Top Ten Tuesday: 2023 Debuts I’m Excited about

"Tope Ten Tuesday" in a white font mimicking handwriting on navy starry skies

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

As the title suggests, this week’s topic is all about debuts. Debuts tend to be something I hear about as the year goes on from other people and in person events, so it’s going to be very heavily slanted toward the first half of the year. The first half of the list is comprised of books I haven’t yet read, while the second half is made of ones I have been lucky enough to already read, but they still deserve a shout out.

One little note, for this list, I’m only counting first books ever by an author. If it’s their debut in a new age range (etc) it’s not heading onto this list because I want to highlight first books ever.

1. THE SURVIVING SKY, by Kritika H. Rao

Book cover for THE SURVIVING SKY: title in white on a floating plant city in the clouds

This is probably, for me, the most personally special book I’ll read this year as it’s the one I have a personal connection to. I read THE SURVIVNG SKY probably four, five years ago at this point. Kritika and I were in the same writing group and I read a version of this before she got an agent (and then publisher) and absolutely loved it.

I am therefore so, so excited to read the final thing later on this year, to see how it’s changed (and somehow got even better.) If you haven’t already pre-ordered this science fantasy, Hindu philosophy inspired book with floating plant based cities and a husband and wife duo with a marriage on the rocks trying to save the world, do.

2. LIES WE SING TO THE SEA, by Sarah Underwood

Book cover for LIES WE SING TO THE SEA: title in blue on line drawing of a girl whose hair becomes the sea

LIES WE SING TO THE SEA is a UKYA historical/fantasy/mythology retelling debut which would be enough to put it onto my radar It’s got a lot of hype and marketing support (and also some controversy that, honestly, came across as being misquoted) so I’m interested to see what I think of it.

This is a Greek myth re-imagining, sort of. It explores the story of the handmaidens of Penelope who are killed after Odysseus returns, so it takes place after the Odyssey ends (and thus I’d say it’s probably not been best helped by being marketed as a retelling of something if it’s really imagining what happens after the end of a tale and about characters who are effectively footnotes in the original.)

3. THE WITCHING TIDE, by Margaret Meyer

Book cover for THE WITCHING TIDE: title in white on dark blue with yellow and green plants around

The inclusion of this book shows the power of publicity, frankly. This is a title I would likely have never heard of if I hadn’t been invited to two different events by the publisher where they discussed this book (it’s going to be one of their biggest pushed titles of the year.) The more I’ve heard about it, the more I’ve been interested.

It is a historical novel inspired by the violent, deadly witch hunts in Suffolk in the 1600s, which sounds very interesting. The main character cannot speak and is a midwife enlisted to help with the examinations of women accused of witchcraft. It looks to be a sharp, blisteringly angry book about how women who don’t fit in are persecuted.

4. GODKILLER, by Hannah Kaner

Book cover for GODKILLER: title in gold on a moon rising in a forest with a stag in front of it

GODKILLER is the start of a fantasy series (trilogy?) that has been receiving rave reviews. I went to one of the launch events – a panel with various other authors and my sides ached from laughing so much, which only made me more interested in picking this one up. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s very pretty.

The book is about someone who kills gods for a living who finds herself tangled up with a god she can’t kill and a warrior who has destroyed many shrines on a secret quest. The godkiller is an amputee, and I’m very excited to read a book with that sort of representation as there’s very little of it out there.


Book cover for SEVEN FACELESS SAINTS: title in black on a broken stature of a bleeding city

SEVEN FACELESS SAINTS is a book I found out about on social media. I am social media friends with a lot of of people who are friends of M. K. Lobb, so I’ve seen them hyping and sharing the book a lot, and that got it onto my radar.

The premise itself looks pretty cool. The setting is a city torn between the disciples of various saints and full of violence that keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Two teens on opposite sides of the war find themselves swept up in a murder investigation.

6. SHIELD MAIDEN, by Sharon Emmerichs

Book cover for SHEILD MAIDEN: title in black on white arounf embroidered bands wrapped around a sword

Another book with a disabled protagonist, SHIELD MAIDEN is a reimagining of Beowulf with a female protagonist who longs to fight but can’t. Except she has this power and it seems to be connected to a slumbering dragon.

Honestly, “reimagined Beowulf with a female protagonist” was enough to make me want to read this book. A little peak inside revealed that, while it’s set in Denmark and the surrounds (like the poem), it’s going to be littered with Old English terms (as the poem is written in it.) As someone who has studied the language, this only makes me more nerdily excited for it.


Book cover for THIS DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR: title in white on orange blob in the middle of blue

THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR was my first five star read of the year. I loved this slow, stately feminist story of women fighting for their rights, exploring the role of violence in such uprisings. As it’s about suffrage, there is some politics in the book, which was so nice after months without reading political fantasy – and it made me want to pick up more such books.

It’s the sort of book that makes you so blisteringly angry at systematic injustice, but also full of hope as these women take on the system. The ending is quite something and I am in dire need of book 2 already.

8. SPICE ROAD, by Maiya Ibrahim

Book cover for SPICE ROAD; title in yellow above an orange desert in a red border

SPICE ROAD is a YA fantasy debut, the start of a trilogy that I was able to read early. It is a nice thick book (particularly for a YA debut) about a journey through a deadly desert to find a missing brother in the unknown lands beyond. Except that venturing into those lands might make Imani question everything she thinks she knows about her brother and her home.

This was a book that I was intrigued by the premise – sort of like a quest, and with an unknown world to break assumptions. I was able to read it early and I enjoyed my time with it (split across physical and a very good audiobook.)


Book cover for THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE SEA: title in pink of shades of blue and a hand made of dots

Oh, hello, a UKYA debut you say that’s a sci-fi thriller about an experimental mining platform under the sea where all is not as it seems? AND one that’s full of science and written by someone who not only has worked in physics but has a PhD in it? Yes please, sign me up.

I have read THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE SEA now, and it lived up to my science-filled expectations. There is a real feeling of being grounded in science that means it is very believable without being overwhelmed or slowed down by intricate technicalities. Of course, some parts of it are made up, but they stick to clearly defined rules making it still feel within the realm of possibility.

10. THE BLACK QUEEN, by Jumata Emill

Book cover for THE BLACK QUEEN: title i yellow on graphic of a Black girl with mascara tears and a tiara on pink

This is another debut that I’ve already managed to read, and why not round off the list with the boldest cover? It’s so eye-catchingly bright with that pink and yellow.

Cover said, this is a YA contemporary thriller set in the southern US about racial injustice in the justice system among other things. The high school has its first Black queen, and the town as a whole takes their high school queen very seriously. When she is found murdered, fingers start to point towards the white girl who would have been queen if not for the murdered girl.

What debuts are you looking forward to this year?

19 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: 2023 Debuts I’m Excited about

  1. Yeah, you’re entirely right about Lies We Sing to the Sea. It’s not at all a retelling. They’re going to get so many people turned away from this book bc they’re marketing it entirely wrong. I really enjoyed it when I read it, so I hope you will too! Godkiller made my list as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh, I’ll be keeping an eye out for The Witching Tide. I tend to automatically pick up anything set during the 1600s witch trials as I have a bit of an obsession with them, and it will be interesting to see how the main character communicates if she can’t speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you’ve enjoyed the ones you’ve already read and your story about The Surviving Sky is so cool, I hope you love the finished book just as much as the early drafts! I’ve added Godkiller to my TBR after seeing it absolutely everywhere this week and falling for that beautiful cover, I also added Seven Faceless Saints from another list, and The Witching Tide from here. My TBR is growing so much this week!
    My TTT:

    Liked by 1 person

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