There are so many reasons opening lines grab, haunt, shake me, or send a little shiver up my spine so that I’m compelled to keep reading.
It might be an intriguing premise, or a character I have to know more about, an incredible voice, or language that is simply irresistible. Here are some opening lines from both recent and older books that I have loved and made me keep turning the pages.
What are some of your favorites?
I didn’t know how long I had been in the king’s prison. The days were all the same,
except that as each one passed, I was dirtier than before.
--The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Now come the mousies nosing out their hole, thinks Kuhru as he wipes fresh bone marrow from his snout. Three pretty little mousies. Humans. Females. Ripe and soft and full of warm blood.
–Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill.
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers.
It is simply there when yesterday it was not.
–The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, not her, her.
–Goblin Fruit by Laini Taylor
I am dying: it’s a beautiful word. Like the long slow sigh of a cello: dying.
–Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
The sirens are louder than I anticipated. Not that I ever in a million years anticipated sirens at the beginning of all this. Otherwise, obviously, I never would have agreed to it.
Hindsight. It’s a bitch.
–My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
Being dead became fashionable approximately forty-five seconds
after Samantha “the Divine” Devereaux came back from summer break.
–Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez
The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted.
–Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Here’s the thing: I was probably gonna write a book when I got older anyways. About what it’s like growing up on a levee in Stockton, where every other person you meet has missing teeth or is leaning against a liquor store wall begging for change to buy a beer.
–We Were Here by Matt De La Pena
There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.
–The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now—which is ridiculous since he’s been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I’ll be dead, too,
and then the age difference won’t matter.
–The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean