Earnest resolutions are not the only way to begin a new year—try a debut novelist. These five recently released and forthcoming titles introduce a plethora of possibilities.
- The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (Scout: Gallery).
Out on January 10 is Ferencik’s hardcover debut with a major publisher. In gripping fashion, she traces the story of four friends on a hiking and rafting trip in Maine. Disaster strikes early on, and the adventurers are left without supplies or aid deep in the wild. Then they discover they are not alone after all and the real nightmare begins.
- All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (Dutton).
Alternate realities and time travel provide the fuel for this buzzy sf debut arriving in early February. Screenwriter Mastai’s first novel, which has already been bought by Paramount for the movies, tells a series of bad-follows-worse events that see Tom Barren jumping from his version of reality to our modern world, causing untold disruption in the process.
- The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle (Harper).
Set in 1916 Tennessee as America inches toward war, this work of historical fiction, by a 2010 Whiting Award–winning short story writer, follows Irish immigrant Billy and his younger sidekick Charles as they come to a new town, intent on making a bit of money. Sharply observed, the novel fashions the happenings of a small town into a larger tapestry of the age.
- Indelible by Adelia Saunders (Bloomsbury USA).
Literary fiction and magic realism converge in this tale about a woman who envisions the past and future written in people’s skin. Magdalena can only stop reading others if she takes off her glasses, which she very often does, but then she meets an American in Paris and sees her name on his cheek. Mystery and secrets unravel, plumbing nuanced depths.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Random).
As a Valentine’s gift to his many fans, Saunders’s first novel (after critically lauded short stories, including the collection Tenth of December, a National Book Award finalist) arrives on February 14. It takes place in 1862 as Willie Lincoln, the young son of President Abraham Lincoln, dies. Saunders imagines a single night in a graveyard—and much more—and writes with deep heart and invention.