I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!
Title: Killing the Dead Author: Marcus Sedgwick Series: N/A Format: Paperback, 112 pages Publication Details: March 5th 2015 by Indigo Genre(s): YA; Horror Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.
Set in a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts a haunting and sinister story YA story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.
1963. Foxgrove School near Stockbridge, Massachusetts. One of the oldest and finest academies in the country – but what really goes on behind closed doors? Nathaniel Drake, the new young English teacher, Isobel Milewski, the quiet girl who loved to draw spirals, her fingers stained with green ink, Jack Lewis, who lent Isobel books – just words, just ink on paper, Margot Leya, the girl with those eyes – who are they, what part have they played in killing the dead?
Follow the dark, dark path Into the dark, dark woods To the dark, dark bridge By the dark, dark water. Linger. Let the ghosts of heaven tell their story.
A stylish and creepy story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.
It’s been a while since I finished this short read, and I’m not too sure how I felt about it. I thought it was an odd choice for a World Book Day book as they are usually aimed at younger readers, but I think it’s great they are now including books for older children, especially ones as dark as this.
Marcus Sedgwick was my favourite author for a time, and don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s amazing, but a few of his latest books have disappointed me. Killing the Dead feels like vintage (darker) Sedgwick, but it also ties in with some things in The Ghosts of Heaven, which is his only book that I have actively disliked.
In this story, I loved the setting, but not so much the characters, making it hard for me to get invested in their well-being. I loved the idea that the school has this tragic accident in its past that has become a dark and sinister legend, but I wanted it to be explored more instead of focusing on a perverted teacher.
So the jury’s still out on this one. If you want a good, dark, read by Sedgwick there are lots of others I would start with, such as The Book of Dead Days or The Foreshadowing.
Title: The Witches of New York Author: Ami McKay Series: N/A Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages Publication Details: October 2016 by Orion Books Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Magic Realism; Supernatural Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients.
All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?
Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.
As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?
Although not a sequel, this book follows a character from McKay’s acclaimed novel The Virgin Cure, which if I had known before (lack of research on my part) would perhaps have put me off requesting it. Fortunately it didn’t seem to matter. Unfortunately, my first foray into the world of Ami McKay didn’t quite beguile me like I thought it would.
The Witches of New York follows young Beatrice who is seeking employment. When she sees an advert in the paper from a strange-sounding tea shop where ‘those averse to magic need not apply’, she feels like this will be the start of a new life for her, and it is.
Owned by Adelaide, a seer (and Moth from The Virgin Cure) and Eleanor, a witch, the tea shop is a front to a growing magic business. Beatrice soon becomes an invaluable apprentice but her visions begin to haunt her, and she’s weakened and easily exploited.
I liked some parts of this book, but I just don’t think I was in the mood for it. I can imagine enjoying a lazy Sunday reading this, but trying to read it during a busy schedule didn’t work. The pace was painfully slow and although the descriptions were beautiful and elegant, they were subtle and drawn-out. I found myself skim reading a lot.
This novel does have a great magic-realism atmosphere, and McKay is clearly a talented writer, but this book was too light for me. She reminded me a lot of Alice Hoffman, albeit with something missing.
However, I liked the way she presents these real-life witches – as strong, independent women in an era where women had no rights, were discriminated against, and most certainly should not have worked in a shop, never mind owned one. AND I liked that the heart of this book was about women’s relationships in that hard time where it was extremely brave of them to be proud of who they are.
Basically, I enjoyed what McKay was tying to do here, but I needed more to take hold of to keep me interested in the plodding plot.
Well, it’s Halloween. Hurrah! It’s always bit bittersweet for me though as it signifies the end of Horror October. But, it’s been a great month and I’ve saved the best til last for you…
After reading The Last Days of Jack Sparks earlier this year, Jason Arnopp crept into my Horror Hall of Fame; it’s such an entertaining novel, I can’t recommend it enough! You can read my review here. Therefore, I was naturally thrilled when Jason agreed to write a guest post for the occasion. Read on for more info on Jack Sparks and his Top 5’s of all things horror.
The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.
To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.
It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.
Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.
Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.
First Published March 1st 2016 by Orbit // Available in Hardback, Paperback & Kindle / eBook
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… all about recommendations.
I’m going to tweak this week’s topic a tad and go for books I haven’t read yet but have been recommended to me, whether it’s by fellow bloggers, friends, websites or the ‘if you liked this try this…’ type of thing. As I’m in the midst of Horror October, I will of course be narrowing it down to realm of horror and its close affiliates.
NOS4A2 ~ Joe Hill: I’ve only read Horns by Joe Hill and really enjoyed it. I was recently recommended this by a fellow blogger who said it was one of the scariest books she’s read. That’s pretty high expectations to live up to.
Misery ~ Stephen King: I loved the movie but haven’t read the book, and so many people have told me I have to. I’ve heard a few of the differences already too, so I pretty much know what to expect, which is probably why I haven’t got round to it yet.
Phantoms ~ Dean Koontz: Again, I’ve seen the film and loved it. I imagine the book is better though.
Heart-shaped Box ~ Joe Hill: Another Joe Hill book I’ve been told I must read. This time by my friend who really enjoyed this book.
Battle Royale ~ Koushun Takami: I’m not sure about this one. I’m usually the one recommending this to the Hunger Games fans out there, but I’ve only seen the movie which is amazingly brutal! I’m a fraud, I really should read it. But I’ve been put off by people saying it’s hard going because of the translation.
The Funhouse ~ Dean Koontz: I haven’t actually read any Dean Koontz which is quite shocking really. I’ve been told to read this one because of my fear of clowns. Aren’t my friends so nice.
Live Girls ~ Ray Garton: I have no idea who recommended this book to me, but I do remember that the conversation was about underrated vampire novels.
Anno Dracula ~ Kim Newman: Lots of blogs and people have recommended this to me and I really want to. I just haven’t got round to it yet.
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray ~ Chris Wooding: I was recommended this after enjoying his book Poison. I’d love to read more by this author, and this one sounds great.
Sleepless ~ Lou Morgan : I read Frozen Charlotte and loved it so I’ve been told I must read the other Red Eye titles. I recently bought a 4 book set of them and Sleepless sounds the best.
What books have you been recommended but still haven’t read!?
Join in and leave a comment!
Up Next on Horror October: This Week in Books 12.10.16
Title: The Daemoniac Author: Kat Ross Series: A Dominion Mystery #1 Format: Digital ARC, 334 pages Publication Details: October 12th 2016 by Acorn Genre(s): YA; Mystery Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
Let’s face it. I was interested in this book from the title and cover. Perfect for Horror October, I thought. And then I read the synopsis and I was completely intrigued! What an amazing idea!? I’m still a bit jealous that I didn’t think of it.
Our protagonist is Harry, who is niece to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and younger sister to Myrtle, a highly regarded private detective. Harry, feeling constantly overshadowed by her ‘brilliant’ sister decides to impersonate her when a client comes asking for help and so Harry, with the help of her best friend John jump into her sister’s shoes.
The case of course, turns out to be a little more than they bargained for and leads Harry and John to all manner of dark, dingy, and down-right bizarre places.
I don’t really want to give away much more of the plot – and the synopsis says it better than I could anyway – because it’s one of those if I tell you one thing then I’ll have to explain another and so it goes on until I’ve given it all away!
I felt like The Daemoniac was a love letter to the classic detective/mystery genre. The way the protagonists are led through this story bit by bit, clue by clue, was certainly reminiscent of them, but I loved that it was unique too.
I mean, there’s quite a few teen girl detective books out there (Flavia de Luce, Ruby Redfort, Nancy Drew to name but a few), but this felt different, darker, I guess.
It wasn’t a perfect book for me though, that’s for sure. Whereas I found it entirely entertaining, I also found myself getting lost quite a bit; often being confused as to why/how they ended up somewhere, and how Harry gets away with imitating her sister for so long. I also felt like I needed to know the characters a bit better in order for me to get more invested in the story.
The Daemoniac was however, a truly great read despite all of these things. It flowed nicely, and the pace was quick, and there was always something surprising lurking around the corner.
I thought the way the author used the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes, and the horror of Jack the Ripper together was a great combination, and certainly like nothing I’ve read before.
Title: Haunt Me Author: Liz Kessler Series: N/A Format: Digital ARC, 400 pages Publication Details: October 6th 2016 by Orion Children’s Books Genre(s): YA; Supernatural Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
Joe wakes up from a deep sleep to see his family leave in a removals van. Where they’ve gone, he has no idea. Erin moves house and instantly feels at home in her new room. Even if it appears she isn’t the only one living in it. Bit by bit, Erin and Joe discover that they have somehow found a way across the ultimate divide – life and death. Bound by their backgrounds, a love of poetry and their growing feelings for each other, they are determined to find a way to be together.
Joe’s brother, Olly, never cared much for poetry. He was always too busy being king of the school – but that all changed when Joe died. And when an encounter in the school corridor brings him face to face with Erin, he realises how different things really are – including the kind of girl he falls for.
Two brothers. Two choices. Will Erin’s decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she is lost forever?
I thought this YA ghost story would be a good way to ease myself in to Horror October this year, and I was right.
Haunt Me is centred around Joe and Erin. When we first meet him, Joe is slowly realising that he’s a ghost. He can’t remember how he died but he has this horrible certainty that his brother Olly was responsible.
Erin has had a lot of troubles in the past. She’s always struggled with fitting in, and has been the victim to horrible bullying which led to panic attacks, depression and even with her trying to commit suicide. So in an attempt at a fresh start her family have moved to a whole new place. Into Joe’s house.
Erin loves her new room, and instantly feels happy there so when she sees Joe for the first time she isn’t scared; she’s glad to finally have someone to talk to even if it is a ghost. Or even if he’s just a figment of her imagination.
Erin and Joe have a lot in common. They are both introverts who are creative and love poetry. They both live (or lived as the case may be for Joe) in the shadow of happy-go-lucky siblings, and they fall for each other hard. But as Erin discovers, falling in love with a ghost is pretty complicated.
There was so much about Haunt Me that I should have hated. I should have hated the multiple narration. I should have hated the instalove. I should have hated the love triangle. But I couldn’t bring myself to. It was just so damn cute!
I was hoping it would be a bit darker, considering I’m reviewing this as part of my Horror October month, but at least it’s a good book for those who like their horror a lot more cutesy than gory.
What I really did dislike about the book though, was that everything was so easy. And everyone was so willing to believe in ghosts. Erin’s mum was sure there was a ghost and her dad didn’t question it. They get a Medium in to exorcise Joe from the house and it works. The Medium tells Erin that he might be banished to his next most familiar place and she just finds him there. You know… too easy!?
However, Haunt Me was not only a quick read that flowed nicely, it explored teen depression and anxiety in a clever way and for that I think it should be applauded.