The Desmond Elliott Prize is awarded for new fiction, with the judges searching for a "novel which has a compelling narrative, arresting characters and which is both vividly written and confidently realised.".
This year's shortlist has definitely found novels with those qualities. On July 1 the £10,000 prize will be awarded to either Carys Bray for A Song for Issy Bradley, Claire Fuller for Our Endless Numbered Days or Emma Healey for Elizabeth is Missing.
All three books are absolutely brilliant, and I don't envy the judges picking a winner. If you haven't read them, here are my thoughts on each book (with a link to my full review in the title).
A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
Synopsis: A Mormon family has to deal with their grief after the loss of a child.
Bray has created a story about faith in family, about the bonds of love that bind people together, even after someone has died, about the ways in which humans are tested and the ways in which they survive. It's a story about grief that moved me to tears for a family that I loved and mourned with.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Synopsis: A young girl is taken to live in the forest by her survivalist father, and told that the rest of the world has ended.
Our Endless Numbered Days is so, so dark, but it was only as I approached the end that I realised just how dark the book is...the writing style almost reminds me of original fairytales, where princesses didn't live happily ever after.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Synopsis: As Maud, 82, gets increasingly worried about her friend, Elizabeth, who is missing, past and present collide.
It's stunningly written, and will give you palpitations, and it's worth every penny (and I believe there were a lot of them) that Viking stumped up for it.