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.

books, reviews

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.

books, reviews

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.

books, reviews

Book Review: The Twisted Ones – T. Kingfisher

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods in this chilling novel that reads like The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show.
When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?
Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more–Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.
Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors–because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.

My thoughts:

I found this book super creepy. The weird appearance of the twisted things and the deeply sinister implications of life in their hands made me shudder.

Well written, gripping and perfectly capable of giving you bad dreams.

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher with no obligation to review.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Snowball – Gregory Bastianelli*

A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway.

Gregory Bastianelli Gregory Bastianelli is the author of the novels Loonies and Jokers Club. His stories have appeared in the magazines Black Ink Horror, Sinister Tales and Beyond Centauri; the anthologies Night Terrors I, Cover of Darkness and Encounters; and the online magazines Absent Wilow Review and Down in the Celar. His novella The Lair of the Mole People appeared in the pulp anthology Men & Women of Mystery Vol. I. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire where he studied writing under instructors Mark Smith, Thomas Williams and Theodore Weesner. He worked for nearly two decades at a small daily newspaper where the highlights of his career were interviewing shock rocker Alice Cooper and B-movie icon Bruce Campbell. He became enchanted with the stories of Ray Bradbury as a young child, and his love of horror grew with the likes of Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell. He lives in Dover, NH, in a Colonial home built in the 1700s. He enjoys kayaking, hiking and bicycling in the summer and snowshoeing and racquetball in the winter. Along with spending time with family, he enjoys traveling, especially to Italy where he has visited his ancestral home and relatives residing there and hiked the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast and to the top of Mt. Vesuvius.

My thoughts:

What starts as a fairly conventional tale of an assortment of people stuck in a snow storm becomes something much darker and creepier as they start to realize monsters roam the snow covered landscape around them.

Winter is the time for creepy ghost and hotter stories and this is definitely creepy and filled with horror.

The concept of a group of travellers telling stories to pass the time isn’t new – Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is exactly that, but it works as a good way to gather people together and then torment them too.

I’m sure a lot of people would agree a snowed in road is hell, and perhaps that’s where the characters in this story have ended up.

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