Best Fiction Books 2016

I vowed to read some more novels this year, and – oh boy – I read some absolute gems. Here were the best 12 fiction books I read in 2016:


Threat shadowsA Threat of Shadows – J A Andrews.
In a world where historians are revered and have magical powers, one has gone rogue – looking to dark magic to save his dying wife. Utterly brilliant, emotionally-rich fantasy in the mould of Tolkien/Lewis, with concepts and scenes that have really stayed with me. Looking forward to the sequel.


goats sheep troubleThe Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon.
Set in a small cul-de-sac in the claustrophobic heatwave of 1976, two young girls search for God, sheep and goats when a woman goes missing in mysterious circumstances. Whimsical, character-rich and interesting weaving of biblical themes. Both parabolic and utterly real. This and A Threat of Shadows were my favourites this year – because of all the amazing books I read, these were the ones that have stayed with me.




The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt.
A Dickens-worthy beast of a book about a teenage boy, caught up in an explosion in a New York Art Gallery, who steals a painting in the confusion. Brilliant character portrayal and interesting thoughts on art.


Arcadia iain pearsArcadia – Iain Pears. 
It combines an Oxford professor caught up in a possible Cold War spy plot, a girl looking for a cat who walks into a Utopian world where Storytellers are revered, and a possibly-mad scientist trying to escape a dystopian one. There are three worlds and several narrators to get your head around, so it’s a brain-stretch, but a witty, fun and intelligent one. If you like Tom Stoppard’s play by the same name, you’ll like this.


A little lifeA Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara.
A young man with a mysterious past meets three friends at university in New York. This carries a MAJOR trigger warning for abuse of all kinds and suicide ideation, but is very well-written, and the kind of book where you’re really invested in the characters. Long, heartrending exploration of the beauty and limitations of human kindness.



Exposure Helen DunmoreExposure – Helen Dunmore.
Utterly gripping story of false accusation of spying in the cold war, and how the family cope. Not a ‘spy’ novel, but more about the disintegration and reformation of a family in crisis. Brilliant for character-depth, and scenes with such subtle menace that I forgot to breathe.

We are all completely beside ourselvesWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler. 
A seeimingly placid student, whose siblings have mysteriously disappeared from her life, unexpectedly attacks a police officer. There’s a spectacular plot twist about a third of the way through, which is when it becomes a truly memorable work of literature. A book to make you think.


Before the FallBefore the Fall – Noah Hawley. 
It starts with a plane crash. We piece together the mystery of why the plane crashed through the backstory of the 11 people on board, as well as the aftermath of all affected by it.  A compelling and character-rich story with biting commentary on the rapacious nature of the 24/7 news cycle, this is a good and gripping read. 


Siracusa EphronSiracusa – Delia Ephron. 
Two couples and one child go on what turns out to be a disastrous holiday in Siracusa, Italy, as secrets unravel, and fractures in the relationships are exposed. Part-dry comedy and part-social comment, part-psychological thriller, I devoured this book in a few days, staying up late to read it.


The Muse Jessie BurtonThe Muse – Jessie Burton. 
Flicking between 1960s London and 1930s Spain, on the cusp of civil war, this novel centres on the discovery of a mysterious painting, and the tragic secrets it holds. Though the Spain parts are stronger than the London narrative, it’s a wonderful story that touches upon how we interpret art, the role of women in art and literature, and the silences and trauma that war brings.


Handmaids taleThe Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. 
A dystopian novel about a world in which women are subjugated, it was a fascinating, breathless read. It is both literary and very readable, which is a sign of truly good literature.


murder at maypole manor hathawayMurder at Maypole Manor – LB Hathaway.
I love this series of the Posie Parker cosy crime novels, and of the two I read this year, this was my favourite – but you really should start at the beginning with Murder Offstage.




Threat shadows
A Threat of Shadows – J A Andrews.
Get it from $12.99 or $1.26 Kindle, £11.99 or £0.99 Kindle.


goats sheep trouble
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon.
  Get it from $16.59 , £9.09, or Wordery (UK) £9.98



The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt. 
Get it from $11.90, £6.99, or Wordery (UK) £9.28

Arcadia iain pears
Arcadia – Iain Pears. 
Get it from $16.77, £6.99, or Wordery (UK) £6.95


A little life
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara.
Get it from $10.11, £3.85, or Wordery (UK) £7.67


We are all completely beside ourselves
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler. 
Get it from $9.52, £6.49, or Wordery (UK) £5.50


Before the Fall
Before the Fall – Noah Hawley. 
Get it from $18.20, $10.49, or Wordery (UK) £7.11


Siracusa Ephron
Siracusa – Delia Ephron. 
Get it from $17.10, £18.20


The Muse Jessie Burton


The Muse – Jessie Burton. 
Get it from $18.29, £6.49, or Wordery (UK) £10.29



Handmaids tale
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. 
Get it from $8.68, £6.29, or Wordery (UK) £6.26


murder at maypole manor hathaway


Murder at Maypole Manor – LB Hathaway. 


Get the Posie Parker series from from $0.99 Kindle, from £0.99 Kindle


Also – for 2017 – Preorder Ink – Alice Broadway. Set in a world where everything you do in your life is tattooed on your skin, this is the first book in a trilogy that promises to be the next Hunger Games. SO GOOD. Preorder from or Wordery (UK). (Sorry Americans, you have to wait another year for it…)


TOMORROW – look out for the best ten Christian books of 2016! 

Over to you: 

  • What have been your best novels for 2016?


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6 Responses to Best Fiction Books 2016

  1. Rebecka 7th December, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

    Ooooh, I want to read all of these! I’ve actually read more this year than I have in a long time but I never remember what I’ve read…

    • Tanya 20th February, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

      You should keep a list of what you’ve read – I find that in itself is motivating to read more. And yes – do read all of these!

      • Rebecka 20th February, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

        Good idea! 🙂

  2. JA Andrews 7th December, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    Tanya, this is the first thing I read this morning, and you made my day – maybe my year!


  1. Amy Boucher Pye » What I Read in 2017 - 1st January, 2018

    […] I wasn’t one of those, and didn’t like it too much. I loved learning all of the things that Tanya Marlow saw in it in her review […]

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