“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense."
This is one of my favourite book openings just because it’s the very start to my favourite book series ever! And based on only this first paragraph, I don’t think anyone first reading this book could ever guess what’s in store for them!
1984 - George Orwell
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
An incredibly famous opening line, this is just the right mixture of creepy and intriguing. We already know something is fundamentally different in this world, and this is the first clue the reader has to the twisted dystopian setting the story takes place in. Plus, the number thirteen is associated with bad luck and all sorts of negative superstitions. (I guess if you’re used to the 24 hour clock this sentence might sound a bit less strange to you, but I think the point still gets across.) 1984 is also my favourite “classic”, and it was a really nice surprise how much I enjoyed the book!
The Hobbit - JRR Tolkein
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
Another classic, and another book opening often purported to be among the best, I love this opening because it immediately introduces this creature called a “hobbit”, subverts your expectations about their precise living situation, and then make then sound fun and intriguing. It’s quite an unassuming opening to a book, but still manages to set up for the adventures contained in The Hobbit and then the epic fantasy that is The Lord of the Rings.
The Ruby in the Smoke - Philip Pullman
“On a cold, fretful afternoon in early October, 1872, a hansom cab drew up outside the offices of Lockhart and Selby, Shipping Agents, in the financial heart of London, and a young girl got out and paid the driver. She was a person of sixteen or so--alone, and uncommonly pretty. She was slender and pale, and dressed in mourning, with a black bonnet under which she tucked back a straying twist of blond hair that the wind had teased loose. She had unusually dark brown eyes for one so fair. Her name was Sally Lockhart; and within fifteen minutes, she was going to kill a man.”
Here, the author really nails that whole “grab the reader’s attention and don’t let go of it” thing. Sally is a great protagonist, and this is the perfect introduction to her and her ensuing adventures. It’s dark and mysterious, which is all this opening really needs to be!
Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve
“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”
This is one of my ALL TIME favourite book series, and I just adore this opening sentence. This is what hooked me, aged twelve or so, when I first got my hands on this book. I should also admit I’m a little biased because I’m from London and consider it the best city in the world. The whole concept of the series is seriously cool and I love that this opening line does it justice.