First Lines

Jim Butcher said his favourite of his novels so far is Dead Beat. One look at the opening line and I can see why:

On the whole we’re a murderous race.

What other great opening lines are out there? We thought it would be fun to have a look back at the first lines from some urban fantasy novels. These are the first words to pull us into some fantastic stories, the first words to lure us into some dark and twisted tales. Here they are, in no particular order…

I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.
~ Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

Willie McCoy had been a jerk before he died. His being dead didn’t change that. He sat across from me, wearing a loud plaid sports jacket.
~ Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K. Hamilton

I stood in the shadows of a deserted shop front across from The Blood and Brew Pub, trying not to be obvious as I tugged my black leather pants back up where they belonged.
~ Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison

I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.
~ Moon Called – Patricia Briggs

I heard the mailman approach my office door, half an hour earlier than usual. He didn’t sound right.
~ Storm Front – Jim Butcher

He didn’t look dangerous, not at first glance.
~ The Scent of Shadows – Vicki Pettersson

Normally I wear a czarist army greatcoat– the kind that sometimes gets called a paletot– with pockets sewn in for my tin whistle, my notebook, a dagger, and a chalice. Today I’d gone for a green tuxedo with a fake wilting flower in the buttonhole, pink patent-leather shoes, and a painted-on mustache in the style of Groucho Marx.
~ The Devil You Know – Mike Carey

The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.
~ Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Death came to the village, and the tall man followed.
~ BloodAngel – Justine Musk

“Wake up, sir. We’re here.”
~ “Sleep of the Just” from The Sandman #1 – Neil Gaiman

Hunting vampires was a bitch.
~ Minion – L.A. Banks

The moment the door opened I knew an ass-kicking was inevitable. Whether I’d be giving it or receiving it was still a bit of a mystery.
~ Stray – Rachel Vincent

I have to.
I’ve been fighting it all night. I’m going to lose. My battle is as futile as a woman feeling the first pangs of labor and deciding it’s an inconvenient time to give birth. Nature wins out. It always does.
~ Bitten – Kelley Armstrong

Well, thank God this is about to be over, I thought as I drove– well, blew– past the sign that marked Westchester, Connecticut, city limits.
~ Ill Wind – Rachel Caine

My working relationship with Lucifer began on a rainy Monday.
~ Working for the Devil – Lilith Saintcrow

There’s nothing worse than a red-eye flight.
~ Urban Shaman – C.E. Murphy

Saturday night is all about the Well of Souls– see and be seen is the rule– there is no excuse for an absence, least of all a bad hair day.
~ Happy Hour of the Damned – Mark Henry

I felt her fear before I heard her screams.
~ Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

I stiffened at the flashing red and blue lights behind me, because there was no way I could explain what was in the back of my truck.
~ Halfway to the Grave – Jeaniene Frost

His name was Danaus.
And what I remember most were his eyes.
~ Nightwalker – Jocelynn Drake

When I was eight, my mother lost me to zombies in a one card draw.
~ The Iron Hunt – Marjorie M. Liu

“Got another letter from that Cyprien guy,” Grace Cho said as she placed the office mail on Dr Alexandra Keller’s desk.
~ If Angels Burn: a novel of the Darkyn – Lynn Viehl

I don’t like what Operation Iraqui Freedom has done to me. I went to war a soldier; I came back a vampire.
~ The Nymphos of Rocky Flats – Mario Acevedo

6 comments on “First Lines

  1. Pingback: Conestoga | Literary Escapism

  2. I love opening lines. They tend to set the mark for the rest of the novel.

    Can I add to your list?
    * Anya Bast – Witch Fire – He looked like sin and seemed like salvation. Salvation for her sluggish libido, anyway.
    * Ilona Andrews – Magic Bites – I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses.
    * Karen Chance – Touch the Dark – I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the obituary. The fact that it had my name on it was sort of a clue.
    * Nalini Singh – Slave to Sensation – Sascha Duncan couldn’t read a single line of the report flickering across the screen of her handheld organizer. A haze of fear clouded her vision, insulating her from the cold efficiency of her mother’s office.
    * Jenna Black – The Devil Inside – Topeka, Kansas. Demon capital of the world. Not!
    * Jacquelyn Frank – Jacob – How ridiculously simple it would be to cause them harm. From far above, he watched with unwavering dark eyes as they walked down the shadowy street.
    * MaryJanice Davidson – Undead and Unwed – The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.
    * Larissa Ione – Pleasure Unbound – Had Eidolon been anywhere but the hospital, he would have killed the guy pleading for his life before him. As it was, he’d have to save the bastard.

  3. Can’t add any good lines seeing how you’ve nailed so many of them. They’re a bitch but a must to grab the reader’s attention and strap them on the tail of a twister they don’t dare get off.

  4. The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.

    it is the most perfect line ever written. It immediatly catches the reader up on what is happening and describes the whole rest of the book at the same time.

  5. There are monsters among us. There always have been and always will be. I’ve known that ever since I can remember, just like i’ve always known I was one…. Well, half of one, anyway.

    Opening lines of NightLife by Rob Thurman.
    Great lines begining a great book begining a great series.

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