blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Deep Level – Richard E. Rock*

When Rich stumbles upon a secret Victorian underground network, he sees not only a great historical discovery, but also a way out of his humdrum life. He convinces three of his friends to join him, and together they venture deep into the maze of tunnels beneath London’s bustling streets.

A rude girl made good. An aspiring writer. A cinema usher from Wales. A bookseller who dreams of being an urban explorer. Four friends trapped together in one nightmarish situation as they realise some things are kept secret for a reason.
Will any of them manage to escape the horror that lurks in the DEEP LEVEL?

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By day, Richard E. Rock works as a commercial scriptwriter for radio and contributes ideas to Viz Comic. But by night…he writes horror.
He was inspired to do this after experiencing a series of particularly ferocious nightmares. After waking up and realising he could turn these into utterly horrible stories, he started deliberately inducing them.

Based in Wales, he lives with his girlfriend and their cat. If you’re looking for him, you’ll probably find
him wedged up against the barrier at a heavy metal gig, for that is his natural habitat.

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My thoughts:

As someone who’s fascinated by the layers and layers of history buried beneath London’s streets this sounded fascinating. And it was, then it was really, really creepy. In the best way, where you get a shiver down your spine and you are really pleased you’re safely in your home reading and not wandering around in the dark being terrorised by monsters.

Truly sinister and unnerving, this is a great book for those who like their horror malevolent and greedy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Haunting of Gallagher Hotel – K.T. Rose*

Pride and greed infect the soul, anchoring the dead to Gallagher Hotel.

When Chris, a master thief, and Riley, a contract waitress, get mysterious invites to an exclusive party at the haunted Gallagher Hotel, they discover that there is more at play than simple celebrations.

Hidden truths are revealed, and all hell breaks loose. But the “party” has just begun.

Now, Chris and Riley face their demons as they fight to survive a hellish nightmare full of spoiled secrets, carnage, and vengeful spirits lost to the hotel dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Will they survive the night? Or will their souls be devoured by the most haunted building in Michigan?

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Chapter One

She’ll never forget the day she died.

Torches lit up the town square, illuminating scowling and shouting faces. The townspeople launched stones and spit, pegging Trudy’s arms and face as she trudged through the abhorrent mob. She cringed when a pebble struck her cheek. Pain erupted, shooting through her face like lightning striking the earth.

Deputy Hill yanked her arm, leading her through the narrow path the townspeople created. Fists balled, Trudy groaned as the rope around her wrists dug into her skin. Her bare feet picked up glass shards and debris from the cobblestone path as she shuffled along.

She glared around at the angry faces and recognized the men, women, and children of Holloway. She’d done more for them than any God before her. Many of those people owned the very businesses that lined the stone slab she marched across that night. Building and financing the rows of wooden businesses lining the town’s square accounted for half the things she’d done for Holloway. She fed the hungry, made clothes for cold children, and taught woman’s independence. The ever-growing list of the townspeople’s wants was endless. At one point, she didn’t mind the busy work. Fulfilling dreams of the once poor town kept her boisterous and distracted from her bitter reality. Trudy was Holloway’s personal shepherd, making the people her needy sheep.

Hands snagged at her lavender tea gown, adding dirty prints to the blood drops and grime from the beatings in that putrid cell. She glared at the bare-faced man towering over her. The brim of his deputy hat cast a thick shadow, hiding his dark eyes and pale face.

Deputy would miss her. She was sure of it. He got off on the assaults that bruised her face. His heavy fists pounded her bones and scraped her skin until she confessed. And even after her confession, he continued with his evening visits, slamming her body into cinder block walls and passing off open-handed blows to her nose, cheeks, and eyes.

Trudy sighed. A bath with lavender and Epsom salt sounded good for the swelling. She didn’t realize how bloated and purple her once beautiful, fairly smooth skin had become until she passed by the picture window in front of the town’s jail just before they began her walk of shame. Her dark hair matted to her forehead, washed by sweat and blood. Her plump lips were chapped and bloated with bruises.

Even then, her face pulsed with intense hurt. Pain shot through it whenever she winced.

The sea of convictions roared, growing louder as she drew closer to the opposite end of the square.

“Adulterer,” yelled a woman.

“Traitor,” screeched a boy.

“Murderer,” said a pot-bellied man.

Their accusations sent a sickening jolt through her bones. She watched the path underneath her slowing feet, fighting back the tears.

How could they turn on me like this?

K.T. Rose is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a suspenseful short story series titled Trinity of Horror, an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing, and A Dark Web Horror Series. She also writes supernatural and paranormal horror novels and short stories.

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My thoughts:

This was a strange and creepy/weird story of a hotel that says it’s haunted but is actually a portal to Hell. It’s not ghosts you have to be wary of, but demonic beings looking to send you straight down to their boss.

Riley is hired as a waitress for a special event at the hotel, but really she’s been lured there as the only innocent soul among a very bad bunch. It will take everything she has to escape the nightmarish establishment and return to her life.

Weird, twisted and gory, the guests all go to suitably macabre ends, as their crimes and sins come to collect on them.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Forger & the Thief – Kirsten McKenzie*

FIVE STRANGERS IN FLORENCE, EACH WITH A DANGEROUS SECRET. AND AN APOCALYPTIC FLOOD
THREATENING TO REVEAL EVERYTHING.

A wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web, amidst Florence’s devastating flood of November 1966.

In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?

Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…

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A full time author, Kirsten is a former customs officer and antiques dealer, and who has also dabbled
in film and television.

Her historical time-slip series – The Old Curiosity Shop Series, has been described as ‘Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions’, an ‘Antiques Roadshow gone viral’.

Kirsten released her bestselling gothic horror novel Painted in 2017, with her medical thriller – Doctor Perry, following in 2018.
Her latest thriller – The Forger and the Thief, is set in 1966 Florence, Italy, amidst the devastating floods. Kirsten lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, two rescue cats.

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My thoughts:

In the terrible flood of Florence, a disparate group of strangers fight for their lives and freedom, as the Arno pours her rage into the ancient streets.

I’ve been to Florence, a long time ago, and it is a beautiful city, but one that clearly needs better flood defences, as both Da Vinci and Michaelangelo told the authorities.

The characters in this novel are not all good people, and don’t necessarily deserve good things. But for most of them the flood offers a chance of redemption in some form or another.

It gets pretty dark and there’s a rather creepy killer/artist making girls disappear as well, adding a supernatural element to the apocalyptic drowning of the city of the Medicis.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Nesting – C.J. Cooke*

The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. And a nanny come to save the day….

So what if Lexi isn’t telling the truth about who she is? Escaping to the remote snows of Norway was her lifeline. And all she wanted was to be a part of their lives.

But soon, isolated in that cold, creaking house in the middle of ancient, whispering woods, Lexi’s fairytale starts to turn into a nightmare. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi’s fears are deepening.

Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care. But protect them from what?

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke.

Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.

She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

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My thoughts:

I love weird Gothic novels with creepy houses, sinister trees and monsters so this book really appealed to me. It’s also a really good example of how to do Gothic horror in the 21st Century. While all the characters have mobile phones and WiFi etc, the terrifying apparition and the way the forest seems to fold in on people defy the rational technology we all hold so dear. You can look things up but an ipad won’t stop a ghost or in this case a nokk (a Norwegian water spirit and not a friendly one).

Reeling from his wife’s sudden death and the literal collapse of his previous dream house, Tom has thrown himself into building an architectural masterpiece hanging from a cliff in the Norwegian forest. His two young daughters are being taken care of by Sophie, who isn’t who she says she is at all. There’s an unhappy housekeeper (shades of Mrs Danvers), a creepy basement, an elk that seems to be entering the house, a frustrated business partner and his exercise obsessed wife. Throw all these things together and it’s a wonder anyone makes it out alive.

I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy book, although I will be avoiding houses built on fjords for good, they don’t seem entirely safe or friendly.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Haunted Shore – Neil Spring*

A CHILLING GHOST STORY SET IN THE HAUNTING WILDERNESS OF SUFFOLK
When Lizzy moves to a desolate shore to escape her past, she hopes to find sanctuary. But a mysterious stranger is waiting for her, her father’s carer, and when darkness falls, something roams this wild stretch of beach, urging Lizzy to investigate its past. The longer she stays, the more the shore’s secrets begin to stir. Secrets of a sea that burned, of bodies washed ashore — and a family’s buried past reaching into the present.
And when Lizzy begins to suspect that her father’s carer is a dangerous imposter with sinister motives, a new darkness rises. What happens next is everyone’s living nightmare . . .

From the bestselling author of The Ghost Hunters and The Lost Village, The Haunted Shore is a terrifying tale of suspense that does not let up until the last page is turned.

My thoughts:

Well this was suitably weird and creepy.

I’ve read a few books now set on Orford Ness, which is a former military base on the Suffolk coast, it was a secret base and not declassified til the 1970s so lots of stories and rumours persist about it.

This book dips into some of the rumours and mysteries surrounding the area, now a bird reserve, as well as mentioning some of the wider Suffolkian stories.

The Ness is remote and I imagine quite eery, especially in bad weather, making it the perfect setting for this story of regret and revenge.

Lizzy has made a serious mistake at work and having been fired she flees back to the family home, a converted tower on the Ness. Her father is suffering from dementia and her brother has hired the rather unpleasant Hazel to look after him.

Lizzy takes an instant dislike to her, and as events start to spin out of control, she becomes more and more afraid of Hazel and the amount of control she has over her dad, Cliff.

This book was really sinister and I could imagine all the strange noises and creepy things Lizzy thinks she’s experienced, the desolate shoreline slowly revealing its secrets.

The ending has so many twists and turns that I just couldn’t believe what was real and what the characters were imagining, which I think is the point.

It was really, really good and perfect for the short days and gathering nights of autumn. Plus, my husband, a Suffolk native, is going to take me to see the Ness for myself, so I can soak up the atmosphere for myself.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Year of the Witching – Alexis Henderson*

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.
But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Alexis Henderson is a speculative fiction writer with a penchant for dark fantasy, witchcraft, and cosmic horror. She grew up in one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia, which instilled in her a life-long love of ghost stories. Currently, Alexis resides in the sun-soaked marshland of Charleston, South Carolina

My thoughts:

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year so far and it more than lived up to my hopes.

It is a very 2020 book, with terrible curses, blood, blight, darkness, slaughter. It just feels like it was written exactly for the insane times we’re living in.

Dark, sinister and unsettling, that’s just the creepy religious community Immanuelle lives in. Surrounded by the Darkwood, home to four malevolent witches, Bethel follows the teachings of the Prophet, a man with multiple wives, who claims to be leading them in the ways of the Lord, overlooking the poverty and misery on their doorstep.

Immanuelle’s mother died the day her daughter was born, and as darkness approaches in the form of four terrible plagues, it is only this one brave young woman who can stop it.

Immanuelle is an incredible resilient, bold, clever woman. Treated poorly by her community because of her parentage and skin colour, raised by her grandparents and suspicious of the way things are run, she’s a very strong and powerful figure.

The tension and terror rachets up, pure Gothic horror, with sinister houses and disturbing monsters in the form of Lilith, Delilah, Jael and Mercy, the Darkwood witches.

The use of names in this book was so good too, Immanuelle, Lilith, Hope, Leah. The Biblical references abound. I could easily write whole essays on the references and the names alone.

For a first novel Alexis Henderson has written a masterpiece. I devoured this so fast. I actually already want to re-read it. Adding it to my top 10 books for this year.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley with no requirement to review.

The acclaimed author of Gods of Jade and Shadow returns with a mesmerising feminist re-imagining of Gothic fantasy, in which a young socialite discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico.

He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

When glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her.

Noemí’s chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin.

Tough and smart, she possesses an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerised by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to leave this enigmatic house behind . . .


My thoughts:

What seems like a stereotypical Gothic novel, complete with large remote house and creepy occupants becomes something far more disturbing and sinister, worthy of a horror film or my nightmares.
The house is menacing and malevolent, the servants mute, the family vicious in their manner, with unbreakable rules that fashionable, fun Noemi breaks with no regard, finding them stuffy and backward.
Uncle Howard’s obsession with eugenics is creepy too, and the reason behind it all was honestly so sinister and sent shivers down my spine.
This was a book that made me wonder how the author could dream up such a nightmarish plot. But at the same time it was a brilliant read, expertly plotted and delivered.

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Book Review: The Breach – M.T. Hill

Freya Medlock, a reporter at her local paper, is down on her luck and chasing a break. When she’s assigned to cover the death of a young climber named Stephen, she might just have the story she needs. Digging into Stephen’s life, Freya uncovers a strange photo uploaded to an urban exploration forum not long before he died. It seems to show a weird nest, yet the caption below suggests there’s more to it.

Freya believes this nest – discovering what it really is and where it’s hidden – could be the key to understanding the mysteries surrounding Stephen’s death.

Soon she meets Shep, a trainee steeplejack with his own secret life. When Shep’s not working up chimneys, he’s also into urban exploration – undertaking dangerous ‘missions’ into abandoned and restricted sites. As Shep draws Freya deeper into the urbex scene, the circumstances of Stephen s death become increasingly unsettling – and Freya finds herself risking more and more to get the answers she wants.

But neither Freya nor Shep realise that some dark corners are better left unlit.

My thoughts:

I’m still not 100% sure what happened at the end of this book, it was so strange and slightly confusing. I’m also not sure exactly what Freya and Shep encountered underground.

But that seems to be intentional, designed to create the same woozy confusing sense within the reader that the characters are dealing with.

I was kindly sent this book with no obligation to review.

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Book Review: The Hunted – Gabriel Bergmoser

Frank owns a service station on a little-used highway. His granddaughter, Allie, is sent to stay with him for the summer, but they don’t talk a lot.

Simon is a dreamer and an idealist, in thrall to the romance of the open road and desperately in search of something.

Maggie is the woman who will bring them together, someone whose own personal journey will visit unimaginable terror on them all.

My thoughts:

This hits the ground running and doesn’t stop, a real horror story that unfolds with a lot of blood and violence.

It made me think of some of the Australian Outback horror films like Wolf Creek, with two young women’s lives at risk in the middle of nowhere.

I was kindly sent a copy of this book with no obligation to review.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis*

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot.

The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking Lola’s every move.

The more she discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her…

My thoughts:

I was so excited to read this and I was not disappointed. Creepy, compelling and sinister; it draws you in like a moth to a flame, you just can’t resist following Lola into the woods and caves of 1920s throwback Harrow Lake.

I grew up in the London suburb of Harrow and we had our fair share of folklore and stories, but nothing as spine tingling as Mr Jitters, cave ins and murder.

Although this is YA, I think plenty of adult readers will enjoy it too, Lola makes for a engaging and very naive protagonist and the residents of Harrow Lake are suitably odd for the setting.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.