New Book Releases 2021: January’s fresh fiction

Hands up all those who love browsing the new and upcoming book releases? Many of the best books I read last year were fiction titles that caught my eye from the 2020 new books lists, and 2021 is shaping up as another great year for reading.

Bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power.

Jen Campbell

And, while we love nothing more than popping into our local bookstores, browsing curated 2021 new book release lists online is really the best alternative when we are not able.

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Note links will take readers in the US, UK or Canada to their local Amazon store (if available from there) and in all other cases, to an online book retailer that ships the title to your region.

New Book Releases 2021: Fresh Fiction
Celebrating the new and upcoming book releases in 2021!

Join me on my new book browsing adventures in 2021

Here each month in 2021, I will discuss my top picks of the new novels and upcoming fiction releases. Links in this article will take you to more detail about each title and when I have been lucky enough to read it, open up my full review in a new tab.

So read on to see which titles have caught my attention amongst the new and upcoming January 2021 book releases.

January 2021 New Book Releases

January 2021 Book Releases


Thrilling new page-turners

The Wife Upstairs - January crime thriller releases
Gothic domestic thriller

Rachel Hawkins’ The Wife Upstairs is one of the most hotly-anticipated thrillers of 2021. A modern retelling of the gothic classic Jane Eyre, this is the story of Jane (a broke, light-fingered dog-walker working in a wealthy gated-community in Alabama) who sees an opportunity in the recently widowed, rich, brooding and handsome Eddie Rochester. His wife, Bea, a beautiful and successful businesswoman had drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Can she, plain Jane, win Eddie’s heart before her past–or his–catches up to her?

Apparently with ‘a fresh feminist sensibility’ this novel ‘flips the script’ on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. Find out more >>

Related reads: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

In Shiver by Allie Reynolds, things turn deadly when five snowboarding friends reunite for a weekend in the French Alps. Someone has deliberately stranded them together at the remote mountaintop resort to find out the truth about Saskia’s mysterious disappearance a decade prior. Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust…

From Reynolds, a former competitive snowboarder, authenticity of subject and setting (one ideal for a locked-room thriller) seems assured. Early reviews of this debut are glowing, including mystery thriller author Anna Downes (The Safe Place) describing it ‘a high-velocity, heart-in-your-mouth whodunnit’. Sounds chilling. Find out more >>

Shiver - New thriller novel January 2021
Chilling locked-room thriller
My Best Friend's Murder - Psychological thriller 2021
The Coffinmaker's Garden - January Crime Thriller
More new psychological crime thrillers:

My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips – This debut domestic drama explores a toxic but layered friendship and is a gripping read full of secrets, lies and dark motivations. Read my review >>

The Coffinmaker’s Garden by Stuart McBride – Ex-DI Ash Henderson races to catch a serial killer while a storm batters the Scottish Coast and a garden with buried human remains is falling into the North Sea. 

January 2021 literary mystery & historical fiction

What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz is described as a delicious hybrid of mystery, drama, and elegance: rich with detail, lush in language, and capable of keeping you on the edge of your seat.

With a narrative alternating between two time periods and distinctly different settings, Bangkok 1972 and Washington DC 2019, this novel depicts the secret lives and affairs of young elegant parents Genevieve and Robert Preston, and now daughters Laura and Bea as adults seeking answers to their brothers’ childhood disappearance while their once formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. This sounds like an enthralling and moving story about sibling love, rivalry and loyalty. Find out more >>

What Could Be Saved - Literary mystery release January 2021
Literary family mystery
Waiting for the Night Song - January 2021 Literary mystery
The Price of Two Sparrows - Literary fiction releases
More thought-provoking literary fiction releases:

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton – A novel about childhood friendships ruptured by the high price of long-held secrets; a love song to the natural beauty around us and call to fight for what we believe in.

The Price of Two Sparrows by Christy Collins – Her award-winning novella The End of Seeing was deeply moving, so expectations are high for Collins’ first full-length work exploring issues of community and prejudice, religion and nature in the modern world.

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Science fiction & fantasy in January 2021

The Effort - January 2021 Science Fiction Release
Save-the-world science fiction

Sci-fi dystopian novels were notably absent from my Best Books of 2020 list due to my recent avoidance of the genre… the real news being worrisome enough! But as we collectively look toward brighter horizons, this new January 2021 science fiction release The Effort by Claire Holroyde sounds too good to let pass by.

Featuring a diverse ensemble cast of characters from around the globe and exploring the question, ‘How would we respond if we knew an asteroid equivalent to that which ended the reign of the dinosaurs were on a collision course with earth?’, Publishers Weekly have said its deeper themes about human nature make this apocalyptic thriller more than escapist reading. Can this small highly skilled team find a way to neutralize the greatest threat the world has ever seen before mass hysteria hits or world leaders declare World War III? Sounds provocative. Find out more >>

The last of my picks of January’s new book releases is the quirky fantasy novel We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen.

Jamie wakes up with no memories but can read and erase other people’s—a power he uses to hold up banks to buy coffee, cat food and books. Zoe is also searching for her past and uses her abilities of speed and strength to deliver fast food and occasionally beat up bad guys. When the archrivals meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize the key to revealing their hidden pasts and saving countless people may be trusting each other, and themselves.

Chen’s debut, the heartfelt Here and Now and Then ranks among my favourite time-travel novels, so if anyone can pull off this oddball story premise it is him. Find out more >>

We Could Be Heroes - Fantasy release January 2021
Superhero fantasy

What to read next? 👉 Check out these December 2020 New Fiction Releases you may have missed and my favourite reads of 2020.