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Features | Favourite First Lines


They're the beginning, the start, the first ... they're the pull, the grip, the tug. They're the sentences that make or break that very first chapter. First lines in stories are important, and most of the time authors do a great job at hooking you from the start.

There are some first lines, however, that just stick out; ones that you read and think 'oooh, yeah! Great line, let's do this!', ones that suck you into the story you may not even be ready for. While the list of my favourite first lines below is in no way complete - I'm sure I've missed some of my most favourites! - it's a selection of brilliant lines from even better stories, written by wonderful authors.

These are some of my favourites; what are yours?



1 | "Mr. and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
As far as first liners go, this isn't actually one that captivates much imagination or a 'need to continue ready, stat' sort of feeling. But it's the beginning of the greatest series ever, and has to be my favourite opening line of all time.


2 |  "Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache."
Leigh Bardugo has written some excellent stories - if you're familiar with the Grishaverse then you'll know what I mean. This is from the first in her duology, Six of Crows.


3 |  "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Ah, Jane Austen. I'm sorry, but little needs to be said about this epic first line from Pride and Prejudice. 



4 |   "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
Out of all the Narnia Chronicles, this has to be my favourite first line, which is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Poor Eustace. Although C.S Lewis is right, he really did almost deserve the name.


5 | "Kell wore a very particular coat."
Oh, hello V.E. Schwab. Your writing is spectacular and I will read everything you write. This first liner is from A Darker Shade of Magic, and everything about Kell's 'particular' coat is wonderful. If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend it.


6 | "My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest."
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, has to be a favourite read of mine. It's an epic tale, with an epic beginning.


7 | "Scarlet's feelings came in colors even brighter than usual."
So I kinda cheated a little bit with this one. The actual first line of Caraval by Stephanie Garber is 'it took seven years to get the letter right", which is also a great line, but then for the next 10 or so pages it's copies of that letter. This line I've shared is beginning of the actual story, when the letters have been shared and the story of Caraval really begins. I love the idea of feelings being in colours (Inside Out anyone?), so I really enjoy the way Garber words this.


8 |  "Chapter the first, in which the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate."
This was a funny read for me because I 'read' it via audio book. Can I suggest you not to do that? It was super hard for me to understand the format (which is very clever) when I couldn't see the actual page. This first line from The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness, is brilliant, however; what a way to begin a novel.


9 | "It's a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don't notice I'm being blackmailed."
Technically two sentences, but it would work with a semi-colon so I'll allow it (you can't stop me!). I read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda earlier in the year and loved it, but this first line/s is the most perfect way to begin the story of Simon and Blue.


10 |  "The problem with my life was that it was someone else's idea."
I love this first line from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It begins how it means to continue: wonderfully. (Read my review here, and Sophie's here.)



So there we have it. 10 of some of my favourite first lines in novels. Of course, there will be many more, and I'm sure I've missed some that would actually be bumped into my top 10, but it's a look into that list anyway.

What are some of your favourite first lines? 

Photo by Dexter Fernandes on Unsplash

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