It’s time to recognize the people behind the stories we love.
I mean, we kind of already do. There’s a lot of author appreciation that goes around! But today’s real Top 5 Tuesday prompt (as opposed to last week’s just posted a whole week late) is about putting the new authors of 2021 in the limelight. I think Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads has the right idea, celebrating them as the year comes to a close, and I have my fingers crossed we’ll see more of their work in the future!
Xiran Jay Zhao, author of Iron Widow
For starters, Xiran Jay Zhao’s official author photo is of them in a cow onesie. On that alone, they have my undying respect. They also have my undying respect for committing to the bit and making that cow onesie work. Never thought I’d see it for a best-selling author, but I think they’ve well and truly set a new standard. Up and coming authors, take notes.
As for their writing, though, I was blown away by the raw fury and intensity of Iron Widow. They wrote a brilliant, brutal debut that had me hooked from the very first pages, and I’m so eager to see where their writing career goes in the years to come! They’re a sharp, insightful voice, and they’ve also got years of time on the Internet to make them Hip and Relatable™.
(Seriously, though. They walk a fine line between serious and playful at all times, and I think they 100% belong on this list!)
Allison Saft, author of Down Comes the Night
Allison Saft’s debut, Down Comes the Night was a flawless execution of enemies to lovers against a gothic backdrop, and it left me so eager to read more of her work. Thankfully, it’s not long until A Far Wilder Magic comes out, but the waiting is still excruciating. I want more of her complex characters, her atmospheric settings! I want more of the impossible problems she crafts and their wondrous, heartbreaking solutions!
She has a soft touch to her work, one that makes even grim situations seem like they might toe the edge of a brighter future. Actually, let’s call it what it is: she manages to sneak in this wonderful sense of hope.
Lyndall Clipstone, author of Lakesedge
Like Allison Saft, Lyndall Clipstone wowed me this year with her gothic romance debut. Unlike Allison Saft, though, Lyndall Clipstone dove a little deeper, got a little harsher. I loved contrasting Lakesedge with Down Comes the Night because they’re both very distinct novels despite sharing an already distinct genre.
I think Lyndall Clipstone’s specialty, though, is the way she gives her characters a sharp edge. Her work isn’t bloody and vicious the way a more action-oriented story might be, but the undercurrent is just as dark and deadly.
She also does an excellent job balancing gods and men, and I look forward to seeing the way mortals tangle with greater powers in the next book in the series!
Courtney Gould, author of The Dead and the Dark
If you want spooky and queer and a little harsh with good reason, Courtney Gould has proven she has what it takes. The Dead and the Dark was one of my favorite ARCs to read this year because it blended the paranormal with mystery, then heaped all kinds of emotional conflict on top. Every ounce of tension was fine-tuned, and the resolution made for the exact kind of payoff a story like that deserves.
If The Dead and the Dark is anything to go by, I think we’ll see more spooky stories in Courtney Gould’s future, complete with all the tangled emotions that come with being a teenager, being queer, and, of course, dealing with the supernatural. Can’t pick just one when you can have all three!
Alexandra Overy, author of These Feathered Flames
We can always use another fairy tale retelling, especially with a new voice like Alexandra Overy’s! She mastered the political intrigue and mystery elements of These Feathered Flames like a pro, and more importantly, she delivered an incredible portrayal of tenuous sisterhood. I adore the way she crafts her characters and their associated conflicts, weaving them together so tightly, and I have great respect for how vivid she makes every single figure on the page!
I also deeply appreciate that she not only went back to Russian folklore to build These Feather Flames into its final form, but she managed to sneak in one last plot twist that broke my heart with its power. Even better, I didn’t see it coming despite all the signs along the way, which is the best kind of twist in the world! Let’s just hope she’s got a few more of those up her sleeves for the second book in the duology, and any work she might still have ahead.
This year wasn’t my best for picking up debut authors, but I still think I got to some incredible new voices on the scene this year. Are any of my top new authors yours as well? Do we disagree on any? Let’s chat!