My Rating: 3 Stars
A marvellous, dark twist of classic stories, fairy tales and legends that leaves a lasting, positive impression!
Perrie Madeline has a pretty ordinary life and very ordinary problems until the strange museum Quinsey Wolfe's Glass Vault appears in her two of Deer Park overnight. When people start mysteriously disappearing and both her best friend and ex-boyfriend join the missing person’s list, Perrie vows to discover the truth no matter what it takes. The problem is she soon realises that it takes a lot more than she believes. Together with her friend August, Perrie goes in search of her friends inside the museum only to find themselves locked out of their world and trapped in a world of magic and madness. Will they be able to discover the missing people or will they become the next in the missing-persons list?
A peculiar, highly enjoyable novel! It’s the type of book that seems predictable but in the end, makes you fall down the dark rabbit hole into a world where “happily ever after” turns into one of the most horrific fictional worlds possible. It’s not for the faith of heart though. If you want to keep a good image of the stories you know, I strongly advise you not to read it. From the Little Mermaid cutting off her own tale to Pinocchio sowing a suit of human flesh to dress his wooden body, this tale is very far from being a happy one.
The characters are solid and well developed. The main female character, Perrie is very well explored and her way of being and acting make a believable character, almost real. Her troubled family life and the first scenes of that life make you feel for her, it’s easy to understand her occasional rudeness, and her determination to keep the barriers around herself tightly closed. She’s far from being perfect; she often runs from confrontation and hides when she feels uncomfortable. Ultimately, she is sincere and she truly cares about her friends. She grows in a steady rhythm throughout the story but there’s still a lot of ground to work on when it comes to character development. Maisie, Perrie’s cousin and best friend, is a great secondary character. I couldn’t help but connect with her, it’s like she floats through the story but at the same time, she’s very realistic. Her relationship with Perrie is very pleasant to read about and I truly felt that they complete each other nicely.
The plot goes from predictable to full of twists and turns. The beginning starts at a slow pace, almost convincing you that you know exactly what’s going to happen and then it throws you into a loop. For me, the excitement started after they enter the museum. You spend a great part of the book not knowing what to expect and it makes it almost impossible to put down. The ending was brilliant. Nothing satisfies me more than an end with no loose ends and Robinson gives the perfect one to her readers. At the same time, she prepares the stage of the next instalment.
The style of writing is good but there is room for improvement. The language is simple and the transition between the flashbacks and the present are well made. You don’t lose track of the characters or the story in the process. On the other hand, there’s an unbalance with the descriptions. First, there is lack of depth when it comes to describing feelings and the reaction to the surroundings. The characters should describe what they feel, so the user feels them too and connects better with the said character. Here, that didn’t happen. But then, Robinson explores the gruesome scenes in a very detailed way. I think the author needs to explore the emotional expression of the characters more, not just by saying it but by living it in a way. Then the connection between the reader and the story would definitely improve.
Overall, a great book and a refreshing storyline that I will remember. I recommend it to the fans of the horror genre mixed with a re-told version of the known fairytales and legends.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Amazon Digital Services and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Now here is a collection you don’t read every day. Twisted tales that not only give you shivers but also make you rethink a thing or two.
A collection of 16 short stories and 10 poems that explore several themes going from space exploration, time travel to mythology and supernatural events that will make you sleep with the lights on. If you found yourself stuck in a shoe sized-box for eight centuries, what would your plan be to escape? A parasite that enjoys your nightmares, how far would you go to get rid of it? If you had the choice between sparing or killing a creature, what would you choose? Is the darkness between reality and the dream world real? What if it’s out to get you?
First, I must say, the introduction is chilling to the bone and beautifully written. I got hooked on the book right from the beginning.
There are certain short stories that spoke more to me than others, and some of them are:
• A Deal in the Dark is a reminder to be careful about what you wish for and to whom you make it to;
• Just the Ticket gives a whole new meaning to “The Devil is in the detail”. Like it happens in our daily life, read contracts with attention and read the small letters carefully. You never know when you’re being tricked, and the price of falling for it;
• Breaking the Cycle brings out the fear of closed spaces that took my breath away and made me stopped reading for a few moments. For claustrophobics, this one is a killer, literally.
• Nightmare’s Eve, good boys get gifts on Christmas, naughty boys get… a very different present-bringer. Where did the good Santa go? Was he ever good to begin with? He does look a bit pale there. A great, creative twist to your usually happy Christmas tale!
Certain poems kept replaying in my mind, even days after reading them the first time. Unwound, Upon Reflection, Merlin’s Lament, Lost at Sea and A Never-Setting Sun, talk about loss, the truth behind a mirrors reflection and the nostalgia of lost moments and memories. I found them to be touching and melancholic. I think Stephen Provost uses prose to explore his imagination and poetry to express feelings that he couldn’t express quite as well as writing about them. But then again, this is my own interpretation.
The style of writing is amazing. Stephen Provost is a master with words both in verse and in poetry; it’s like music written with words instead of music notes. It seems like there’s an influence of the gothic style in his writing in all his works which brings out a feeling of melancholy.
I recommend this novel to the fans of short-stories and of stories and poems that drift between genres.
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Stephen H. Provost for allow me to participate on the book tour of Nightmare's Eve.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A great collection of classic horror stories that are definitely worth it.
I was expecting just one type of story so I was a bit disappointed to read others while the title indicated otherwise. Even so, they were pleasant to read and I enjoyed them more than I thought I would. The novel consists of four horror tales, each different from the other but still loosely connected. The King in Yellow is a cursed book that no one seems able to read until the end, driving people to insanity and even commit suicide. It makes an appearance in all the four stories I think it’s a nice touch, the book seems to have the ability to compel people to read it, which adds spice to the stories.
The style of writing is beautiful and compelling, like hearing a soft, creepy melody coming out of the book but with words instead of music notes.
Here are the summaries and some light comments of each story:
I truly enjoyed this one! It’s creepy, very well described and a great start to the collection.
This one is more on the creepy side since we see it through the eyes of the narrator, the man in love with the sculptor’s wife. With that said, it’s not hard to guess what takes place after. Even so, it was a tragic line to it.
The worst things are those you can’t see. This story takes this to a new level and it leaves trying to figure out of there is actually something there or not. Very psychological indeed! On the downside, I think the author had space to go develop a bit more the character and go a bit more in-depth into the story. I feel it wouldn’t lose any intensity if it was a bit longer.
Robert Chambers and his work was unknown to me before I read this book and I highly enjoyed it. I will definitely look at his other works.
I recommend this book to fans of short stories, both from the horror and romance/drama genres.
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher Pushkin Press for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A collection of short horror stories that will make you look over your shoulder and pay more attention to your daily activities.
Lewis Williams masterfully edited these 16 horror stories, creating a crescendo of horror with each next title. Presenting a number of new talent authors that you may or not know, is a breath of fresh air in the horror genre. Some short-stories are bigger in length than others, like Ticks by Lewis Williams (not recommended for those of you that don’t like bugs). The writing styles change depending on the author and the feeling of the stories changes with it. Some are more psychological, others focus more on physical violence.
The stories proved to be creepy beyond understanding by transforming simple objects and day-to-day scenes into a nightmare s. Some of the titles that struck me in a good way are:
• Nizzy’s Egg by S.L Powell – This one will make you pay more attention to what you eat for breakfast;
• The Box by Sue Eaton - a package that comes back no matter how many times you throw it away and gets hungry… very hungry;
• The Rose by Suzan St Maur – the subtlety of the story and the style of writing really made love this story.
• Framed by T.R Hitchman – Be careful when you see old ladies with cameras, you never know what can happen when they take your photo.
• Bad Boys Don’t get Desert by William Quincy Belle - A type of mother that praises his son for a job well done but punishes him for not burying his toy before a meal.
• Death by Appointment by A.H. Sargeant – When you get a surprise visit at your office from an unexpected someone, remember that what goes around, comes around.
I thoroughly enjoyed each one of these short stories, but there are some of them that involve animals and those were a bit tough to swallow. Nevertheless, there were very well written and the organisation of the stories builds-up your interest to know what comes next.
The book is a great read, with a collection of unique stories that are a most, have for the fans of the horror genre that are looking for something out-of-the-box. I highly recommend it!
Thank you Lewis Williams and the publisher Corona Books for reaching out and sending me a paperback version of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
The type of novel take gets you hooked from page one. A mesmerising, captivating, suspenseful narrative that will keep you from putting it down.
Anne Chatham desperately needs a new start. After losing her family to Influenza and almost dying herself, Anne is ready to start a new chapter of her life as a typewriter with the Wellingtons family. But her almost-death experience gave Anne a unique gift: she can sense spirits. On her arrival, she’s introduced to the owner of the manor Henry Wellington, confined to a wheelchair, his two sons and the unpleasant wife, Lavinia. Anne soon discovers that the family hides a dark and terrible secret and that wondering spirit she senses in the house may hold the answers to the mysterious disappearance of Henry’s first wife 40 years before. Together with the less favoured son, Owen, they try to solve the mystery of what really happened to Eleanor Wellington. But someone isn’t happy with these meddling. During a masquerade ball, death strikes. Anne slowly becomes aware of the dangerous road she’s taking and the price of getting closer to a horrifying truth. Can she and Owen get out alive?
Highly addictive, captivating and impossible to put down. It’s a real page-turner.
The setting of the novel is amazing and one of my all-time favourites: an English haunted house in 1922. The atmosphere is that of a gothic novel, dark with several characters that slowly begin to reveal themselves as no so pure people. The pace is very steady and builds up suspense and thrill throughout the story. Clues and crucial information are given in a smooth way and it keeps you on your toes. There are enough twists in the story to keep you guessing the identity of the killer. The ending is completely unexpected but the author gives all the necessary pointers and leaves no loose ends.
The style of writing is captivating and the language is brilliant. Phyllis Newman was able to captivate the dark and mysterious atmosphere typical of a gothic novel. At the same time, it was some cosy mystery elements, like the romance line between Anne and Owen, which was perfectly in line with the mystery. The descriptions are perfect as they give a clear image of the setting and the actions of the characters. The best part is that you cannot get bored with them; with the style of writing runs like soft, dark music running in the background. Additionally, Newman introduces the social problems of the period in a way that gives depth to the story and the characters. The main issue is the class distinction, a characteristic from the 20th century. A young woman loses everything, she doesn’t have any rights and she has to find a way to survive. Finding a job was the only way not to end up in poverty. Newman also integrates supernatural elements just at the right times and the right places which creates spine-chilling moments in the story. I enjoyed every single one of them.
The characters are fantastic and very well developed. Anne is an intelligent young woman that even after going through traumatic events in her life keeps her head up and takes on the challenge life put in front of her. I loved her reasoning and her courage. She’s like a ray of light in that house and to the character that lives in it. Anne isn’t governed by fear, which isn’t surprising considering that she stared at death right in the face. However, she’s not reckless, she follows a logical approach and preserves herself from the people she doesn’t fully trust or understand. All this while being “ladylike”. I loved walking with her through this dark adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel: the romance, the suspense build-up and the moments of pure horror. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Thank you, Phyllis Newman, for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 3 Stars
A gory horror story 90s style that will make you run through the pages.
A haunting secret from the past comes back to haunt the present in the most deadly way possible. At the elite high school Trask Hall located on a secluded island, the life of Layna is a lively competition. When her friends start dying one by one, Layna begins to question her past and her connection to a theatre fire where a student lost his life. Can she find the truth before the killer gets to her?
Now, this is a spooky, heart-stopping novel! I usually don’t fall for high school novels but this one was definitely creepy enough to get my interest. The story is addictive by the way the killings happen and how the plot keeps twisting.
The style of writing is simple and easy to follow but gripping in intriguing at the same time. I think at times it got a bit too aggressive and a bit stereotypical when it comes to describing his characters. The descriptions are very detailed and it’s easy for the reader to jump into this world. I must admit that in some scenes were was hard to read through. It’s clear that Hutson has a passion for horror movies/books.
The novel is fast-paced right from the beginning and the story is told in the third person, which for me made the story easy to follow. The plot was both good and classic. A lot of scenes of the novel definitely brought up memories from the classic horror movies with “let’s go into the basement” and “let’s take a walk in a dark, deserted hallway with a killer on the loose”. Still, there is a definite charm to it. Thommy Hutson adds enough darkness and gory details to create something that leaves a trail of goosebumps. The idea of killing based on superstitions was good and it added spice to the story. There are enough twists to keep the reader completely involved in the story. The best part is that the reader doesn’t really know how everything is connected but in the end, all the information comes together perfectly. The end is shocking and completely unpredictable which worked fine for me. The bottom line of this story: don’t keep secrets, they might come back to get you.
The characters didn’t work out too well for me. I couldn’t connect with them and it seemed like the author didn’t have any love for them either. There is a love-triangle between characters but it felt a bit disconnected from the plot. The fact that the characters just throw themselves in the line of danger and do exactly what they shouldn’t annoy me a bit. It’s like there were created just for the killing. The killer who seemed to be everywhere at once kept messing up his image by being sloppy in some scenes, which killed a bit the mood. I think there is a lack of character development that could make the story more intriguing and actually make the reader feel for these characters.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I think the plot is great and the style of writing, in general, was intriguing but the characters are seriously lacking.
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Thommy Hutson for allow me to participate on the book tour of Jinxed.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great, creepy graphic novel to be fully enjoyed!
After the death of his mother, Christian and his father moved to Shell Bay. Christian doesn’t seem to be destined for an easy life. As he starts in a new school, he becomes the target of bullies. When the group of weird kids help him, Christian becomes part of something that he doesn’t fully understand. Unknowingly, he joins them in an occult ritual that gets them possessed by darkness. Soon, they all start developing strange powers and Christian learns right after that it comes at a high price. Faced with horrifying truth, he has to make a choice if he wants to reverse the ritual: kill off the circle before they kill him or let the darkness take over him completely. Will he be able to make his choice before time runs out?
Both the story and the art are amazing and they complement each other very nicely. The angle of the drawings and the dark colours only bring out the horror of the story more.
The story develops at a steady, suspenseful pace and it ends with a dramatic climax. There isn’t a boring moment with this graphic novel. There aren’t any loose ends left when the story is over and I felt that the story should have a sequel. Damon Clark started and finished the story completely, but I think there’s still space to explore Christian’s life after his horrifying adventure. However, I felt that the deaths and the ultimate feeling of fear weren’t truly there. Everything happens very fast and I couldn’t feel or see the impact of the events on the characters. It would have given more depth to the plot.
This graphic novel is all about wrong choices; how bad life can get, especially when one thinks it cannot get any worse. On the contrary, of other graphic novels, the main character doesn’t have a single drop of luck. Every time he tries to make amends, everything just turns ever so darker.
I read this novel in one go, I couldn’t put it down. Even though it’s a horror story, I felt nostalgic and a bit like a kid again when I was reading it. I recommend it!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Diamond Book Distributors and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book is like of those that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. I was expecting an adventure and instead, I was taken of a roller coaster of emotions and genres that brought this book on my top reads for this year. The perfect mix: mystery, drama, suspense and a bit horror great an almost-perfect novel.
Lydia Smith has a past marked by horrors that she wishes to forget completely. Years later, she lives quietly, unseen, working in the Bright Ideas Bookstore, towns away from her childhood home. Having cut any relation with her father, Lydia lives for her books, her close friends and energetic colleagues. Until her friend, Joey commits suicide by hanging, in her bookstore. He leaves Lydia clues and notes with information that will lead her to find a connection between him, her dark past and a killer that never truly left her life. When Raj, a childhood, reappears in her life, they have to work together to discover the truth of the event that changed their lives forever. However, the truth comes with a cost and it can be very, very, unexpected.
The novel is addictive and very well organised. The plots are engaging and they both fit perfectly, bringing an intriguing challenge for the reader. There are quite a number of characters and all of them fit the story perfectly until the end. The first plot is the search for the murderer that killed Lydia’s friend, when she was younger, and her family. The second plot is to discover the history of Joey and the search for his biological family. The story is told in the third person, jumping between the past and the present of Lydia. The main question the reader faces is if both plots are connected and why. Why would Joey leave clues? How did he know about Lydia’s past?
The style of writing flows perfectly with the story and the descriptions are just enough to give the reader an idea of their surroundings. All the given details, however, are important to the plot and they give away pieces of crucial information from time to time. Even when the story switches between the past and the present, it’s very easy to follow the story and connect with the character in both timelines.
The characters are special in their own way and the author thought very well of how they are all connected. They felt real; the reader gets glimpses of their childhoods and how their relationships develop over time. Even with the little descriptions, I felt as if I truly connected with the characters and through their actions understand them better.
A mystery novel full of suspense that I highly recommend to the fans of the genre looking for a more complex story.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Scribner and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A memorable, unique historical thriller packed with action and an impressive research of historical poisons. It’s very hard to believe this is a debut novel.
This is the tale of a female assassin on the 16th century that uses different poisons as weapon of choice. Lavinia Maud craves for the death fashioned by her own creations, her preys both poor and rich. However, fame brings risk to a higher level. Between avoiding the anger of her patron and struggling between love and death, Lavinia finds out the hard way that the heart is hard to silence and that revenge is served better with a tasteless poison.
Now, this is a new, refreshing novel with an original plot and a fantastic main character. A femme fatale that murders all levels of society, aiming for the ultimate game of her career: what is there not to like? It’s darkly compelling and addictive until the very last page.
The plot is brilliantly thought and developed. It’s fast paced with twists and turns that will swep the floor from under your feet. The originality of the plot is a breath of fresh air in the world of historical thrillers and the level of suspense is enough to make any heart skip a few beats.
The setting is perfectly chosen, the research made by Kara Pohlkamp on the time period and the poisons are impressive and perhaps even a bit scary. The Tudor era is one of my favourites in English history so I was more than pleased to jump into the story. The author provides just the right amount of detail to give the reader the perfect view of this dark tale.
The seductive and hypnotic style of writing pulls the reader deep into the story of this murderess and turns this journey of sin, obsession and murder into a pleasant ride. Pohlkamp is a magician with words, so smooth and seductive that will make readers fall for her novel like clockwork.
The main character is great and memorable. I know she’s an assassin and I know she has an unhealthy obsession with poisons and killing, but at the same time, the way the author presents her, it’s impossible not to connect with Lavinia and admire her. She is a powerful, deadly intelligent woman that uses everything she has to survive a world ruled by men. Her battle between cold logic and her heart is mesmerising to read and her struggles give her an incredible depth as a character.
I can’t wait to see what other tricks Kara Pohlkamp has up her sleeve!
For all the fans of historical thrillers looking for something new and exciting, you can’t let this one get away.
I want to thank the author Kara Pohlkamp for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This collection is the perfect read for lovers of books and mysteries. What can be better than murders themes around books?
These 15 short stories were written by distinguished mystery writers and they make every story count. The editor Otto Penzler put together an anthology of crime between books that fill fit the likes of most readers. From hidden messages inside old books, a deadly bookseller and the deep secrets a library might hide, make this book impossible to put down.
Each storyline is different but they all have something in common: books. The title was definitely well picked and it describes perfectly its content. All the stories take place in modern times and they all involve different types of books or characters related to books like booksellers, book collectors, books privately owned, public displayed books and even an old scroll. Even though most of the stories can be classified as thriller/mystery, some of them have a fantasy touch to them and one fits in the fantasy genre completely.
The authors with stories on this collection, by order of appearance, are:
The editor Otto Penzler did a great job putting this anthology together. All the authors have different styles of writing, different ways of describing and interaction with the reader which is very refreshing when you’re jumping from story to story. Some of the authors I’m familiar with and it was a treat to read some short works from them, like Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Cook and John Connolly. Additionally, discovering other authors just made my to-read list a bit longer for next year.
I absolutely recommend this anthology to all the fans of murder mysteries and books. These great authors write great stories and getting to know other creators of this genre might help you discover some great books you haven’t read yet.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Pegasus Books and the editor for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.