead. All they know is that once you go through, you can never come back.

Maren’s mother went through when she was nine, and the temptation to pack up and step through her own door, leaving her life behind for good, is growing every day. But is Maren ready to abandon it all, and step forward into the absolute unknown?

The reviews for this one are in and they’re pretty exciting! Expect gorgeous descriptive prose, hard-hitting themes, and a good dose of magical realism!

League of Liars – Astrid Scholte

Allen & Unwin | Pub Date: 22nd February | Pre-Order HERE

Jess: Astrid Scholte’s first book, Four Dead Queens, kept me up until 2am because I had to know how the story ended so it’s exciting to see her name returning with a new title.

Seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck becomes an apprentice to a public defender in order to learn all the tricks to defending criminal users of extradimensional magic. His goal is to one day become a prosecutor and bring justice to the city, to people like those who killed his mother. But when he meets the three criminals he’s meant to defend, he finds they’re just teenagers, like him, and their stories are complicated, like his. As their cases unfold, Cayder starts to question what really happened the night his mother died.

Only A Monster – Vanessa Len

Allen & Unwin | Pub Date: 22nd February | Pre-Order HERE

Jess: I love books that tell stories from the point of view of the bad guys, the monsters, and the shunned, so the whole premise of this story is right up my alley. Add the fact that it’s an Aussie debut and I’m sold.

Joan Chang-Hunt has no idea she’s part monster until she goes to stay with her Gran in London and discovers the Hunt’s are one of twelve powerful families in the city with terrifying, hidden powers. That puts a bit of a dampener on her summer crush, Nick, who it turns out is a legendary monster slayer. Joan is forced to team up with Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family who are sworn enemies to her own. If Joan is to survive, she’ll have to embrace her monstrousness and accept that in this story, she is not the hero.

March

The Reindeer Hunters – Lars Mytting (Trans. Deborah Dawkin)

Hachette | Pub Date: 8th March | Pre-Order HERE

Simon: I am breaking my self imposed rule here and recommending a sequel. But, that’s testament to how much I love Lars Mytting’s prose (and Deborah Dawkin’s translation). The Reindeer Hunters takes place twenty-two years after the events of the first book in the Sister Bells Trilogy: The Bell In The Lake.

I’ve not read this second instalment yet, but just looking at the synopsis, it looks like reading book one will likely help grasp some the characters that pop up again here. But, equally it looks like enough time has passed to allow the novel to stand alone too. But, do read book one. It’s wonderful! 

Mytting writes about people, the landscape, and the passage of history so beautifully. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen with the Butangen community as they enter into the 20th Century, and experience all the wonder and danger that comes with that era. This is historical fiction delivered in the best possible style, with Dawkin capturing the essential quality of Mytting’s story beautifully.

Booth – Karen Joy Fowler

Allen & Unwin | Pub Date: 1st March | Pre-Order HERE

Emily: Junius is the patriarch, a celebrated Shakespearean actor who fled bigamy charges in England, both a mesmerising talent and a man of terrifying instability. As his children grow up in a remote farmstead in 1830s rural Baltimore, the country draws ever closer to the boiling point of secession and civil war. Of the six Booth siblings who survive to adulthood, each has their own dreams they must fight to realise — but it is Johnny who makes the terrible decision that will change the course of history — the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Is there anything Karen Joy Fowler can’t write about? She’s done book clubs, baseball teams, scientists, Westerns, detective stories…. Now, she’s turned her pen to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It is the confidence with which Fowler writes that brings her fans with her wherever she may venture in the genre spectrum. I only wonder what she thinks John Wilkes Booth will have to say for himself.

The Leviathan – Rosie Andrews

Bloomsbury | Pub Date: 1st March | Pre-Order HERE

Jodie: Norfolk 1643. Thomas returns from the battlefields of the Civil War, summoned by his sister who has accused their new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time he arrives, his father is dangerously ill and the servant is imprisoned, accused of witchcraft. It’s up to Thomas to determine what happened to his father, but as the story unravels something darker reveals itself – something more sinister than his rational mind expected.

If you know anything about my reading habits, you’ll know this one ticks damn near every box. Gothic mystery, superstition, myth, and murder all set against the backdrop of the English Civil War? Shut up and take my money!

The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories– ed. Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang  

Tor Books | Pub Date: 8th March | Pre-Order HERE

Jess: I have been extremely interested in translated works recently, so what more could I ask for than a collection of Chinese science-fiction and fantasy short stories by award-winning authors, editors and translators. This is the first time these stories have been translated into English, all written by female and non-binary writers.

The collection allows readers to dine at a restaurant at the end of the universe, cultivate immortality in the high mountains, watch roses perform Shakespeare, arrive at the island of the gods on the backs of giant fish to ensure the world can bloom, travel to a winter’s day on the West Lake, explore the very boundaries of death itself, and meet old gods and new heroes.

 

Thanks to Emily Paull, Jess Gately, and Jodie Sloan for their contributions to this article.

You can also read our picks for the best books of 2021 HERE

Header Photo: (L-R) Sue Lynn Tan, Omar Sakr, Rosie Andrews

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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