Blog Tour: Ariadne – Jennifer Saint

Blog Tour: Ariadne – Jennifer Saint


Release Date:
April 29th 2021
Publisher: Wildfire Books
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly provided an E-ARC to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel

Review

Ariadne first caught my eye because of that absolutely stunning cover. When I hear this was a retelling of the minotaur myth from the perspective of Ariadne I was incredibly excited to pick it up. The story follows Ariadne, daughter of King Minos. Ariadne lives with the sound of hoofbeats beneath the palace, as the minotaur roams the labyrinth below. When Theseus, Prince of Athens is brought to Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him and decides to help him destroy the minotaur. But doing so will betray her family and her country.

I absolutely adore Greek retellings and this might possibly be my favourite one ever. I completely fell in love with this story. Saint has absolutely stunning prose and I got completely lost in this beautiful, fiercely feminist story. Ariadne is a fascinating character and it was so compelling to read the story from her point of view. The story really focuses in on all the female characters that are forgotten in the original myths, in favour of the infamous heroes. Ariadne is an impressive debut and I cannot wait to read more from Jennifer Saint.

There were so many things I loved about this book and I particularly enjoyed the sense of sisterhood between Ariadne and Phaedra. Saint has the ability to write really compelling characters and I must admit I got a bit teary-eyed at the ending. This is an exceptional debut and if you’re a fan of books by Madeline Miller and Pat Barker, this should definitely be your next read.

Blog Tour: The Imposter – Anna Wharton

Blog Tour: The Imposter – Anna Wharton


Release Date:
April 1st
Publisher: Mantle
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Chloe lives a quiet life. Working as a newspaper archivist in the day and taking care of her Nan in the evening, she’s happy simply to read about the lives of others as she files away from the news clippings from the safety of her desk.

But there’s one story that she can’t stop thinking about. The case of Angie Kyle – a girl, Chloe’s age, who went missing as a child. A girl whose parents never gave up hope.

When Chloe’s Nan gets moved into a nursing home, leaving Chloe on the brink of homelessness, she takes a desperate step: answering an ad to be a lodger in the missing girl’s family home. It could be the perfect opportunity to get closer to the story she’s read so much about. But it’s not long until she realizes this couple aren’t all they seem from the outside…

But with everyone in the house hiding something, the question is – whose secrets are the most dangerous?

Review

The Imposter is an expertly woven tale that tells the story of Chloe, a quiet girl who spends her time working as an archivist and looking after her Nan. She becomes obsessed with the story of a missing girl and the parents that never stopped hoping for her return. When her Nan is moved to a nursing home and she finds herself with nowhere to live, Chloe answers an ad for a lodger with the missing girls’ parents. When she moves in she learns there’s much more going on with the couple than she ever expected.

This was an absolutely cracking read. Wharton mixes this mystery story with an exploration of grief and loss, and it is incredibly well executed. This is such a captivating read and one that’s quite slow-paced. The reader is given plenty of opportunities to get to know the characters and the sad story of the missing child. There is a sense of unease throughout the story and this build and builds as the story reaches its ending.

Wharton has created some really complex and fascinating characters in this story and has done a brilliant job portraying grief. The story has many twists and turns, with a few I definitely didn’t see coming. It makes for a really compelling read, and I raced through the last half of the book in one sitting.

I thought Wharton crafted a really brilliant story and the premise was definitely something I haven’t encountered before. This sinister mystery is beautifully written and if you’re looking for a story that will keep you hooked right to the very last page, The Imposter is exactly what you’re looking for.

Blog Tour: Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline

Blog Tour: Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline


Release Date:
1st April 2021
Publisher: W&N
Pages: 300
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

From the author of the YA-crossover hit The Marrow Thieves, a propulsive, stunning and sensuous novel inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou – a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities. A messed-up, grown-up, Little Red Riding Hood.

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One terrible, hungover morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff. By the time she staggers into the tent, the service is over. But as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.

She turns, and there Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he’s wearing a suit and he doesn’t recognize her at all. No, he insists, she’s the one suffering a delusion: he’s the Reverend Wolff and his only mission is to bring his people to Jesus. Except that, as Joan soon discovers, that’s not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing.

With only the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with knowledge of the old ways, and her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan has to find a way to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon it.

Review

Empire of Wild is one of those books that you read the premise of and are immediately desperate to know more. The story follows Joan, a woman struggling with the disappearance of her husband Victor. When she stumbles across a revival tent one more she heads inside to find her husband is the preacher. When she approaches him she discovers he does not recognise her at all. With some help from her nephew Zeus and Ajean – a woman in the community with knowledge of the old ways, she must fight to rescue Victor and remind him of who he really is.

Empire of Wild is an incredibly compelling read. I loved the slightly sinister atmosphere of the story and the tale of the Rogarou. Dimaline has gorgeous prose and the story really sucks you into this brilliant book. The story really focuses on issues of colonialism and identity and I loved the way Dimaline weaved these topics into the supernatural storyline.

Dimlaine creates really clever characters in this book and in particular, I loved Ajean and Zeus. Ajean is the wise lady who’s seen it all, and she’s a great side character. Similarly, Joan’s nephew Zeus, who is determined to come along and help rescue Victor. Think horror tale was an incredibly engrossing read and one that has definitely stuck with me. If you’re looking for a unique and compelling suspense story, Empire of Wild is one you need to add to your wishlist.

Blog Tour: The Drowned City – K J Maitland

Blog Tour: The Drowned City – K J Maitland


Release Date:
April 1st 2021
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, a close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

Review

This is my first time reading a book by Karen Maitland and it was a rollercoaster ride. The story is set in 1606, the year after the gun powder plot. As a giant wave destroys much of Bristol, Daniel Pursglove is freed from a London prison and sent to Bristol to investigate a Jesuit conspiracy. As Daniel delves deeper into the conspiracy, Pursglove uncovers far more than he ever suspected.

The Drowned City is a really compelling read and Maitland brings to life the sights and sounds of the 1600s in great detail. The story came across as well researched and Maitland really brought Bristol to life in the story. The Drowned City is packed with atmosphere and I absolutely felt swept away into this tense story. The book is a fairly large one but the story moves pretty quickly and I found myself turning pages quicker and quicker as we raced towards the final chapters. The Drowned City is the first in a new series, so I’m incredibly intrigued to see where the story will go next.

Our main protagonist is a really fascinating character and I enjoyed getting to know him and understand more about his history that led him to end up in prison. All the characters in this story felt well-created and that really came across in the story. The story is brimming with political intrigue and there are more than a few gruesome moments. The Drowned City is dark and atmospheric and overall a brilliant start to the series. If you’re looking for a well-plotted historical thriller with plenty of mystery and menace, this is definitely a book to pick up.

Mini Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djèlí Clark

Mini Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djèlí Clark


Series:
Fatma el-Sha’arawi #0.5
Release Date: May 18th 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 43
Find it on: Goodreads. Tor Books. 
Source: I read this online on the Tor Books website
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Egypt, 1912. In an alternate Cairo infused with the otherworldly, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine. What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and plot that could unravel time itself.

Review

The Fatma el-Sha’arawi is a series I have seen doing the rounds online recently, so when I heard that the best place to start is with the short novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo, I decided to give it a go. This story might only be forty three pages, but it absolutely packs a punch. Set in Cairo in the 1900s, the story follows Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi as she works to uncover the truth behind an odd suicide case. As she digs deeper into the supernatural underworld of the city, she finds a much more sinister plot going on.

I honestly loved this. Fatma was a fantastic main character and even though this is short I completely fell in love with her. There’s quite a bit of character development in that short space of time and I can’t wait to see what Clark does with a full length novel. The world in this is fascinating and there is still a substantial bit of world building in this novelette. As expected the story is a quick one, but it comes to a very satisfying conclusion.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo is a fascinating tale and full of beautiful writing. It absolutely left me wanting more and I can say without a doubt this will not be my last book from P. Djèlí Clark.

Book Review: The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge

Book Review: The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge


Series:
The Twisted Tree #1
Release Date: September 27th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this book online
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of Coraline and Michelle Paver.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, The Twisted Tree is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

Review

The Twisted Tree is the first instalment in a creepy horror mystery series from Rachel Burge. The story follows Martha, a young girl who has the ability to sense things about someone by reading their clothes. Determined to understand her abilities she runs away to visit her grandmother in Norway. When she arrives she discovers her grandmother has passed away and a strange boy is squatting in her house. As the snow leaves them cut off from the outside world, Martha has no choice but to let the boy stay, but as the snows get heavier they get the sense they aren’t the only ones there.

This was such a fun read and I ended up reading it in one sitting! It’s really fast paced, with a terrific sense of setting. I loved the remote Norwegian setting and Burge really brought to life the cold, icy landscape. The Twisted Tree is full to the brim with atmosphere and there are some really creepy moments in this story. I liked the way Burge weaved a horror and mystery story with norse mythology – it made for a really unique and engaging read.

I really liked Martha as a main character and I loved learning more about her mysterious powers. The idea of reading someone from their clothes was so fascinating and something I’ve never encountered before. I also quite liked Stig, who was a really mysterious character. The pair work really well together and I enjoyed seeing them learn to trust one another to save the day.

The Twisted Tree is a wonderfully atmospheric read and is perfect reading for a cold dark night. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to read it, once you start reading you won’t want to put it down.

Book Review: Horrorstör – Grady Hendrix

Book Review: Horrorstör – Grady Hendrix


Release Date:
September 23rd 2014
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 248
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I ordered a copy of this from Book Depository.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör is designed to retain its luster and natural appearance for a lifetime of use. Pleasingly proportioned with generous French flaps and a softcover binding, Horrorstör delivers the psychological terror you need in the elegant package you deserve.

Review

Horrorstör is a book that caught my eye online and as soon as I read the synopsis I knew I had to order a copy. A haunted house story set in an Ikea type store? Where do I sign up? I expected this to be a fun, entertaining read but what I didn’t expect was for it to be genuinely quite creepy and spine tingling. Horrorstör is a gripping and compelling read, and one I absolutely did not want to look away from.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. It’s laid out like an Ikea catalogue, with a map of the store and diagrams of the furniture on sale – that became increasingly more menacing as the story progresses. It’s clever and well executed and definitely made me intrigued to read more from Grady Hendrix.

The story itself is quite a straight forward one. Amy is an employee of Orsk, a cheap knock off of Ikea. The store has been getting vandalised at night and when her boss Basil asks Amy and another employee to work an overnight shift in attempt to find out who’s causing the trouble, Amy needs the money desperately enough that she agrees. What they find in the store is a lot darker than they expected and not everyone will survive the night.

The story is a really addictive one and I absolutely raced through it. It’s fast paced and full of atmosphere and I really liked the characters Hendrix has created. We don’t get to learn too much about them apart from Amy but I liked them all. Parts of the story are pretty funny, particularly as Amy goes through her day as a retail employee. Overall I really enjoyed this one, it was plenty of fun and incredibly creepy. If you’re looking for a unique and engaging book to devour in a weekend, this is definitely it.

Book Review: The Crooked Mask – Rachel Burge

Book Review: The Crooked Mask – Rachel Burge


Series:
The Twisted Tree #2
Release Date: September 17th 2020
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages:  278
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Deep in a forest in Northern Norway lies the Circus of Myth & Mayhem.

Martha is certain that unsolved mysteries are hidden there – and talks her way into getting a job as a psychic.

She soon learns there’s something very strange about the circus. Costumed performers re-enact stories of the Norse gods wearing masks, which move and change expression, yet no one notices but her. And then there’s the creepy jester who invites her to ‘play’.

When an old friend shows up at the circus Martha is thrown into turmoil. Is he there because he misses her or because he wants to stop her discovering the truth? And he isn’t the only liar she has to worry about. Loki has taken an interest in the circus and Martha finds herself drawn into a dangerous game of the gods. She must look behind the mask and see what’s really happening . . . before it’s too late.

Review

The Crooked Mask is the sequel to Rachel Burge’s The Twisted Tree. Following on from the events of book one the story follows Martha as she ends up working at the Circus of Myth and Mayhem in an attempt to uncover the truth behind Nina’s death. When she discovers there is much more going on in the circus than she first thought, she is drawn into a dangerous game with the trickster god Loki, but can she uncover the truth before it’s too late?

I really loved The Twisted Tree so I was super excited to dive into this second instalment. The story is just as beautifully written and Burge’s writing really brings to life the wintry landscape and the magical setting of the circus. Burge writes really great scary moments and there were definitely some scenes where I felt a shiver up my spine. Like the first book the story is pretty fast paced and I found myself racing through The Crooked Mask just as quickly as I did The Twisted Tree.

I really liked Martha as a main protagonist in book one so I enjoyed following her again in book two as she continued to learn more about her powers and her family history. Burge has created a really fascinating world in this book and I loved the way she weaved this ghost story with Norse mythology. There were quite a few twists I didn’t see coming in this one and I loved how it all ended.

If you’re a fan of creepy stories and Norse mythology this is definitely a series to get reading. I enjoyed every second of this one and really hope there will be a third book in the series!

Book Review: Skyward Inn – Aliya Whiteley

Book Review: Skyward Inn – Aliya Whiteley


Release Date: March 16th 2021
Publisher: Solaris
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

This is a place where we can be alone, together.

Skyward Inn, on the moorlands of the Western Protectorate, is removed from modern technology and politics. Theirs is a quiet life – The Protectorate has stood apart from the coalition of world powers that has formed. Instead the inhabitants choose to live simply, many of them farming by day and drinking the local brew at night.

The co-owners of the inn are Jem and Isley. Jem, a veteran of the coalitions’ war on the perfect, peaceful planet of Qita, has a smile for everyone in the bar. Her partner Isley does his cooking in the kitchen and his brewing in the cellar. He’s Qitan, but it’s all right – the locals treat him like one of their own. They think they understand him, but it’s only Jem who knows his homeland well enough to recreate it in the stories she tells him at dawn.

Skyward Inn is Jamaica Inn by way of Ursula Le Guin, bringing the influences, too, of Angela Carter, Michel Faber and Jeff Vandermeer to create a fantastic story of love, belonging, and togetherness. Asking questions of ideas of the individual and the collective, of ownership and historical possession, and of the experience of being human, it is at once timeless and thoroughly of its time.

Review

Skyward Inn is the strange and beautiful story of Jem and Isley – the co-owners of an inn in the moorlands of the Western Protectorate. Their life is a quiet one, away from the modern advancements in technology and politics. We are similarly introduced to Fosse – Jem’s son who lives with his Uncle. All three characters are trying to find acceptance in this world and survive a world of aliens and travel between planets.

Skyward Inn is quite a quiet story. It has some absolutely stunning prose and it pulls you in with its beautiful words and the intricate world building. It’s not an overly big book and I found myself becoming completely lost in the story – I pretty much read the book in one sitting on a Sunday afternoon.

Whiteley has created some incredibly fascinating characters all of whom are searching for something. The story focuses on acceptance, community and the idea of belonging. It’s a cleverly executed tale and one that has definitely made me keen to read more from Aliya Whiteley. The relationships in this story were really interesting – particularly the strained relationship between Jem and her son Fosse.

Skyward Inn is a moving and thought provoking tale, completely unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a clever story and one I can’t recommend highly enough.

Blog Tour: The Game Weavers – Rebecca Zahabi

Blog Tour: The Game Weavers – Rebecca Zahabi


Release Date:
October 25th 2020
Publisher: ZunTold Publishing
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Seo is Twine’s youth champion.

We are in a darker Britain and the national sport is not football but Twine, a game where weavers craft creatures from their fingertips to wage battle against others in vast arenas, watched by thousands.

But we are living in intolerant times and Seo harbours a secret. When he is outed as gay by the media, Seo cannot use his magic to save him.

With the help of his brother Minjun and Jack, the man he can’t quite decide if he loves or not, Seo has to fight to get his life back on track whilst facing the biggest match of his career.

A fantastical yet hauntingly contemporary debut novel from Rebecca Zahabi.

Review

The Game Weavers is the absolutely fascinating debut novel from Rebecca Zahabi. The story follows Seo, a young man who is a champion at Britain’s national sport Twine – a game in which the player must create creatures that battle each other in huge arenas. Despite the futuristic game society has become even more intolerant and when the media outs Seo as gay, he has to fight to get his life back on track as well as continue to compete in the legendary game.

Zahabi has created a really fresh and unique premise, and I found this story to be incredibly gripping. I absolutely loved the idea of Twine, a fighting game similar to the idea of Pokemon in which creatures must battle each other. The story was well paced and I enjoyed learning about the game and the world that Zahabi has brought to life. I really enjoyed her writing style and it was so easy to sink into this brilliant debut novel.

The Game Weavers features a diverse cast of characters and I really liked Seo as a main protagonist. I was really rooting for him and it was interesting seeing him attempt to get his life back to normal, figure out his feeling for Jack as well as play in the game. All the characters were well created and I also really liked the sibling relationship between Seo and Minjun.

The story focuses on homophobia and as such there are some trigger warnings for this. I thought the subject was well handled and the idea of being true to yourself really shined through in the story. The Game Weavers is a well crafted novel with a unique and engaging premise. This is a very impressive debut and I’m excited to see what Rebecca Zahabi writes next.