Strategem by Robin Carroll
An excellent thriller with a unique hook: a woman dies playing an escape room-type game designed by her husband, which makes him the prime suspect. He didn’t do it, so who did?Click here to read my review.
Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels
An infertile woman working in a pregnancy support clinic is counselling the woman pregnant to her unfaithful husband … only none of them know it. A gripping novel which explores those problem areas where there are no right answers.
Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon
Grace in the Shadows is a poignant and thought-provoking novel from Australian author and missionary Christine Dillon, one that is designed to challenge our thinking at the same time as giving us a good story with great characters.
Life After by Katie Ganshert
The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrell
The recipient of a heart transplant meets the donor family, and is challenged to get out and live the life she has been gifted … by ticking off the donor’s bucket list, the 24 things she didn’t get to do before she died.
Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson
A powerful dual-timeline stories connecting a rare book, a second-hand bookstore, and pre-World War II Austria as Hitler comes to power and begins his persecution of the Jews. Plenty of twists and tragedy.
Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
Charles Martin novels always pack an emotional punch, and send down the rain is no exception. Yes, there’s a slow build, but the payoff is more than worth it in this exploration of love, loyalty, and family, a story of sacrifice and second chances.
No Less Days by Amanda G Stevens
David Galloway can’t die. He’s tried, but he can’t. He’s always thought he was alone, but he’s watching TV one day and realises that he isn’t alone … Yes, No Less Days isn’t your typical Christian fiction. It’s more like Forever meets Highlander, part science fiction and part urban fantasy.
Where Hope Begins by Catherine West
Savannah’s husband of twenty years has left her for another woman, the children are in boarding school and college and don’t need her, so she does what any sensible woman would do: she runs away. It’s a tough yet touching story about what women do when life disappears.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
It’s a dual timeline story, with the past timeline telling the story of a family that is broken when the five children are stolen, shipped off to an orphanage, and adopted out. It’s a compelling story, made all the more compelling and horrifying by the knowledge it’s based on the real-life scandal of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
As I was compiling this post, I realised what all these novels have in common: a great hook.
Yes, they all also have great characters, a strong plot, and excellent writing, but so did a lot of the novels that didn’t make the list. These are the novels that have lived in my memory long past reading them and writing the review … and that’s because of the hook.
Characters placed in unusual and often difficult situations, and being forced to work through issues and problems most of us will never face. Because that’s the attraction of fiction: the way story can teach us how to deal with things in the real world.
So what’s the hook for your work in progress? What challenges do you give your characters?