Elizabeth Knox cover photo

Elizabeth Knox Books: 9 Must-Read Books From Famous Kiwi Author

One of the best Kiwi writers of this age, Elizabeth Knox is an imaginative and adventurous writer from New Zealand. She finds solace in fictional writing and has produced world renowned books for adults and children.

Elizabeth Knox’s writing style is static, moving from historical dramatic motion to fictional science and memorial inscription. Her first novel, After Z-Hour was a success, however it was The Vintner’s Luck that bought her spectacular success. You can read this novel in ten different languages and it was also made into a film in 2009.

In 1999, Knox won her first award, Reader’s Choice Award for The Vintner’s Luck at the New Zealand Book Awards. In 2001, she won the Tasmania Pacific Region Prize for the same book. Her Adult novel Dreamhunter was a critical success. In 2006 she won the Esther Glen Award for it. She also won the ALA Best Books for Young Adults award for Dreamquake in 2008.

Knox is a recipient of Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers Fellowship and Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction, received in 2014 and 2019 respectively.

Sometimes I feel that, although I have managed to become a writer, my true aim is somehow to become a book.

Elizabeth Knox

Here are top 9 novels by Elizabeth Knox, the award-winning Kiwi Writer, that everyone must read.

1. After Z-Hour

She has gone to heaven, and lives on in our memories. Remembered by those qualities she possessed which we loved, perhaps gentleness, perhaps that she was a good daughter.

After Z-Hour book cover

Written in a multi-narrator style, After Z-Hour is a thrilling ghost story. The tale revolves around six main characters set on a stranded island. The novel is about the memory and the trauma, experienced in a haunted house. Amid the storm, lightning, and rain, the characters experience a horrific incident, where the ghost of a WWI soldier speaks to them.

All the characters of the novel are strong, well-developed, and exceptionally executed. Though After Z-Hour is her first novel, the wiring is amazing with lush vocabulary and gritty and witty words that paint a vivid picture for the narrative.

The best part of the book is that you can never predict what is going to happen next. Every single character is mysterious and holds an interest creatively. It’s a phenomenal writing where you feel as if the writer isn’t making up the story but portraying a real incident of her life. The imagination is that real!

Marion Dreadon in the review of After Z-Hour points out the love and empathy depicted in After Z-Hour and praises how Knox has prodigiously portrayed the emotional involvement and consequences of war.

2. The Vintner’s Luck

I had to give myself up to you for your lifetime. What is faith when you feel you’ve lost something forever? I had to have you–someone I could lose forever.

The Vintner Luck book cover

A unique love story of a man falling for a celestial being, an angel. A beautiful and mesmerizing romantic novel of a mortal and immortal being. The Vintner’s Luck proves that love is such an unexpected feeling that may arise anytime for anyone.

The story is set in the early nineteenth century where the main protagonist, who is a vintner, meets the angel. The angel with picturesque wings, the second protagonist of the story, meets the vintner every year. In every meeting, they would discuss the details and events going on Earth.

The Vintner’s Luck is a beautifully narrated story but lacks certain clarity. The writer paid magnificent attention to the main characters only. Even though the vintner had a large extended family but all the members remain blur and vague throughout. Since Knox paid extra attention to the celestial being, the readers fall in love with him.

Rebecca Fisher wrote an interesting review of The Vintner’s Luck where she pointed out that many incidents in the story remain ambiguous and the writer should have given some clarity to the reader.

3. Black Oxen

Surely it’s better to be human and live with grief, than outgrow your humanity and learn to raise the dead too late to raise your own.

Black Oxen book cover

Black Oxen is a dark, puzzling, intriguing, and melodramatic tale of a girl and her father. The girl is in pursuit of finding her amnesiac father who isn’t a human. With Knox’s lush and hyperventilating storytelling ethics, Black Oxen is your average sci-fi drama. It’s an orthodox story complete with time-traveling, supernatural beings, murders and mysteries.

The female protagonist goes into narrative therapy along with her father’s journal to uncover the reality of his existence. The whole story goes back and forth with flashbacks and remembrances. From childhood memories to the time in a Latin American country Lequama where black magic is practiced.

Surrounded by countless revolutions, machete murders, forbidden battles, and bacchanals, Black Oxen is an electrifying book. It is a tale full of valor and bravery with relentless efforts of unveiling truth no matter what.

The critical analysis of Black Oxen by Sarah May is on-point that it’s a complicated yet thrilling tale possessing pure intelligence.

4. Billie’s Kiss

Fellows who value their independence are usually more careful with money. They don’t gamble and think God will make an exception for them.

Billie's Kiss

Elizabeth Knox using her vibrant imagination scored an energetic novel that is densely plotted around a shipwreck survivor. Billie’s Kiss is all about the survivor’s inexplicable life and love story, blended with the essence of murder, mystery, chauvinism, and loss of innocence.

This spectacular yet strange novel has a historical side with a poetic language. It revolves around a female protagonist who survives an explosion in a ship. Her pregnant sister loses the battle of her life whereas her brother-in-law survives with injuries. Being the daughter of a con man, she saved her life without a scratch but became a prime suspect of the incident.

As the story progresses, the readers will realize the complexity of the main character and her life. The complicated love for falling for the man who suspects her of murder. Billie’s Kiss is a mysterious novel for those who love thrillers and suspenseful stories.

In her review of Billie’s Kiss, Pat Maynard considers it a thought-provoking story that gradually strips the masks of pretentious people, revealing their scary façade every moment.

5. Dreamhunter

Happiness had never been like this before. Now it came like sun showers, the sun and the rain together. Happiness was happier than it had been – sharp, piercing, and snatched, like a breath while swimming in surf.

Dreamhunter book cover

Dreamhunter is a story with a unique concept. A dreamhunter is a person who can capture dreams and broadcast it. You can actually live the dream! This is such an imaginative novel!

The award-winning novel revolves around two females who are living a privileged life. Things take a bad turn when the father mysteriously disappears, leaving the lead characters with a choice to test their luck and find their father. With nefarious circumstances and quests, the story leaves the readers thrilled, haunted, and intrigued until the last sentence.

Dreamhunter is a barbarous fantasy novel where dreams are assumed as a commodity. It gradually reveals how the characters fall into a world full of deceit and deception. With danger, politics, and nightmares, the tale is enthralling and entertaining. With a complicated ending and a thirst for the answers, Knox has nailed the storyline! And, there’s a sequel to this as well.

Christo The Beast’s simple yet intellectual review of Dreamhunter praises that Knox has described each character in such detail that you can easily paint their pictures in your mind.

6. Dreamquake

Most dreamhunters wind up like wizened, squinty-eyed gold prospectors, and the rest are corrupt or crazy.

Dreamquake book cover

Dreamquake is a sequel to Dreamhunter involving fear, suspicion, tragedy, and suspense. The novel started with some pinks and blues in the first book that later turned into a dark catastrophe and a nightmare of life in the second book.

Winning an award for this beautiful yet scary novel, Knox once again proved herself. In this sequel, the main character secretly broadcasted a horrific nightmare. She was certain that this can lead to a genuine investigation into the use of the dreams for torturing the convicts. However, the consequences proved fatal where sinister scheming took birth leading to heartbreaking choices.

Knox has broadened her horizons in the sequel where she took the mythology and the culture associated with it to an overwhelming heights. With meticulous planning and execution, the writer captures the audience interest till the end.

The basic theme however is that no matter how horrifying the consequences are, you have the liberty to change your fate. All you need is to take responsibility for your actions and choices and learn to live with them.

Cathy Carmode Lim review on “Dreamquake” is refreshing to read. They agree how dramatically the story laid out and how scrupulously the clues were set to unveil the dark calamities of life.

7. The Angel’s Cut 

To make your mark is to fall to your death, splashing some farmer’s field. He’s saying I take big risks to make my mark, to finally lose my game with gravity.

The Angel's cut book cover

A sequel to the award-winning bestseller, The Vintner’s Luck, The Angel’s Cut takes place sixty years later. Here the wine-seller is dead as he was mortal and the angel is alive being an immortal. The fallen angel is hiding the scars where his mesmerizing wings were before, living a life of heartbreak and pain.

The celestial being after losing the lover and being cursed with an immortal life is a grief-stricken sight. He becomes infatuated with a movie maker who is a narcissist and self-lover. The angel is left stranded on Earth forever at one place, entangled in a treacherous world of movies.

Knox has smartly written The Angel’s Cut describing the life of the fallen angel. She has meticulously narrated the life angel is leading, fearing every beating of features, threatening the arrival of his merciless brother, to take away his happiness again.

Christine Linnell’s critical review of The Angel’s Cut makes the story even more interesting. She pointed out that Knox has deliberately left many areas to the imagination of the readers, allowing them to question God’s plans and evaluating whether free will exists in reality or is it just a façade we all believe in.

8. Mortal Fire

What no one else sees, no one else cares about.

Mortal Fire book cover

The winner of Young Adult Fiction, Elizabeth Knox’s Mortal Fire is about a detached and secretive girl. The enthralling novel is a peculiar tale of an unorthodox family that has supernatural magical powers.

A math genius with an ability to see extra, the main protagonist visits a mine that was involved in an accident many years back. Though she’s traveling with her stepbrother and his girlfriend, the main character reaches a valley where she finds some mysterious objects. Never knowing what and how she can do these things, this voyage proved as a life-changing experience for her.

During the mine explosion, a seventeen-year-old got stuck with magic at a place. With the passion to help her out, the main character finally finds hidden reality about herself. She is able to do magic! This mysterious and thrilling journey untangled many secrets of her life including her origin and past.

Mortal Fire is a beautiful imaginative story, providing every possible detail of each character. With unexpected twists and turns, Knox made it her mission to take the readers on a magical journey.

The review of Mortal Fire by Alexa is thought-provoking. With insatiable curious characters, Knox has innovatively woven two different stories together to form a unique tale with so much passion in it.

9. Wake

No one knows that it’s there, perhaps, until their very last moments, when they sense that something is salting them with other people’s agonies before eating them whole.

Wake book cover

Wake is a psychological horror that will give you goosebumps for sure. With impressive details to every character, Knox has wonderfully grown into a phenomenal suspense thriller novelist. Reading this novel is like walking into the unknown with no prediction of what will come next. Exploration and exposition of events takes a toll on every nerve at the right time.

The lead protagonist is a policewoman who reaches the scene to inspect a helicopter crash. Little did she know that she will soon get surrounded by mysterious mass insanity. The story revolves around survival, going the extra mile to live and breathe in an enclosed space. Fighting invisible monsters reveals the demons humans have been hiding within themselves for years.

Wake takes us on a journey where every next step provokes you, haunts you, and corrupts you. It is up to you how you are going to survive, either by helping others or by stepping on others’ necks.

Sarah Foster’s critical review of Wake is a must-read! She has phenomenally discussed the characters’ shifting perspective and believes this novel is going to hook you to the last sentence for sure!

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