Lazy Saturday Review: Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick #HO17 #MiniBookReview

icon7

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!

killingthedeadTitle: 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.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

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.

Review

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.

horroctrating-3

Up Next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror: Cruel Summer

Advertisements

30 Days of Horror #1: The Last Days of Jack Sparks #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 3o Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book for each day until we reach Halloween!

I thought I would kick off proceedings with my favourite horror read from 2016, the brilliant The Last Days of Jack Sparks. It was such a fun, fast-paced read and so perfectly darkly comic.

jacksparks

Paperback, 336 pages

Published March 3rd 2016 by Orbit

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.

Goodreads // Review // Guest Post by Jason Arnopp

bookdepo

Up Next on Horror Oct:

Flash Fiction Battle: Vote for your favourite horror story prompt

 

 

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay #BookReview #Magic

a7Title: 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. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

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?

Review

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.

unicorn rating 2

 

 

#HorrorOctober The Finale: The Top 5 of Everything With Jason Arnopp #HappyHalloween

horroroctofficial2016

Happy Halloween!

 

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

jacksparks

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

Amazon // Goodreads

The Top 5 of Everything with Jason Arnopp

[In no particular order]

Top 5 Films that got you into Horror

 

1. Salem’s Lot (1979) Couldn’t sleep with the curtains open for years after that!

2. Poltergeist (1982) First saw this at an equally young friend’s house, and his mum physically blocked our view of the TV when the guy ripped his own face off!

3. The Evil Dead (1981) My favourite horror movie in terms of sheer rewatchability

4. The Thing (1982) My favourite horror in terms of slowburn tension

5. Hammer House Of Horror (1980) Not a film but a Brit TV show, which gave a young me some influential chills

 

Top 5 Books that made you want to write

1. Doctor Who: Terror Of The Autons by Terrance Dicks – I liked all the Target novels, but this one always stood out. Autons and the Nestene consciousness are very creepy.

2. Stephen King On Writing – a great non-fiction book. Part memoir, part kick up the ass for scribblers.

3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – one of my favourite authors. Such great unique style and ideas. Brave as hell too, for the way he trains an unflinching eye on the human condition.

4. House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski – insanely ambitious and just all-round insane!

5. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – basically Doctor Who, in terms of the central concept of a tree with different worlds arriving at the very top of it.

 

Top 5 things you’re scared of

 

1. Death

2. Debilitating illness

3. Russia having a nuclear missile called Satan 2

4. The prospect of Donald Trump becoming president of America

5. People with no empathy

Top 5 things you’ve worked on

 

1. The Last Days Of Jack Sparks (Orbit Books)

2. Beast In The Basement (Retribution Books)

3. A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home (Retribution Books)

4. Auto Rewind (Retribution Books)

5. American Hoarder (Retribution Books)

 

Top 5 things that inspired Jack Sparks

 

1. The amount of certainty displayed on social media

2. The lack of empathy displayed on social media

3. The amount of ego displayed online in general

4. Non-fiction books in which the author goes on some kind of egotistical quest

5. Found footage movies

 

Top 5 things you’d want to survive a zombie apocalypse

 

1. Me

2. My loved ones

3. Seabirds

4. Animals in general

5. Anyone likely to buy my books in a post-apocalyptic age

 

Top 5 things you’d still like to accomplish

 

1. Write lots more novels

2. Write more movies

3. Become vegan instead of just vegetarian

4. Record a thrash metal album

5. Die before zombie apocalypse commences

 

Top 5 things that make a good horror story

 

1. The unknown

2. Total unpredictability

3. Some kind of depth, i.e. ultimately being about something

4. Not having a scene in which the heroes visit a library and discover everything there is to know about the ghostly antagonist that’s terrified them and us for the first two acts.

5. People getting possessed and stuff

Top 5 things you’d like to set on fire

burning_microwave1

1. My microwave, because it just stopped working yesterday

2. Booking.com’s slogan ‘Booking dot com? Booking dot YEAH’

3. People who get their kicks from harming animals

4. All reality survival shows that pretend contestants have to hunt animals to survive

5. The cold virus. Is it even possible to set fire to a virus? I don’t know, but I’m willing to try

 

Top 5 Movies in the Halloween Franchise

1. Halloween – obviously, iconic stuff

2. Halloween II – a pleasingly mean-spirited sequel

3. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch – it’s the only one without Michael Myers, but it’s one of the best!

4. Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers – the sixth film introduced an occult angle, which I really like

5. Halloween: H20 – Jamie Lee Curtis returns! A great, concise sequel with an awesome showdown. It really should have been the last Halloween movie.

About the Author

Jason+Arnopp+photo+-+credit+Amy+Terry%2c+Take+Aim+Photography.jpg

Jason Arnopp is a British author and scriptwriter. His background is in journalism: he has worked on titles such as Heat, Q, The Word, Kerrang!, SFX and Doctor Who Magazine.

He has written comedy for Radio 4 and official tie-in fiction for Doctor Who and Friday The 13th.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is the first novel which is entirely Jason’s own fault (though some readers will blame Jack himself).

Website // Twitter // Facebook

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in Horror October 2016. It really does get bigger and better with every passing year. I’m not sure how I’m going to top it next year…

Top Ten Tuesday:Unread yet highly recommended horror books #TTT #HorrorOctober

horroroctofficial2016

icon4-ttt

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

The Daemoniac by Kat Ross #HorrorOctober #BookReview

horroroctofficial2016

 

a4Title: 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. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

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?

Review

 

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. 

 

horroctrating-3

 

 

 

 

Haunt Me by Liz Kessler #HorrorOctober #BookReview

horroroctofficial2016

hauntme

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. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

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?

Review

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.

horroctrating-3

The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick #BookReview

foreshadowingTitle: The Foreshadowing
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 305 pages
Publication Details: July 2005 by Orion
Genre(s): YA; Supernatural; Historical
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

It is 1915 and the First World War has only just begun.

17 year old Sasha is a well-to-do, sheltered-English girl. Just as her brother Thomas longs to be a doctor, she wants to nurse, yet girls of her class don’t do that kind of work. But as the war begins and the hospitals fill with young soldiers, she gets a chance to help. But working in the hospital confirms what Sasha has suspected–she can see when someone is going to die. Her premonitions show her the brutal horrors on the battlefields of the Somme, and the faces of the soldiers who will die. And one of them is her brother Thomas.

Pretending to be a real nurse, Sasha goes behind the front lines searching for Thomas, risking her own life as she races to find him, and somehow prevent his death.

Review

I read The Foreshadowing quite a while ago now (I’m really behind on non-ARC reviews), but it’s still quite vivid in my mind, such is the command of Marcus Sedgwick. 

I had this book sitting on my physical TBR shelf for ages, just waiting for the right time, and after a string of blahhhh reads I finally picked it up. And did Sedgwick let me down? No of course not, he rarely does!

The Foreshadowing is a harrowing tale of plucky Sasha who is gifted (or cursed) with premonitions of people’s deaths. Her parents and brothers don’t believe her, or more to the point – don’t want to believe her because her gift terrifies them, and in turn they make her life unnecessarily difficult and isolated, as well as perpetually plagued by these horrific visions. 

All Sasha wants to do is help people. She wants to be a nurse, but her father believes young ladies of her stature should marry, not work. But when the war begins, things start to change. Sasha convinces her father to let her volunteer at the hospital. It is here her premonitions really start to haunt her and it’s only a matter of time before she sees her brother’s death and realises that she’s the only one who can save him. 

This book was everything I’ve come to expect from Marcus Sedgwick. It is beautifully written, full of mystery and a sprinkle of magic, with characters so well developed you want to take a bullet for them. 

The Foreshadowing is a book you’ll get emotionally invested in with a protagonist who relentlessly tries to right the wrongs of war and oppression. 

unicorn rating 4

The Foreshadowing is available now in paperback, hardback and digital

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp #BookReview #Horror

jacksparks

Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Author: Jason Arnopp
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: July 28th 2016 by Orbit (first published March 3rd)
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

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.
.

Review

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a book of many things. It’s part horror, part mystery, part thriller, and it’s hilarious in a deliciously, dark manner. 

Jack Sparks is a famous (or perhaps more infamous than anything) journalist. His ego is as huge as his reputation and he’s the perfect anti-hero.

Jack has a lot of crazed followers but even more haters. When he announces on Twitter that his new book will be ‘Jack Sparks on the Supernatural’, the reaction goes viral. His fellow atheists and believers in science are outraged…because what does a devout atheist have to say about something so ridiculous? And the believers out there are outraged because who is he to investigate something he can’t even let himself believe. 

Of course, being an egotistical glory-hunter and fame-seeker, this only spurs Jack on. His first big mistake is attending an exorcism in the middle of which he breaks into laughter. Then a mysterious video appears on his own YouTube channel which he has no idea how it got there. The video is hella eerie and appears to show a genuine, very pissed off ghost. This time Jack can’t ignore it, but investigating it will be his ultimate downfall.

I absolutely loved this book. Jack reminded me a lot of Mystery Man from Colin Bateman’s novels of the same name. He is a lovable rogue. He is completely hopeless but you can’t help but root for him. It made me laugh how he rationalised everything he saw. No matter how bad the ghost/poltergeist/possession -whatever you want to call it- got, he always had an answer. But deep down, Jack Sparks knows differently. 

I’m loathed to give more of the plot away as I don’t want to ruin it, but believe me when I say that Jack Sparks… is about a lot more than an atheist exposing supernatural phenomenon.

For the most part, I found this book riveting. It made me LOL in one breath and recoil from creepiness in the next. I also adored the relationship between Jack and his room-mate Bex, and finally realising how unreliable Jack is as a narrator. 

Most of all, I think the way this story was written is genius. The majority of it is made up of Jack’s manuscript which he was typing as he went, up to moments before he died. It even includes notes to his editor which are also hilarious. He’s such a dick! 😉

The rest, which is where we can compare ‘truths’ is made up of Jack’s brother’s commentary, email exchanges and Jack’s confession at the end. This style had the potential to go so wrong, and I’ve hated the use of emails and texts in books before, but here I thought it extremely clever.

I originally rated this as 4/5, but in writing this review I can’t think of one negative thing to say about it. So have ALL THE UNICORNS, JACK SPARKS. 

unicorn rating

Fellside by M.R Carey #BookReview #Horror

icon7

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!

 

fellsideTitle: Fellside
Author: M.R Carey
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 496 pages
Publication Details: April 5th 2016 by Orbit
Genre(s): Horror (Supernatural); Mystery
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to end up. But it’s where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It’s a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

Will she listen?

Review

Not only did I really enjoy The Girl With All the Gifts, but Mike Carey visited the prison I work in to help us celebrate World Book Night so I was hoping I would LOVE this book. Unfortunately, I can’t quite say that, but I definitely didn’t hate it!

Fellside started off great. Jess is a heroin addict who burnt down her flat, killing a little boy in the process and in turn is sent to Fellside prison. The prison – a scary enough prospect as it is – also appears to be haunted, and the little boy Alex is never far from Jess’ side. 

This was one of those books that I had no idea where it was going – which I love. It never felt like it was just about Jess’ time in prison, or about it being haunted, it was something different altogether. But as exciting as that was, I felt I was being constantly let down by the direction it took.

I loved the eerie parts of the story, such as Alex taking Jess through the other prisoner’s dreams; the dreamscape thing on the whole was a really interesting concept and described perfectly by Carey.

But then there was this whole prison drug dealing storyline with corrupt officers and scared doctors working with the prisoners for profit or sex and it just bored me. I don’t know if it’s because I work in a prison (and I’m sure to some extent these things do go on), but I didn’t find it interesting at all and didn’t think the story needed it. 

Also, Carey refers to prison officers as guards throughout which put me off slightly. I don’t know anywhere in the UK that uses that term. 

Overall, I think my main problem with this is that I didn’t like any of the characters. I did grow to like Jess more as it went on but it was too little too late.

I did enjoy the mystery though, and that’s what kept me reading. I needed to know who Alex was and whether Jess would get her appeal. 

I feel like Carey is turning into a new Stephen King for me. I enjoy his books a lot but something always lets them down, usually the ending. The same can be said here. I felt like the book should have ended much earlier than it did. No stone was left unturned, it just went on and on until everything was wrapped up a little too perfectly. I’m pretty sure I felt the same about TGWATG too. 

That said, I’m still really interested to see what he comes up with next, and it was lovely to meet him. I even got him to sign my copy. 🙂

unicorn rating 3

Fellside is available now in hardback, or paperback from the 25th August 2016