Wakenhyrst – Michelle Paver

40725252Maud is a lonely child, growing up in a corner of the Fens in Edwardian Suffolk, without a mother and ruled over by her father. When, one day, he finds a medieval painting in a graveyard, unnatural forces are awakened that drive him beyond the point of obsession and into insanity. For Maud, this is the beginning of a battle to survive in a world haunted by devils, protect her beloved Fen, and uncover the demons of her father’s past.

I absolutely loved the atmosphere of this book. It is dark and spooky, with an air of menace from the very first page, which is entirely down to Michelle Paver’s brilliant writing because nothing overtly scary actually happens for the majority of the story.

Maud is one of the best characters I’ve read recently. Considering that she’s a child and a girl in Edwardian times with literally no power to do anything, she’s surprisingly ballsy. Her courage and intelligence made it impossible not to care about her. And the way she gets revenge on her father without ever attracting suspicion to herself or placing blame on anyone else is just brilliant.

I hadn’t read any of Michelle Paver’s books before Wakenhyrst, but I will definitely be correcting that in the future.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Slender Man – Anonymous

30653976Lauren Bailey has gone missing. Desperate to find her, Matt Barker logs into her iCloud and finds a hidden file containing photos of a mysterious figure in the shadows. And then the nightmares start…

The style of this book made it a very quick and engaging read, because the story is told through a variety of narrative devices, including journal entries, text messages, audio transcripts and newspaper reports – not your usual, straightforward narration. The unorthodox style was refreshing and made the book very easy to read.

My other favourite aspect of this book is the anonymous nature. Thanks to the style and the lack of author (and what actually happens in the plot) the story becomes very real and very possible in real life. Especially because it does take into account the fact that Slender Man was an online phenomenon, known to be invented and developed through fan sites and photoshop. The fakeness of Slender Man is commented on and pushed aside by the events that unfold in this story.

I haven’t read a horror this good in a very long time.

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The Narrows – Travis M. Riddle

42348486Oliver, Sophie and Davontae have returned to their home town of Shumard, Texas for the funeral of their friend, Noah. Each are dealing with the shock and loss in their own way, but things take an unexpected turn when Oliver gets a glimpse of a world parallel to their own. Visited by a dark being known as the Knave, Oliver soon finds himself dragged into a chilling adventure and questioning what really happened to Noah.

First things first, I have to say I adore the cover of this book. It’s a beautiful piece of artwork and it represents the story very well. I also adore Travis’ writing, and this one certainly did not disappoint. The Narrows bears some close similarities to Stranger Things with it’s dark, mysterious ‘other’ world (and I have to admit, I was a little bit sceptical about this shared theme when I started reading) but it’s such a different story and actually very original.

Although it is, essentially, a horror story, this book also contains a lovely story of friendship, with fantastic and realistic relationships between the group. It also deals – very sensitively, I thought – with the aftermath of suicide and the way people process the loss of a friend to suicide. The Narrows is a book filled with heart, alongside the creepiness and gore.

Oliver was a great character. He, of course, does the typical lead-character thing of heading off into the danger alone, which is usually something that really frustrates me, but his reasons for not including his friends are properly explained and completely understandable. Plus, he does go to them for help eventually. My personal favourite character, however, was the Knave. He’s super creepy and evil, and just generally fabulous.

One of the characters, Sophie, is transgender and this element was pulled of incredibly well. It was great to see the representation, and it wasn’t forced at all (as these things can often be). The fact that Sophie used to be a boy is mentioned only for context and fitted in perfectly without becoming a focal point for the story.

I actually can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this book. Read it.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Folcroft Ghosts – Darcy Coates

33840674.jpgWhen their mother is hospitalised, Tara and Kyle are sent to live with their estranged grandparents in their isolated country house. At first, May and Peter Folcroft seem like the perfect grandparents: doting, generous and charming. But strange things start happening. The house seems to be haunted and, after a storm cuts the phone lines, May and Peter start acting weird too. Tara and Kyle are forced to play happy families as their suspicions towards their grandparents grow.

I love ghost stories, scary or not. The Folcroft Ghosts has as much atmosphere as any spooky story needs, although it did feel at times as though the plot was being forced along a little, and it was never really genuinely creepy.  It’s a short book, so it gets to the point fairly quickly, with spooky activity beginning very early on. This builds into a pretty good plot-twist and, the only genuinely unsettling part of the book, a very spine-tingling ending.

My only real issue with this book is that it isn’t really about the ghosts, or a haunting. I won’t say any more on this because I don’t want to give spoilers, but looking at the title and the cover, I expected the ghostly theme to play a much bigger part.

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The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchison

29981261.jpgIn a beautiful garden hidden away on private land, young women are kidnapped and kept as butterflies, tattooed and preserved by a man known to them only as the Gardener. After more than 30 years, the garden has been discovered and a survivor is bought in for questioning. As the girl tells her story, FBI agents Hanoverian and Eddison start to think that there may be more to her story than she’s letting on.

The Butterfly Garden is truly horrendous and awful but so, so brilliant. There are heavy themes of rape, violence and other abuse, but, although they are explicitly mentioned, these are never explicitly described. As I said, completely horrendous subject matter but a fantastic detective/thriller story.

There were, one or two problematic factors, such as how no one even tried to escape (despite having possible opportunities and weapons), but it was sort of understandable at the same time: they were scared and honestly didn’t think they had a chance. I also did not like the twist at the end (no spoilers), but the rest of the story was excellent.

Maya was an interesting character because her narrative voice was so strong. She was a completely believable character and hearing the story through her was great. However, I didn’t really like her personality (although I’m not totally sure we’re really meant to). There were a lot of other strong characters, some of which we see much more than others. My personal favourites were Bliss and Special Agent Victor Hanovarian.

The story being told through an FBI interview with Maya was brilliant. It was a very effective way of telling the horror story of the garden, while keeping the book within the detective/crime genre and it gave the story a much more interesting perspective.

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Blog Tour: Ghost Virus – Graham Masterton

Today is my stop on the tour for Graham Masterton’s gory Ghost Virus. Thank you very much to Head of Zeus for having me; I hope you enjoy my review!

38195824A series of violent murders break out in the Tooting area of London, inexplicably linked by items of second-hand clothing. DC Pardoe and DS Patel are assigned to the case and, as the murders continue and get more and more gory, they start to wonder is something supernatural is behind the killing.

Ghost Virus was a LOT more gory than I was expecting. It’s the kind of book where crime/mystery and horror cross over – not for the faint hearted or easily grossed-out. But, at the same time, the graphic details weren’t unnecessary or merely there for shock factor; they were a part of the story, making them an unpleasant but effectual feature of the book.

To be honest, the premise sounds completely ridiculous: clothing becoming possessed by evil spirits and killing people. Not only that, but apparently the clothing is unstoppable (my first thought: grab a flame thrower). But, in fact, it’s great. I loved the writing. The detectives are classic (fictional) British cops, the kind we see all the time on telly and love. (There was a lot of cockney slang used throughout the book, though, which non-British readers mind find difficult to understand).

The relationship between Jerry and Jamila felt genuine and was fun to read about. They came across as believable partners with an attraction to each other, and none of it was forced. Thanks to the intense situation they find themselves in, neither of them act upon their feelings until a pretty realistic time, so the romance fitted into the story as a nice undercurrent and never eclipsed the plot.

Overall, Ghost Virus is gory, gross and a lot of fun. Definitely worth a go.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Chalk Man – C.J. Tudor

31936826In 1986, Eddie and his friends spend their days riding their bikes, looking for any excitement they can find. They use chalk figures as a secret code to communicate with each other in a way nobody else can understand. What they don’t expect is for the chalk men to lead them to a dead body. Fast forward to 2016 and Eddie thinks he’s put the past behind him. But when the chalk figures make a reappearance, he realises that the only way to truly be free of the past is to figure out what really happened all those years ago.

It’s almost impossible to believe that this is C.J. Tudor’s first book. Her writing is so atmospheric and skilled, creating constant creepiness and suspense without overdoing anything. The entire story is captivating, told through two alternating timelines: 1986 and 2016. The plot progresses fairly slowly, but with a lot of small, shocking events (especially during the 2986 timeline) which keeps things interesting. Instead of being slow or dull, The Chalk Man has a sort of slow burn as the suspense and intrigue builds.

This is an excellent book, expertly written and perfect for thriller and mystery fans. Shocking, and shockingly good.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Hunted – GX Todd

34209822In book #2 of The Voices series, it seems everyone is searching for Lacey. Albus, a man with no voice of his own, is led by the voice of his lost sister with one goal: find and protect the martyr. He and his friends must find her, before anyone else does. Before Posy, and the evil voice inside him – The Other – can.

This series is so good, omg. I can’t even tell you. I’ve seen surprisingly few post-apocalyptic books around recently, and The Voices is based on a really scary and interesting concept: voices in our heads that caused humanity to break down and drove huge numbers of people to kill themselves. It is terrifying and super interesting.

But not only is the concept great, so is the story. I was a tiny bit disappointed at first that the story wasn’t being told from Lacey’s point-of-view (like book #1 is), but after a while, I realised that this was actually a good thing. Firstly, it gave the book a fresh angle. Secondly, I got a bit of a YA vibe from Defender, although it isn’t a YA book. This time, that vibe was gone. I think this was down to the story being told from the point of various adults so, as much as I love Lacey, that teen-vibe was gone – which, for this kind of book, was a good thing.

The characters in this book are just fantastic. Lacey and Voice in particular, but every single character (even the awful, mean ones) bring important something to the story. Also – no spoilers – but EEK big news regarding one of my other favourite characters! Book #3 right now please!!

Basically, you have to read this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Disciple – Stephen Lloyd Jones

Hello! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a review, but now that I’m set up in my new flat and finally connected to the internet, I’ll be back to posting regularly. Thanks for stopping by!


Edward Schwinn’s life is changed the night he rescues the sole survivor of a horrific road accident and agrees to take care of her new born daughter. The child’s arrival starts a chain of horrifying and deadly events that no one can explain, and Edward finds himself responsible for her safety.

My main take away from The Disciple is that it is much, much too long. We meet Edward and Piper at different stages in their life, meaning there are large time-jumps, and the same thing happens each time. It’s very repetitive and severely lacks any kind of character or relationship development or world building.

Alongside the troublesome plot development, there are too many characters who are all named and play small but significant roles. This made the story complicated and difficult to follow.

Although not poorly written, the book reads as though the author had a million and one ideas, and didn’t know how to filter any of them out. As the story builds, it becomes more interesting, more exciting, and more ridiculous. The Disciple is a mash-up of horror/sci-fi/fantasy/thriller and had some very enjoyable sections, wedged between pages of drivel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

untitledIn this gothic ghost story, newly widowed Elsie goes to live in her late husband’s country estate with his cousin, Sarah. In their exploration of the house, Elsie and Sarah come across an incredibly lifelike, painted, wooden figure – a silent companion. Taken with the figure, the women move it into the main rooms of the house, but when it starts to move from room to room, seemingly by itself, and new figures start to appear they begin to question their safety and their sanity.

The Silent Companions is genuinely unsettling and very well written. As a full-length novel, the plot is well thought-out and fully developed. There are no unnecessary or over-the-top embellishments, while the ghostly occurrences are creepy to say the least.

Elsie’s story is very interesting: We find her committed to an asylum and accused of murder, and follow her story of what happened in the house as she recounts it to the doctor. She has a strong back-story with an abused childhood which makes the questioning of her sanity and strength throughout the story much more believable. I also enjoyed the loyalty and friendship between the women – lovely to see women in fiction backing each other up instead of tearing each other down!

This story contains all the elements of a classic gothic horror, and the slow build of tension is very effective. I did, at times, get a little confused about who I was reading about with the dual narrative, but besides that Laura Purcell has pulled off an almost-flawless piece of spooky-horror.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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