September 2023 has unveiled a treasure trove of literary gems, illuminating the literary landscape with promising debut novels. These noteworthy first works span a plethora of genres, offering a banquet of narratives to satiate the diverse palate of readers worldwide. As leaves fall and the air crisps, these debut novels invite readers into worlds untold, promising solace in the rhythm of words and the unfolding of new stories. Here, we delve into the 10 best debut books of September 2023, exploring the varied tapestries they weave and the lasting impressions they etch.
10 Best Debut Books of September 2023
- Everyone’s Thinking It by Aleema Omotoni
- The Library Of Shadows by Rachel Moore
- Rez Ball by Byron Graves
- If I Have to Be Haunted by Miranda Sun
- The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall
- You, Again by Kate Goldbeck
- Salthouse Place by Jamie Lee Sogn
- The River Runs South by Audrey Ingram
- The September House by Carissa Orlando
- The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin
Everyone’s Thinking It by Aleema Omotoni
“Everyone’s Thinking It” by Aleema Omotoni is a compelling debut published on September 5, 2023, meriting a great rating with its intricate blend of mystery, contemporary themes, and sharp wit. Set in Wodebury Hall, a prestigious UK boarding school, it brings to life the stories of Iyanu, an aspiring photographer, and her cousin, Kitan, a Nigerian girl struggling with acceptance in an insular environment. The book unfolds a riveting mystery when stolen photographs surface, causing turmoil and accusations. Omotoni weaves a tale rich in emotion and insight, exploring friendship, belonging, and the pursuit of truth.
The Library Of Shadows by Rachel Moore
It is a gripping debut novel set in Radcliffe Prep, renowned as the third most haunted school in the country. Here, Este Logano enrolls with the aspiration of uncovering her deceased father’s mysterious past, a journey steeped in supernatural encounters and thrilling mysteries. Este’s disbelief in ghosts is challenged when she encounters Mateo, a character with a spectral presence, leading to a thrilling quest involving the theft of a rare book and the eerie, haunted realms of the school’s library.
Moore’s narrative is a labyrinth of secret passageways, shadowy tunnels, and the unresolved enigma of student disappearances, rendering it a chilling and enthralling read that intertwines the enigma of the past with looming dangers.
Rez Ball by Byron Graves
“Rez Ball” by Byron Graves is a powerful debut, exploring the poignant, high-stake journey of young athlete Tre Brun within his Ojibwe community. This narrative unfolds on the Red Lake Reservation, where basketball becomes Tre’s refuge amidst the haunting memories of his deceased brother, Jaxon. Tre, grappling with his brother’s legacy, aspires to lead his team to their first state championship and eventually the NBA, transcending the hurdles of grief, societal expectations, and evolving relationships, notably with his friend, Khiana.
Published by Heartdrum, this book captures the pulse of Indigenous youth in contemporary society, intertwining ambition, community, and personal growth, marking Tre’s pursuit not just as a quest for triumph but a revitalization of his brother’s unfulfilled dreams.
If I Have to Be Haunted by Miranda Sun
The book intertwines contemporary fantasy with young adult romance, featuring Cara Tang, a reluctant teenage ghost speaker with Chinese American heritage. The book juxtaposes her desire to conform to familial expectations with her innate abilities and her tumultuous relationship with local golden boy, Zacharias Coleson. Their dynamic takes a thrilling turn when Cara finds Zach’s ghost and agrees to resurrect him, embarking on a spellbinding journey through a world laden with magic and monsters.
The unexpected camaraderie and evolving emotions between Cara and Zach create a riveting narrative, blending snark, romance, and adventure, making it a delightful read for enthusiasts of multifaceted fantasy narratives.
The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall
Breanne Randall’s debut, “The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic,” is a spellbinding exploration of love, loss, and the mystical, resonating with fans of “Practical Magic” and “Gilmore Girls.” Protagonist Sadie Revelare, embroiled in her family’s magical curse and a whirlwind of emotions, faces tumult as her grandmother’s health deteriorates and past love, Jake McNealy, re-enters her life. The return of her estranged brother, Seth, unveils family secrets, pushing Sadie to the brink, questioning the essence of her magic and the bonds of her heart.
You, Again by Kate Goldbeck
This novel introduces readers to Ari, a free-spirited comedian, and Josh, a culinary ambitious Manhattanite, whose initial encounters are electrified with mutual dislike. Bound by an unconventional link of sharing a romantic partner, their paths collide again, leading to an unexpected camaraderie born out of mutual heartbreak. As they navigate friendship, late-night binges, and playful banters, the boundaries of their relationship start to blur, introducing a tantalizing possibility of romance. Goldbeck’s nuanced exploration of modern love, friendship dynamics, and sizzling chemistry makes this book a captivating read.
Salthouse Place by Jamie Lee Sogn
Set against the evocative backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, it portrays Delia Albio’s relentless quest for answers about her friend Zee’s mysterious disappearance a decade earlier. The unexpected disappearance of another friend, Cara, plunges Delia deeper into a world of mystery and danger. Her journey to an obscure women’s empowerment group unfolds layers of secrets, revealing a sinister cult with a dark agenda.
Sogn masterfully interlaces suspense with emotional undertones, offering readers a riveting exploration of truth, friendship, and the lengths one would go to uncover the buried secrets of the past. The narrative is a relentless ride through intrigue and the shadows of the human soul.
The River Runs South by Audrey Ingram
In Audrey Ingram’s debut novel, “The River Runs South,” readers are taken on an emotive journey through love, loss, and renewal. After the sudden demise of her husband, protagonist Camille Taylor leaves Washington, DC, with her daughter, seeking solace in her Alabama hometown. The novel eloquently combines the soothing presence of the Alabama coast with the complexities of environmental issues and familial ties, as Camille discovers the waters of her cherished Mobile Bay are endangered due to a lawsuit involving her father.
The narrative beautifully intertwines Camille’s internal and external worlds, her evolving relationship with local fisherman Mack Phillips, and her struggle with discerning right from wrong. Ingram’s compelling portrayal of grief, love, environmental concern, and the essence of home makes it a resonant read for those who relish emotionally enriched fiction with a touch of Southern nostalgia.
The September House by Carissa Orlando
The storyline follows Margaret’s unyielding resolve to retain her dream home, a surprisingly affordable Victorian, despite its chilling, ghostly inhabitants and harrowing September hauntings. Margaret’s determination contrasts starkly with her husband Hal’s abdication in the face of the relentless supernatural phenomena, leaving their uninformed daughter Katherine navigating a maze of spectral secrets and familial mysteries.
The house, a pivotal character, conceals secrets it’s unwilling to reveal, intensifying the horrors as Margaret and Katherine delve deeper. Orlando’s twisty and atmospheric tale intricately weaves the strands of familial bonds, undying love for a house, and the sinister shadows of the unseen, making it a compelling read for those who savor a mixture of horror and familial drama.
The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin
“The Stranger Upstairs” by Lisa M. Matlin is a gripping psychological and gothic debut novel. Sarah Slade, a social media influencer with a clandestine past, buys the notorious Black Wood House, intending to renovate it for her blog and escape her troubled marriage. However, the house, marked by a gruesome history, resists her efforts, and Sarah becomes entangled in a web of paranoia, reality distortion, and hidden truths. As haunting manifestations and inexplicable phenomena escalate, Sarah’s life spirals into chaos, forcing her to confront her own secrets and the malevolent essence of the house. Matlin masterfully blends themes of deception, redemption, and atmospheric horror, crafting a compelling narrative that will resonate with fans of psychological thrillers and gothic horror.
Also Read: 10 Most Anticipated Debut Novels of 2023