The beginnings of books are tricky things. I recently finished reading Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns, which I really enjoyed. It was fresh and I knew from the first page what I was getting into. Now it’s time to move on to the next book on the to-be-read list, and I find myself trying to pick the one that clicks*.
We’ve all been there. The book hangover. The last one was so good it makes it hard to dive into something new. I often find myself reading the first few pages of four or five books in these moments trying to find the one that sings “now is the time” and beckons me to ignore all responsibilities and read.
What’s especially funny about this, is that as a writer I know getting those opening words right is so vital. It doesn’t matter if the book goes gangbusters amazing on page 10, if page one doesn’t suck you in. I love seeing visceral openings that tell me exactly what I’m in for (even if I don’t fully understand the emotional impact of the words until I hit the end).
What do I mean? Take a look at these great ones (all from novels I would recommend).
OPENING LINES TO
CURE YOUR BOOK HANGOVER
“It was the morning of my twenty-fifth birthday, and all I wanted was a decent cup of coffee, a hot breakfast, and a couple hours away from the stink of used magic that seeped through the walls of my apartment building every time it rained.” – Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk
“Ingrid hated her shoes with the same unholy passion she hated corsets, chewing tobacco, and men who clipped their fingernails in public.” – Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
“It was just another fucked-up night in the Cauldron.” – Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells
“They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see.” – The Immoral Rules by Julie Kagawa
“Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-seven years: with an idiot—in this case, Rebecca Atherton, head of the After the End Times Irwins, winner of the Golden Steve-o Award for valor in the face of the undead—deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.” – Deadline by Mira Grant
“If you live in the dark long enough, you start to forget what light looks like.” – Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent
“I think I killed a girl who looked like this once.” – Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
“I was sitting at my usual stool at Big Lily’s, talking with Odd Dupree about his troubles down at the plant, when something big and stupid came crashing through the front door.” – Windswept by Adam Rakunas
“You might pass through the town of Midnight without noticing it, if there weren’t a stoplight at the intersection of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway.” – Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
“Had the man in front her not already been dead, Chess probably would have tried to kill him. Damned ghosts.” – Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane
“The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.” – Cinder by Marissa Meyer
“Statistics say that most mortals sell their souls for five reasons: sex, money, power, revenge, and love. In that order.” – Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
These opening lines make me want to read more. They set the tone, the expectations, and from each of those little snippets I was hooked. What opening lines hooked you? Did the beginning of the book you’re currently reading snare you, or did you give it a few pages to bring the hook?
Oh, and because my book comes out in a little over four weeks, I’m obligated to give you the opening line of Borrowed Souls:
* For the record, I did in fact find another consuming read. Ann Aguirre’s The Leopard King is so good. Emotionally complex and sexy-sexy. Highly recommended.