Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Novel, thriller, Top Books, Will Carver

#TheBeresford by @will_carver

Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city…until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.

Just outside the city—any city, every city—is a grand, spacious, but affordable apartment building called The Beresford. There’s a routine at The Beresford. For Mrs. May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer, and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers. And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door. Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings… Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

***

Jordan Irving, famed screenwriter, director, race-relations activist and philanthropist was discovered dead at his home in the early hours of the morning.

OBITUARY

***

(@OrendaBooks, 22 May 2021, 324 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 6 July 2021)

***

GET A COPY

****

I’ve read and loved other books by the author and had high hopes for The Beresford. I was not disappointed. I really loved this book. It’s perfect blend of thriller and horror as we gradually learn just what is wrong with The Beresford and why the low rent really is too good to be true. I’ve read other books with similar themes but this book outshines them all. It’s dark, twisted delight and even has some moments of humour. This is a terrific book.

Posted in 2020, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Novel, Review Copy, Science Fiction, Tim Lebbon, Top Books

Eden by @timlebbon

From the bestselling author of The Silence comes a brand-new supernatural eco thriller. In large areas of the planet, nature is no longer humanity’s friend…

In a time of global warming and spiralling damage to the environment, the Virgin Zones were established to help combat the change.  Abandoned by humanity and given back to nature, these vast areas in a dozen remote locations across the planet were intended to become the lungs of the world. 

But there are always those drawn to such places.  Extreme sports enthusiasts and adventure racing teams target the dangerous, sometimes deadly zones for illicit races.  Only the hardiest and most experienced dare undertake these expeditions. When one such team enters the oldest Zone, Eden, they aren’t prepared for what confronts them.  Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way.  And here, nature is no longer humanity’s friend.

***

[Eden seems like a good place to die]

***

(@TitanBooks, 7 April 2020, 384 pages, ebook, #ARC from @TitanBooks and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 7 April)

***

GET A COPY

***

Eden is a fantastic book. I sped through reading it because I couldn’t put it down – literally. This reminds me a lot of the equally amazing Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. Both books deal with similar themes – nature finding a way to thrive without human interference. Eden is much, much darker. There are two stories running parallel to each other in the book – the main story revolving around Dylan and his daughter Jenn’s infiltration of Eden, complicated when Dylan discovers his ex-wife Kat and some friends entered Eden a few days before them and Kat may have come to Eden to die. Intercepted with this are snippets which reveal titbits of the horrors that befell Kat and her group. I found the characters frustrating at times with their thoughtlessness, stupidity and stubbornness. They know something feels wrong the moment they enter Eden, it feels like it has never known people. That would be enough to make any normal sensible person turn back, yet Dylan, Jenn and their group move stubbornly on and refuse to back down, even when they start finding bodies, some old, some knew which seems to have been absorbed by Eden and they realise something is pursuing them. Eden is very dark at times and some horrific things happen when Eden’s true nature is revealed. I loved every word.

Posted in 2019, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror, Melanie Golding, NetGalley, Novel, Review Copy, thriller

#LittleDarlings by @mk_golding

THE TWINS ARE CRYING. 

THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.

LAUREN IS CRYING. 

LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.

Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .

Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.

When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.

Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?

***

[The twins are crying]

***

(@HQstories, 15 April 2019, 336 pages, ebook, copy from @HQstories via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

***

GET A COPY

***

This book is not quite what I expected. Judging from the blurb/cover/hype I was expecting an interesting but pretty standard thriller. I got something quite a bit different which was a pleasant surprise. This book is actually more of a horror with a bit of a thriller thrown in inspired by folklore about changelings who steal a child and replace it with an evil twin. I enjoyed the way each chapter opens with snippets of superstition about how to stop fairies from stealing children. I liked the two female leads. Lauren, the mother convinced someone wants to take her children but dismissed as someone hallucinating and Joanna, the cop whose convinced there’s grain of truth to Lauren’s story. This book offers something  a bit different and engrossing.

Posted in 2019, First Read, historical fiction, Horror, Laura Purcell, library book, Novel, Top Books

The Silent Companions by @spookypurcell

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…

***

[The new doctor took her by surprise]

***

(Bloomsbury Publishing, 5 October 2017, 384 pages, ebook, borrowed from my library)

***

GET A COPY

***

Oh, boy did this book give me the chills. I can feel my flesh trying to crawl off my bones and scuttle away. The creepy wooden figures in this book reminded me a lot of the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who. Yes, they are that terrifying. The story moves back and forth between Elsie’s story as she struggles to adjust to being a widow, settling somewhere new and the baby she will soon have and events far back in the past which will have sinister repercussions in Elsie’s life. Elsie’s story chilled me. Everything seems to be working against her. What happens to her baby hit my gag button. Things get darker and darker for her. I also loved reading about the terrible events in the past and how the author gradually reveals the impact they will have on the present. The Silent Companions is a corker.

Posted in 2018, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror Fiction, Novel, Review Copy, Top Books

Halcyon by @Rio_Youers

41089287

HALCYON is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.

A beautiful island in the middle of Lake Ontario―a self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed. Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth―however terrible it might be―behind the island and its mysterious founder, Mother Moon.

***

[She saw the man with no hands first]  

 ***

(Titan Books, 23 October 2018, ebook, 384 pages, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, blog tour 7 November)

***

GET A COPY

***

This is my first time reading the author.

I really, really, totally and completely loved this book. It’s one of the most intense books I’ve read in ages. I had to put the book aside at times when it got a bit too intense. The book took ages to get going and a lot of time is spent getting to know Martin and his family before tragic events take place that lead to them crossing paths with Mother Moon. This was worthwhile because I really got to know Martin and his family and got invested in them which made the tragic events through the rest of the book all the more upsetting. Halcyon is a very dark book at times especially in the last few chapters when Martin finds out Mother Moon’s terrible secrets and the danger his daughters are really in. My heart was in my throat at the end and I almost couldn’t bear to keep reading.

5 STAR RATING

Posted in 2018, Adam L G Nevill, Audible, Audiobook, Contemporary Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Top Books

The Ritual by Adam Nevill

It was the dead thing they found hanging from a tree that changed the trip beyond recognition.

When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise.

A shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artefacts decorate the walls, and there are bones scattered upon the floors. The residue of old rites for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. And as the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees.

***

[And on the second day things did not get better]  

***

(Macmillan Digital Audio, audiobook, 11 hours 59 minutes, various narrators, Audible)

***

GET A COPY

***

First up, I loved the movie and the book is quite different in a few areas and much better. I was hooked from the opening chapter of the audiobook and engrossed all the way to the end. The Ritual is essentially two stories. The first one concerns the four friends getting lost in the woods, running out of supplies and turning against each other as something unseen menaces them. The second story is what happens when the friends discover the creature lurking in the woods is the least of their worries. I loved the first chunk of the book when the friends are lost in the woods. This section is expertly paced, packed with tension and suspense. The horror they experience is quiet menace rather than in your face blood and gore and all the better for it. The second chunk blew me away with its madness rooted in Norse Mythology and full-on terror. The Ritual is amazing.

5 STAR RATING

Posted in 2018, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror Fiction, kindle single, M. Thomas Gammarino, Prime Reading, Science Fiction, Short Fiction

Jellyfish Dreams by M. Thomas Gammarino

Since losing his fiancée some years ago, atheist biologist Sam Rogers has blazed a trail in immortality studies. He’s learned an awful lot about life and death. But when he discovers a mysterious hole beneath his sofa one morning, he’s forced to reckon with all that is unmasterable about the universe–and some of it has tentacles.

***

[Ten years after the death of his fiancée, and ten years before the Immortals walked out of the sea, Sam Rogers discovered a hole beneath his sofa]

***

(Amazon Media, 10 September 2012, ebook, 76 pages, kindle single, Prime Reading)

***

BUY

***

This is my first time reading the author.

I had a lot of fun with Jellyfish Dreams. I loved the premise, weird as hell but intriguing. I wanted to see where the story would lead and I wasn’t disappointed. I liked the way the author blended the current weird events with Sam’s tragic loss ten years ago and how this shaped his life.

Jellyfish Dreams reminded me a lot of the books of John Wyndham.

4 STAR RATING

Posted in 2017, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, First Read, Horror Fiction, James Morrow, Novella, Review Copy

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari by James Morrow
Published by Tachyon Publications
Ebook
Expected publication 13 June 2017
192 pages
Review copy

Connect with the author

Buy the book: UK (affiliate’s link)

Buy the book: USA

I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

The infamous Dr. Caligari: psychiatrist or psychopath? In this wry and satiric tour de force, award-winning author James Morrow (Towing JehovahThe Last Witchfinder) offers a surprising and provocative take on a silent film classic.

In the summer of 1914, the world teeters on the brink of the Great War. An American painter, Francis Wyndham, is hired to provide art therapy at a renowned European asylum, working under the auspices of its mysterious director, Alessandro Caligari. Francis is soon beguiled by his most talented student, Ilona Wessels, whose genius with a brush is matched only by the erotic intensity of her madness.

Deep in his secret studio, Dr. Caligari, rumoured to be a sorcerer, struggles to create Ecstatic Wisdom, an immense painting so hypnotic it can incite entire regiments to rush headlong into battle. Once Francis and Ilona grasp Caligari’s scheme in all its supernatural audacity, they conspire to defeat him with a magical work of their own…

OPENING 

From its birth during the Age of Reason until its disappearance following the Treaty of Versailles, the tiny principality of Wizenstaat lay along the swampy seam between the German Empire and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg like an embolism lodged in an artery.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed this novella, inspired by the movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I loved the prose style. Morris knows how to tell a story. As I was reading, I was reminded time and again of some horror greats including Dracula and Frankenstein. The novella has that air of old fashioned, spooky, black and white horror movie about it. The relationship between Wyndham and mad Ilona was disturbing. I enjoyed the intense, madness of it all. Dr Caligari was a great villain. I could imagine him, locked away in a dark room, cackling with glee while the world burned around him. I enjoyed the plan Wyndham and his conspirators come up with to stop Caligari’s madness. Their plan was almost as mad as his. I had a good time with The Asylum of Dr Caligari and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Posted in Non-Fiction, Stephen King

REVIEW: DANSE MACABRE BY STEPHEN KING

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: DANSE MACABRE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danse_Macabre_(book)

AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING (www.stephenking.com)

PAGES: 468

PUBLISHER: WARNER BOOKS (http://www.littlebrown.co.uk/home)

YEAR: 1981

GENRE: NON-FICTION

BLURB FROM THE BACK COVER 

DANSE MACABRE is a unique combination of fantasy and autobiography, of classic horror writing honed to an unforgettable edge; an analysis of horror, terror and the supernatural in films, television and books by the bestselling master of the genre – Stephen King. 

Ranging across the whole spectrum of horror in popular culture and going back to the seminal classics of Count Dracula and Frankenstein, Stephen King describes his ideas on how horror works at many levels, and how he brings it to bear in his own inimitable novels… 

REVIEW

Danse Macabre is one of only four non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I’m being serious. Non-fiction is not my thing. I’ve also read On Writing by Stephen King, So You Want to be a Writer by Jane Wenham Jones and Freedom in Exile by The Dalai Lama.

Danse Macabre was published the year I was born. I bought it about fifteen years ago when I first became a fan of King.

King discusses the horror genre in general which includes discussing radio programmes and TV shows that dealt with the supernatural, why he writes in the genre, horror in movies, horror in fiction and how real-life sometimes imitates art. There are two detailed appendices at the end of the book that list 100 horror films and horror novels he recommends.

King’s insight is fascinating. The only issue with Danse Macabre is that he only looks at the horror genre in 1950 – 1980 so it hasn’t dated well in 2012. Some of the shows and movies he discusses have probably never been seen by people from my generation. I would love to see a revised edition where he looks at the horror genre from 1990 onwards.

The best bits of Danse Macabre were the chapters where he discussed why he writes horror fiction and the chapters that look at horror in films and horror fiction. The other chapters while interesting didn’t do as much for me. King’s recommendations in Danse Macabre led me to read the brilliant Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I’ve also ordered a copy of Strange Wine by Harlan Ellison from www.amazon.co.uk because he sings its praises.

My favourite chapter overall was An Annoying Autobiographical Pause where King looks at the horror genre in connection to his own writing (i.e. why he writes about the things he does). As a writer myself I love to read about how writers have been inspired and influenced. King’s memoir On Writing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Writing) is brilliant.

Danse Macabre is interesting to read if you’re a horror fan. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much if another author tackled it. I wouldn’t read a similar book if it looked at the Science Fiction genre. Danse Macabre appeals to be because I’m a horror fan. It’s definitely a specialist market. I like Danse Macabre because I’m a horror fan, I love King’s work and love books and movies.

OTHER STUFF 

THE OPENING LINE:

For me, the terror – the real terror, as opposed to whatever demons and bogeys which might have been living in my own mind – began on an afternoon in October of 1957… 

HIGHLIGHTS

An Annoying Autobigraphical Pause is the best chapter in the book. I found King’s insight into his own writing fascinating.

There are two chapters that deal with horror in movies. I also really enjoyed these chapters. King mentions a lot of films I enjoy including The Exorcist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Psycho.

The chapter on horror fiction is excellent. King discusses some books I’ve read and loved including Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Haunting by Shirley Jackson.

LOWLIGHTS

The book was published in 1981 and looks at the horror genre between 1950 – 1980. Unfortunately, it’s a bit dated now.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Danse Macabre is an interesting look at the horror genre in whole across all mediums from radio to movies and fiction. I really enjoyed it. I found it fascinating. King’s insight has given me a big list of horror movies and fiction I want to get my hands on.

RATING: