The winner of the 2018 HNS New Novel Award is Warwick Cairns, for his novel The Master Thief.

In second place is Margaret Skea, for Katharina: Deliverance.

In third place is Kay Daly, for Wilton House.


With many thanks to Catherine Cho, our 2018 competition judge.

Amy Durant, Editorial Director of Sapere Books  has chosen a short list of 6 from our long list.

The winner of the 2018 HNS Award was chosen from the following short list by Catherine Cho, literary agent with Curtis Brown.


The shortlisted novels, in alphabetical order, are:

Dorcas Fitch, by Sally O’Reilly

Sally O’Reilly is the author of three novels: The Best Possible Taste and You Spin Me Round, (Penguin, 2004 and 2007) and Dark Aemilia (Myriad Editions/Picador US, 2014). She is a former Cosmopolitan Magazine New Journalist of the Year, and has worked as a journalist and editor for Christian Aid, the National Union of Teachers and Barnardo’s, and freelanced for the Guardian, Sunday Times and New Scientist. She has a PhD in English and Creative Writing from Brunel University and now teaches creative writing with the Open University and The Writing School, in association with New Writing South.
Her short stories have been published in South Africa, Australia and the UK and she has been shortlisted for the Ian St James and Cosmopolitan short story prize and nominated for the Kirkus Prize for Fiction. She has also written a guide for writers: How to Be a Writer: the definitive guide to getting published and making a living from writing. (Piatkus, 2011).
Sally lives with her family in Brighton.

Isla Maria, by Nikki Marmery

Nikki worked as a financial journalist for 15 years, specialising in credit, foreign exchange and derivatives markets. The financial crisis, followed swiftly by the arrival of three children, put an end to that, and she now lives in the countryside, where she writes historical fiction and watches Gardeners’ World unironically.
Isla Maria, a retelling of the voyage of Francis Drake’s Golden Hind from the perspective of the only woman on board, is her first novel. It was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions First Drafts Competition 2017, as well as the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award 2018.
She has a degree in history from the University of Nottingham and studied creative writing at the Faber Academy.

Katharina: Deliverance, by Margaret Skea

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders.
Awarded the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014 and Historical Fiction Winner in the Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition for her debut novel Turn of the Tide, the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. The third book in the series, By Sword and Storm, was published in July 2018.
Katharina: Deliverance is the first of two novels based on the life of Katharina von Bora, the escaped nun who married Martin Luther. Margaret is passionate about well-researched, authentic historical fiction and providing a ‘you are there’ experience for the reader.

Parcel of Rogues, by Pamela Thomas

I was born in Suffolk and now live in Wiltshire. I am the mother of two grown up sons and am owned by two Burmese cats. My father was headmaster of a boys’ school, and between the ages of 8 and 12, I was educated with the boys, the only girl apart from my younger sister. As a result I can construct Airfix models, make a mean bow and arrow, and know the rules of cricket. I began telling myself stories before I could read or write, and in the 80s and 90s was lucky enough to have thirteen novels published under my maiden name of Pamela Belle, most of which were historical, set in the 17th century. I enjoy the research almost as much as the writing, and feel that it’s important to get things right – that even though the events I describe might not actually have happened, they could have done, especially as my characters, good or bad, often seem very real to me. I try to write the sort of books I like to read, exciting, interesting, vivid and character-driven, and it’s lovely to find that other people enjoy them too.

The Master Thief, by Warwick Cairns

Warwick Cairns was born and raised in Dagenham, Essex. After a ‘varied’ carreer trajectory that included warehouse work, bank clerking and drilling wells on a Sioux reservation he took a postgraduate degree in English Literature at Yale, where he was taught by the legendary critic Harold Bloom.
He began his writing career with nonfiction and wrote three factual books before making the switch to fiction. How To Live Dangerously, his book about danger and risk, was widely reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic, and was quoted in Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: “The writer Warwick Cairns calculated that if you wanted your child to be kidnapped and held overnight by a stranger, you’d have to leave the child outside and unattended for 750,000 years.”
The Master Thief is his first novel.

Wilton House, by Kay Daly

Kay Daly was born outside of Los Angeles, California, and now lives in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Northwestern University, with a specialization in the English Renaissance. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a professional writer and editor for a range of publications, companies, and nonprofit organizations, including TimeOut Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, and WNET New York Public Media, and currently serves as the writer/communications specialist for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. She is thrilled to be on the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel shortlist. Wilton House is her first novel.


There were 182 novel entries this year. Our long list of 15 is below.


The Confession of Michael Martin
by Tim Weed
A novel of adventure, friendship, and immigrant life inspired by the true story of early American outlaws, intriguingly different from Hollywood mythologies.
US 19th Century

The Doll Factory (Withdrawn – no longer eligible)
by Elizabeth Macneal
UK 19th Century

Dorcas Fitch
by Sally O’Reilly
Theatricals, licentiousness and spies in Restoration London, where religious differences remain unhealed. Told with great verve and wit.
UK 17th Century

In the Lord’s Demesne
by Deirdre Shanahan
Intense and deeply felt exploration of the lives of some of those who did not emigrate from Ireland – a poetic rendering of family love and loss.
Ireland 19th Century

Isla Maria
by Nikki Marmery
Extraordinary story of Drake’s most famous voyage told from the viewpoint of an extremely sympathetic and engaging minor character.
The Golden Hinde 16th Century

Katharina: Deliverance
by Margaret Skea
Beautifully conveyed opening of jeopardy in a domestic setting but with the lure of epoch-changing decisions and events.
Europe 16th Century

Makorongo’s War
by Sophie Neville
Unusual settings and protagonists cast the story of the World Wars in a fresh and unexpected way. Told with charm and empathy.
Africa, Burma, Japan 20th Century

The Master Thief
by Warwick Cairns
Chance encounters draw a reluctant protagonist to face a past life he had hoped was behind him – well-told, mysterious and fun.
UK 16th Century

by Katherine Mezzacappa
A Gypsy falls in love with a lonely girl in a close-knit Evangelical community. Their deeply felt and elegantly told story reveals a different take on England between the World Wars.
UK 20th Century

Parcel of Rogues
by Pam Thomas
A mysterious disappearance draws two ill-matched gentlemen into enjoyable and beautifully realized peregrinations through Georgian England – where one of them may also find romance.
UK 18th Century

The Severed Knot
by Cryssa Bazos
Bleakly impossible choices face the protagonists in the brutal aftermath of civil war. Stark but involving tale of early colonial exploitation strongly centres on an indomitable Scottish hero.
UK/Barbados 17th Century

by Victoria Rohner
A lumber town in Minnesota fires deep passions and disappointments in this deeply felt and skillfully told saga of fortunes made and lost.
US 19th Century

by Amanda McCrina
Taut and pacey WW2 thriller told from the point of view of protagonists in Poland/Ukraine as Germans and the Soviets occupy the town of Lwow.
Poland/Ukraine 20th Century

Whinny Moor
by Amanda Marslen
Fiercely compelling story-telling with immediately attractive characters and an intriguing synopsis promising historical and fantasy elements.
UK 15th Century

Wilton House
by Kay Daly
Biographical tale of love, disappointment, betrayal and poetry set in aristocratic circles in early Jacobean England – artfully and elegantly realized.
UK 17th Century