Category: First Novels

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

This is a strange, complicated story, involving time and mind-reading and intricate clockwork. Pulley’s debut novel is artfully written and most importantly, the characters are well-drawn – except where they’re meant to be mysterious. I will say I struggled a bit with the last third of the book, so I can’t call it a five-star…

The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood

Author Charlotte Brentwood sent me this book to review, which is a regency romance with a Georgette Heyer/Jane Austen feel. I hesitated, because of my recently-established rule of not reading books that are “sweet” or “heartwarming.” But then I read the first chapter, and I was drawn into the story. We begin with William Brook,…

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This was a powerful book. Somehow it tackles a really emotional subject but doesn’t leave you a weepy, nose-blowing mess. It begins with the disappearance and death of sixteen-year-old Lydia in a 1977 Ohio suburb. Her family struggles to understand what happened to her, and why. Wasn’t she an average, well-adjusted teenager? Lydia is dead.…

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow is a highly acclaimed science fiction novel by Mary Doria Russell, her first novel. Written in 1996, it won numerous awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The book begins in the year 2060. It describes a mission of Jesuit Priests that were sent out to make contact with aliens on another planet.…

The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan

I really enjoyed this historical novel about World War I. It focuses on a very specific group: the lives of Harvard and Radcliffe students at the outbreak of World War I. Helen Brooks is an upper-class student attending Radcliffe in the fall of 1914. She’s embarrassed by her mother, an activist most recently arrested for…

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This book worked on so many different levels. It’s a great example of fantasy that transcends the genre, ultimately telling a story of immigrants in turn of the century New York who are struggling to fit in. It’s a book that moves at its own pace, winding through its characters’ day to day lives rather…