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22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Part of my 100 Best First Lines from Novels project.

First lines are powerful. It’s the author’s best chance to hook the reader. A great first line will pull you in, introduce you to the narrator, and set the tone for the entire book. Depending on what you’re reading, a great first line can be funny or meaningful or sad or somehow all of the above. Some great lines are flowery and beautiful, while others are direct and to the point.

But a great line should always pull you out of your world and straight into the world of the book. Here is my tribute to the 100 best opening lines in Western Literature that immediately draw you in.

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These are the first 33: