When you look in an empty pool, you don’t usually expect to see a body at the bottom but in a a small town in eastern Pennsylvania called Pikesville one summer, that is exactly what happens. Pikesville is a quaint community that is faced with the disappearance of a local teenager Jenna Hayes and the town is turned upside down. When Jenna is found brutally murdered at the bottom of the town’s abandoned pool, the town is devastated, but to Sarah Moore, Jenna was just a girl whose name she heard around sometimes, in some circles. What does this have to do with her? She is dealing with her own issues, anyway. But when Sarah’s sister, Chloe, goes missing, Sarah must uncover a murderer before he gets to her, too, or before it’s too late.
Sarah and Chloe are sisters, both have eating disorders and they support each other through them. Sarah starves and Chloe binges and purges. They attend the funeral of Jenna, a friend of Chloe’s, but end up having a row on the way home. So, Chloe goes for a drive to clear her head. She doesn’t come home.
The police arrived as they had found her abandoned car. Chloe has disappeared.
As Sarah feels the police are not working hard enough on the case, she begins her own investigation……..
Forgotten Toys is compelling from the first page. As Sarah and Chloe have been so well developed from the start, you worry with and for them, especially Sarah as she searches for her sister.
With its clever plot, great characters, twist and turns, this atmospheric thriller is a true page turner.
Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of Forgotten Toys.
Ashley Laino has currently resides in Bangor, Pennsylvania with her husband and two adorable cats. Her other works include the psychological thriller “Forgotten Toys.” When she is not writing, she enjoys running, reading, and watching weird documentaries on Netflix.
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
Set in 1893, in the town of New Salem,
Women are fighting for the right to vote and suffragist rallies are being arranged.
Three sisters, Juniper, Agnes and Beatrice find themselves meeting up in New Salem. Drawn together after many years apart. Here they see a dark tower appear with strange symbols on the door. It seems witching has disappeared after all.
The Once and Future Witches is a feminist tale about the fight for equality, it’s also about diversity, acceptance and family all set in a marvellously witching world. Part historical fiction and part fantasy, with great characters and a clever, witchy plot. Compelling from start to finish.
Thank you to Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The Once And Future Witches.
A thrillingly dark novel that shows the rare magic that can happen when two dazzlingly original imaginations come together to make a book. Bestselling author Cornelia Funke has written a novel inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s captivating 2006 film. Beautiful, haunting, visceral, gutsy, it’s a vastly inventive, grown-up modern fairytale, pulsing with power of stories to shape lives, hearts and minds.
Ofelia has been sent to stay with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. For him, the dark and eerie forest in which they live is a cage, serving only to hide resistance fighters in the drawn-out and bloody civil war – those he has made it his aim to destroy.
But with her mother bedridden, Ofelia is left unchecked and becomes enchanted by their magical home. Obsessed with fairytales, she is drawn deeper and deeper into a mythical world which is both cruel and kind, benign and deadly. For Ofelia, too, must endure violence if she is to complete the tasks that will win her place at the centre of the labyrinth: the palace of the Faun…
Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun is a fairy tale for adults. It’s a dark, gothic fantasy that draws you into a magical world.
Here, Ophelia discovers the labyrinth and fairies help and support her as she meets Pan himself. He tells her a secret, her birthright that she must fight to reclaim….
Full of war, magic and marvellously dark beasts and monsters as Ophelia begins her fight. Beautifully written, almost poetic at times, with a creepy atmosphere throughout. A perfect Halloween read.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for for an eARC of Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of The Faun.
None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.
Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.
Strangers is the story of three lonely and alone people, Gareth, Alice and Ursula. It starts with these three strangers standing over a dead body, the tale then begins with flashbacks to each of their lives and how they have ended up here.
But, how are the disappearances of young men in the Bristol area linked to these three strangers?
This is a truly compelling tale beautifully narrated by Clare Corbett who brings each character to life, she captures the atmosphere so well you really get caught up in the story. With its clever, twisty plot to keep you guessing this is an exciting and tension packed read.
Thank you to Ellie at Avon books for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of the Strangers audiobook.
Available from Audible.co.uk and is 9hours and 30mins long.
A fast-paced thriller set on the streets of a London rife with undercover magic.
Abras, as they are known, can harness these illegal powers, but for con-artist Amanda Coleman – whose father was a powerful and abusive practitioner – magic is anathema.
When her criminal crew decide to hire an Abra to help with their heists, they don’t expect to raise a demon, or to quickly lose control of it. Now Coleman and her crew must travel across Siberia to a remote stone circle in order to kill this murderous creature, who has destroyed everything they hold dear.
But as the demon’s power grows, a battle of wills commences. Coleman must fight to survive, facing demons both in chains and within herself.
This dark and chilling thriller is perfect for fans of Lauren Beukes and James Oswald.
The End Of The Line is a mix of crime fiction and fantasy, with plenty of action and magic.
There are quite a few characters and the timeline jumps between the past and present as the story unfolds. Mainly set in a small train carriage, a demon had been summoned and somehow escapes only to go on a rampage, so the story is around their travels to Russia to find it.
This has a clever plot, but I found it quite confusing, especially the first half, as the story gradually comes together. It has a tense, almost claustrophobic atmosphere overall and is an entertaining read.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC of The End Of The Line.
Can psychologist Pippa Durrant unmask a killer before she becomes the next victim?
After a seemingly senseless murder at a garden center, the police turn to human lie detector, Pippa Durrant for help. Working alongside handsome detective Joe Swain, Pippa starts digging for the truth. But the Gower family, owners of the garden center, have deadly secrets – secrets they want to keep buried.
After a second body is found, it’s clear that the murderer is using flowers as a sinister calling card. And when Pippa receives a black rose, there’s no mistaking who will be the next victim…
In a fast-paced investigation that takes her to Holland and back to England, Pippa soon realises that the gentle world of flowers is anything but! Using her unique skills in spotting lies and deceit, can she weed out the truth before it’s too late?
Fatal Flowers is the second standalone novel in the Dr Pippa Durrant Mystery Series. If you like mysteries with compelling twists, then you’ll love Miranda Rijks’ tantalizing crime novel.
Fatal Flowers is #2 in the Dr Pippa Durrant series, but it can also be read as a stand alone.
After a brutal murder in a garden centre, where a flower is left with the body, the police are struggling. So, they call in Dr Pippa Durrant. Working with Detective Swain the investigation really begins.
They find the owners of the garden centre, the Gower family, have many secrets they want kept hidden.
As the body count rises, Pippa receives a black rose…..is she next on the killers list? They are obviously getting close.
This is a well paced murder mystery with a clever, interesting plot and the great characters that keeps you guessing. A thoroughly engaging and entertaining read.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC of Fatal Flowers.
THE MUST-READ DEBUT NOVEL OF 2019. Sharp, compulsive and darkly funny, this is an unforgettable novel about a world within touching distance of our own.
Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility economy – where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules.
Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?
A novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power.
In The Farm, young women are paid to be surrogate mothers for the wealthy. These women get the best of everything to keep the baby healthy, paying parents to be…..regardless of what the mother herself wants.
This is a tale of power and privilege, of the exploitation of immigrants and racism.
A dystopian world that feels all too close to the present day. I found this to be a compelling and thought provoking read.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC of The Farm.
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF YOU WERE GONE
‘THE TENTH IN THE TERRIFIC DAVID RAKER SERIES – BLISS!’ LEE CHILD
One night, the residents of Black Gale gather for a dinner party. As the only nine people living there, they’ve become close friends as well as neighbours.
They eat, drink and laugh. They play games and take photographs. But those photographs will be the last record of any of them.
Because by the next morning, the whole village has vanished.
With no bodies, no evidence and no clues, the mystery of what happened at Black Gale remains unsolved two and a half years on. But then the families of the missing turn to investigator David Raker – and their obsession becomes his.
What secrets were the neighbours keeping from their families – and from each other?
Were they really everything they seemed to be?
And is Raker looking for nine missing people – or nine dead bodies?
#10 in the David Raker series. It can be read as a stand-alone. I hadn’t read any of the previous novels in this series and that’s something I am now going to rectify.
No One Home is a crime thriller. David Raker is an investigator who specialises in missing person cases. He is approached by some of the relatives of nine people who had gone missing from the same village a couple of years previously. All nine just disappeared one night.
There is also a second story run set 30 years ago, in the US, Jo is a member of the LA Sheriff’s Department and in hunting a murderer……gradually it becomes clear these cases are connected.
This is so well written with a superbly twisty plot and a great, likeable main character. With an ending that will leave you gasping this is a compelling and utterly engrossing read.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC of No One Home.
On a windswept moor, an old house guards its secrets… The new standalone horror novel from ‘a true master of horror.’
All Hallows Hall is a rambling Tudor mansion on the edge of the bleak and misty Dartmoor. It is not a place many would choose to live. Yet the former Governer of Dartmoor Prison did just that. Now he’s dead, and his children – long estranged – are set to inherit his estate.
But when the dead man’s family come to stay, the atmosphere of the moors seems to drift into every room. Floorboards creak, secret passageways echo, and wind whistles in the house’s famous priest hole. And then, on the same morning the family decide to leave All Hallows Hall and never come back, their young son Timmy disappears – from inside the house.
Does evil linger in the walls? Or is evil only ever found inside the minds of men?
In All Hallows Hall on Dartmoor, the owner and ex governor of Dartmoor Prison is found murdered.
His family arrive at the Hall for the reading of his will. Then 5 year old Tommy goes missing. So, they end up staying at the Hall while the search for the young boy is underway.
But, at night the whispers start..
This is classic supernatural horror. A creepy house on the moors, demons, witches, exorcisms and evil it has it all. What’s not to love ? Well written, atmospheric and thoroughly entertaining.
Thank you to Vicky at Head Of Zeus and for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The House Of A Hundred Whispers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Graham Masterton is mainly recognized for his horror novels but he has also been a prolific writer of thrillers, disaster novels and historical epics, as well as one of the world’s most influential series of sex instruction books. He became a newspaper reporter at the age of 17 and was appointed editor of Penthouse magazine at only 24. His first horror novel The Manitou was filmed with Tony Curtis playing the lead, and three of his short horror stories were filmed by Tony Scott for The Hunger TV series. Ten years ago Graham turned his hand to crime novels and White Bones, set in Ireland, was a Kindle phenomenon, selling over 100,000 copies in a month. This has been followed by ten more bestselling crime novels featuring Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire, the latest of which is The Last Drop of Blood. In 2019 Graham was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association. The Prix Graham Masterton for the best horror fiction in French has been awarded annually for the past ten years, and four years ago he established an annual award for short stories written by inmates in Polish prisons, Nagroda Grahama Mastertona “W Więzieniu Pisane.” He is currently working on new horror and crime novels.
How can a simple job interview end in complete carnage?
When Mandy Paige seeks Kent Fisher’s help to find the mother who abandoned her as a baby, he has no idea of the mayhem his investigation will unleash. With only a photograph of a woman he once knew, he discovers she left her office one Friday afternoon twenty years ago and never returned.
Did Helen Cassidy escape an abusive husband or was she abducted and murdered?
People connected to Helen begin to die in mysterious circumstances. An old foe returns, leaving cryptic messages on the windscreen of Kent’s car. He seems to know Kent’s every move, hounding and taunting the sleuth, attacking those who can help him solve the mystery.
When the main suspect dies, Kent’s investigation lies in tatters – until he realises he’s not the one pursuing the killer. The killer’s pursuing him.
No Love Lost is #6 in the Kent Fisher series, it can also be read as a stand-alone.
Kent is an environmental health officer, an animal sanctuary owner and amateur detective. His personal life is an integral part of the stories and in this one, he’s single again and something from his past back has come to bite him.
He begins investigating an old mystery and what he finds has repercussions for many people’s lives. The body count begins to rise. Can he solve this mystery without any more deaths?
Kent is a marvellously complex, likeable character with an engaging humour and slight eccentricity about him. The plot has twists, turns and some shocks and heartbreaking moments too. It really has it all. Such a brilliant series, so well written it is completely engrossing from start to finish.
Thank you to the author, Robert Crouch for the opportunity to be part of this book launch, for the promotional material and an eARC of No Love Lost. This is my honest and unbiased review review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Crouch is the author of the Kent Fisher murder mystery series. Set in today’s world, the books pay homage to the traditional murder mystery and classic whodunit.
Based on his career as an environmental health officer, Kent Fisher is a different kind of detective, described as ‘unique in crime fiction’ by one reviewer.
Having left environmental health, Robert now writes full time from his home on the East Sussex coast. He loves walking on the South Downs with his wife, Carol, and their Westie, Harvey, reading crime fiction and photography.
There are many ways to die. Plague is just one of them.
Work on a London tube line is halted by the discovery of an ancient plague pit and, within it, a very recent corpse. A day later another body is found, killed in the same way, also in a plague pit. This victim is linked to the Palace of Westminster, where rumours swirl around the Prime Minister and his rivals.
As the number of deaths climbs, the media stokes fear. Government assurances are disbelieved. Everyone feels threatened. This has to be resolved and fast.
The Westminster connection enables Detective Inspector Andrew Rowlands, working alone on a series of rapes and murders of vulnerable young people in central London, to finally persuade his superiors that there is a pattern. He is assigned to lead the case. Cassandra Fortune, a disgraced civil servant, is given the uncomfortable task of investigating the investigation, while joining forces with Rowlands to find the killers before Parliament rises for recess.
Together they navigate the arcane world of the Palace of Westminster as the body count grows. But someone is leaking important details about the case to the press and the media ratchets up the pressure. Misinformation and malice online feeds distrust and panic and the Black Death begins to stalk the streets of London once again.
Meanwhile the commercial and political world focuses on the launch of a huge government Thames-side building programme worth billions. Powerful forces, in Parliament and the City, are competing for its spoils. How, if at all, does this link with the killings? Drawn into the melee, Cassandra Fortune finds herself the object of the attentions of one of the major players, wealthy City broker, Lawrence Delahaye. The attraction is mutual. Fortune and Rowlands discover a shadowy underground network of influence and power as they race against the clock to prevent the death of more innocents and the destruction of the Mother of Parliaments itself. Cassandra will be forced to make a terrible decision as she faces ruin. Time is running out and it’s not clear what, or who, is going to survive.
Plague is part Murder mystery and part political thriller, all set in and around the Palace of Westminster.
Cassie, an ex-employee of GCHQ is now working in the office of the Deputy Prime Minister. She witnesses the discovery of the body of a murder victim when the wall of an old plague pit collapses.
The body is linked to a previous victim found in a similar location.
Cassie works with Detective Andrew Rowlands to find the killer before anymore deaths.
As they investigate, they find powerful people in parliament may be involved.
The media is causing the public to panic as there is mention of plague being back in London, but who is feeding all the misinformation to the press?
With the politics of politics in parliament, big business involvement and murder ‘events’ this is a well plotted, twisty political thriller with some shocks along the way. Julie Anderson clearly knows her way around Westminster, the history of London and it’s lost or hidden rivers, all of which makes this a gripping and entertaining read.
Thank you to Damppebbles Blog Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of Plague. This is my honest and unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Anderson was a Senior Civil Servant in Westminster and Whitehall for many years, including at the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, the Inland Revenue and Treasury Solicitors. Earlier publications include historical adventure novels and short stories. She is Chair of Trustees of Clapham Writers, organisers of the Clapham Book Festival, and curates events across London. Find her at https://www.jandmanderson.com
Today I am sharing an extract from Whispers in the Mist by Darcy Coates…but first a little about the book….
Clare and Dorran may still be alive against all odds, but relief is only temporary. Dorran is sick, and rapidly worsening. Clare fears the only way to save him lies in the mysterious Evandale Research Station, supposedly one of the few remaining human refuges. But the station is three days’ journey away, and Clare isn’t certain their small group can endure that long.
Because the danger they’re facing comes not only from the ravenous hollow ones… but from each other.
This terrible new world has left scars, and only some of them are physical. As Clare fights to protect the most precious people in her life, she begins to realize a horrible truth: Not everyone can be saved. And sometimes the worst monsters wear a human smile..
and here is the extract…
Clare clung to her seat as the minibus rocked through the city. Abandoned cars littered the streets like the fallen on a battlefield. A path had been carved through them using brute force, but it was irregular, weaving in sharp angles and often forcing them to rise onto the curb.
Every time the bus jolted over some obstacle, Dorran’s shoulder bumped hers. Clare felt pure elation rush through her. They had gotten out of Helexis Tower and away from the scientist who had created the thanites that destroyed humanity. Dorran was with her. Dorran was safe.
She looked up at him, grinning. He tried to return the expression. Clare’s heart sank.
They might be free, but Dorran hadn’t escaped the tower unscathed. Even though he matched her smile, it was obvious that it took him effort. He braced one hand on the seat ahead to absorb the shocks. The fingers trembled. His skin was ashen, his dark eyes had lost their familiar brightness, and every jostle seemed to drain more of his strength. Black hair, slightly too long, was damp with sweat.
He needs rest. A few days of good food and sleep, and he’ll start to heal. She wanted to believe the idea. She was desperate to. It seemed too cruel to escape the tower—to escape Ezra and his experiment—only to lose Dorran.
She took his free hand and pressed it gently. He threaded his fingers between hers. His thumb grazed over the ring he’d given her.
Hold on a little longer, Dorran. I’ll do whatever it takes to make this right.
Two rows ahead of then, Beth sat in the driver’s seat, navigating the congested roads. It felt like a dream. Clare had clung to hope for her sister longer than any rational part of her could justify. She had travelled across the country only to lose her again. To find Beth by what seemed like pure coincidence was more good luck than Clare dared trust in. But she was there, within touching distance, alive and real.
Clare swallowed, trying to find her voice. “Beth—”
“Not now,” she barked, her eyes fixed on the path ahead as the minibus screeched around a tight bend.
Ten years her senior, Beth had become a surrogate mother to Clare after their father left and their mother passed away. Beth had taken her to school programs, swimming lessons, and camps, and watched her like a hawk the entire time. There had been doctor’s visits over mild
coughs. No swimming in pools unless both Beth and a lifeguard were present. No sleepovers unless Beth empirically trusted the families.
The old Beth, naturally cautious, had never sped in her life. She’d once told Clare,
driving is one of the most dangerous things a person can do, second only to eating undercooked meat.
But the new world had changed Beth. Even with the road choked, she was over the speed limit. The minibus scraped half the cars it passed. She drove aggressively, but efficiently. The chattering screams from the hollow ones pursuing them were already fading.
That wasn’t the only part of Beth that had changed. Her fine, wavy blonde hair had grown out a little since Clare had last seen her, and grazed over her shoulders. Her face looked harder. Leaner. Fresh scars marked her delicate features.
Clare leaned forward to try to see her sister more clearly. If Beth was aware of the scrutiny, she didn’t acknowledge it. They rose onto another curb and clipped a light post, and Clare dropped back into her seat to avoid being rattled any more than she already was.
The scars were fresh. One ran across Beth’s nose, starting near her eye and arcing down onto her cheek. Another mottled patch stood just above her temple. Three small marks showed where something had sliced into her jaw.
They were recent, but already sealed over. Clare knew the thanites would be responsible for that. Airborne, nano-particle-sized machines designed to heal the human body, but gone terribly, horrifically wrong. Like Clare, Beth would have been spared a full dose. She’d had her bunker, an airtight fortress that had saved her from being converted into one of the twisted, mindless creatures during the hours the thanites had been active.
The bunker would have limited Beth’s exposure to the thanites, but not eliminated them entirely. And now the tiny machines were inhabiting her body, healing her injuries. It was one of the reasons Clare had survived so long. Poison, bloodloss, and infection were all being repaired by the same creations that had grown out of control and mutated most of humanity.
Beth wrenched the wheel to navigate a tight angle. Clare hit Dorran’s side, and he hit the window. The bus rose onto one side of wheels, and for a moment, Clare was afraid they were about to tip. Then the bus lurched back down, sending shockwaves through them as it reconnected with the road.
This reckless, energetic Beth was a sharp contrast to the woman Clare knew. Her
wardrobe had changed, too. All black swaddled her from the scarf around her neck to her boots. If she wore a mask, there wouldn’t be a scrap of skin visible. Covering skin was a defence against the hollows, but it still left Clare disconcerted. She’d never seen Beth wear black before. It was as though all of Beth’s soft sides had been sharpened into angles.
Clare supposed it was hard to stay static in the new world. She wondered how much she had changed in the past weeks.
The minibus’s windows had been covered with plyboard. Narrow gaps existed around the boards’ edges. When Clare was close to them, she could see the businesses and vehicles they passed. She caught sight of movement inside many of the cars. Hollows, trapped, pressed their hands against the closed windows and hissed in frustration. Each nightmarish face was only visible for a split second, but the images haunted Clare. Deformed mouths. Missing teeth. Bulging eyes. Sparse hair.
She tried to imagine what their lives would have been like before the stillness. People on their way to their jobs, parents dropping their children off at daycare, an elderly couple driving to an early-morning breakfast date. Those were the monsters that now surrounded them.
Stop. Focus on what’s good. Because there’s a lot of good to be found today.
Dorran was safe. Hurt, but still alive. Clare tightened her hand around his. Against all odds, they had found Beth. Or, rather, Beth had found them. She’d gotten them out of Helexis Tower. And now they were leaving the city. The high-rise buildings were being replaced by homes and wider roads as they entered the outer suburbs. The country wasn’t far off.
The tyres screeched as Beth pulled off the road. It wasn’t the first time she’d taken a shortcut across a parking lot, but this time, she didn’t floor the accelerator. She let the minibus rock to a halt, pulled the handbrake, and jumped out of her driver’s seat.
“What the hell were you doing in the city?” She stood in the aisle, her face made of sharp angles and her eyes doused with fire. Then the expression softened, her jaw unclenching and her eyebrows rising, and she reached towards Clare. “Thank goodness you’re okay.”
Clare crossed to her in two quick steps. Beth’s hug was fierce as she was half cried, half laughed into Clare’s wet hair.
“I didn’t think I’d get to see you again,” Clare managed.
“Neither did I.” Beth leaned back far enough to see Clare’s face and used her fingertips to brush wet hair off her cheek. “You’re not hurt, are you?”
“I’m not, but—”
Clare turned to look at Dorran. He stood a few steps behind them, one hand braced on the back of a chair for support, watching cautiously. He was trying not to look intimidating, Clare knew, but that was hard to avoid when his head grazed the ceiling.
Beth’s eyes fixed on Dorran. The hand on Clare’s shoulder tightened a fraction. “This is the man you’ve been staying with?”
“Yes.” Clare reached towards him. “I’m really glad you get to meet him. Dorran, this is Beth. Beth, Dorran.”
He dipped his head in a respectful nod, his eyes not quite meeting hers and his voice subdued. “A pleasure.”
“Mm.” Beth’s lips pressed into a tight line as her eyes ran over him, from his black hair, to his broad shoulders, across the muddied lab coat he’d borrowed from Ezra, down to the boots. Clare wished she would be more subtle about it.
“He figured out how to repair my car.” Clare spoke too fast as she tried to soften some of Beth’s hostility. “I’d never have gotten this far without him—”
“Outside,” Beth said, abruptly, and tugged on her arm.
“Come on. We’ll talk outside.”
Clare stared at the windshield. Light reflected off the water flowing over the surface. “It’s
“You’re already drenched.” Beth hit a button and the door hissed open, letting the steady
drum of rain inside, along with the faint scent of smoke, oil, and hollows. “Come on. I want to talk in private.”
Clare sent Dorran an apologetic glance as she was dragged out of the bus. He looked conflicted, one hand reaching towards her, and Clare mouthed don’t worry. Then the door creaked closed behind her, sealing him inside the bus.
Beth kept her hold on Clare’s arm as she dragged her away from the vehicle. The rain, vicious in its intensity at Helexis Tower, had reduced to a drizzle in the outer suburbs.
Clare blinked at the space, surprised. Beth had stopped the minibus in the centre of a shopping mall’s parking lot. They were well-lit as gigantic bulbs washed the area with cold white light. Clare didn’t know how the lights could still be running four weeks into the stillness. Even
if the centre had a generator—and she guessed it must have for emergencies—it would need to be refuelled. The area seemed deserted except for their vehicle.
“Beth?” Clare was already wet from the run out of Helexis tower, but the new wash of rain drained another layer of warmth. Her sneakers sank into a puddle two inches deep and she shivered. Beth stopped a dozen paces away from the bus, facing the deserted shopping mall, arms crossed. Clare hunched her shoulders. “Is everything okay?”
Beth dragged her hands over her hair, plastering it back, and then turned towards Clare. “I don’t like the way he looks.”
She’d been expecting wariness towards Dorran. “He’s a good man. He’s kind, and patient, and he saved my life. Multiple times. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I owe him.”
Beth paced across the asphalt, arms folded, expression tense. When she turned back to Clare there was fresh suspicion in her eyes. “He looks sick.”
“He…” She could tell Beth exactly what had happened: about how Dorran had been coerced into becoming part of Ezra’s experiment to destroy the thanites, and how they didn’t know what the consequences might be. But the way Beth was talking about Dorran—like he was an unwanted liability—made Clare swallow the story. She couldn’t afford to give Beth any more reasons to mistrust him. Instead, she opted for a half-truth. “It’s been a weird couple of days. He didn’t sleep last night.”
“Uh-huh.” Beth’s eyes narrowed in the way they did when she was sceptical. Her jaw worked as she stared towards the bus, chewing something over. Then she took a deep breath. “We’ll drop him off with some other survivors then get back on the road.”
“What?” Clare blinked water out of her eyes.
“Don’t worry. I know some groups that would take him in.”
“No.” Clare took a step back, her heart thundering. “We’re not going to abandon him.
We’re a team.”
“He’s a stranger.”
“To you.” She hated how defensive she sounded, but she couldn’t stop. “He’s my best friend.”
Beth’s lips twisted. “Oh, really? After knowing him for, what? A couple of weeks?” “After having to rely on him for my survival, repeatedly, through some of the worst
moments of my life, yeah. And I think I’m a good enough judge of character to say I trust him. Why can’t you believe that?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Beth’s voice rose, and a harsh note entered it. “Maybe because I can’t even trust you to follow basic instructions.”
It took Clare a second to catch the implication. “Are you angry because I came looking for you?”
“What did I tell you the last time we spoke?” Beth lifted her eyebrows to arrest Clare with one of the sharpest looks she’d ever experienced. “Stay where you are.”
“Your generator died. Was I supposed to just leave you there to suffocate?”
“Yes.” Beth held her hands out to the sides, her open palms catching the rain. “It would have been better than traipsing across the country just to find my bunker was empty. And if that weren’t bad enough… what the hell were you doing in the city? The single most dangerous place in this part of the country.”
Clare was used to her share of lectures from Beth. She’d hated them as a teen, but as she grew older and moved into her own home, she’d learned to see them for what they really were: an expression of love. Beth cared about her, therefore Beth worried about her, therefore Beth lectured her.
But this felt different. There wasn’t any concerned tilt to her sister’s eyes or pleading note in her voice. This Beth, the Beth that had been hardened and sharpened by the still world, was full of fire and wrath. Clare took a half step back.
“We—” Were lost. Became trapped. Ran out of options. None of them sounded good. She swallowed. “We found the tower by pure luck and recognised the address, so we took a chance on it.”
“And how were you planning to get out?” Beth’s piercing blue eyes were relentless. “You ran through the hoard with no weapons. No protection. Not even a mask. If I hadn’t been there, what would you have done to escape the hollows?”
The rain drenched Clare’s skin. Her hair stuck to her face. But, for all the external cold she felt, it was nothing compared to the lump of ice that was forming deep in her stomach.
She’d been desperate to reunite with Beth. She’d taken risks she shouldn’t have just for the hope of finding her. But Beth was furious. And, unlike a normal lecture, she didn’t know how to stop this new anger.
Beth took her silence for the answer it was. “You had no way to get out of that tower, did you? You’re only alive right now because of pure, miserable luck.”
Angry tears were building, and she was grateful that the rain would stop Beth from seeing them.
“I told you all of this so clearly.” Beth’s voice dropped until it was almost inaudible through the rain. “Don’t take risks. People who gamble on the odds eventually lose. And what did you do?”
“Whatever it took to try to find my sister.”
Beth’s face stayed hard for all of a second, then the expression crumpled. She exhaled, head drooping and shoulders bowing. For a moment, they stood together, letting the rain beat on their backs and drip off their chins. Then Beth lifted her head, her expression soft again.
“That was really dumb, Clare.” “Okay.”
“But thank you, anyway.” “Yeah.”
Her sister’s arms wrapped around her again. Beth’s jacket was thick and cold, but her body was warm. She squeezed Clare tightly, swaying with her like she’d used to when Clare was a child.
“I’m happy to have you with me again,” she murmured. “I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance.”
“I missed you, Beth.”
“Mm.” She pulled back, blinking rapidly. “Me too.”
Thunder crackled in the distance. Clare turned to look behind them, towards the minibus.
Its windows were blacked out, but she could imagine Dorran sitting inside, anxious and uncertain, alone in the dark as he waited for them to return. Her heart ached for him. “I’m not letting you kick Dorran out.”
Beth chewed on her lip for a second, then sighed. “He can stay. For now. But, if he wants to split up, we let him go, okay?”
Clare still didn’t like her sister’s tone, but she nodded. It was probably the best concession she could get. And she already knew Dorran would stay.
Beth squinted up at the sky as lightning arced above them. “Rain’s nasty today. Come on.
Let’s get dry. We shouldn’t linger here, anyway. The hollows are growing impatient.”
Wow, what a start…..
Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material s extract from Whispers In The Dark.
For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.
On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.
Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.
Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.
Set in a small village on the edge of Birmingham, Bilal and his family live and feel at home here.
When his mother dies, her last wish is for a mosque in the village.
So, Bilal approaches his neighbours as he wants to build a mosque. Suddenly, he is treated differently and some outright hostility, he’s now made to feel an outsider and he begins to question his life and faith.
Beautifully written and such a thoughtful, sensitive look into prejudice and wanting to belong.
A moving and thought provoking read.
Thank you to Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of This Green And Pleasant Land. This is my honest and unbiased review.
What would you do if you thought you had married a murderer?
He is my husband.
To honour and obey.
Until murder do us part.
London, 1888: Tormented by the death of her secret lover, Nurse Susannah Chapman rushes into marriage to a doctor. While attracted to her adoring, younger husband, she is more than aware her decision is at least partially driven by her ambition to escape a life of servitude to the labouring poor of the East End of London. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home confident in her marriage. But then everything changes.
She quickly learns she has swapped her profession for a type of captivity; that of a Victorian middle-class housewife, feeling isolated in her home as her housekeeper refuses to acknowledge her as mistress. Her husband becomes increasingly volatile and distant, he stays out all night, returning home dark with secrets.
Following the first death in Whitechapel, Susannah’s interest is piqued. Lost in boredom and self-doubt, she becomes obsessed with the string of violent murders terrorising the city. Horrifyingly, she finds herself beginning to believe the charming young man she thought she had seduced for economic security, could well be involved in the crimes.
Is it coincidence? Or is her husband the man they call Jack the Ripper?
Susannah’s last remaining grandparent has died, so now alone, she decides to move to London and train to be a nurse.
Here she meets Thomas, a wealthy surgeon and after a whirlwind romance they marry. But, as soon as the honeymoon is over a different side of Thomas emerges. He’s moody, violent and abusive, he begins staying out all night, returning home bloodied and secretive.
Then, the murders begin in Whitechapel…..
Susannah begins to wonder if Thomas is the notorious Jack The Ripper……..and wants to find out.
This is historical fiction at its finest. Full of descriptions of the squalid life of the poor in Victorian London, the gruesome murders and the way women were treated at that time. There’s a mystery too and with the great characters, the marvellous plot with some shocks and surprises on the way, this is a totally immersive read. If you enjoy the books of Ambrose Parry and Bridget Collins, you are going to love this. A must read.
Thank you to Gabriella at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of People Of Abandoned Character. This is my honest and unbiased review.
Clare Whitfield is a UK-based writer living in a suburb where the main cultural landmark is a home store/Starbucks combo. Clare nurtures an obsession with female characters that are as much villain as hero, and enjoys lurking in the blurry landscape between perception and reality. She is the wife of a tattoo artist, mother of a small benign dictator and relies on her dog for emotional stability. Previously Clare has been a dancer, copywriter, amateur fire breather, buyer and a mediocre weightlifter. People of Abandoned Character is her first novel. Follow Clare on Twitter (@whitfield_riley) and Instagram (@clarerileywhitfield).
Praise for People of Abandoned Character:
‘An astonishing book set in a Victorian London plagued by Jack the Ripper. Whitfield’s narrator is Susannah, an ex-nurse who rushed into a rapidly souring marriage with a wealthy surgeon and starts to believe that her husband might be Leather Apron himself. I’d be amazed if it isn’t dominating the shortlists come next year’s awards season’ M.W.Craven.
People of Abandoned Character follows the journey of Susannah who shortly after becoming happily married begins to discover the real man she has committed to, as she delves further into the dark truth, she fears what she might find out next…Where is Thomas disappearing to late into the night, and why when he returns is there yet another reported murder? Could the man she married be the serial killer they call, Jack the Ripper? This novel gives a haunting new perspective to the well-known murder mystery. A dark and twisted tale, People of Abandoned Character explores toxic relationships and taps into our continued fascination with Jack the Ripper, while asking readers what would you do if you thought your husband was a murderer?
The Inspiration behind ‘People of Abandoned Character’ in Clare’s own words: ‘The book was initially inspired by Jack the Ripper, and newspaper articles from the time, which lead me to the idea that perhaps the Ripper may have been married. With this in mind, I wanted to create a complex and strong female protagonist who was prepared to do anything to keep her head above water, and succeed.
While based in a historical setting, the story has a contemporary appeal as the language is accessible, set in the Victorian era of the 1880s when years of austerity had taken their toll on the communities of an increasingly gentrified London. The novel explores the smoke and mirrors of perceived social mobility, the role of a wealthy society and their responsibility to the poor (or not as it may be the case), toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse, gender equality and freedom to pursue personal ambition.’
Born in the storm that doomed his father, Connavar grows to manhood among the mist-covered mountains of Caer Druagh, where the Rigante tribe dwell in harmony with the land and its gods. But beyond the border, across the water, an evil force is gathering strength, an unstoppable force that will change the world beyond all recognition.
#1 in the Rigante Series.
Sword In The Storm is an heroic fantasy tale. The hero is Connavar, a young man who earns his reputation as a great warrior.
He travels widely and, as humans do, makes good and bad decisions that lead to a variety of events and battles as Connava strives to save the Rigante tribe.
There’s magic, fairies and other creatures, with the incredible world building that makes this an action packed, fast paced classic fantasy and a thoroughly entertaining read.
Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of Sword In The Storm. This is my honest and unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell’s works display violence, yet also explores themes in honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sell worldwide.
Winterbourne Hall is not safe. Even as Clare and Dorran scramble to secure the ancient building against ravenous hollow ones, they face something far worse: Clare’s sister has made contact, but she’s trapped, and her oxygen is running out.
Hundreds of miles separate Clare from Beth. The land between them is infested with monsters, and the roads are a maze of dead ends. Clare has to choose between making a journey she knows she might not survive, or staying safe in Winterbourne and listening as her sister slowly suffocates.
At least, whatever her choice, she’ll have Dorran by her side. And yet there are eyes in the dark. There are whispers in the mist. There is danger lurking in the snow, and one false step could end it all.
Secrets In The Dark is #2 in the Black Winter series and continues where book one left off, so it would be useful to read that first, but you can also read this as a stand-alone (although you will miss a bit of the background story).
Clare has managed to contact her sister, Beth, only to find she is trapped in an underground bunker and her air is running out. They have no idea how long she has left.
Clare has to try to save her sister and so, with Dorran at her side the journey begins.
The world outside Winterbourne is a very different place where Clare and Dorran meet some truly horrific monsters and the Hollows are everywhere.
Will they reach Beth in time?
Well, this is an incredibly tense and atmospheric thrill of a heart pounding read. It keeps you on tenterhooks as you wonder just what’s round the next corner for Clare and Dorran. Just brilliant.
Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of Secrets In The Dark. This is my honest and unbiased review.
One of Norway’s most distinguished voices, Agnes Ravatn’s first novel to be published in the UK was The Bird Tribunal. It won an English PEN Translation Award, was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and the Petrona Award, and was adapted for a BBC Book at Bedtime. She returns now with a dark, powerful and deeply disturbing psychological thriller about family, secrets and dangerous curiosity…
University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg pay her a visit.
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.
Nina and her husband, Mads, are having to move home as their house is in the way of a new construction and is under a compulsory purchase order.
Their daughter, Ingeborg, has an infestation of silverfish in her and wants to move out and into Mads aunt’s old house that he rents out. But there is a tenant living there….
So Nina and Ingeborg drive just to have a look at the house, but Ingeborg, who is oblivious to anyone else’s feelings, practically forces her way into the home and makes Mari feel very uncomfortable. As a result, Mads gets a message that Mari is moving out……but then she disappears, leaving her young son behind.
Nina wonders if Ingeborg is responsible and begins her own investigation….but this brings to light family secrets..
This is not a police investigation but just Nina’s, her life is in upheaval and she tries to find out what happened to Mari.
The Seven Doors has a steady pace, with lots of detail about Nina’s life and marriage, but it also has an underlying, creeping tension that slowly builds and makes it a gripping read throughout. Fans of Nordic Noir are going to love this…
Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Seven Doors. This is my honest and unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections: Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works, Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award, shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.
One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession….
From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.
In 1980, Elise meets Connie, a successful author, on Hampstead Heath. They become a couple. Connie’s novel is being turned into a movie, so they travel to LA, a world of glamour and constant socialising. But, Elise feels alone and abandoned and makes a decision that leads to her disappearance.
Now, 30 years later, Rose is searching for her mother who disappeared when she was very young, she’s never known her mother and feels something is missing in her life. She sees a job advert, Connie is looking for an assistant, so she changes her name and goes to work for Connie. Will she find the answers she’s looking for? Why did her mother leave? What happened to her?
I loved listening to this emotional tale, it’s beautifully narrated by Hayley Atwell. It captures the atmosphere of the 80’s and the present day perfectly.
It’s a story of love, relationships and loss. I was totally engrossed in the lives of these wonderful characters to the extent I didn’t want it to end. Perfect escapism and I loved every minute.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a copy of the audiobook. This is my honest and unbiased review.