October’s Best New Fiction

October brings chill winds and warm comfort food, with books to match. Stephen King and Anne Rice provide the chills, with new tales of Castle Rock and the vampire Lestat, respectively; and Nicholas Sparks, Kate Morton, and Mitch Albom provide the comfort with heartfelt dramas. Jodie Picoult’s ensemble about a women’s health clinic under attack is perfect for book groups, and Jan Karon’s collection of Father Tim’s advice makes a beautiful gift for Mitford fans.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter, by Kate Morton
An artist’s retreat in the summer of 1862 along the banks of the Thames ends in murder, thievery, and ruination for its host and guests. A century and a half later, archivist Elodie Winslow comes across some tantalizing clues about the events of that pivotal season, which she believes may connect with her own family history. Fans of The Lake House and The Secret Keeper know Morton excels at dual timelines and complex emotions.

Every Breath, by Nicholas Sparks
Sparks’s twentieth book is a breathtakingly romantic story about two strangers who meet at a North Carolina beach town and change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. Lonely-hearted Hope—whose boyfriend of six years still won’t commit—has returned to her family’s cottage to sell the property in light of her father’s failing health. Tru is a safari leader from Zimbabwe who’s compelled to seek out his biological dad. Over a fateful five days, they’re brought together for something grander and more heart-wrenching than either is prepared for. Keep your Kleenex handy! 

The Next Person You  Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom
Speaking of tearjerkers, the long-anticipated sequel to Albom’s 2003 smash hit, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, will have readers alternating between smiling and sobbing, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. As a child, Annie survived a Coney Island–esque roller-coaster accident in which maintenance engineer Eddie sacrificed himself to save her. Now grown up, Annie seemingly succumbs to tragedy on her wedding day, but she still has many lessons to learn about life, loss, and love. The B&N exclusive edition contains a bonus chapter you won’t want to miss.

A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult
A thoughtful and harrowing ensemble drama set at a Mississippi women’s health clinic under attack from a gunman, Light’s timeline travels backward as we get to know the hostages and law enforcement members involved. Multiple viewpoints invite readers to empathize with each character, from the nurses, doctors, protestors, and patients trapped inside, to the hostage negotiator trying to save his injured sister and fifteen-year-old daughter. The B&N exclusive edition provides an author interview and reading group guide. 

Elevation, by Stephen King
Just in time for Halloween, take a trip to Castle Rock, King’s favorite spooky locale, in a novella about what it means to be a member of a community. A man with a mysterious, possibly supernatural health problem dislikes the couple next door because their dog is a nuisance to him, but when he learns their restaurant is failing due solely to the homophobia of his fellow townspeople (the restauranteurs are lesbians), he makes it his mission to stand by them and shine a light on prejudice. 

Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen)
A lonely portrait painter going through a domestic crisis holes up in the mountain home of a famous, dementia-afflicted artist. There, the unnamed narrator teaches classes and discovers a never-before-seen, disturbing painting in the attic. The titular image has a story all its own, and a mystical, fever-dream journey ensues, denoted by the nightly ringing bells that torment our hero. Additional elements (cats, an homage to The Great Gatsby) make this an imaginative, vintage Murakami novel. 

Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat, by Anne Rice
Packed with appearances by Rice’s most beloved vampire creations, Communion feels like a reunion. Book thirteen in the Vampire Chronicles finds Lestat the Vampire Prince revealing how he came to rule the vampire world and how he intends to keep a peaceful court. However, Rhoshamandes has different plans for Lestat’s “Children of the Universe,” and you can bet they will involve a glorious and bloody battle.

Bathed in Prayer: Father Tim’s Prayers, Sermons, and Reflections from the Mitford Series, by Jan Karon
When the internationally bestselling Mitford Series began in 1989, the stories were published in the Blowing Rocket newspaper of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Fourteen books and countless fans later, lead character Father Tim Kavanaugh, the town’s Episcopal rector, has earned a collection dedicated to his words of comfort and wisdom as explored throughout the series. Included in the compilation are inspirational essays and personal anecdotes from Karon, a former advertising executive going strong in her eighties. 

Virgil Wander, by Leif Enger
Greenstone, Minnesota, is a mining town in decline, but its residents are worth rooting for. When middle-aged Virgil, the town clerk, drives his car into Lake Superior, he emerges a changed man. No longer will he shy away from confrontation or accept the apparently doomed fate of the classic movie theatre he has poured his heart into. Virgil’s new roommate is a quirky Norwegian whose missing son abandoned the woman Virgil loves. As their stories twist and twine together, readers will be utterly charmed by the town’s unusual, lovable inhabitants.

The Kennedy Debutante, by Kerri Maher
This well-researched, compelling debut historical puts the spotlight on Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, a lesser-known figure from the famous family, as she navigates London society in the late 1930s. Her love for Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, proves complicated because of his family’s religion (Hartington is Protestant, and the Kennedys are Catholic) but those problems pale in comparison to the war that swiftly engulfs both sides of the Atlantic. Kick throws herself into the conflict as a journalist and Red Cross volunteer, hoping beyond hope that her path will cross again with Billy’s. Readers will hope so, too.

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