Top Ten Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “Top Ten Opening Lines.” It isn’t often that an opening line sticks with me long after I’ve finished the book, but here are 10 that immediately grabbed my attention.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The entire opening of The Night Circus is so magical. I immediately needed to know more about the monochromatic circus that seemed to appear out of thin air. It’s also an excellent preview of Erin Morgenstern’s vivid, beautiful writing.

Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This will always be one of my favourite openers. I picked up The Raven Boys because everyone in the book blogging community loved it, but I had been actively avoiding any spoilers about what the book actually was about. I had so many questions from just this one line, and promptly spent the rest of the day reading.

If you are interested in happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

This line perfectly set the tone for the series. Most books do end with a happily-ever-after, so this definitely piqued my curiosity, and I appreciated the many callbacks to this line throughout the series.

Victor readjusted the shovels on his shoulder and stepped gingerly over an old, half-sunken grave.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Opening with what is presumed to be grave robbing (or murder) is certainly a good way to grab attention.

There is a pirate in the basement.
(The pirate is a metaphor but also still a person.)
(The basement could rightly be considered a dungeon.)

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Technically there are three lines here, but I absolutely loved this opening. The parentheses to add clarification and a bit of playfulness established a narrative style that I immediately loved, and I wanted to know more.

How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

This line made me smile — if crows stealing a baby wasn’t your biggest worry, I needed to know what was!

It was a dark and stormy night.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

This was one of my childhood favourites, and it wasn’t until a recent reread that I really took notice of the opening line. So many jokes about dramatic writing use this line, but it did perfectly set the tone for the opening scene.

Walking to school overt the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

I just love the phrasing of “sinister premonitions.”

Kell wore a very peculiar coat.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A peculiar coat could mean a lot of things: Is it hideous? Made of a strange fur? Magical? I needed to know!

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I couldn’t not mention this one. It’s a line I read again and again as I revisited the series, and each time it filled me with the anticipation of magic.

What are your favourite opening lines?

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