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Costa Book of the Year winner: get this on your to-read list

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A children's novel has won the Costa Book of the Year Award for the second time in the prize's 45 year history.

Victorian murder mystery The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, scooped the prestigious prize at an awards ceremony in London last night. Described by the judges as a novel that would "grip readers of all ages", the book beat the four other novels in the Award's five categories.

Established in 1971, the prestigious literary accolade is open only to UK and Ireland residents.

The final five categories were: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book.

Last year’s winner was H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.                               

“It’s fantastic to be announcing another stellar collection of award winners which we know people will absolutely love reading,” says Costa managing director, Christopher Rogers.

We take a closer look at the winning novel and the other contenders for this year's prize...


Costa Book of the Year Winner: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

lie tree

Children’s author, Frances Hardinge, wins this award for Victorian murder mystery, The Lie Tree. The story, told in the first person, follows the mysterious death of Faith's father, after which she takes it upon herself to discover the truth. When searching for clues, Faith discovers a strange tree that feeds on lies and exposes dark secrets. The Lie Tree has been shortlisted for several awards and is nominated for the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal. “We all loved this dark, sprawling, fiercely clever novel that blends history and fantasy in a way that will grip readers of all ages,” say the judges. 


Costa First Novel Award: The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

the loney

Described by king of thrillers, Stephen King, as “an amazing piece of fiction”, The Loney is the debut novel from former teacher and librarian, Andrew Michael Hurley. The gothic horror was inspired by the landscape of Preston, Lancashire and Manchester, around which the author grew up, northern English folklore and Hurley’s Catholic upbringing. It has been described by the judges as “as close to the perfect novel as you can get.” The film rights have already been sold, so now’s the time to read it.  


Costa Novel Award: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

a god in ruins

Kate Atkinson wins this award for the second time in three years, with her ninth novel, A God in Ruins. Written as a companion book to Atkinson’s Life After Life, which explored how one might adapt things if they were given the opportunity to ‘do life over’, A God in Ruins returns to focus on the protagonist’s younger brother – a RAF bomber and aspiring poet. Stylist books contributor, Cathy Rentzenbrink says: “It is a portrait of the second half of the 20th century, a masterpiece of storytelling and a master class in how fiction works, as well as being incredibly funny. If I were allowed one last book to read, this would be it.” The judges have described A God in Ruins as: “Utterly magnificent and in a class of its own.”


Costa Biography Award: The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf

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This biography from historian and writer, Andrea Wulf, tells the life story of the great, forgotten German naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). Von Humboldt inspired generations of scientists, sparked environmentalism, even inspiring Charles Darwin to set sail on the Beagle and inciting the jealousy of Napoleon. According to Wulf, more things have been named after this ‘lost’ scientist than anyone else in history – including rivers, towns and mountain ranges. The judges have called Wulf’s book “The thrillingly readable story of a visionary 18th century scientist and adventurer who travelled the globe, from the South American rainforests to the Siberian steppes, and foresaw the destructive impact of mankind of the world.”


Costa Poetry Award: 40 Sonnets by Don Paterson

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Award-winning Scottish poet and musician, Don Paterson, wins this award for the second time, for a collection of poetry that "combines the traditional with the experimental." The anthology takes on the themes of contradiction and strangeness, tension and transformation, the dream world and the divided self. 40 Sonnets reveals Paterson’s gift for lyricism and rhythm, reaching out to a range of readers, from friends and strangers, to children and even animals. The judges have referred to his latest work as: “A tour de force by a poet at the height of his powers – these poems buzz with life and intelligence. The stand-out collection of the year.”

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