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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

Our 2023 novelists: From magical realism to cult thrillers...

The 2023 novels were deliciously hard to pick - the standard was that high! The four novelists below really have a grip over the surprising plot twist and that elusive ability to make us fall in love with fictional characters. It has been fascinating for me to see how political and socially conscious elements shine across all genres of novels: below we have magical realism, fantasy, historical fiction and a thriller!

On the 25th of August 2023 we welcome Rachel Grosvenor and 'The Finery':

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

ISBN: 9781915789037

Blurb: Tyranny is in the air in the city of Finer Bay, and Professor Wendowleen Cripcot would like to be left alone, thank you very much. The memories of the last one hundred years are quite enough to be getting on with, if only these young upstarts from the government body, The Finery, would stop trying to control her every move. With the eyes of a dictator upon her, there are not many places to hide...but Wendowleen has never been one to back down from a fight (just ask her pet wolf), and insurrection is brewing underground.

A 100 year old professor taking down the government? Definitely up our street!

Meet the Author:

Rachel Grosvenor is a writer from Birmingham, UK, with a PhD, MA and BA in Creative Writing. With a passion for telling fantastical tales, Rachel has written poetry and short stories for reviews and anthologies worldwide. When she's not writing, she spends her time editing, coaching, and wondering what's for elevenses.

On the 29th of September 2023 we welcome back acclaimed Scottish novelist, Liam Bell with his second novel with us 'The Sleepless'.

ISBN: 978-1-915789-06-8

Genre: Thriller, Psychological

What if I told you that sleep was just a habit? What if the third of your life you spend asleep, you could be awake instead?

Nine years ago, Grafton’s wife Liz left him and their young son to follow a cult leader around the world. Having turned to the bottle and been relegated from his job as a journalist he now does the traffic reports on the radio. When he hears of a commune on the remote west coast of Scotland whose residents believe that sleep is a social construct, he thinks Liz might be involved. Could there be a story in it too? If he goes to investigate might he resurrect his career, as well as find some answers from Liz?

What he finds is a group of disciples in thrall to their enigmatic leader, Joan, who is leading them on a mission to stay awake for eleven nights. On the twelfth day – the proclamation of Joan’s achievement – a seismic event will occur, although no one knows exactly what.

Grafton gathers material for his comeback story but, at the same time, comes to appreciate the persuasiveness of Joan’s message of untapped potential and wasted hours. As he is drawn deeper into the world of the Sleepless, Liz reconnects with Isaac on their own journey to the commune. As more extreme and dangerous measures are enforced to maintain the community’s sleeplessness, Grafton finds himself racing to rescue his son from whatever the twelfth day may hold.

The Sleepless is a thriller that will appeal to readers of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Fred D’Aguiar’s Children of Paradise, as well as those fascinated by the recent Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country.

Meet the Author:

Liam Bell is author of three previous novels, Man at Sea, So It Is and The Busker, as well as short stories and articles in publications including New Writing Scotland, Litro, and Northwords Now. He was born in Orkney and grew up in Glasgow. He has studied at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Surrey and now teaches at the University of Stirling. More information at or on twitter @liammurraybell.

On the 27th of October 2023 we welcome Donna Moore who has a brilliant page-turning historical thriller for us - I call her the queen of the plot twist!

'The Unpicking' by Donna Moore

ISBN: 9781915789051

Genre: Historical, Thriller

"I had read enough mystery stories to know that girls who went out to meet strangers at night never came to a good end..."

Stirling, 1877. Lillias Gilfillan, a recently orphaned girl of sixteen, falls in love and elopes with a man who sees her as wealthy and naïve: ‘a little boat without its oars’. In a sea of rising debt and deception, Lillias must learn quickly, or drown.

Glasgow, 1894. Clementina knows little mercy living in a home for ‘wayward girls’. With the ‘Jingling Devil’ always lurking in the shadows and a child growing inside her, can she outrun him and save her best friend in the process?

Glasgow, 1919. Mabel is one of the first policewomen in Glasgow, on a mission to find a murderer. In doing so, she finds a web of corruption and now the ‘Jingling Devil’ wants her dead.

‘The Unpicking’ spans three generations of ‘hysterical women’ who take on systemic corruption and injustice, despite all odds.

Then on the 1st of December we welcome Elliot Harper and his novel: 'New Gillion Street'!

ISBN: 978-1-915789-07-5

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Albert Smith and his family live on a neat street in Neo-Yuthea, divided into ‘Even’s and ‘Odd’s. All chugs along perfectly well without politics: there is even an agreement of neutrality and, instead of money, the street trade in chickens and commodities. However, one morning Mr Zand posts a leaflet through every door: he is standing to be Mayor of New Gillion Street. As Mr Zand’s power grows, life becomes uncertain. Strange creatures from the forest cause shock deaths. Arranged marriages are forced to preserve ‘peace in the community’. Albert and his wife’s garden meetings will not be tolerated for much longer. And when that happens, total chaos will unfold…

"I wrote this very soft sci-fi (but certainly quirky and weird) novel while living in Texas in 2018. It was peak-Trump and the mid-terms were in full swing. I was struck by the toxicity of "strong man" politics and how he (and then others, notably our own current PM) latched onto the demonisation of the "others" within and without the country. This influenced me to write a story about New Gillion Street and how one person can upend years of cooperation and the devastating results."

About the Author:

Elliot J Harper is a speculative fiction writer who lives in Leeds, England with his wife, Naomi. His short story, In the Garden, won The Molotov Cocktail magazines Flash Vision 2021 contest. He has short stories in print as follows: The Curious Case of the Speaking Telegraph in the Spirit Machine: Tales of Seance Fiction &, Into the Forest in The Wild Hunt: Stories of the Chase by Air and Nothingness Press, There's a Dead Bear in the Pool in Black Telephone Issue 1 by Clash Books, Blackout in The Protest Issue of Popshot Quarterly Magazine. He has various short stories online in Maudlin House, Storgy, Neon Books, Coffin Bell, Horrified Magazine and Idle Ink. His monthly blog, A Brief Chat, hosts interviews with publishers, magazines, authors, and other creatives.

And that's our novel season! Pretty amazing right? If you want to review any of these titles for a platform, get in touch at

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