One of the questions that I hear fairly often these days is “Which of your books should I start with?” I now have an entire page on this website to help with your questions about reading order.
The short answer is: “Start anywhere you like with any book set before 1935.” (Though there are a couple where you might have more fun in a specific order.) Read on for a few more thoughts about that.
Where to start?
When people ask me which book to start with, I tend to suggest Pastiche. It has basically all of the elements of my books, and if you like the Edgartons, there are a lot more books to read that include them in varying ways.
But start where you like!
I write my books hoping people will start with whatever books intrigue them. I’m a librarian, a reader, and I’ve been part of various creative projects over the years. I learned a long time ago I’m lousy at predicting where someone wants to start most of the time. Some people have a particular character type they’re drawn to, or an element of setting, or a particular trope.
While many of my books include repeating characters, I make sure you can read almost all of them from anywhere you want to start.
As an example, let’s take Shoemaker’s Wife, my most recent book as I write this post. It includes three characters who are the centre of Casting Nasturtiums and another who appears in Point by Point. But you can easily read it without knowing anything about them. (And then, I hope, if you want more of them, you’ll maybe go check out those other books.)
I list the key information about that in the author’s notes for the book, on my authorial wiki, and in other useful places.
Some people care more about sequencing than others. I do suggest that people might like to read Ancient Trust (available through my newsletter for free), then Goblin Fruit, before On The Bias. You get an arc of how Carillon and Benton are with each other in a variety of ways.
But if you’re just here for the dressmaking – or the dangerous birds – then start with On The Bias, it’ll explain everything you need.
The same thing is true with two other books: Fool’s Gold is significantly about the aftermath of Seven Sisters. If you really want to avoid all plot spoilers for other books (and some people want to do that), then read Seven Sisters first.
Larger family arcs
Now, with characters appearing in multiple books – or members of the same family in multiple books – there are definitely some distinct arcs. Here’s the thing, though. It’s not like I write these books in chronological order.
I often know the outline of an event (Temple Carillon’s death in 1922, what happened with Alexander’s older brother and mother in 1889) without knowing all the details. As I write more and explore different parts of the timeline or different perspectives, I’ll circle back to the specifics in new books.
If you’d like to follow the complete arc of the Carillon family, the Edgarton family, or the Fortier and Landry families (who are closely interconnected), those links will take you to the page on my authorial wiki that puts them in chronological order with a bit more context. (Do let me know if more context would be helpful to you! I realise there are a number of different possible paths through my books.)
The Land Mysteries books
Now, there is one series where reading them in order might be worth considering. The Land Mysteries book take place starting in 1935 (Best Foot Forward) and will run through 1947. The last three books are coming out between November and May 2024. (We are getting a key piece of the puzzle of Temple’s arc in Three Graces in December 2023.)
They deal with several different arcs – World War 2, of course, but also issues of the land magic. They also deal with some longer arcs in multiple characters’ lives. There’s plenty of reminders of what’s going on and why it matters, but the larger arc takes a while to play out.
I hope all of that helps give you some ideas. And again, the reading order page has more suggestions. I’ll keep that updated as new books and new series come out.