Every good book starts with a cracking opening line.
This week’s Top 5 from Shana at Bionic Bookworm is Top 5 Opening Lines. This one actually stumped me a lot because the process of reading for me is a little squiffy. Or maybe it’s totally normal and I don’t talk with other readers enough.
When I first read a book, I focus a lot on the feelings that book brings out rather than committing the words to memory. The second time around, I will pick out the lines that really made an impact and make an effort to remember them. For many of the books that really stuck with me, I have yet to read them a second time.
To make this list, I had to dig deep and remember the books that truly left an impression on me. Then I checked their opening lines to see if they deserved a place on this list. Maybe it’s because the opening line isn’t the be-all and end-all for me. In fact, it’s the first page I really look forward to and that’s what gets me hooked.
After a little digging, here are my Top 5 Opening Lines:
1. A Bad Breed by Kat Ross
“The last rays of the sun were setting fire to the high peaks when he caught her.”
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge Kat Ross fan. This lady is a hugely talented story-teller. But her first two books in the Gaslamp Gothic series didn’t have opening lines that really struck deep. It’s definitely this opening line from the third book (and my favourite) in this series, which wins the prize.
Some of the first advice you’ll receive when starting out as a novelist is not to use setting descriptions to open your book. But the way Kat Ross mixes a vividly beautiful setting description with mystery, intrigue and high stakes is masterful. What an enticing start to a fantastic book!
2. A Grave Death by Victoria DeLuis
“I was nine the first time i met an agent of the Independent Necromancers’ Bureau.”
This unexpectedly epic book from a South Wales author starts off with a corker of an opening line. It promises a character with a sad backstory, emotional burdens and an intriguing occupation. Super intriguing as it turns out if you read a little further in.
The character speaking is Cassie, an agent of the Independent Necromancers’ Bureau. This opening line tells us without telling us that she bears the burden of childhood trauma. Without spoiling the story, it is this trauma that helps her become so good at her job. This impactful opening line really sets up Cassie’s character well before the story has truly begun.
3. The Tiger with a Sapphire Eye by
“The sound of breaking glass accompanied the ball as it sailed through the window above the front door of number seventy-five South Hill.”
This isn’t exactly an action-packed opening line but I wanted to pick one a little different. This opening line sums up the light-hearted drama present throughout this book. Also, I really enjoy books that open with dramatic yet somewhat inconsequential things (in moderation). It suggests that this book isn’t all doom and gloom.
This book was a great read and not nearly as dark as what I usually read. I feel like this opening line really set the tone for what the book gives us.
4. Witch Hunt by S.M. Reine
“Hell of a night. It was my first thought when I peeled my eyelids open – an immediate precursor to “everything hurts” and “screw tequila, I’m never drinking alcohol again.”
OK, this is technically two sentences but the first doesn’t have as much punch without the second.
Another absolutely amazing read, this opening line of Witch Hunt doesn’t actually hit as hard as the entire first page. You think it’s good now but read on and things get a lot more interesting really quickly.
But this first line says so much about the protagonist and promises a lot more bad mistakes made in the name of fun. Or better yet, the consequences of those mistakes leading to something worse. Spoiler alert: this is totally what happens!
5. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harknes
“The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.”
This opening line is the best bait. First off, what kind of psychopath thinks any leather-bound book isn’t remarkable? They’re beautiful and exquisite and I know I’m not the only one who wants an entire library full of them.
But secondly, the very fact that this line states that this leather-bound volume is “nothing remarkable” indicates the exact opposite. Not to spoil things for you but that’s entirely the case. This first line seems simple enough, maybe not even that impactful but the promise it makes in its undertones has serious oomph.
Thanks for reading! Check out my other Top 5s here!