Katherine Rundell's Impossible Creatures has won the Waterstones Book of the Year 2023, a much-coveted award that will see Impossible Creatures supported by Waterstones' booksellers nationally. The bookseller also announced In Memoriam by Alice Winn as Waterstones Novel of the Year 2023 and Murdle by G.T. Karber as Waterstones Gift of the Year 2023.
The winning books are chosen by Waterstones' booksellers who nominate an outstanding book they particularly enjoyed recommending to readers over the previous year. The winners are chosen from a shortlist of 14 titles.
Katherine Rundell's Impossible Creatures, the first in a new trilogy, takes us to The Archipelago - hidden islands where mythical creatures still roam and where magic is real. Two children, Mal from the Archipelago and Christopher, a boy from our world, must work alongside these impossible creatures to discover why the islands' magic is beginning to fade.
Rundell told ReadingZone she loved the challenge of writing for children. "When you love a book as a child, you love it passionately. You eat it whole, and it goes into your blood, and bones, and you carry it with you, long after you've forgotten the details of plot, for the rest of your life. So it makes writing for kids a thrill, and a duty: not to give them anything shoddy, or cheap, or dishonest." Read our Q&A with Katherine Rundell.
Katherine Rundell grew up in London, Zimbabwe and Belgium. She is the youngest female scholar to be made a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She is a passionate advocate of children's books and children's authors and her award-winning and bestselling books have been translated into thirty languages. Impossible Creatures, her Waterstones Book of the Year winning title, is a remarkable adventure which plunges readers into a richly imagined world of magnificent creatures and ancient, world-shaking secrets.
Bea Carvalho, Waterstones Head of Books, said that Impossible Creatures is "as close to perfect as fiction gets: immaculate world-building, dazzling storytelling, and adventure galore". She added, "Rundell isn't afraid to trust young readers with weighty themes, but never loses sight of the need to make reading joyous and fun, celebrating humour with as much care as awe and wonder. It is an immediate classic which children will delight in for years to come, and which will remind adults of the genius to be found within the pages of children's books. Rundell is a truly exciting talent and we can't wait to share this wonderful story with readers of all ages as our Book of the Year."
Rhiannon at Waterstones Kensington calls Impossible Creatures a "modern classic in every sense of the word", and Rachael from Waterstones Altringham describes it as "an impossibly dazzling book", whilst for Anna from Waterstones Bluewater it is "without a doubt the best children's book (she) read in a very long time".
Waterstones Novel of the Year 2023
Alice Winn, author of the Waterstones Novel of the Year 2023, In Memoriam, lives in Brooklyn where she writes screenplays. She has a degree in English Literature from Oxford University. Inspired by old clippings from Marlborough College's student newspaper, In Memoriam is described as a "truly assured, classic storytelling for a contemporary reader". Luminous and heart-breaking, it traces the love story between two WWI soldiers, whilst meditating on the tragedies of war and the precious sanctuary that can be found in deep human connection.
Waterstones Gift of the Year 2023
G.T. Karber, author of Murdle, the Waterstones Gift of the Year, grew up in Arkansas, the son of a judge and a civil rights attorney. Murdle began as a viral online puzzle game, which Karber, a mathematician, programmed himself. His love of murder mysteries also feeds into his passion for theatre, leading immersive Murdle nights around LA. Waterstones describes Murdle as "an utterly addictive game with roots in the literary traditions of golden age mysteries and cosy crime".
Bea Carvalho, Waterstones Head of Books, says: "Murdle has been one of the slam-dunk success stories of this year's publishing: an instant bestselling phenomenon which shows no sign of slowing down. A highly addictive game which has roots in the literary traditions of golden age mysteries and cosy crime, this is the perfect puzzle collection for book lovers which will find a very happy home under any Christmas tree."
Previous winners of the Waterstones Book Of The Year title include Philip Pullman, Maggie O'Farrell and Charlie Mackesy. The Waterstones Book of the Year will receive the full and committed backing of Waterstones shops and booksellers across the UK, as well as support online and through its loyalty card programme, Waterstones Plus, which reaches over a million readers.