A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I went into this book thinking that I’d find it ridiculous and overly sentimental- and it’s certainly both of these things- but I still loved it.
Cometh Up as a Flower by Rhoda Broughton
Knowing that this was a book narrated by a teenage girl and published in 1867, I went into it with certain preconceptions. I was surprised by the startlingly ‘modern’ tone and attitudes of the characters; it’s Georgia Nicholson for the 19th century.
It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
I did not expect to fall in love with this book the way I did; given that it’s about romance and dating, two things I have absolutely no experience in. But part of the attraction of this novel is its self-aware critique of romantic tropes, and its acknowledgement of the importance of family, friends and self-love. It is also painfully honest about the awkward reality of negotiating the world of dating and sex, making it more relatable than ‘perfect’ romances.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
This is a slightly different take on the prompt, as I definitely did not guess ‘whodunnit’ in this novel. It’s full of twists and turns and red herrings: a perfect crime novel.
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
The Red Wedding. Need I say more?
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning
I was surprised by how much I loved this novel: it is wonderfully weird in all the right ways with unexpected elements of heart and darkness. Despite the bizarre nature of the plot, the characters are also oddly sympathetic.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling
I have strongly ambivalent feelings towards this play, and personally do not consider it part of the Harry Potter canon. However, it certainly surprised me in a pure “Did that just happen?” kind of way.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
I didn’t expect several relationships in this dark and sensual novel to develop the way they do, and I absolutely loved it.
The Pig Scrolls by Paul Shipton
When I first read this book as a child I didn’t bat an eyelid at its premise, a man who is turned into a pig and learns what it is to be a hero, but now it strikes me just how strange it is, as well as the fact that it’s based off a moment in Homer’s The Odyssey.
Room by Emma Donoghue
I was taken aback by the depth and intensity of this novel; its raw power and the amount I was affected.