Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming Adult Book Releases

This week, we're talking about the intriguing adult books coming out in the first half of 2020. These books are my kind of weird and wonderful. I hope you like historical fiction and novels about cults because you’re about to see a lot of them. Let’s get into it.

Update: Due to Coronavirus, some of the release dates may have changed.

*This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Upcoming Adult Book Releases


The Snow Collectors by Tina May Hall

Haunted by the loss of her parents and twin sister at sea, Henna cloisters herself in a Northeastern village where the snow never stops. When she discovers the body of a young woman at the edge of the forest, she’s plunged into the mystery of a centuries-old letter regarding one of the most famous stories of Arctic exploration—the Franklin expedition, which disappeared into the ice in 1845.

At the center of the mystery is Franklin’s wife, the indomitable Lady Jane. Henna’s investigation draws her into a gothic landscape of locked towers, dream-like nights of snow and ice, and a crumbling mansion rife with hidden passageways and carrion birds. But it soon becomes clear that someone is watching her—someone who is determined to prevent the truth from coming out.

Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro

A space-obsessed child conjures up a vortex in his mother's airing cupboard. A musician finds her friendship with a flock of birds opens up unexpected possibilities. A rat catcher, summoned to a decaying royal palace, is plunged into a battle for the throne of a ruined kingdom. Two newlyweds find themselves inhibited by the arrival in their lives of an outsized and watchful stuffed bear.

Whether snared in traps artfully laid for them, or those of their own making, the characters in Naomi Ishiguro's delightfully speculative debut collection yearn for freedom and flight, and find their worlds transformed beyond their wildest imaginings.

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

In 1720s Scotland, a priest and his son get lost in the forest, transporting a witch to the coast to stop her from being killed by the village.

In the sad, slow years after the Second World War, Ruth finds herself the replacement wife to a recent widower and stepmother to his two young boys, installed in a huge house by the sea and haunted by those who have come before.

Fifty years later, Viv is cataloging the valuables left in her dead grandmother’s seaside home, when she uncovers long-held secrets of the great house.

Three women, hundreds of years apart, slip into each other’s lives in a novel of darkness, violence and madness.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband's authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom's iron rule threatening Vardø's very existence.

The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda's peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories And Other Revenges by Amber Sparks

In “Mildly Happy, With Moments of Joy,” a friend is ghosted by a simple text message; in “Everyone’s a Winner at Meadow Park,” a teen precariously coming of age in a trailer park befriends an actual ghost. At once humorous and unapologetically fierce, these stories shine an interrogating light on the adage that “history likes to lie about women.”

The King At The Edge Of The World by Arthur Phillips

The year is 1601. Queen Elizabeth is dying, childless. The nervous kingdom has no heir. It is a capital crime even to think that Elizabeth will ever die. Potential successors secretly maneuver to be in position when the inevitable arrives. The leading candidate is King James VI of Scotland, but there is a problem.

The queen's spymasters—hardened veterans of a long war on terror and religious extremism—fear that James is not what he appears. He has every reason to claim he is a Protestant, but if he secretly shares his family's Catholicism, then the last forty years of religious war will have been for nothing, and a bloodbath will ensue. With time running out, London confronts a seemingly impossible question: What does James truly believe?

It falls to Geoffrey Belloc, a secret warrior from the hottest days of England's religious battles, to devise a test to discover the true nature of King James's soul. Belloc enlists Mahmoud Ezzedine, a Muslim physician left behind by the last diplomatic visit from the Ottoman Empire, as his undercover agent. The perfect man for the job, Ezzedine is the ultimate outsider, stranded on this cold, wet, and primitive island. He will do almost anything to return home to his wife and son.


The Deep by Alma Katsu

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner's illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers—including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher—are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognizes while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not—could not—have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

The Animals At Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone—or something—is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumors of ghosts and curses?

Glass Town: The Imaginary World Of The Brontës by Isabel Greenberg

Four children: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne have invented a world so real and vivid that they can step right into it. But can reality be enough, when fiction is so enticing? And what happens to an imaginary world when its creators grow up?

Plots are spiraling, characters are getting wildly out of hand, and a great deal of ink is being spilt.

Welcome to Glass Town.


Death In Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones. "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to area, having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband, and she knows very few people. And she's a little shaky even on her best days. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of who this woman was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But as we follow her investigation, strange dissonances start to accrue, and our faith in her grip on reality weakens, until finally, just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past, we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one—one that strikes closer to home.

Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

For the crime of stealing bread, fourteen-year-old May receives a life sentence: she must become a Sin Eater—a shunned woman, brutally marked, whose fate is to hear the final confessions of the dying, eat ritual foods symbolizing their sins as a funeral rite, and thereby shoulder their transgressions to grant their souls access to heaven.

Orphaned and friendless, apprenticed to an older Sin Eater who cannot speak to her, May must make her way in a dangerous and cruel world she barely understands. When a deer heart appears on the coffin of a royal governess who did not confess to the dreadful sin it represents, the older Sin Eater refuses to eat it. She is taken to prison, tortured, and killed. To avenge her death, May must find out who placed the deer heart on the coffin and why.

Godshot by Chelsea Bieker

Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promises, through secret “assignments,” to bring the rain everybody is praying for.

Lacey has no reason to doubt the pastor. But then her life explodes in a single unimaginable act of abandonment: her mother, exiled from the community for her sins, leaves Lacey and runs off with a man she barely knows. Abandoned and distraught, Lacey May moves in with her widowed grandma, Cherry, who is more concerned with her taxidermy mice collection than her own granddaughter. As Lacey May endures the increasingly appalling acts of men who want to write all the rules, and begins to uncover the full extent of Pastor Vern’s shocking plan to bring fertility back to the land, she decides she must go on a quest to find her mother, no matter what it takes. With her only guidance coming from the romance novels she reads and the unlikely companionship of the women who knew her mother, she must find her own way through unthinkable circumstances.

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

It’s 1840, twenty-three years after the death of her famous sister Jane, and Cassandra Austen—alone and unwed—returns to the vicarage in the village of Kintbury.

There, in a dusty corner of the sprawling vicarage, she discovers a treasure trove of family letters—and within them secrets that she feels certain must not be revealed.

She resolves to burn the letters, even those written by Jane herself.

But why destroy so much of her sister’s legacy?

As Cassandra casts an eye back on her youth and the life of her brilliant yet complex sister, she pieces together long-buried truths from both her and Jane's pasts, and knows she must make a terrible choice: let the contents of the letters color Jane’s memory forever—or protect her reputation no matter the cost.


Meadowlark by Melanie Abrams

After growing up in an austere spiritual compound, two teenagers, Simrin and Arjun, escape and go their separate ways. Years later, Simrin receives an email from Arjun. As they reconnect, Simrin learns that he has become the charismatic leader of Meadowlark, a commune in the Nevada desert that allows children to discover their “gifts.”
In spite of their fractured relationship, Simrin, a photojournalist, agrees to visit Meadowlark to document its story. She arrives at the commune with her five-year-old daughter in tow and soon realizes there is something disturbing about Arjun’s beliefs concerning children and their unusual abilities. When she discovers that the commune is in the midst of a criminal investigation, her unease grows deeper still.
As tensions with police heighten, Arjun’s wife begins to make plans of her own, fearing the exposure the investigation might bring for her and her children. Both mothers find themselves caught in a desperate situation, and as the conflict escalates, everyone involved must make painful—and potentially tragic—choices that could change their worlds forever.

When The Lights Go Out by Carys Bray

If you believe the world is going to end, how do you live? And what if, while preparing for disaster, you unwittingly precipitate it? While Emma Abram prepares for Christmas, her husband is stockpiling food and setting up a rabbit farm. Chris Abram is preparing for the worst; the imminent floods, and anything else he can imagine—power cuts, starvation, societal collapse. Emma longs to lower a rope and winch him from the pit of his worries. But Chris doesn't want to be rescued or even reassured; he wants to pull her in after him.

Pew by Catherine Lacey

In a small unnamed town in the American South, a church congregation arrives to a service and finds a figure asleep on a pew. The person is genderless, racially ambiguous, and refuses to speak. One family takes the strange visitor in and nicknames them Pew.

As the town spends the week preparing for a mysterious Forgiveness Festival, Pew is shuttled from one household to the next. The earnest and seemingly well-meaning townspeople see conflicting identities in Pew, and many confess their fears and secrets to them in one-sided conversations. Pew listens and observes while experiencing brief flashes of past lives or clues about their origins. As days pass, the void around Pew's presence begins to unnerve the community, whose generosity erodes into menace and suspicion. Yet by the time Pew's story reaches a shattering and unsettling climax at the Forgiveness Festival, the secret of their true nature—as a devil or an angel or something else entirely—is dwarfed by even larger truths.

Shiner by Amy Jo Burns

An hour from the closest West Virginia mining town, fifteen-year-old Wren Bird lives in a cloistered mountain cabin with her parents. They have no car, no mailbox, and no visitors—except for her mother's lifelong best friend. Every Sunday, Wren's father delivers winding sermons in an abandoned gas station, where he takes up serpents and praises the Lord for his blighted white eye, proof of his divinity and key to the hold he has over the community, over Wren and her mother.

But over the course of one summer, a miracle performed by Wren's father quickly turns to tragedy. As the order of her world begins to shatter, Wren must uncover the truth of her father's mysterious legend and her mother's harrowing history and complex bond with her best friend. And with that newfound knowledge, Wren can imagine a different future for herself than she has been told to expect.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

From #1 New York Times bestselling author, legendary storyteller, and master of short fiction Stephen King comes an extraordinary collection of four new and compelling novellas—Mr. Harrigan’s PhoneThe Life of ChuckRat, and the title story If It Bleeds—each pulling you into intriguing and frightening places. If It Bleeds is a uniquely satisfying collection of longer short fiction by an incomparably gifted writer.

In Search Of Safety: Voices of Refugees by Susan Kuklin

An Iraqi woman who survived capture by ISIS. A Sudanese teen growing up in civil war and famine. An Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Army living under threat of a fatwa. They are among the five refugees who share their stories in award-winning author and photographer Susan Kuklin's latest masterfully crafted narrative. The five, originally from Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan, Iraq, and Burundi, give gripping first-person testimonies about what it is like to flee war, face violent threats, grow up in a refugee camp, be sold into slavery, and resettle in America.

Wow, if you made it through that post, you deserve a cookie. Which 2020 books are you looking forward to?


  1. Great list! The Mercies made my list this week, too. Escape Routes and The Bass Rock sound so interesting!

  2. Interesting list. Glass Town and Miss Austen look like potential reads for me.

  3. The Mercies sounds fascinating! I haven’t read much from that time period - and certainly not from that setting.

  4. I’m obsessed with the Franklin expedition so
    Snow Collectors looks interesting. Lockwood Manor reminds me of Speckled Band. And I’m intrigued by The Deep.

  5. Wow, this is cool. I read Ishiguro, wondered whether she was related to THE Ishiguro and then chastised myself for assuming that, when it could have been just a very common Japanese name - but hey, she is his daughter! The book sounds brilliant of course. I was also fascinated by the Indian-sounding names in Meadowlark, only to discover that the author is the wife of Vikram Chandra, another of my favourite writers. It's a day of discoveries! THANK YOU for the list. I'm never able to keep track of upcoming releases; I'm so glad to have stumbled upon these here.

  6. I swear every time I go to your blog and see your lists they could not be more different than mine AJ! LOL I hope you'll love them all!

  7. You have stumped me! I think I only knew of 1 or 2 books on this list. I do hope you get to read and enjoy all these books.

  8. Wow, I think these are all new to me! The Mercies sounds fantastic.

  9. Wow, the only author I'm familiar with here is Stephan King. You've collected some really beautiful covers here, so I'm curious about the stories within. Hope you love them all! :)

  10. Quite a bit of fun-sounding historical ficiton!

  11. Looks like a fantastic list. The Deep is one that has me really curious. It sounds amazing.

  12. These are mostly new to me but The Mercies and The Deep are two I've been super curious about! Great list!

  13. The blurb from Pew has me extra curious about it. I don't thing I've heard of that one. I see you have The Deep on your list also. :-) I hope we both get a chance to read and enjoy it. I'm curious about The Mercies also. They all sound good, really! Happy Reading, AJ!

  14. Sounds like some great reads here. I think I might enjoy the "King at the Edge of the World," and also "The Deep." I have heard of the story of the nurse who survived both sinkings (I wonder if she ever sailed again)?


  15. Your list is fantastic -- and so many authors I haven't heard of before. I hope you enjoy them!

  16. Interesting list...I've got about ten I'm looking for that come out between now and June!

  17. I didn't recognize The Mercies at first! My ARC cover looks VERY different, and I had to do a double take, haha. The Deep seems to be on everyone's list, so I hope it's as good as it sounds. :)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

  18. I love your list - lots of interesting sounding books. I need to look into Glass Town and Death In Her Hands.


  19. Wow, your list may have changed my mind on unexciting release year status. Striking covers and provacative premises abound. I'm especially drawn to the historical/supernatural subjects, but the book of stories looks amazing too. Plus, other than the Stephen King I haven't really heard of these. Bookmarking this list for future 😊
    Jay @ The Scented Library

  20. The Mercies and The King At The Edge of the World both sound fascinating!! The Deep and Miss Austen also sound intriguing. I'm glad I found your list because I hadn't heard of any of these before!

  21. Escape Routes and Sin Eater sound so fascinating. Asian authors use words so imaginatively that it’s easy to get sucked in. And Sin Eater just has such an odd but compelling premise. Thanks for sharing AJ I can see this is a well thought out list.

  22. I am definitely adding The Bass Rock, Sin Eater, and Pew to my next year's TBR. 🙌🙌🙌

    I can read Glass Town this year because it's about classics writers; even though it's a fictional account. I am going to hop right over and check that out now. 👍✨

  23. I hope you end up loving all of these reads <3

  24. Great list! Definitely looking forward to The Deep and the new Stephen King book!

  25. Fantastic list!! I am absolutely adding The Deep and The Snow Collectors to my TBR! They both sound amazing. I hope they're all five star ratings for you!

    Heather @ Heather's Reading Hideaway|My Top Ten Tuesday!

  26. The Mercies is on my wishlist, as is The Deep! (Though like you, I need the UK cover of The Mercies because the US one is just so BLAH.) The Snow Collectors and Sin Eater both sound SO GOOD and I am off to add those to my list too, so thanks for alerting me to their existence!!

  27. So many here I haven't seen. I knew my wishlist would grow longer!

  28. I'm so glad you introduced me to The Deep. Adding it to my TBR pile. Happy Reading!