With enough rooms to fill a Cluedo board several times over, Montague House has often been the subject of rumour and gossip. Tales of strange goings on, an owner who disappeared one day and was never seen again, not to mention the treasure that rumour has it lies at its heart… But now the present owner has died and the house is to be sold. It looks as if the opportunity has come to finally settle the stories once and for all.
Clodagh Wynter doesn’t believe in ghostly goings on and tall tales of secrets. She has her feet very firmly on the ground and, tasked with the job of valuing and cataloguing the house and all its contents, she’s simply looking forward to working in such a glorious setting. And if she happens across a priceless painting, well, that’s just icing on the cake.
Andie Summer is a Finder of Things and desperately needs this job; she’s down to her last few tins of baked beans. So looking for hidden treasure sounds right up her street, even if there was something very fishy about the mysterious Mr Mayfair who hired her. Because it’s just like she said to her faithful Basset Hound, Hamish; I saw something out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving, and you know what that means. It’s never good news when I see something out of the corner of my eye…
As the unlikely pair are thrown together, it soon becomes very clear however that they are not the only ones searching for the treasure. And they’re going to need all their ingenuity, resourcefulness, not to mention chocolate biscuits, if they’re ever going to untangle the web of secrets that surrounds Montague House. One that reaches even further than they ever thought possible...
After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty-something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a fifty-something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.
After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband and three children in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life.
In this beautiful, lyrical sequel to the critically acclaimed We Were the Salt of the Sea, Detective Moralès finds that a seemingly straightforward search for a missing fisherwoman off Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula is anything but.
When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat ’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a woman in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.
When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it ’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep…
An exquisitely written, evocative and poetic thriller, The Coral Bride powerfully conjures the might of the sea and the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review..
This is the sort of book you can get lost in. It’s claustrophobic, immersive and lyrical. Focused on a fishing community in Quebec, Canada, it has a similar quality to Icelandic and Nordic noir. The opening chapter is both beautiful and horrifying at the same time. It raises as many questions as answers.
DS Morales is an unusual man, a loner, a stranger whose motives are not immediately obvious to the community around him. He has a complex family life. This story brings the father and son dynamic into focus and serves as a contrast to the familial relationships exposed in the fishing community.
The plot keeps its secrets well, whilst providing numerous motivations for murder among Angel’s colleagues, family and friends. The insular nature of the community is well described and the importance of nature and folklore interwoven into the investigation giving it depth and originality.
This is a standalone read, but DS Morales is a complex and interesting man. Reading the first book where he features would make this even more enjoyable.
Over ten years ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies.
Her fifth novel (first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride. She lives in Quebec.
A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late? When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.
Tom Gillespie grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the university as an English lecturer. Tom writes long and short stories. His stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and e-zines. He is co-author of Glass Work Humans-an anthology of stories and poems, published by Valley Press.
When Lexie Harrington is asked to choreograph Phoebe and Sam’s Christmas-themed wedding, she can’t wait to create the perfect winter wonderland – elegantly dressed fir trees, glossy garlands of holly and mistletoe, baskets of yule logs and pine cones, and the mouth-watering fragrance of gingerbread, cinnamon sticks and warm mulled wine floating through the air.
With handsome wedding columnist-cum-fledgling scriptwriter Theo Barker at her side, she’s confident that she can create the perfect festive ambience the bride and groom have been dreaming of since their engagement in the Swiss Alps; no rampant hosepipes, no mechanical mice, no confetti-filled hairdryers.
But this is The Cornish Confetti Agency, and the words ‘plain-sailing’ and ‘hassle-free’ do not feature in the promotional brochure. So, when a much-loved portrait of the groom’s father is adorned with pirate eye-patches and black plastic moustaches, and his expensive cologne is switched for toilet cleaner, Lexie and Theo must once again don their metaphorical deerstalkers and unravel the mystery before the wedding dissolves into Christmas-themed chaos and calamity.
A perfect Christmas wedding? Is there such a thing for The Cornish Confetti Agency?
A glittery, feel-good story perfect for the festive season, and the third book in The Cornish Confetti Agency series.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
The third book in The Cornish Confetti Agency series is pure festive magic with an intriguing cosy mystery, romance and laughter. It’s readable as a festive standalone, but if you enjoy heartwarming romance, humourous moments and cosy mystery read the first two books too.
The characters are vibrant, and there’s a catalogue of wedding-themed incidents full of humour, and mystery. Lexie and Theo, are worthy amateur sleuths, and there’s plenty of romantic interludes for characters old and new.
If you are a fan of Christmas, like to laugh, sigh at romance and solve a mystery, it’s all here in a veritable Christmas cracker of a story.
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines.
When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter.
She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
On the hundredth anniversary of being turned into a vampire, Edith Dorset joins her adopted daughters and their friends at the Heartsong Clan’s annual Live Action Role Play recruitment event where she meets an eager young man named Dan Paxton. His older brother and Hunter, Darren, thinks Dan’s merely chaperoning a trip to a nerd convention, but has no idea he’s partnered with vampires for the weekend.
When Darren discovers Dan missing, he follows the only lead he has to the Heartsong Clan’s residence on Tombstone Row. Edith and Darren’s first meeting is uneasy because he lies his way into the Clan’s house, claiming to be there to play on the side of humans. He’s determined to keep his Hunter instincts in check, rescue his brother, and get it out of there.
An impromptu late-night encounter leads Darren and Edith to come clean with each other about who and what they are. Edith longs to keep Darren and his brother close, although it goes against Clan rules, and Darren is finding it harder than he thought to snuff out Edith and her family. Darren and Edith grow closer as they seek out the truth from her Sire, Mr. Heartsong.
While Darren uses all his Hunter skills to free his brother and be the hero, Mr. Heartsong banishes Edith from the Clan for her behavior towards Darren. No longer having Clan protection, Edith is faced with a terrible choice. Just as Darren returns with Hunter reinforcements, Heartsong and his Clan have vanished, along with Edith and her family. All that remains is a note from Edith, begging Darren to find them. And so, the hunt begins.
I received a copy of this book from the authors in return for an honest review.
It seems like vampires and all things paranormal are enjoying a resurgence in popular fiction at the moment, and this story is a promising start to the series. Clever world-building and relatable characters drive a plot with mystery, romance and family at its heart.
The fast-paced story increases the tension and keeps you turning the pages. The writing makes good use of sensory imagery and draws the reader into the world of vampires, hunters and the supernatural.
USA Today Bestselling Authors Sarah Biglow and Molly Zenk are the authors of the Captivity series and the Celestial Academy series. Independently, they write across multi genres including: YA, urban fantasy, historical, and cozy mystery. Sarah lives in Boston with her husband and son. Molly lives in Denver with her husband and three daughters.
A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.
Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.
With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This noir fantasy adventure takes the reader on a journey in an intricately built world. There is enough familiarity in the setting to make it relatable, but the story is vivid, filled with fantastical creatures and manifestations of good and evil.
The prologue entices the reader into the story and introduces the antagonist and the birds who are so important. The protagonists are diverse and believable because of their flawed characters. Salin, the leader of the quest, is courageous and tenacious, but for him, the end justifies the means even when it leads others into danger.
There are some graphic images in this story which reinforce the depravity of the antagonist, and backstory that illuminates why they are evil. Like all fantasy stories, you have to believe the world, and be invested in the quest. With carefully reading, this is easy with this story.
Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country, and has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – turning to writing his own during his early teens.
With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied. Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.
This diverse interest in fiction continued with his reading and his discovery of the magical world of cinema. As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but will always maintain the style of a thriller.
Graeme’s first novel, Ravens Gathering, was published in 2012, gaining excellent reviews and a committed following. His second novel, Carrion, was published in 2020, and has been greeted with enthusiasm by readers waiting to find out what he’ll come up with next. He hopes not to keep them waiting so long next time.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.
WHEN MONSTERS COME TO LIFE…In the aftermath of Ambrosius’ attack on Tintagel Castle, young Morgan is sent away to the fortress of Dimilioc with her family, friends and tutor. But when bandits ambush their party, Morgan gets lost in the forest with nothing but her wits and her magic powers to rely on.In her battle for survival, Morgan faces a cruel, hostile world that is suspicious, afraid and jealous of her magic. Silver-tongued faeries who are not what they seem. Vengeful Piskies and Muryans holding her friend Ganieda captive. Angry Giants and Spriggans who have awakened in the earth. And the ever-present threat of Ambrosius and his army, waiting to strike again…To rescue her friends and outwit her enemies, Morgan must draw upon all her gifts, magic and mortal, in a perilous journey that will test her strength, faith and loyalty to the utmost…
Jo-Anne Blanco was born in Brazil to an English mother and Spanish father. She has spent much of her life travelling around the world as a teacher. Her travels, together with her lifelong passion for reading, writing and storytelling, inspired her to embark upon her Fata Morgana epic fantasy series, about the life and adventures of Morgan le Fay. Mythology, fairy tales and Arthurian legend are all major influences on her work, and her ongoing journeys to countries of great landscapes and folklore are never-ending sources of inspiration.She is the author of Morgan Le Fay: Small Things and Great and Morgan Le Fay: Children of This World. These novels are the first two books in the Fata Morgana series.Morgan Le Fay: Giants in the Earth, the third novel in the series, will be published in 2020.
Following the sinful shenanigans of Hellcorp and The Man in the Dark, the hellishly handsome Devil turns his attention to the most frightening of all holidays … Halloween.
Jonathan Whitelaw has written a unique, one-off special tale starring Ol’ Nick himself – and set in the wild Wild West. After lending a hand to a down-on-his-luck prospector, The Devil returns thirty years later to collect his debt – but as ever when The Devil is involved, nothing ever goes to plan.
A prequel to the bestselling HellCorp, this enthralling and very funny tale is the perfect read for Halloween and fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Christopher Fowler and Benedict Jacka.
All proceeds from every sale of The Deal will be donated to Samaritans.
I bought a copy of this book from Amazon UK for 99p.
Atmospheric with authentic historical detail this quirky short story takes the reader to 1850s California, where gold prospecting is a way of life. Abner is a young man hoping to make his fortune, everything about the place unnerves him, but the chance for riches keeps him there. Enter the devil who sees him as a soul ripe for the picking and the age-old battle of good versus evil commences.
The devil has an enticing manner with untold evil barely hidden beneath the surface. The writing style draws you into the story. It makes you suspend belief, and the ending shows how unpredictable humans and life can be.
An ideal Halloween read which makes you want to seek out the author’s other books.
Interview with Jonathan Whitelaw
Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster.
After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between.
He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV.
HellCorp, from Urbane Publications, is his second novel following his debut, Morbid Relations.
Rainbow put down the phone and raced upstairs to her bedroom. Christophe had a surprise for her and he sounded excited about it.
She pulled on shorts and a T-shirt, scraped her long brown hair into a ponytail and clattered back downstairs. She paused at the bathroom to brush her teeth. She didn’t want morning breath to interfere with kissing.
Mum was in the kitchen, humming her new song as she made tea for the commune adults.
“Can I borrow the Mini?” Rainbow asked. “I’m going over to Christophe’s.”
Mum yawned. “I thought you were revising all weekend?”
“I’ve got the rest of the day to revise. And tomorrow. I won’t be long.”
Mum nodded, sat down with her tea and started scribbling musical notes on her manuscript. Rainbow dropped a kiss on her cheek, scooped up the keys and dashed outside into the sunny June morning.
She hadn’t seen Christophe all week. He’d been training a new motorbike apprentice at work and persuaded Rainbow to spend the final evenings before her Baccalaureate exams revising instead of hanging out with him. So she had. She’d ignored the call of the woods and sat in her loft, her school books open, gazing out of the windows at the enticing leaves.
Christophe. A smile spread across her face as she drove towards his flat in Cognac. They’d been together for nine months – the nine best months of her life. They’d also been the strangest, but that wasn’t because of Chris. It was because of Mary.
When she and Mary hugged the silver maple tree last September, it had somehow absorbed Mary’s body. Rainbow absorbed Mary’s mind, which supposedly healed the split that should never have happened. All Mary’s memories and emotions, from the moment she and Mary split into two parallels, had lodged themselves inside Rainbow.
Rainbow didn’t feel healed. Mary continued to live on: to think and react to everything in Rainbow’s life, making Rainbow feel overstuffed with bizarre feelings that conflicted with her own. Mary’s negativity and her rebelliousness, her irreverent humour, her courage and her uncertainties all battled with Rainbow’s own, simpler worldview. Mary was so strong, Rainbow could almost hear her voice, and she experienced yearnings for places she’d never seen and people she’d never known.
After nine months, she still felt as if she’d swallowed Mary whole, like a dose of unpleasant medicine, and was unable to digest her. All she could do was to keep the thoughts and feelings that emerged from Mary in a separate part of her mind, a small part that didn’t interfere with her true self. Between her and Mary was a mental wall, a wall of bricks.
The only good part of sharing her mind and body with Mary was the love for Christophe she’d brought with her. There was no keeping that behind the wall. It seeped through the gaps and filled her with a heady scent that made life more joyful than ever before.
Luckily, Christophe understood her Mary problems. He understood everything about her – except, perhaps, that she didn’t like revising. Or her obsession with Amrita Devi.
She parked Mum’s Mini in front of the motorbike shop in Cognac and jumped out, hoping the surprise wasn’t anything to do with motorbikes. Christophe’s flat was above the shop where he worked, though he didn’t work on Saturdays. She rang the doorbell to his flat and waited.
Amrita Devi was the girl in the Bishnoi legend who had saved a tree and lived – or saved a tree and died, according to Mary. Rainbow firmly believed Amrita had lived.
Although she hadn’t seen Amrita since her vision last September, she’d had incessant dreams about her. At the beginning, the dreams showed her and Amrita as the closest of sisters, running through woodland together, holding hands, sharing secrets and laughing. But the dreams were becoming darker. The last few times they’d been nightmares, with Amrita pleading for help and begging Rainbow to understand something that Rainbow could never grasp. When Rainbow told Christophe about her dreams, his brown eyes would begin to glaze and she’d have to tickle him until he listened properly.
Christophe buzzed open the front door for her and waited at the top of the stairs. She looked at him carefully as she walked up, in case the surprise was something boring like a new haircut. His thick hair was standing up at odd angles, which was normal for the morning, and there were no signs of piercings or tattoos. He did look worried, though. She glided into his bear hug and he held her tight.
Harriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.
She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.
Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.
The second book in the Relic Hunters series takes Finn and Aria, and some new friends, on a quest to find the air relic. Aria needs to hone her powers and rally her clan to achieve this aim. Careful world-building peppered with adrenaline-fueled action scenes take the children to the farthest reaches of the world. Their enemies are many, and a dangerous pact threatens to thwart their quest. Who can they trust? Will they succeed?
This story makes a wonderful audiobook. The narrator brings the characters and the adventures to life. Having read the book it is lovely to hear a professional narrator voice the characters making them distinctive and memorable. This is a perfect listen for older children who like adventure stories and the chance to let their imaginations wander.
The concepts of right and wrong, good versus evil and brave children will appeal to adults too, I enjoyed this part of the adventure and found the easy listening style immersive, and the characters relatable.
Although the adventure is complete, and this story can be listened to as a standalone, the overall quest is interesting, and I suggest you listen to Eternal Seas, the start of the series, first. The link to my review of this is below.
Lexi Rees writes action-packed adventures for children. The first book in The Relic Hunters Series, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids and is currently longlisted for a Chanticleer award.
She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children, and as well as an active programme of school visits and other events, she has published a Creative Writing Skills workbook, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.
In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats. https://twitter.com/lexi_rees In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.