Book Review: The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware

Book Review: The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware

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Release Date: August 6th 2019
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 343
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was gifted a copy of this at Christmas
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace, The Turn of the Key is a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Review

Copy of book cover (19)Ruth Ware is an author I’ve always wanted to read but hadn’t gotten around to picking up. The Turn of the Key caught my eye because it sounded so creepy and I had heard so many people raving about it. I ended up completely devouring this chilling book and I am definitely going to be picking up more from Ruth Ware.

The story follows a young woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote home in the Scottish Highlands. Her employers are architects and their home is a smart home, with all aspects of life made easier by technology. The job seems perfect – intuitive home, beautiful location and an excellent salary. But when Rowan finds out that a string of nannies have left the role very suddenly, suspicions begin to be raised and Rowan quickly finds herself in the midst of a nightmare.

I loved everything about this book. It starts off with Rowan in the present day, recounting her story. Right from that very first chapter I was absolutely hooked and I got completely sucked into this story. Rowan was a brilliant protagonist and I was glued to the story that was unfolding. She makes for the perfect unreliable narrator and I was always questioning what was going on around her. The characters in this story are well created and fleshed out. The story is well paced, with the story becoming more and more fast paced as the tension continues to climb.

The Turn of the Key is full of twists and turns and had more than a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. It has a really brilliant sense of atmosphere, there were so many moments that sent a shiver up my spine. If you’re looking for one of those Gothic reads that will have you reading way past bedtime then this is definitely one to pick up. This has made me eager to try more from Ruth Ware and I can’t wait to check out some of her other books.
4 Stars

Book Review: Pine – Frances Toon

Book Review: Pine – Frances Toon

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Release Date:
January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I ordered a copy of this book online
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

They are driving home from the search party when they see her.

The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

Review

Copy of book cover (5)Going into Pine I didn’t really know what to expect, I had seen some incredible reviews online and I was so intrigued by this beautiful Gothic sounding story. The novel is set in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands, following Lauren and her father Niall as they live life in a quiet little village. Despite everyone in the village knowing each other, the place is full of secrets – her mother’s disappearance, a young teenager goes missing and so much more. Trying to understand what’s going on in the village Lauren turns to her tarot cards, hoping to figure out just who she can really trust.

This quiet, beautifully written tale really sucked me in and I really did not want to put this one down. Toon is a brilliant storyteller, weaves layers that draw you deeper and deeper into the secrets surrounding this family. It’s a haunting tale, full of chilling imagery and an eerie isolated setting. It was a gripping read and I will certainly be on the lookout for more books from this author.

Pine is difficult book to categorise – it blends literary fiction with mystery and adds a touch of the supernatural. It’s a well executed story and is completely enthralling. Our main protagonist Lauren is a fascinating young girl, she’s clever and notices far more than most ten year olds. The story is quite a slow burn, it did take me a little while to get settled into the story, but after a few chapters I became completely invested in this story, with it’s vivid imagery of bleak forests and supernatural horror.

I don’t want to say too much about the actual plot of this story – it’s definitely one of those books that you should go into knowing as little as possible about the plot. If you love captivating tales full of mystery with a pinch of Gothic horror thrown in, this is absolutely a must read.
4 Stars

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

Blog Tour: Mortmain Hall – Martin Edwards

Blog Tour: Mortmain Hall – Martin Edwards

July 23, 2019 (9)
Series:
Rachel Savernake #2
Release Date: April 2nd 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

“You died once,” Rachel Savernake whispered. “Tell me who arranged your resurrection, or before the day’s out, you’ll be dead forever.”

1930. At her remote coastal estate of Mortmain Hall, enigmatic heiress and amateur sleuth Rachel Savernake is hosting a gathering – at the bequest of an eccentric criminologist – of people who have cheated the gallows. But the house party culminates in tragedy when a body is found beneath the crumbling cliffs.

The verdict is accidental death, but Rachel determines to foil an ingenious plot to get away with murder. She encounters an eclectic mix of suspects and victims, including a radical publisher risen from the grave, a fake medium with a sinister past, and a cricketer mauled to death by an escaped lion.

Rachel sets out to uncover the labyrinthine secrets of Mortmain Hall, but her relentless quest might just bring down the British establishment…

Who can we turn to, if justice betrays us?

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-03-31T135144.042Mortmain Hall is the second instalment in the Rachel Savernake series, following amateur crime solver Rachel Savernake. This time Rachel is hosting a gathering at her estate, however the party culminates in a death. The death is ruled to be accidental, but Rachel soon uncovers there is much more going on under the surface – but who can she trust?

I really enjoyed this fun and exciting tale of murder and mystery. Set in the 1930s, I loved the vivid characters and gorgeous setting of Mortmain Hall. The story has a really interesting cast of characters and offers multiple points of view to allow you to get to know the different characters and their motivations. I really liked our main protagonist Rachel, she’s a well fleshed out and complex character and I enjoyed seeing her attempt to unravel the mystery.

Set in the Golden Era of crime, Mortmain Hall is full to the brim with atmosphere and mystery. It very much gave me Agatha Christie vibes and had plenty of surprise twists that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed Edwards’ writing style, the story is beautifully told and definitely makes you want to turn pages faster and faster to find out how it’s going to end. Although this is the second instalment in the series it can definitely be read as a standalone – I haven’t yet had the chance to read Gallows Court but I am absolutely planning on picking it up.

Mortmain Hall is an exciting tale of suspense, that will have you up past bedtime reading. If you’re a fan of historical crime fiction, Mortmain Hall is a must read.
4 Stars
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Blog Tour: Frozen Beauty – Lexa Hillyer

Blog Tour: Frozen Beauty – Lexa Hillyer

July 23, 2019 (7)
Release Date:
March 17th 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository
Source: I received an E-ARC of this book through the Fantastic Flying Book Club
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….

No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-03-29T191344.814This book captured my attention because I read and really enjoyed Lexa Hillyer’s Spindle Fire duology and this sounded like such an intriguing premise. Following three sisters – the Malloy’s and their life in Devil’s Lake, a small town where they live with their Mum. When one tragically dies the story follows sisters Tessa and Lilly as they process the death of their sister, and uncover the secrets that have been surrounding the family.

Frozen Beauty is a beautifully told tale of family, friendship, love and loss. I loved the setting of Devil’s Lake, this quaint little town that has something more sinister going on underneath. Hillyer has a really gorgeous writing style and it’s so easy to just become completely wrapped up in the tale she is weaving. The story jumps around in time and perspective as we uncover the secrets in this town and I enjoyed getting to know all three Malloy sisters as well as Patrick and Boyd too. Hillyer has creating a really interesting cast of characters, each dealing with difficult issues. The characters were well fleshed out and I liked that they were flawed, made mistakes and very much felt like real people.

The mystery of Kit’s death is a really interesting story, there are plenty of twists and turns in this tale that surprised me, and it had an ending I did not see coming. The story also contains some of Kit’s poetry which was a fascinating insight into the character and a nice addition to the story. If you’re looking for a tense, atmospheric read that you definitely won’t want to put down, I highly recommend picking this one up.
4 Stars

Blog Tour: Ghoster – Jason Arnopp

Blog Tour: Ghoster – Jason Arnopp

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-11-20T180345.833
Release Date:
October 22nd 2019
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Kate Collins has been ghosted.

She was supposed to be moving in with her new boyfriend Scott, but all she finds after relocating to Brighton is an empty apartment. Scott has vanished. His possessions have all disappeared.

Except for his mobile phone.

Kate knows she shouldn’t hack into Scott’s phone. She shouldn’t look at his Tinder, his calls, his social media. But she can’t quite help herself.

That’s when the trouble starts. Strange, whispering phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognise. Scratch marks on the walls that she can’t explain. And the growing feeling that she’s being watched.

Kate refuses to leave the apartment – she’s not going anywhere until she’s discovered what happened to Scott. But the deeper she dives into Scott’s digital history the more Kate realises just how little she really knows about the man she loves.

Review

Copy of book cover (88)Ghoster is the kind of book that hooks you in right from the very beginning, and absolutely does not let you go. The story follows Kate, a young woman who is moving in with her boyfriend Scott. When Scott mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing behind but his mobile phone, Kate has no choice but to start looking through his social media and online profiles. Strange things start to happen that Kate can’t explain and the deeper she digs into Scott’s past, the more she begins to realise she didn’t really know him at all.

Ghoster is a smart and engaging tale and one that I found difficult to put down. It’s incredibly well paced, heightening the tension as Kate attempts to uncover the mystery behind Scott. Ghoster really felt like a brilliant fresh perspective on the mystery genre and I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading it. The story is one of obsession and the effects being so present online can have on us. It’s a really fascinating read and there are some moments that will definitely send a shiver up your spine.

The story has a really realistic and plausible feel to it, and I think that’s part of what makes this story so chilling. I really liked Kate as a main character and I enjoyed watching her unravel this puzzle. I also enjoyed seeing the relationship between Kate and Scott and how it has changed over time. As always with a mystery/thriller I love it when I’m completely surprised by the turns it takes, and I definitely felt that way with Ghoster. It was an intricately woven tale, and I didn’t want it to end.

Ghoster is the perfect read for a dark and chilly evening. It’s intense, exciting and unforgettable. But be warned, it will have you reading well past bedtime and you might just need to sleep with the light on.
4 stars
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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!

Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-10-20T135404.289
Release Date:
October 4th 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 419
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .
An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read next winter.

Review

As we get to the last few months of the year I find myself reaching more and more for dark and chilling reads that will have me on the edge of my seat. I had pretty high expectations going into this one, I had heard lots of brilliant buzz and hype around it, and I’m so happy to say it delivered. Chilling, mysterious and featuring a brilliant setting.

The story is set in a remote, isolated house on an island off the Devon coast. I completely fell in love with this setting, it was the perfect place to make attempts to contact the dead, and it definitely helped to heighten the tension as we try to figure out the secrets surrounding the guests. I really liked the characters too, we are given two POVs in this story and I really enjoyed both Donovan and Kate’s perspectives as they tried to uncover the mysteries in Blackwater Abbey.

The story is full of plot twists and plenty of surprise moments to keep you hooked. I really enjoyed Ryan’s writing style, and felt the pacing was just perfect to give you that chill up your spine. I also really enjoyed the Wartime setting of this book, it’s not something I read often and loved that extra layer it brought to the story. If you’re looking for something eerie and dark with a real claustrophobic feel, this should definitely be on your wish list.  A House of Ghosts is perfect Halloween reading, and I can’t wait to try more from this author.
4 stars

William Ryan Blogtour 19 Sept (1)

Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-29T221550.008Series: S.T.A.G.S #1
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 303
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Review

Copy of book cover (73)This was such a fun and enjoyable read. I read it over the course of two days, and the mystery kept me wanting more the whole way through. S.T.A.G.S is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and takes a common theme – being an outsider – and turns it into a whole new ballgame.

I really loved the characters in this book. Greer’s Dad is a nature film maker, so the two watch a lot of movies, and I really liked the way she continually referenced films in order to explain her point. I also really liked Nel and Shafeen, Greer’s only real companions. I also found it really interesting the way the Medievals are like carbon copies of each other, M.A. Bennett did a fantastic job of bringing out everyone’s high school nightmare with this group.

The setting for S.T.A.G.S is a really beautiful one, and one that definitely came alive in the story. It certainly is huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ village, with lots of mountains and lakes. The setting in the heart of the Lake District really is a fantastic backdrop for this story.

S.T.A.G.S is certainly a twisty and turn-y thriller. As Greer and her friends attempt to figure out what on earth is going on, there are several things you’ll totally see coming, but also more than a few that you’ll be completely a taken back by (I know I was). I love a story that can keep me guessing, and this exciting YA mystery, definitely ticks that box. S.T.A.G.S would also make one hell of a movie/television series, so I’m definitely going to be keeping my fingers crossed for that. If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining mystery, S.T.A.G.S is a must read for sure.
4 stars

Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-08T223719.935
Release Date:
September 5th 2019
Publisher: Orion Books
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

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.
He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.
Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

Review

Copy of book cover (55)This is the dark and creepy tale of Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers who is sent to Dinas Powys in Wales after the body of a young woman is discovered in the woods. Her body is found bound, mutilated and burnt, so the police turn to Bexley to solve the case. As Thomas begins to uncover the case, he finds the locals reluctant to help and a growing sense of unease in the village – could there be more to this brutal murder than Thomas first thought?

This is quite a short book, but it absolutely packs a punch. It’s really dark and eerie, a murder mystery with just that hint of the supernatural. If I hadn’t read this already I would definitely have read this on Halloween because it’s that perfect spooky story. I loved the setting of this story. This sleepy little village where everyone knows each other. As Bexley tries to uncover the secrets behind the murder I loved the way the tension climbed as that feeling of unease grew and grew.

Thomas was a really interesting character and I found the Victorian forensic photography so interesting. It was something I didn’t know much about so I really liked seeing him carry out his work. The author has a gorgeous writing style and some of the scenes (particularly the one in the basement!) really sent a shiver up my spine.

There are plenty of twists in this that I didn’t see coming, and a fair few scary moments. It’s a quick read because it’s so easy to fall into the story and I am really looking forward to reading more from this author. A Shadow on the Lens is a fantastic debut, a chilling read that fans of Gothic horror will absolutely adore!
4 stars