Tag Archives: Horror

#TheLingering by SJI Holliday @OrendaBooks @SJIHolliday #MustReads #BookReview

 

Today I’m sharing my review for The Lingering by SJI Holliday, it’s a book that’s full of suprises and a book that’s certainly going to be on my top reads of 2018 list. Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……  

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Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

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When I pick up a novel I’m always looking for a read that will captivate my imagination, a novel that leaves me breathless, one that will unnerve me and one where I reach the last page I immediately want to read it again, novels that make me feel like this are a rare breed indeed, well up until now that is. I’m not going to beat about the bush I loved The Lingering by SJI Holliday, it was the perfect read for me, I found it to be creepy, and very, very dark. Part ghost story, part domestic thriller, the author  tantalises the reader with the mystery surrounding Rosalind House and its occupants, when you add to the mix odd occurrences and strange sightings well let’s just say “this novel made for a disquieting, but oh so thrilling read”.

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardner are seeking a fresh start and decide to move to  Rosalind House a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, but what dark secrets are the couple hiding? Once they arrive it’s not long before the couple experience ghostly happenings, and that’s when this novel gets bone chillingly creepy.  Rosalind House, an abandoned asylum is the perfect setting for this novel, it hides a tragic past, where secrets and passed misdoings are hidden in the very fabric of the building. It’s a building steeped in myths and legends where bad things happened, and as the author slowly reveals its dark and deadly secrets I found myself becoming more fearful at each turn of the page.    

The characters in The Lingering are fabulously depicted, rich in personality, and complex. Jack and Ali Gardner what a couple, their relationship is one based on coercion and control, a relationship that’s shrouded in lies and deceit. You know from the beginning the couple are hiding something BIG, and that alone adds an over whelming sense of uneasiness that intensifies as the Gardner’s dark secrets are slowly revealed.

I guess the spooky supernatural element might not suit all crime fiction fans, but if like me you read The Lingering with an open mind I’m sure you will end up loving it as much as I did. The Lingering explores the nature of true evil, the psychological aspect of this novel is dark in tone as the author delves into the minds of a very disturbed couple. This novel is exceptionally well plotted, original, creepy and very disturbing and yet it is one of the most compelling novels I’ve had the pleasure to read in a long time, and definitely a contender for my “book of the year”. Highly, highly recommended.

This is going to come as no surprise but I’m giving  The Lingering  the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reached the very last page.

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  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (30 Sept. 2018)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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The Retreat by Mark Edwards #BookReview #MustReads @mredwards

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Today I’m sharing my review for The Retreat published by Thomas & Mercer on the 10th May 2018. Fans of Mark Edwards are in for a real treat, before you read my review here’s the book description…….

Book description 

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. 

But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

8ECAEFD2-0923-4546-A2E8-C5A2349B4D11When I think of a retreat it conjures up images of somewhere quiet , an oasis where you can rest and reflect or write, somewhere you feel safe, well that was until I picked up The Retreat by Mark Edwards, who turns an idyllic setting into something far more sinister. Steeped in atmosphere and disturbingly creepy The Retreat is a reminder of why I’m such a fan of Mark Edwards writing.  Lucas, a horror novelist, arrives at the retreat hoping to write his next book, but within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of strange events, are the events linked to Lily a missing child? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

It’s great that the author doesn’t conform to a specific genre, with elements of the supernatural, horror and psychological running through its veins you are never quite sure where the author is heading with an unpredictable plot. Mark Edwards maintain the overwhelming sense of suspense and unease throughout. The tale is shrouded in local folklore, and spooky ghost stories, the author does a fabulous job in evoking the horror, the fear and trepidation around such tales.  

Told in the present peppered with chapters told from the missing child Lily’s POV you get a feel for Lily, her fears that are grounded in the folklore tales, her worries about her family, it was these chapters that I found the most intriguing and also the most creepy. These chapters were the ones that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, made me jump at every noise, and kept me reading long into the night (with the lights on of course!)

Steeped in atmosphere with a backdrop of creepy settings, and an array of characters who as the reader you can’t help but mistrust,  Mark Edwards has written another outstanding book. I never thought the author could top The Magpies one of my favourite books ever, well until now but The Retreat is definitely his best book yet, it’s unpredictable, engaging with one of the most deliciously satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommend. 

Print Length: 335 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (10 May 2018)

Pre-order links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retreat-Mark-Edwards-ebook/dp/B074W8K55L

https://www.amazon.com/Retreat-Mark-Edwards-ebook/dp/B074W8K55L

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The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste #BookReview @simonschusterUK @LucaVeste

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Growing up in a small village we had our own urban myth which involved a railway tunnel and the grey lady who haunted it, we dared each other to go through it, we scared each other with tales of a lady who wished harm on others. It was terrifying at the time being surrounded by darkness and waiting for the grey lady to appear, and even now just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine. The Bone Keeper brought back all those childhood memories and certainly made for a disconcerting read, so first the book description and then read on for my thoughts……

Book description

What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?

He’ll slice your flesh.
Your bones he’ll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find to the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper.  Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood.  But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.

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Sometimes as an avid reader of crime thrillers I could kick myself, some authors are on my radar but I never find the time to get to their books due to an overwhelming TBR pile. Lucas Veste is one such author and the reason I’m kicking myself? I picked up The Bone Keeper expecting a run of the mill crime thriller, but boy was I wrong this book has all the ingredients I love in a crime thriller, but it also holds an element of surprise as this book actually gave me the heebie-jeebies with its creepy children’s rhyme and an urban myth that plays on people’s fears, think the bogey man crossed with the worse kind of killer and your half way there.

All you need to know about this seriously creepy book is in the book description, all I’m going to say is The Bone Keeper is a stand-alone which means no missing out on a back story or character development. Some books convince you from the opening chapter that you are in for a hell of a read, but I was hooked way before that the chilling rhyme at the start of this book captured my attention and then I just had to read on.

As this is the first book I have read by Lucas Vesta I can’t compare it to his previous books but I’m very impressed with his writing, it’s descriptive and my god he knows how to set the scene, from the off the reader is on tenterhooks, the sense of something dark lingering in the shadows adds more than an air of menace to the plot. Although a crime thriller I think The Bone Keeper also has elements of horror running through it, infusing the two together added to the overall tension.

The authors writing was so convincing I found myself constantly checking the doors were locked, I do love it when an author is able to make me paranoid and terrified about my own safety through their descriptive writing! This review may appear vague regarding the plot and characters but it’s a book I feel you will appreciate more for not knowing to much about it. The Bone Keeper is definitely a book I would recommend to crime thriller readers, especially if you like me you prefer the darker more gruesome variety.

Buying links:      Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (8 Mar. 2018)

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#TheHunger by Alma Katsu #MustReads @Almakatsu @PoppyStimpson @TransworldBooks

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As anyone who follows my blog will know I read and review mostly Crime and psychological thrillers, but once in a blue moon I like to step out of my comfort zone and read something completely different. When I saw the cover for The Hunger with “turn back or you will die” written all over it I knew it was a book I had to read even though I had no idea what it was about. So imagine my dismay when I read The Hunger book description and realised this book was part historical fiction, which is definitely a genre way out of my comfort zone. So I picked up this book with some, ok a lot of trepidation, did I regret it? Read my thoughts further down the post, but first the book description.

Book description

After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter.

Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.

Based on the true story of The Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

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The Hunger by Alma Katsu is part historical fiction and part supernatural/horror. Based on a true story the author has masterfully blurred the lines between fact and fiction, even the fictional parts seemed very credible which made this book even more chilling to read. Based on the Donner party’s tragic crossing of America in the 1840s, it follows a group of settlers who head across the unrelenting plains in search of new beginnings but find themselves hunted by an unknown prey.

The author has an extraordinary ability to describe her settings, and the difficulties faced by the Donner party with such conviction that I felt like I was there along side them, I felt their fear, despair, and paranoia growing as the ill fated party struggle to survive in a hostile environment. The first half of the book is slow but please don’t let that put you off, as the author builds tension into the plot through her characters, and the threat of the unknown as children start to go missing. Each pioneer has joined the journey for a very different reason and each one has something to hide, which brings an authenticity to the story so the reader feel as if they really know and understand the characters. As the book progresses the characters secrets are revealed fuelling the tension, mistrust and violence amongst the pioneers.

Alma Katsu’s writing is poetic at times as she describes a journey that causes hardship, hunger and madness. The writing is intense and steeped in atmosphere, as the reader the sense of foreboding grows. The Hunger is broken into months which I thought worked very well, it shows how relationships can fracture when faced with adversity and the lengths people will go to to survive.
As each month grows darker, the author describes the decline in the Pioneers,  hunger and fear begin to overwhelm them, with that comes discord within the party with themes of jealousy, lust, mistrust and the forefront.

As the pioneers find themselves stranded, starving and fighting for survival the horror/supernatural aspect of the novel takes over and that’s when The Hunger comes into its own. At this point the atmosphere becomes much darker, the sense of dread more palatable. The author has created a terrifying and deeply unsettling story, reminiscent of The Revenant with a hint of the supernatural, it’s a book that turned out to be a hell of a read considering I picked it up with reservations. Highly recommended.

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I’m sure it will come as no surprise to see I’m giving The Hunger the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page and plus this one gave me a #Major #BookHangover something I don’t suffer with very often!

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Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 384 pages

Publisher: Transworld Digital (6 Mar. 2018)

 

 

 

**Blog tour** Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the Hydra by Matt Wesolowski blog tour. Hydra has to be one of the most original crime thrillers I’ve read in a long time, it’s definitely a book I will be recommending to anyone and everyone. Hydra is published by one of my very favourite publishers Orenda Books, you can buy it now for the kindle or the paperback version is available from the 15th January 2018. 

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Ann Cater for my ARC of Hydra, and for allowing me to be part of this awesome blog tour. 

Book description

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’.

Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose `Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden `games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

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Hydra oh WOW this has to be one of the most original and creepiest books I’ve read EVER! I loved Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski, but I loved Hydra more, it simply oozes menace from the opening chapter. Hydra is part crime thriller with more than a dose of the supernatural thrown in, and it’s a novel that’s guaranteed to capture the reader’s imagination. From the start the reader knows who committed the crime, it’s the “why” that the author explores in his series of six intriguing pod casts. Each one gives the reader a different perspectives of Arla, but which one is true? As Scott King, an investigative journalist slowly unravels a very deeply unsettling and disturbing tale I felt the first stirrings of fear that seeped into my bones and pretty much stayed with me until I reached the ending of this is wickedly creepy book.

Matt Wesolowski is a genius in my opinion using pod casts to narrate the story made Hydra a compelling read. As a reader I felt very much part of this book as the pod casts came to life through the authors incredible writing, so I actually felt like I was listening to them rather than reading them. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to give me the heebie-jeebies it’s children in a fictional book, not your garden-variety ones, but the ones who have an aura of malevolence surrounding them, there right here in what has to be one of the  most hair raising books I have EVER read . The author introduces the reader to the black-eyed children,(not a spoiler, as it’s in the book description) who scared the living day lights out of me, so much so I had nightmares about them! I found myself gripped by an irrational fear that stayed with me long after I put Hydra down, in my opinion that’s testament to the authors remarkable writing skill.

With more than a hint of the super natural Hydra is a character study of a very troubled teenager, throughout you can’t help wondering what events caused Arla to commit such a terrible crime. Despite all this Hydra is such a beautifully written book, and considering it deals with some very ugly and disturbing subjects which I’m not going to go into as I would hate to spoil the read for others, the author tackles them with sensitivity and understanding. I think Matt Wesolowski has done a remarkable job in creating a novel that is both atmospheric and deliciously dark, it also has a modern twist to it which makes it very readable, and make an idea book club read, there is so much to discuss and debate. In my opinion the author has written a crime thriller that’s exciting, unpredictable, deceptive and down right menacing. Hydra is a must read and one I would highly recommend, despite it only being January I have a feeling this one is a BIG contender for my top reads of 2018 already!

I’m giving Hydra the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating, the first one of the year. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a fabulous read, fantastic plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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Buying links:   Amazon US 🇺🇸              Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Print Length: 320 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (24 Dec. 2017)

About the author

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Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more.

His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015, and his winning thriller, Six Stories, achieved massive critical acclaim, was a number-one bestseller in ebook, and was sold to Hollywood for a major motion picture. He is currently working on another installment in the Six Stories series.

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