Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday participants were encouraged to list the top ten books on their winter/summer 2022-23 to-read list. However, as I already did that a few weeks ago, I thought I would instead continue my foray into highlighting the absolute best books of 2022. This is an end of year tradition I do annually with several Top Ten Tuesday Lists, and I started again this year with last week’s list about the best pre-2022 releases I read this year. In a continuation of my end of year highlights, for this week’s list I have decided to look at my absolute favourite debut novels of the year.
I mentioned multiple times throughout the year that 2022 was a pretty awesome year for debuts and boy did I mean it. There were an incredible number of new authors releasing some impressive and entertaining debut novels this year, and I was lucky enough to receive a huge bundle of them to review. I always love checking out new authors as they produce their first book or take a foray into a whole new genre, and I was blown away with some of the talent this year. As such, I am really glad that I can highlight some of the absolute best in this Top Ten list.
To be eligible for this list, the book had to be either the first novel from a new author released in 2022, or a novel that was extremely different from an author’s previous work (their debut in the genre). I ended up reading a huge collection of debuts this year, so I had a bit of a hard time coming up with the list, as there were a lot of good options. I was eventually able to whittle it down to a manageable list of 10, with my typical generous Honourable Mentions section. The result was an excellent list that I feel perfectly captures my favourite debuts of the year and highlights them accordingly. So, let us see what made the cut.
A wickedly clever thriller about an atypical maid who finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Best enjoyed for its fantastic central character, Nita Prose really showed she’s got a lot of potential as a writer, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
No Country for Girls by Emma Styles
A classic and entertaining road-trip thriller set in the Western Australian outback. Fun, compelling and intense, this was a great read that I had an awesome time reading.
Black Drop by Leonora Nattrass
A captivating and haunting murder mystery in late 18th century London, Black Drop combines fascinating historical political intrigue with a great mystery narrative. Highly recommended!
Black River by Matthew Spencer
A dark murder mystery in the heart of Sydney, Black River was a captivating Australian thriller with some awesome twists to it.
Top Ten List:
Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner
Few debuts impressed me in 2022 as much as Her Perfect Twin by outstanding new author Sarah Bonner. A complex and highly clever thriller, Her Perfect Twin follows a repressed woman who finally snaps and kills her perfect twin sister. Taking over her twin’s life to hide the murder, the protagonist decides to use this opportunity to escape her abusive husband. However, the onset of COVID-19 keeps her trapped at home and forces her into a twisty battle of wits with her husband who knows way too much about what she’s done. A fantastic and addictive thriller that will have you hooked all the way to the final twist, Her Perfect Twin was a particularly epic novel that I cannot rave about enough.
The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis
There were a ton of great Australian crime fiction debuts in 2022, but one of my absolute favourites was The Unbelieved by new author Vikki Petraitis. Following a damaged cop as she attempts to find peace in small town Australia, the protagonist soon discovers that her new town is afflicted by several sexual predators and the women are afraid to speak out. A powerful and deeply intense read that provides an exceptional commentary on the public perception of sexual violence in modern society, The Unbelieved was an extraordinary Australian debut that comes extremely highly recommended.
The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan
One of the most popular debuts of 2022 is probably the cool fantasy book, The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan. Swan’s first foray in fantasy fiction, The Justice of Kings is a brilliant and captivating read that follows a criminal investigation in a dark fantasy universe. Combining distinctive fantasy elements with an excellent mystery storyline, The Justice of Kings got a lot of well-deserved love this year and is an outstanding book to check out.
The Australian crime fiction debut hits keep on coming, this time with the amazing and well-written outback thriller, Wake, by epic new author Shelley Burr. Set years after an infamous disappearance of a young girl in a broken small town, Wake sees the victim’s sister and an ambitious private investigator with his own agenda team up to finally solve the mystery. However, the answers they both seek cause far more harm than they ever imagined and result in a deep and amazing read.
Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild
Murder has never been more fun in the hilarious thriller debut, Blood Sugar. Talented new author Sascha Rothchild presents a fantastic and outstanding character-driven read about a young woman who has an unfortunate habit of killing the worst people around her. However, when someone close to her dies of natural causes, her entire life will be torn apart as the police try to pin it on her. I had an exceptional time reading this clever and funny book, and you are guaranteed to love it.
Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
One of the best fantasy debuts of 2022 had to be the exceptional young adult read, Only A Monster by Australian author Vanessa Len. Following a young girl who discovers that she’s a life-sucking monster, the protagonist must learn to control her powers while also being hunted by her boyfriend, a ruthless and relentless monster hunter. Impressively inventive and just a little heartbreaking, I had an exceptional time reading Only a Monster and Len clearly has a very bright future in fantasy fiction.
If you are looking for a ton of action and a relentlessly entertaining protagonist, look no further than the exciting thriller debut, Seventeen by John Brownlow. This book follows the world’s greatest assassin, Seventeen, who finds himself forced to go after the only person on the planet more deadly than himself, his retired predecessor Sixteen. Featuring a high-octane battle of elite assassins, Seventeen is an outstanding read that I could not get enough of.
Daughters of Eve by Nina D. Campbell
One of the first debuts I read in 2022 was one of the best with the outstanding Australian crime fiction read, Daughters of Eve by Nina D. Campbell. After several despicable men are killed around Australia, the police are forced to investigate a mysterious group who are determined to get justice for women by any means necessary. A clever mystery that also serves as a great examination of gender inequalities in Australia’s legal and criminal systems, Daughters of Eve was an exceptional read that had me hooked the entire way through.
Essex Dogs by Dan Jones
There was no way I could exclude the epic historical fiction debut, Essex Dogs by Dan Jones, from this list. Following a loyal band of mercenary soldiers who get recruited for the English invasion of France at the start of the Hundred Years War, Essex Dogs is a powerful, character driven epic that I had so much fun with. Loaded with cool battles and a ton of historical detail, Dan Jones really knocked his debut out the park, and I can’t wait to see how he follows it up.
Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher
The final debut on this list is the compelling and awesome urban fantasy novel, Dead Man’s Hand. Written by the son of legendary fantasy author Jim Butcher, James J. Butcher, Dead Man’s Hand is a wonderful and memorable read that sees a failed witch team up with a retired monster hunter to find a deadly killer. Featuring an ultra-snarky protagonist, some cool magical elements, and an outstanding murder mystery, Dead Man’s Hand was a terrific debut and I look forward to seeing more from Butcher in the future.
Well, that is the end of this list. As you can, there were some incredible debut novels that came out this year and I had a blast getting through all of them. Each of the above debuts are really worth checking out, and I had an amazing time exploring these talented authors’ first forays into fiction. I am really excited to see what these authors produce next, and I have a feeling that quite a few are going to become major names in their genres.