Book Review: The Dark – Emma Haughton

Book Review: The Dark – Emma Haughton


Release Date:
August 31st 2021
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

ONE DEAD BODY
TWELVE SUSPECTS
TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all…

Review

The Dark is one of those novels where you sit down to read a chapter or two and then look up to find hours have passed and you haven’t even noticed. The story has a really intriguing premise – Kate North is a doctor who has taken up a new post at a remote research station in Antarctica after the previous doctor has died from an accident on the ice. When Kate arrives she soon learns the job might not be all that she hoped, with the entire winter spent in darkness, tensions soon become frayed. Kate begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death might not have been the accident it appeared to be – but is there a killer amongst them and will they strike again?

The Dark is a clever, twisty story and one I could not put down. I loved the remote, claustrophobic setting. It was dark and tense and the scenes out on the ice were incredibly gripping. There were plenty of surprise moments I didn’t see coming and I think I suspected just about everyone at one point. Haughton kept me guessing till near enough the end and the final few chapters had me right on the edge of my seat. The story is fun and fast-paced and I think mystery fans will devour this one.

The Dark has some pretty interesting characters and it was fascinating watching the dynamics between the group change as they spent months in the dark. Kate has an addiction to pills and it keeps the reader guessing – is there something suspicious going on or is Kate paranoid from the pills? It was a fascinating read and while this is my first from Emma Haughton, it absolutely will not be my last. The icy landscape of this book makes it perfect winter reading but be warned, it is addictive.

Blog Tour: Far From the Light of Heaven – Tade Thompson

Blog Tour: Far From the Light of Heaven – Tade Thompson


Release Date:
October 26th 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years from home to bring thousands of sleeping souls to safety among the stars.

Some of the sleepers, however, will never wake – and a profound and sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel as its skeleton crew make decisions that will have repercussions for the entire system – from the scheming politicians of Lagos station to the colony of Nightshade and the poisoned planet of Bloodroot, poised for a civil war.

Review

Far From the Light of Heaven is the beautifully told story of the spaceship Ragtime, which is bringing a thousand souls from Earth to a colony among the stars. This should be a routine journey, captained by an AI. When Shell wakes she discovers the AI has failed and thirty-one of the thousand souls on board have been murdered. As the mystery unfolds it soon becomes clear that there is much more going on, with secrets that could have repercussions far bigger than anyone could imagine.

This book captivated me right from the very first page. Thompson has a beautiful writing style that kept me hooked on this story throughout. The bleak, loneliness of space was so vividly captured and I found myself completely hooked. The story is well paced, with lots of surprise moments that I absolutely did not expect.

The story contains multiple points of view and it was interesting seeing the story unfold from different perspectives. I really liked Shell, a woman thrust into the responsibility of looking after a spaceship and all the people aboard on her first interstellar flight. I enjoyed the mix of mystery and politics that Thompson created in this book and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever read a whodunnit set in space.

Far from the Light of Heaven is an incredibly addictive read, one that sci-fi fans will completely adore. If you’re looking for something that will keep you guessing but also keep you on the edge of your seat, this is definitely one to get reading.


Book Review: Tall Bones – Anna Bailey

Book Review: Tall Bones – Anna Bailey


Release Date:
April 1st 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received a copy of this book as part of the Tandem Collective readalong
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

Review

Tall Bones is without a doubt my favourite mystery novel of 2021. This utterly unforgettable book follows the residents of Whistling Ridge as a young girl named Abi goes missing after a party in the woods. As the search to uncover what happened to Abi begins, questions and long-held resentments are brought to the surface. Will the truth of what really happened be revealed – and at what cost?

Tall Bones is the sort of book that you read in a single feverish sitting. The tense, uneasy atmosphere that fills this book is so well executed and I loved the way the tension continued to build as the story progressed. This is a completely enthralling read, one that really focuses in on life in small-town America. The story is really well-plotted, giving you the time to get to know the different characters. All the characters are well crafted and I loved how each one dealt with their grief of missing Abi in their own way. All the residents of Whistling Ridge have secrets and it was so fascinating to see the townspeople grow suspicious of each other as they attempt to uncover what happened to Abi. The characters felt very relatable and that made the story even more chilling. Tall Bones is definitely one of those books that you still think about months after turning the last page.

Tall Bones has had a lot of hype recently, and it is easy to see why. This is a captivating read, one I think mystery fans will absolutely love. Bailey has a really engrossing writing style and Tall Bones is a very impressive debut novel and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

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.

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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