It’s been another bumper year for local authors and so here is our list of the top ten books of the year, in no particular order.

Est edited by Ella Johnston and Martin Bewick One of the most wonderful books ever about this often overlooked region of the UK. Est is an anthology of writing that paints a gorgeously enigmatic and loving picture of East Anglia with contributors including the poet and musician Martin Newell, cult author David Southwell, artist Luke Elwes and naturalist Darren Tansley. Published by Ella and Martin’s Dunlin Press, the resulting texts merge geography, social history, personal memoir and travel writing with discourses on local fables, art, archaeology and conservation.

Lament for a Siege Town by Clare Hawkins. The Wivenhoe writer’s fictionalised account of the infamous Siege of Colchester of 1648. Telling the story of the siege through a number of different characters from Royalist general Sir Charles Lucas to various members of a poor weaver family and even a Parliamentarian soldier stuck on the inside, Clare gives a vivid account of the horrors of the siege and what it must have been like living through it.

An Essex Parish by David Canning. With a number of poetry groups in and around the town, it’s no surprise we had a plethra of cracking poetry books coming out this year. One of the best was David’s debut book of poems, with its stories of murder and redemption, reflecting modern events against Essex’s religious and violent Anglo-Saxon history. Other highlights include the Eternal Mountain, which draws on his experiences as a climber and mountaineer, and in A History of the Troubles, which explores relationships, family, love and loss.

Godfrey and the Stars by Mike Fryer. Inspired by a trip to York Minster back in 2004, and his love of astromony, this is the first book in a series of colourful children’s tales by the former Colchester Royal Grammar schoolboy. It features Godfrey the Gargoyle, a born stargazer and weatherwatcher, who, together with his friend the cheeky pigeon, has many adventures while giving an insight into the sky at night.

The Insect Rosary by Sarah Armstrong. With the tagline “would you admit to everything you’ve done?” the Insect Rosary is set in Northern Ireland where in 1982 Bernadette and her older sister discover their family is involved with disappearances and murder. It’s the debut from a great new Colchester writing talent who started the book when she took part in the November write a novel in a month challenge.

The Bucket by DJ Cattrell. Just the kind of book you would expect from a father of two who also has a history in the theatre. Jason Cattrell’s the Bucket started off as a story at bedtime but has evolved into a magical fantasy adventure which tells the story of Rachel the Intrepid, Sarah the Adventurer and a mysterious silent boy with amazingly blue eyes. The first in a trilogy of books, as well as a cracking adventure, what makes Jason’s book so eye-catching are the beautiful illustrations drawn by young artist May Li.

The Cathedral of Known Things by Edward Cox. We featured Edward’s first novel The Relic Guild when it came out in paperback earlier this year. But the Colchester author is so prolific the second instalment of his trilogy is out already. Re-affirming his position as one of the country’s most promising up and coming fantasy writers, in the Cathedral of Known Things the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force. So the Relic Guild must flee their home and set off on a dangerous journey that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii, or the whole universe.

Signs For An Exhibition by Eliza Kentridge. Perhaps best known for her gorgeous nostalgia-evoking applique drawings and her series of terracotta figures and reliefs, Eliza’s stunning poetry has a similar effect. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the history of her home country, South Africa, Eliza started writing poems when she was thinking about words to use in the artwork for an exhibition. Now buoyed by the success of her first collection, Eliza is looking to write her next book, which will focus on her adopted home of Wivenhoe.

The Reluctant Celebrity by Laurie Ellingham. This book started life self-published on-line but was so popular it was subsequently snapped up by a London publisher. It follows the misadventures of Jules, who finds herself on the front page of Britain’s most popular tabloid thanks to famous ex-boyfriend, Guy. Seeking solace in a small hamlet, the plans to renovate her house appear to be as successful as trying to keep her privacy from the nosey neighbours.

Captain Cook’s Merchant Ships by Stephen Baines. A fascinating book which takes an in depth look at the eight ships Captain Cook sailed in. As well as the most famous one Endeavour, in which Cook discovered Australia, he also sailed in Free Love, Three Brothers, Mary, Friendship, Adventure, Resolution and Discovery. An expert on the ships that sailed out of Whitby in Yorkshire, this brilliant book came about after Stephen embarked on his own research project to find out more about his maritime ancestors.