Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee #BookReview #JulyReleases

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Title: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Series: n/a
Format: Paperback ARC, 294 pages
Publication Details: July 27th 2017 by Hideaway Fall
Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery; Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

Review

The cover of this book is so perfect it’s hard to put into words. It’s dark, beautiful and mysterious, which is exactly how I’d describe the story within.

Broken Branches is about the Perkins family, in particular Ian and his wife Rachel, who move into the cottage where Ian grew up. The cottage with the huge, ominous looking tree outside; the cottage where bad things happen.

I found the book a little slow to start with but before I knew it couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that never quite gives you the answers you want. You know the type; the type of story that drives you mad in the best possible way.

There had been talk of ‘the curse’ since Ian’s childhood when his uncle died, but he never truly believed it until he inherited the cottage himself. This threw up many questions in itself – why would he move into a house with such a bad history? Other curiosities in the story (and believe me when I say it’s full of them), surrounded Rachel who is extremely distant and aloof from the start – was she depressed? Mentally ill? We’re not quite sure.

Ian delves deeper into his family history, and that of the cottage, in order to learn more about the curse, thinking that proving the existence of it will solve everything including whatever it is that’s wrong with Rachel and his marriage. But of course it only drives them further apart as Ian get more and more obsessed. He loses his job and sinks into a frenzied, isolated existence where the tree is always lurking in the background, and someone keeps moving his research around.

I think Broken Branches’ success comes from the masterfully layered atmosphere that just gets creepier and creepier as the story goes on. M. Jonathan Lee has done a wonderful job in creating suspense and intrigue, and there are some great horror elements in it too. I’m not sure I’d even want to read this on a stormy night…

unicorn rating 4

Revisiting An English Ghost Story #BookReview #HorrorOctober

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It has become somewhat of a tradition to kick off the Horror October proceedings by reblogging my favourite read from the previous year. And I’ve also noticed a bit of a pattern. They aren’t necessarily the highest rated book I read, but rather the one that has stuck with me the whole year through.

The first time around I chose The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and last year I chose Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory. These are certainly books that I think about often, and An English Ghost Story is no exception. 

An English Ghost Story ~ Kim Newman

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Format: Paperback, 315 pages
Publication Details: October 7th 2014 by Titan Books
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

Review

This was the last book I read for Horror October, and I’m so glad because I finished the month on a high.

An English Ghost Story was exactly what I was looking for! It was a book which started with promise. I was absorbed from the beginning even before anything spooky happened and then it built up its suspense and creepiness in a masterful, almost majestic way.

The Naremore family move into a grand old house in the countryside which was previously owned by a famous children’s author whose popular series of books were about a haunted boarding school. It turns out that these books were a lot less fictitious than anyone would have believed.

However, the ghosts, spirits, or presences (however you would like to refer to them) struck the Naremore family as friendly, and they found The Hollow an enchanted place to live. A place where they were finally happy; it had brought the family together in a way they had not felt before.

Unfortunately for them…the family had been lulled into a false sense of security and bit by bit, the ‘others’ in the house start to make life very difficult in The Hollow. The dream home, becomes a nightmare. They are turned against each other, and it looks as if they won’t wake up until there’s no one left.

This book was delicious for a horror fan like me. Ghost stories aren’t usually my favourite because I often find them unbelievable and just not scary enough, but I loved how ‘real’ An English Ghost Story felt. It gradually built up momentum as the house began to turn against them and slowly pulled their family apart. I couldn’t put it down.

It was funny in places, certainly creepy, and had some great gory, gross-out moments, but it felt magical too; it had a whimsical feel about it, like reading through a dream.

I was very impressed by my first delve into Kim Newman’s imagination, and I can’t wait to read more. Maybe I’ll finally get round to Anno Dracula now!

unicorn rating 4


Next up on Horror October: Review – Haunt Me by Liz Kessler

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Haunted House Books #HorrorOctober

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is a Halloween themed freebie — our choice. I’ve chosen the theme of haunted houses!

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Read any of these? What would have made your list?