Book Review: Such Pretty Things – Lisa Heathfield

Book Review: Such Pretty Things – Lisa Heathfield


Release Date:
April 13th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis

A terrifying story of ghosts and grief, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackon’s The Haunting of Hill House and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, in award-winning author Lisa Heathfield’s first adult novel.

Clara and her younger brother Stephen are taken by their father to stay with their aunt and uncle in a remote house in the hills as their mother recovers from an accident. At first, they see it as a summer to explore. There’s the train set in the basement, the walled garden with its secret graves and beyond it all the silent loch, steady and waiting.

Auntie has wanted them for so long—real children with hair to brush and arms to slip into the clothes made just for them. All those hours washing, polishing, preparing beds and pickling fruit and now Clara and Stephen are here, like a miracle, on her doorstep.

But the reality of two children—their noise, their mess, their casual cruelties–begins to overwhelm Auntie. The children begin to uncover things Auntie had thought left buried, and Clara can feel her brother slipping away from her. This hastily created new family finds itself falling apart, with terrifying consequences for them all.

Such Pretty Things is a deeply chilling and haunting story about the slow shattering nature of grief, displacement, jealousy and an overwhelming desire to love and be loved.

Review

Such Pretty Things is the dark and chilling story of Clara and Stephen, two young children taken to stay with their aunt and uncle following their mother’s accident. Their aunt and uncle stay in a remote house and the children believe this will be a summer of exploration and play. Their Auntie has been hoping for children as long as she can remember, but when the children arrive with all their mess and bad behaviour, Auntie struggles to cope. As the children uncover secrets Auntie had long kept hidden it will rip apart their family forever.

Such Pretty Things caught my eye because of that brilliant, eerie cover and it fits so well with this creepy tale. It’s the sort of story that sends a shiver up your spine, full to the brim with tension and unease. Such Pretty Things will absolutely appeal to fans of Shirley Jackson and the story felt very reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw. I ended up reading the book pretty quickly as the strong sense of atmosphere kept me wanting to know more.

Such Pretty Things is quite a slow-paced tale and in some parts I found the story dragged a little. I kept expecting something more horrifying to occur, but it never really happened. There are plenty of sinister moments and Heathfield has a really vivid writing style, but I found myself waiting for something more to happen. Despite this I still really enjoyed the story, it was well executed and a really inventive read. If you’re in the mood for a sinister, creeping horror tale, Such Pretty Things is one for your wishlist.

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.

Blog Tour: The Searching Dead – Ramsey Campbell

Blog Tour: The Searching Dead – Ramsey Campbell


Series:
The Three Births of Daoloth #1
Release Date: February 16th 2021
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

1952. On a school trip to France teenager Dominic Sheldrake begins to suspect his teacher Christian Noble has reasons to be there as secret as they’re strange. Meanwhile a widowed neighbour joins a church that puts you in touch with your dead relatives, who prove much harder to get rid of. As Dominic and his friends Roberta and Jim investigate, they can’t suspect how much larger and more terrible the link between these mysteries will become. A monstrous discovery beneath a church only hints at terrors that are poised to engulf the world as the trilogy brings us to the present day…

Review

Ramsey Campbell is an author I have always wanted to try so when I was offered the chance to read The Searching Dead I jumped at it. The story follows young Dominic Sheldrake as he begins to have suspicions about his history teacher Mr Noble. He learns that his widowed neighbour is part of a church that allows you to contact your dead loved ones and as Dominic and his friend Jim explore France on a school trip he learns that Mr Noble might have other reasons for being there. As Dominic and his friends attempt to uncover the mysteries surrounding them, they uncover much more than they bargained for.

This was such a fun and fascinating read. The story is set in 1950’s Liverpool and Campbell has put an incredible amount of detail into bringing the city to life. All the sights and sounds of post-war Britain leap from the page and it made for a really compelling read. The story has a slightly sinister atmosphere throughout, and this continues to build as we get further and further into the mysteries surrounding Dominic.

I loved that this was also a coming of age story, as Dominic and his friends grow up and begin to question the things around them. I really liked Dominic, Jim and Bobbie, they made for a really great group of friends to follow. All the characters are well fleshed out in the story, from the eerie Mr Noble to the grieving widow next door. While the story is quite quick paced this is a slow building horror but I read the last half of the book in one sitting because I couldn’t look away. It’s a compelling read and I’m really eager to see what book two has in store.

The Searching Dead is a tense and gripping read and if you’re a fan of Lovecraftian horror stories, this is absolutely one to check out. Whilst this is my first book from Ramsey Campbell, it definitely will not be my last.

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: Wranglestone – Darren Charlton

Book Review: Wranglestone – Darren Charlton


Series:
Wranglestone #1
Release Date: February 6th 2020
Publisher: Stripes Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book for a bookstagram tour.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared…

In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there’s nothing to stop them from crossing the ice.

Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he’s forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he’s always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over.

But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary’s secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they’ve ever known.

Review

Wranglestone is the action packed, wintry tale of a world in which the Dead have taken over America. A small group of survives have created a community in a national park and they are kept safe from the zombies by the water that surrounds them. When the harsh winter draws in though, there’s nothing to stop the zombies crossing the ice. Peter is one of the youngest members of the community and when he accidentally allows a stranger to enter the community he learns a hard lesson. He’s forced to learn how to wrangle the zombies with Cooper, a boy he’s long had feelings for. But as winter draws closer Peter and Cooper soon learn that there’s more going on in Wranglestone that meets the eye.

I love stories with supernatural creatures and I haven’t read too many zombie stories so this was exactly the kind of book I was looking for. Wranglestone is a fast paced horror tale and one you absolutely cannot look away from. Charlton’s writing style is really easy to get absorbed in and I found myself absolutely racing through this one – particularly in the later half of the book when the action really picked up. I absolutely adored the beautiful setting of this story, the national park was really vivid and came to life in the descriptions. I loved the concept of a community free from the horrors of the dead until the winter freezes the river and they can cross over. It was something I’d never come across before and I’m so intrigued to see where the story goes next.

Wranglestone has some really interesting characters and I really liked our main protagonists Peter and Cooper. The romance is really sweet despite it being very quick to develop. I loved that the two characters were quite opposite – Peter prefers the comfort of his home and Cooper is always out in the wild – but that they fit together so well. There were a few twists in the story that I didn’t see coming and that made for a very exciting finale in this book.

Wranglestone is an exciting debut and one I really enjoyed reading. If you’re a fan of zombie books this is absolutely a must read and I’m definitely counting down the days until the release of book two.

Blog Tour: Misfits – Hunter Shea

Blog Tour: Misfits – Hunter Shea


Release Date:
September 8th 2020
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

During the height of the 90s grunge era, five high school friends living on the fringe are driven to the breaking point. When one of their friends is brutally raped by a drunk townie, they decide to take matters into their own hands.

Deep in the woods of Milbury, Connecticut, there lives the legend of the Melon Heads, a race of creatures that shun human interaction and prey on those who dare to wander down Dracula Drive. Maybe this night, one band of misfits can help the other. Or maybe some legends are meant to be feared for a reason.

Review

Misfits is the dark and gruesome tale that follows five friends who are outcasts in their small town of Milbury Connecticut. When one of their friends is attacked the group decide to take matters into their own hands and seek justice. The woods surrounding the town are home to the legendary Melon Heads. When the two groups collide they think that perhaps they can be of use to each other – but at what cost?

This is my first Hunter Shea book and it was such a dark and brutal read. It was a perfect horror story to get engrossed in and one I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. It had me on the edge of my seat right from the outset and it definitely creeped me out on more than one occasion. The story is quite a violent one, with plenty of brutal and bloody moments.

I really liked Shea’s writing style and it was really easy to sink into the story. The story is set in the 90s grunge era and it was fascinating seeing that come alive in the story. I really liked the group of misfits in this story and I found myself getting attached to them quite early on. I was rooting for them from the beginning and hoping they would survive the night.

The story is a gruesome one, but it is a well executed tale and it’s absolutely perfect for some late night Halloween reading. I loved the way that Shea used the idea of the local legend, creating a story that is an entertaining horror read. If you’re looking for something fast paced, full of action and plenty of horrifying moments, Misfits should definitely be your next read.

Book Review: Hold Back the Tide – Melinda Salisbury

Book Review: Hold Back the Tide – Melinda Salisbury

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Release Date:
March 5th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local Waterstones
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-20T140949.950Hold Back the Tide follows the story of Alva, a young girl living in the remote Scottish highlands with her father. Her mother mysteriously disappeared and Alva knows her father is responsible. Whilst living day in and day out with the person she believes murdered her mother, she dreams of escaping to a new life. When dark forces begin preying on Ormscaula Alva has to do everything she can to help the town survive, and uncover some difficult truths about her family.

Melinda Salisbury is one of my favourite writers, I’ve loved everything she’s written so far so I was extremely eager to read this one and I had really high expectations. From the get go this story hooked me in, I loved the dark and eerie atmosphere and the bleak remote setting Salisbury created. Salisbury created an incredibly vivid world and from the very first chapter I didn’t want to put this down. I absolutely adored The Sin Eater’s Daughter, but this might be my favourite book from her ever.

Alva is a brilliant protagonist, Salisbury manages to fit in tons of character development as she learns the dark truth of Ormscaula, what happened to her mother and fights for the survival of the town. She’s a strong protagonist and one I was absolutely rooting for from the get go. The secondary characters in the story are likewise well developed and fleshed out. There is a little bit of romance but it is very subtle and doesn’t take away from the main story.

Hold Back the Tide is one of those books that you don’t stop thinking about long after you’ve finished reading. It was creepy, genuinely made me uneasy at some moments and has an absolutely unbelievable ending. I can’t recommend this one highly enough and this book will be without a doubt on my favourite books of 2020 list.
5 Stars

Waiting on Wednesday: Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis

Waiting on Wednesday: Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis

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Synopsis

Welcome to Harrow Lake. Someone’s expecting you . . .

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 her every move.

The more Lola 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.

Thoughts

Copy of book cover (21)Harrow Lake is a book I’ve seen going around quite a lot on social media and lots of people have been absolutely loving it. It sounds like a perfect creepy thriller and I am honestly do excited to pick this one up. I love old horror movies and I think this is going to be the perfect book to binge in an afternoon. I haven’t yet had the chance to pick up any of Kat Ellis’ other books but I am definitely intrigued. The synopsis kind of gives me Night Film vibes, with the father who is a horror filmmaker and the creepy locations the films were set. I absolutely adored Night Film so I’m really hoping Harrow Lake has similar vibes. I’ve seen a fair few early reviews that have been five stars so this is giving me hope for the intense creepy thriller I’m craving. If like me you’re dying to read this one, you don’t have too much longer to wait – Harrow Lake is publishing July 9th 2020 from Penguin Books. 

Book Recommendations: Halloween Edition!

Book Recommendations: Halloween Edition!

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-10-30T135727.937
I’m back with a new book recommendations post. This time we’re talking spooky reads that are perfect for Halloween. I absolutely love doing a readathon on Halloween, it’s a great time to get comfy on the couch with some candles, a blanket and a cat, so I thought I would recommend some of my favourite spooky books that would be perfect this Halloween.

Copy of book cover (80)1. Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
I finished this just recently and absolutely adored it. Set at Yale University, it features magic, mystery and the dark underworld of the Yale secret societies. I got completely sucked into this story and ended up flying through it. It’s gripping, dark and deals with some really tough themes, but it was a brilliant read and definitely a new favourite of mine.

2. The Monster of Elendhaven – Jennifer GiesbrechtCopy of book cover (81)
This is quite a short little book that I ended up reading in one sitting – perfect for a readathon. The story follows a man hungry for revenge on those who wronged him, and his companion who cannot die. It has a really vivid setting, and excellent world building, especially in such a short book. It’s a gruesome and compelling tale, and one I highly recommend.

3. The Deathless Girls – Kiran Milwood Hagravebook cover - 2019-05-01T094307.932
This one isn’t so much as scary as it is captivating and engrossing. The story is a reimagining of the brides of Dracula and the events that lead them to become immortals. It’s a beautifully told Gothic tale and I was absolutely hooked. It features some stunning writing and a fantastic cast of characters. I also really liked the romance in this story – which is something I don’t say very often!

4. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley JacksonCopy of book cover (83)
I couldn’t resist throwing a classic into the mix. Shirley Jackson is an author I have been a bit hit or miss with. I enjoyed The Missing Girl, didn’t really get We Have Always Lived in the Castle and loved The Haunting of Hill House. This is by far my favourite, it’s dark, creepy and a brilliantly weaved tale.

5. Tunnel of Bones – Victoria SchwabCopy of book cover (84)
This is the second instalment in Victoria Schwab’s middle grade ghost hunter series and if you haven’t read book one I highly recommend both.  The first is set in Edinburgh and the many haunted places within the city. This instalment is set in the creepy Paris catacombs and really brings these places to life, I really loved following Cassidy and her ghost best friend as they tackle ghosts and save the world as we know it.

6. Sanctuary – V. V. JamesCopy of book cover (40)
I still think about this book even though I finished it months ago. A story of murder, revenge and witchcraft, this book will have you on the edge of your seat right till the very last page. In a world where witches live and work alongside humans, the murder of a young high school student leads everyone to start pointing the finger at witches. But who really did it? and was Daniel as innocent as he seemed? Full of twists and turns, this is one of my favourite books of the year.

7. The Furies – Katie Lowebook cover - 2019-03-11T211035.250
This is another book I could not put down and is absolutely perfect for Halloween reading. The story of a group of high school students who believe they have ability to cast spells and enact revenge on those who wronged them. This is a stunning debut with vivid characters and an unforgettable plot.

8. Night Film – Marisha PeshlCopy of book cover (56)
I was a bit late to the Night Film party but my god I’m glad I finally picked this book up. The story follows disgraced detective Scott McGrath as he attempts to understand the suicide of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a reclusive film maker. As he delves deeper, he learns it might not have been suicide and Cordova might have been messing with something far beyond our understanding. This story felt so real I wanted to google the characters so I could watch the movies.

Copy of book cover (60)9. The Puppet Show – M. W. Craven
Looking for a crime thriller fix this October? The Puppet Show definitely has you covered. The first in a new detective series, this book is full to the brim with shock twists I would never have seen coming and is full of plenty gory moments. It also features a brilliant crime solving duo and I can’t wait to pick up the next instalment in the series.

10.  Dead Voices – Katherine Arden Copy of book cover (82)
This one is a bit of an honourable mention because I’m actually in the middle of reading it now. This is the second instalment in Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces series. This middle grade series is so fun and full of spooky goodness. The first book features plenty of eerie, spine tingling moments and I am loving Dead Voices so far.

So there you have it! Those are my recommendations for spooky reads this Halloween. If you’ve read any great creepy reads recently I’d love to know what they were, and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

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Series:
Cassidy Blake #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Review

tunnelI absolutely fell in love with Cassidy and her ghost best friend when I read City of Ghosts last year. A spooky tale set in Edinburgh, I was so eager for more. Tunnel of Bones was definitely high on my most anticipated releases list, and I ended up reading it in a single sitting.

We’re back following Cassidy as she goes with her parents to film a new episode of The Inspecters, and this time they’re in Paris. They visit all the iconic places, heading up the Eiffel Tower and descending into the eerie Catacombs. As she explores Cassidy awakens a spirit much stronger than those she’s faced before. Hellbent on all kinds of mischief and mayhem, Cass and Jacob have to find a way to send him back before he ends up haunting Paris forever.

This story is so fun, it’s a wonderful spooky read and it’s absolutely perfect to cuddle up with on a dark autumn night. It has plenty of spine tingling moments, and I loved seeing the dark and eerie spin that Schwab puts on those infamous landmarks. The setting is fascinating and really comes alive in the story (I honestly can’t wait to see where Cass and the gang jet off to next!)

Tunnel of Bones also features a bit more character development, we learn more about best friend Jacob, and Cassidy starts exploring her powers as a ghost hunter. I enjoyed seeing plenty of familiar faces from book one as well as the introduction of some new characters, I particularly liked little Adele.

If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you’re read the first book in the series, you’re going to absolutely love this one. If you haven’t had a chance to pick the first instalment up yet, these will make perfect Halloween binge reads.
5 stars