Transworld Publishers are part of the Random House Group and include several well-known imprints; Doubleday, Bantam Press, Black Swan and Corgi. Their fiction line-up is often considered quite commercial but there’s plenty that catches my eye in the October 12 – July 13 catalogue. As always, the descriptions are taken direct from the catalogue and do not represent my opinion.

Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold
November: hardback

What a bizarre piece of history! Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies was an actual, real publication in the 18th century. Just goes to show how attitudes change over time but I think this would make a nice change from all the copy-cat erotica out there right now.

If you ever wondered what Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy and his fellows got up to on their numerous trips to London, here is the book they would certainly have carried around …

Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies was a bestseller of the Eighteenth Century, shifting 250,000 copies in an age before mass consumerism. A ‘guide book’ published annually at Christmas, it detailed the names, attributes and ‘specialities’ of the capital’s prostitutes. During its heyday (1759 -95) Harris’s List was the essential accessory for any serious gentleman of pleasure.

Hallie Rubenhold has collected the funniest, rudest and most bizarre entries penned by Jack Harris, Pimp-General-of-all-England, into this fascinating and mischievous little book.

The Emperor of All Things by Paul Witcover
February: hardback

I like the idea of alternate histories and this one has a mysterious guild of clockmakers, a magic watch and dragons!

Tempus Rerum Imperator: Time, Emperor of All Things

1758. England is embroiled in a globe-spanning conflict that stretches from her North American colonies to Europe and beyond. Across the Channel, the French prepare for an invasion — an invasion rumored to be led by none other than Bonnie Prince Charlie. It seems the map of Europe is about to be redrawn. Yet behind these dramatic scenes, another war is raging – a war that will determine not just the fate of nations but of humanity itself…

Daniel Quare is a journeyman in an ancient guild, The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. He is also a Regulator, part of an elite network within the guild devoted to searching out and claiming for England’s exclusive use any horological innovation that could give them an upperhand, whether in business or in war.

Just such a mission has brought Quare to the London townhouse of eccentric collector, Lord Wichcote. He seeks a pocket watch rumoured to possess seemingly impossible properties that are more to do with magic than with any science familiar to Quare or to his superiors. And the strange timepiece has attracted the attention of others as well: the mysterious masked thief known only as Grimalkin, and a deadly French spy who stop at nothing to bring the prize back to his masters. Soon Quare finds himself on a dangerous trail of intrigue and murder that leads far from the world he knows into an otherwhere of dragons and demigods, in which nothing is as it seems . . . time least of all.

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith
November: hardback

I am not in the slightest bit religious but I do like retellings of bible stories, the weirder the better. This one is out just in time to be an alternate Christmas read too.

It’s one of the most iconic vignettes in history: three men on camels, arriving at a manger, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. An impossibly bright star is suspended in the vast desert sky above. It’s a moment of serenity and grace. A holy night…

But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity? The Bible says little about this enigmatic trio. Not even their names are mentioned. The historical record is vague at best. How doe know that they were three kings from the East? What if they were petty, murderous thieves – led by a mercurial individual called Balthazar – on the run, escaping through Judea under cover of night who stumble upon the famous manger, its newborn child and his earthly parents? Here, the brilliant and slightly warped mind behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes a little mystery, plays fast and loose with a bit of history to weave an epic tale. It’s an adventure that will see these thieves fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament, cross paths with historical figures such as Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist, and deliver the family – as the Bible tells us – to the safety of Egypt.

Indeed, this may just be the greatest story never told…

The Asylum by Johan Theorin
March: trade paperback

Who can resist creepy asylums? Oh OK, maybe that’s just me but this sounds like a tense and frightening read (to be read in broad daylight I might add).

Dear Ivan, is it possible to write a love letter to someone you have never met? I’ve only seen your picture in the newspapers, below those terrible, screaming headlines. There is something about the look in your eyes, so calm and wise and yet so penetrating. I would like you to be able to look at me in reality too. I would love to meet you…

An underground passage leads from the Dell nursery to Saint Patricia’s asylum. Only the children enter, leaving their minders behind. On the other side are their parents – some of the most dangerous psychopaths in the country…

Jan has just started working at the nursery. He is a loner with many secrets but only one goal. He must get inside the asylum…

What is his connection with one of the inmates, a famous singer?
What really happened when a boy in his care went missing nine years ago?
Who can we trust when everyone has something to hide?

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
March: hardback

Kate already has a legion of fans from her Jackson Brodie series which I will admit to having sat on the TBR. So if it were another Brodie book, it probably wouldn’t be here but I do like the sound of this one. It’s all about what ifs.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here isKate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.

Dark Lady by Maria Dahvana Headley
April: trade paperback

This is the sequel to Queen of Kings which I haven’t read but it sounds like an amazing mix of historical fiction and urban fantasy. Plus that John Dee has been cropping up all over the place in other books so I will have to put both of these on my wishlist.

London, 1588. Spain’s Armada is forming and Queen Elizabeth I and her advisors, Francis Walsingham, John Dee and Edward Kelley must prepare both for a mortal war and one waged against magical interlopers all over the realm. Christopher Marlowe, poet and spy, is assigned the task of uncovering any magical threats in London and happens upon a cult in thrall to a godling: Madness, the Slaughterer child of Sekhmet, Egyptian Goddess of Chaos, plots to steal Elizabeth’s queensoul in order to resurrect the powers of its mother.

And drawn into the city is Cleopatra, still immortal and dedicated to keeping Sekhmet at bay and without worshippers so that she herself might one day die and join her lost love Antony. She has fallen into a calmer life, and a relationship with William Shakespeare, but Marlowe will tempt her to return to her old ways. Together, Cleopatra, Shakespeare and Marlowe will battle the rising power of Madness, and ultimately Spain’s attack and Sekhmet’s return. Marlowe’s soul will be risked as ambition and magic take over his pen, and Cleopatra will be forced to choose between her heart and her duty…

Sex and alchemy, fireships and monsters, and England’s greatest playwrights entwined in a love triangle with an immortal queen – Cleopatra will become Shakespeare’s Dark Lady…and England’s saviour.

The City by Stella Gemmell
April: hardback

You may recognise Stella as the wife of the late David Gemmell and I believe this is her first novel written on her own. And what a novel it sounds! I love the sound of her world-building and I’ve been enjoying fantasy with a firm grounding in urban, city life.

The City is ancient and vast, built up over the millennia, layer upon layer. Once a thriving metropolis, it has sprawled beyond its walls, inciting and waging constant wars with neighbouring tribes and kingdoms – creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.

At the heart of the City lives the emperor. Few have ever seen him, but those who have recall a man in his prime, though he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he truly ever was. And a small number have come to the desperate conclusion that the only way to stop the City’s incessant war and the constant bloodshed is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.

From the maze-like sewers and catacombs below the City, where the poor struggle to stay alive in the dark, to the blood-soaked fields of battle where few heroes manage to survive the never-ending siege, these rebels pin their hopes on one man: Shuskara. Once the emperor’s foremost general, he was betrayed long ago and is believed to be dead. But, under different aliases, he has survived, forsaking his City and hiding from the man to whom he once vowed his allegiance. Now, the time has come for Shuskara to emerge from the shadows and lead a final bid to free the City from those who have brought it and its people to their knees for so long…

Inspired world-building, complex and wholly believable characters, thrilling battle scenes and glorious storytelling come together in this epic novel. Exciting, dark and affecting,The City is a stunning achievement that places its author at the very front rank of fantasy fiction.

If I Close My Eyes Now by Edney Silvestre
May: hardback

On one hand, it sounds like a lot of coming-of-age-after-finding-a-body type stories, but it’s a Brazilian book and sometimes it’s interesting to see how other cultures deal with the same topics. Plus I think I’ve gotten over my aversion to missing speech marks (something that translators rarely add when translating from Portuguese).

If I close my eyes now, I can still feel her blood on my fingers. If only I had closed my eyes then, or kept my mouth shut, not told anyone about our discovery by the swimming hole, it might not have stopped our childhood, dead.

We could have gone back to dreaming about spaceships.

A horrifying discovery by two young boys while playing in a mango plantation marks the end of their childhood. As they finally open their eyes to the adult world, they see a place where Tarzan from their books does not exist, but guns and violence do …

Little Beauty by Alison Jameson
May: hardback

I like stories set on islands. I think you might be getting the idea that my book choosing criteria is very broad and therefore to blame for my sprawling TBR.

1975: Whale Island, Ireland. Laura Quinn is lonely on the island on which she has lived all her life. The other islanders think she is odd, and the man who has been her lover for some time is showing no interest in making an honest woman out of her. So she answers an advertisement for a housekeeper in a country house on the mainland, thinking to escape the island and the frustrations of her life there.

Within a year, she is back on the island with a child. No one knows what to make of her, or how to treat her. But one thing is for sure, at this time, in this place, to be an unmarried mother is a precarious position, and so is set in motion a series of events with consequences that no one could have predicted.

Beautiful and gripping, this is Irish literary storytelling at its best.

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
May: hardback

I’m glad Sophie is now writing more standalone books as I was starting to tire of the Shopaholic series. Whilst the blurb doesn’t really grab me, I know I enjoy her writing so will be looking forward to this one.

Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don’t want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement—just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met. But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben’s rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember … or one to forget?

Perfect by Rachel Joyce
May: hardback

I know many of you enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry so you may be pleased to hear Rachel’s second novel will be available next year.

In 1972, two seconds are added to time. In the same year two small boys, each with golden futures, are catapulted by a momentary, catastrophic event onto very different paths…The two events fuse together in ten-year-old mind Byron Hemmingway’s mind to leave the all-consuming question: is the addition of time to blame?

Afterwards nothing is the same. Diana, Byron’s beloved, perfect mother begins to unravel. As she becomes more childlike, Byron does all he can to hold things together. But how can a child become a parent? And what happens when the roles reverse?

Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect begins with a ‘What if..’ – one pivotal moment of spontaneous decision that challenges our snap judgements about innocence and guilt. Written with the same lightness of touch, it confronts the dark things in us – an error so easily made and the far-reaching consequences it has. It is about disintegration and learning to separate. About loving and living from the outside. And the redemptive power of letting go.

The Road Between Us by Nigel Farndale
June: hardback

Two very emotive storylines; I am interested to see how they connect.

A powerful dual time-frame novel about forbidden love.

In the present, a British hostage is released from ten years in solitary confinement in a hole in the ground in Afghanistan, only to find that his wife is dead and that his feelings for his suddenly grown-up daughter are disturbingly confused.

In the past, after two male lovers are arrested in 1939 in a hotel room overlooking Piccadilly Circus, an English soldier must fight his way across wartorn Europe to save his lover from the death camps.

With all the elegant prose, cracking suspense and food-for-thought themes of the Costa-shortlisted The Blasphemer, Nigel Farndale’s second novel again delivers on all fronts.

Apologies for the lack of cover images but hopefully I’ll be able to share more on some of these titles next year. My want to read list is just growing and growing! How about you? Fancy reading any of these or are there books I’ve missed that you will be adding to your wishlist?

View catalogue online.

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