The AU’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024: Jan – Mar

It’s a new year and The AU book team are already eyeing up the release charts and penning in their most anticipated releases for the year. The beginning of 2024 brings in a host of exciting books. With everything from mythical sea creatures, 1800’s apothecaries, America as seen through the eyes of its First Peoples, and a teenage LGBTQIA+ rom com, this list is sure to have something for everyone!

With so many books being released each month, we in the AU Books Team like to do our bit to help, and pick out a few of our favourite and most anticipated books due for release over the next three months. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means. These are just some of the books we’re excited for in the near future. We’ll be back in April with another round of anticipated releases (because why should you only anticipate books once!). We’ll see you then and in the meantime, happy reading!


Hard by a Great Forest – Leo Vardiashvili

Bloomsbury | Pub Date: 30th January | Order HERE

Simon: Hard by a Great Forest is the debut novel from Leo Vardiashvili, a writer who came to London as a refugee from Georgia when he was 12 years old. The novel’s protagonists – a father and his two songs, follow a similar journey, before two decades later the return back to Georgia. First the father, Irakli and then once his phone calls stop his sons soon follow in search of answers.

The novel has been getting some early buzz with both Khaled Hosseini and Colum McCann roundly singing its praises. This tale of home, memory and sacrifice promises humour, heartbreak and mystery in equal measure, and it sounds completely like my kind of thing and I can’t wait to get stuck into it when my pre-order arrives later in the month.


The Storm We Made – Vanessa Chan

Hodder & Stoughton | 9th January | Order HERE

Emily: Japanese-occupied Malaya, 1945. Cecily Alcantara’s children are in terrible danger. Her eldest child Jujube, who works at a tea house frequented by drunk Japanese soldiers, becomes angrier by the day. Jasmin, the youngest, lives confined in a basement for her own safety. And her son, Abel, has disappeared without a trace. Cecily knows two things: that this is all her fault; and that her family must never learn the truth.

After going from never having heard of this book to suddenly seeing it everywhere in the last week, I know that this will be a huge contender for prize lists in 2024. It has Women’s Prize written all over it. I love books that explore previously unexamined parts of history, and to read from the perspective of a Malaysian woman during the Japanese occupation of Malaya during the Second World War is something I’ve never done before.

My Fair Brady – Brian D. Kennedy

HarperCollins | Pub Date: 23rd January | Order HERE

Jemimah: Something a little lighter – a YA LGBTQIA+ rom-com, described as “My Fair Lady meets the classic teen film She’s All That“, how could I go past this!

LGBTQIA+ romance is, in my experience, cosier, swoonier, and less likely to be problematic, so I like to read a few like this each year, and this looks perfect for the job.

A Dance with Murder – Elizabeth Coleman

Pantera Press | 3rd January | Order HERE

Emily: PI Edwina ‘Ted’ Bristol’s latest case is proving complicated. Ballerina Giselle Tereiti is the target of a stalker, but she’s also the ex-wife of Ted’s new flame, homicide detective Spike.

While the case is a win for Ted’s agency, it means she’s forced to distance herself from Spike. As Ted goes undercover via the dating apps in pursuit of suspects, the stalker ups the ante with a disturbing break-in at Giselle’s home.

Meanwhile, talented crafter Cicely Bunting is desperate to locate her husband, Duncan, who disappeared while surfing a year ago. Cicely refuses to believe that he’s dead, and she’s counting on Ted to find him. As Ted closes in on the stalking culprit and her relationship with Spike hits rock-bottom, Cicely’s case takes a bizarre twist – and then a murder turns everything upside down.

The second book in the Ted Bristol detective series promises more cosy — and funny — mystery vibes from one of the screenwriters on the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series. These crime novels have a little bit of something for everyone but in particular, I love them for the dog character, Miss Marple. I remember devouring book one and can’t wait to see what antics Ted and Co get up to next.

Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands – Heather Fawcett

Hachette| Pub Date: 9th January | Order HERE

Jess: Heather Fawcett had me totally in love with Emily Wilde and fellow scholar (and exiled faerie king) Wendell Bambleby in Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries so I can’t wait to return to this world and these two charming characters.

Emily’s new project is a map of the realms of faerie and her research takes to the Austrian Alps where she also believes she may be able to find the door to Bambleby’s realm and the key to freeing him from his family’s dark plans. Everything about the blurb for this book has all the awkward charm and cozy warmth I experienced with the first book and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one too!


Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge – Lizzie Pook

Penguin Books | 23rd January | Order HERE

Emily: London, 1850. Constance Horton has disappeared. Maude, her older sister, knows only that Constance abandoned the apothecary they call home, and, disguised as a boy, boarded a ship bound for the Arctic. She never returned. ‘A tragic accident’, the Admiralty called it. But Maude Horton knows something isn’t right. When she finds Constance’s journal, it becomes clear that the truth is being buried by sinister forces.

To find answers – and deliver justice for her sister – Maude must step into London’s dark underbelly, and into the path of dangerous, powerful men. The kind of men who seek their fortune in the city’s horrors, from the hangings at Newgate to the ghoulish waxworks of Madame Tussaud’s. It is a perilous task. But Maude has dangerous skills of her own . . .

Lizzie Pook’s debut was a sumptuous historical fiction set in Broome, but now she’s turned her pen to London and this one is giving me Sarah Penner vibes. (What is it about a dark London Alley and the promise of an apothecary shop that gives readers the book tingles anyway?)

Womb City – Tlotlo Tsamaase

Erewhon Books | 23rd January | Order HERE

Jodie: In our city, everyone lives forever. But murder hangs in the air like mist.

Nelah seems to have it all: fame, wealth, and a long-awaited daughter growing in a government lab. But, trapped in a loveless marriage to a policeman who uses a microchip to monitor her every move, Nelah’s perfect life is precarious.

But when a drug-fuelled night culminates in a fatal car accident, hiding the body is the least of Nelah’s worries. The ghost of the victim will not rest, and its sights are set on her family.

Described as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Get Out, Tlotlo Tsamaase’s Womb City sounds like the Africanfuturistic horror story of my dreams/nightmares. I was lucky enough to score an advanced copy of this one and can confirm that so far, so VERY good.


The Briar Book of the Dead – Angela Slatter

Titan Books | Pub Date: 13th February| Order HERE

Jemimah: Another brilliant dark fantasy set in Slatter’s Sourdough universe. I’ve read some of her other books set in this world and have thoroughly enjoyed them – they’re witchy, full of strong, nonconforming, morally-grey heroines, and gothic castles galore.

This book is described as “a dark and addictive tale of witches, ancient mysteries and sins that refuse to be buried” – it looks brilliant!

Kind of, Sort of, Maybe, But Probably Not – Imbi Neeme

Penguin Books | 20th February | Order HERE

Emily: Librarian Phoebe Cotton lives with misophonia. The sound of other people crunching an apple, slurping their tea or snapping chewing gum fills her with a rage that she buries deep within. Mortified by her ‘Not Quite Right’ brain, she hides away inside 6 Salmon Street, the family home that her formidable grandmother Dorothy has abandoned for a more convivial life at the Western Retreat Retirement Village.

But when Phoebe begins receiving mysterious postcards in the mail, she slowly, but surely, finds herself being pulled back out into the world and towards Monty, the sweet postal clerk.

Across town, Suze, a university student with a high distinction in study avoidance, is clinging to the hope that the neglectful J might actually be her boyfriend. When J’s attention turns to Ky, it sets Suze on a path that leads her to 6 Salmon Street and Phoebe Cotton. Together with Suze and Monty, Phoebe goes on a mission to solve the mystery of the postcards but ends up finding much, much more, including acceptance, strength and love.

As a librarian myself, I am a sucker for books with librarian characters. This book sounds like just the right amount of quirky and nostalgic to be the perfect end of summer read. While it’s been a few years since I read Neeme’s Penguin Literary Prize winning debut, The Spill, I have fond memories of the way this author writes nostalgia and look forward to seeing what comes next.

A Tempest of Tea – Hafsah Faizal

Pan Macmillan Australia | 27th February | Order HERE

Jemimah: This book is the first in a new fantasy duology about an orphan girl and her crew, who get tangled in a heist with vampires.

The story is described as gritty urban fantasy packed with action, loyalty, betrayal, and a high-stakes heist that does not go to plan.

It sounds like a very imaginative page-turner, and I am already excited for it!

Fathomfolk – Eliza Chan

Hachette | 13th February | Order HERE

Jess: I am the first to admit that the cover for this book is what grabbed me but the blurb is what had me adding this to my pre-order list.

Tiankawi is the shining pearl of human civilisation and a safe haven for those fleeing civil unrest. Or at least, that’s how it first appears. But in the semi-flooded city, humans are quite literally on top: peering down from shining towers and aerial walkways on the fathomfolk – sirens, seawitches, kelpies and kappas – who live in the polluted waters below.

For half-siren Mira, promotion to captain of the border guard means an opportunity to help her downtrodden people. But if earning the trust and respect of her human colleagues wasn’t hard enough, everything Mira has worked towards is put in jeopardy when Nami, a know-it-all water dragon and fathomfolk princess – is exiled to the city, under Mira’s watch. When extremists sabotage a city festival, violence erupts, as does the clampdown on fathomfolk rights. Both Nami and Mira must decide if the cost of change is worth paying, or if Tiankawi should be left to drown.

Greater City Shadows – Laurie Steed

UWA Publishing | 1st February | Order HERE

Emily: A man treads water in the Swan River, hoping to bring his friend back to shore. Three siblings gaze skyward seeking a comet among the stars. A mother and daughter grapple with their fraught relationship and an inappropriate birthday cake. Bushfires sweep a Perth suburb while a woman, still burnt from a previous relationship, lessens the divide between an individual and their community.

In Greater City Shadows, Laurie Steed shines a light on the tremendous complexity and beauty of everyday relationships. From unrequited first love and burnt flames of the past to early parenthood stresses and tense friendships. These short stories are vulnerable and tender – a captivating collection reminding us that to be connected is to be human.

We’ve seen Laurie Steed do novels and memoirs, but the short story is the form where he truly excels. This collection, shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewitt Award, has been a long time coming, and I am fully prepared for Steed’s words to rip me apart. I’m ready to be devastated.

Eynhallow – Tim McGregor

Raw Dog Screaming Press | 22nd Feb | Order HERE

Jodie: When a stranger arrives on the isolated island Anges and her family call home, the Orkney residents are naturally curious. Who is this wealthy newcomer? And why has he come?

When Agnes’ husband offers her services as a cook and washerwoman, a friendship blossoms between her and the new arrival. He’s a scientist, he says. His name is Frankenstein, and he’s come to their island to complete a very specific task.

I’m a sucker for anything even slightly Frankenstein-adjacent, and after the absolute triumph that was Kris Waldherr’s Unnatural Creatures, I’m absolutely itching to get stuck into Tim McGregor’s Eynhallow later this year. This one promises beautiful prose dripping with all the classic Gothic trappings I could hope for. Sign me up!


Wandering Stars – Tommy Orange

Penguin/Vintage | 26th March | Order HERE

Simon: I was absolutely floored by Orange’s debut There There and cannot wait for the follow-up Wandering Stars. The book is the story of a Native American community told through and across the generations, spanning almost two centuries of history.

Some of the characters from There There will make an appearance, offering some closure on some of the events of that novel. This is the story of America, told through the eyes of its First Peoples. It is also the story of America’s ongoing war against its own people.

Undoubtedly, this will not always be an easy read, but Orange writes so powerfully and poetically, it’s going to be one you don’t want to miss.

The Absinthe Underground – Jamie Pacton

Penguin | 12th March | Order HERE

Jodie: Do you like Belle Epoque settings? Sapphic friends-to-lovers? Whimsical fantasy? A HEIST? Then I think you’ll likely be just as excited about The Absinthe Underground as I am!

Jamie Pacton’s tale follows best friends and thieves Esme and Sybil, and club owner Maeve, who is rather more than she seems. Maeve’s true identity is the Green Faerie (yes THAT Green Faerie) and in order to free herself from Esme and Sybil’s world, she needs a little help from our light-fingered duo. Expect rich historical imagery, fae shenanigans, and pining galore.

Like Fire Hearted Suns – Melanie Joosten

Ultimo Press | 6th March | Order HERE

Emily: London, 1908. It’s the dawn of a new century and change is in the air. When 17-year-old Beatrice Taylor stumbles across the offices of the infamous Pankhursts and the Women’s Social and Political Union she begins to realise her future may not be the one she wants. Her friend Catherine Dawson is too pragmatic to get caught up in the women’s suffrage movement. Despite Oxford refusing to award women degrees she is determined to keep apace with her twin brother and pursue a career in science.

Meanwhile, Ida Bennett, recently promoted to head wardress of DX wing at Holloway Prison, has her work cut out for her. The suffragette inmates are refusing to be treated like criminals—and Ida’s not having any of it. This is the story of three women whose lives become entwined—with the burgeoning women’s movement and with each other. Like Fire-Hearted Suns shows how much things have changed for women—and how much they stay the same.

Ultimo Press have continued their upward trajectory and by now have firmly cemented their status as one of the major players in Australian publishing. This novel, examining the early days of the suffrage movement in London takes historical fiction into virtually uncharted territory, and I am quietly hopeful that it may satisfy readers who loved Pip Williams’ work and have been left wanting more.

The Invisible Hotel – Yeji Y. Ham

Zando | 5th March | Order HERE

Jodie: Yewon dreams of a hotel. In the hotel, there are infinite keys to infinite rooms—and a quiet terror she is desperate to escape. And with her brother stationed near the North Korean border, her sister navigating unfathomable tragedy, and her mother’s health declining, Yewon’s waking life isn’t pleasant either.

But the decrepit hotel of her dreams might reveal more about her day to day than she expects, becoming an exercise in unsettling truth-telling and her country’s collective heritage.

Literary speculative fiction rooted in Gothic horror, there’s nothing about Yeji Y. Ham’s The Invisible Hotel that suggests it’s going to be an easy read. Am I expecting this one to rip me to shreds and linger for days? Yes. Am I excited for that to happen? ABSOLUTELY.

You Get What You Pay For: Essays – Morgan Parker

Random House USA | 12th March | Order HERE

Simon: Thanks to her poetry, including the collections Magical Negro and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker has rightly been dubbed by many as a voice of her generation.

In her new essay collection You Get What You Pay For, Parker examines America’s cultural history and relationship to Black Americans through history. It promises to be an intimate collection with Parker weaving personal anecdotes alongside unflinching cultural criticism as she touches on topics such as exclusionary beauty standards, the implications of Bill Cosby’s fall from grace, and the pitfalls of visibility as a Black woman in America.

I’m a huge fan of Parker’s poetry and I can’t wait to read more of her work!


Thanks to Simon Clark, Jemimah Brewster, Jodie Sloan, and Emily Paull for their contributions to this article.

Header Photo Credit: Lizzie Pook by Magdalena Smolarska

Jess Gately

Jess Gately is a freelance editor and writer with a particular love for speculative fiction and graphic novels.