It’s hard to publish fiction in December—everyone is so focused on gift books or on looking back at the year’s highlights. But there are some great books coming out next month that don’t deserve to get lost in the shuffle.

The Other Mothers by Katherine Faulkner (Gallery Books, Dec. 5): Faulkner specializes in the terrifying mothers of London. Natasha Carpenter is a freelance journalist who’s been hanging out with the moms of her 2-year-old son’s playgroup when she isn’t working on an article about the mysterious death of a local nanny. Then she starts getting threats. “Faulkner pulls out all the psychological-thriller stops—and then some,” says our starred review.

The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac by Louise Kennedy (Riverhead, Dec. 5): Kennedy grew up Catholic in Northern Ireland and later moved south to Sligo. After publishing Trespasses, her first novel, last year, she returns with a collection of short stories “set in a contemporary Ireland divided by wealth and education,” according to our starred review. Urban vs. rural, working class vs. posh, male vs. female—these stories are rooted in the Irish landscape but universal in their conflicts.

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon (Doubleday, Dec. 5): This is Lawhon’s fifth historical novel, and, following four books set in the early 20th century, she jumps back to 1789, basing her story on the life of Martha Ballard, a real midwife in Hallowell, Maine. When one of Martha’s patients accuses two men of rape, Martha takes the witness stand on her behalf. Our starred review calls the novel “a vivid, exciting page-turner from one of our most interesting authors of historical fiction.”

On the Isle of Antioch by Amin Maalouf, translated by Natasha Lehrer (World Editions, Dec. 5): Lebanon-born French author Maalouf creates a world much like our own, but there’s been a nuclear war—and humanity has been saved from the worst possible consequences by a mysterious, otherworldly species of beings who all have Greek names. This is “a beguiling, lyrical work of speculative fiction by a writer of international importance,” according to our starred review.

The Gentleman’s Gambit by Evie Dunmore (Berkley, Dec. 5): In Dunmore’s latest Victorian romance, Lady Catriona Campbell, a bookish suffragist, escorts her father’s protégé, Elias Khoury, to Oxford to examine some artifacts from the Middle East, not knowing he’s planning to repatriate them. Our starred review says that “not only does this story revolve around redefining the types of characters who receive a romance…but it also refreshingly tackles the question of who gets to be the custodians of history.”

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.