Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Fantasy, Folk Tales, Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novella, Paranormal

Starve Acre Andrew Michael Hurley 4*#Review @johnmurrays #AndrewMichaelHurley #Folk #Horror #Gothic #Supernatural #Grief #Novella

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors was to be full of life but is now a haunted place.

Juliette convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Atmospheric, disturbing and poignant, ‘Starve Acre’, fuses the darkest human emotions with supernatural echoes. Richard and Juliette were hoping for an idyllic life in the country, although the place they chose had a dark history and little to recommend it. They lost their child Ewan, who before his death seemed haunted by dreams and voices, in the house and in the land that accompanied it.

The story is sad and sinister. You are undecided whether this is a journey into the dark and desperate grief of two bereaved parents. Or a haunting and possession, engineered by the dark echoes of the past residing in Starve Acre.

The setting and folklore woven into the story produce vivid imagery that evokes the horror unfolding. The desperation and the ways people cope with grief are explored, as is their vulnerability to manipulation and the dark paranormal forces drawn to such individuals.

The reader is left to put their interpretation on events but is left in no doubt that Juliette is in a dark place and may never return.

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship, Gothic Fiction, Humour, Mystery

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black Kate Racculia 4* #Review @kateracculia @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TuesdayMooney #Ghosts #BookReview #Fantasy #Mystery

You are cordially invited to play a game…

Tuesday Mooney loves a puzzle. So when an eccentric billionaire drops dead, leaving behind a fiendish treasure hunt – open to anyone – to his fortune, Tuesday can’t resist.

Although she works best alone, she soon finds herself partnering up with best friend Dex (money manager by day, karaoke-zealot by night) and the mysterious Nathaniel Arches, eldest son of a wealthy family who held a long-running feud with the dead man.

As the clues are solved, excitement across the city reaches fever pitch – but nothing is as it seems, and the puzzle-within-a-puzzle holds something much darker than a vast fortune at its heart…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK- Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to read a Gothic horror story when reading the opening chapter of this story. ‘A dying house’, ‘a strange man’, and a ‘dark, menacing ethos’ that grips you as open the door to the house. This story is more than that. Whilst, it is noir, there are ghosts, both spiritual, and those which inhabit your psyche, there is also a strange puzzle to solve, and a quirky heroine whose keen intelligence is the match for any ghost.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner, yet she resonates with those she comes into contact with, whether they be work colleagues, or her few friends. As a lover of the eccentric, she is a hit with me, and I enjoyed the magical, mystery adventure she undertakes with her self-appointed best friend, Dex and Nathaniel, the heir to a vast fortune.

The plot is full of vivid imagery, that brings the mystery hunt to life. The pacing is perfect and the characters authentic and richly described. Boston, the arts and various literary figures feature spectacularly, as you are treated to a spectacle of mystery, horror and dark humour.

Perfect for those who love quirky, surprising, satirical literature.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Girl at the Window Rowan Coleman 5* #Review @EburyPublishing @rowancoleman #thegirlatthewindow #familydrama #historicalfiction #gothicfiction #emilybronte #wutheringheights #yorkshiremoors #love #loss #grief #bookreview

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

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Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House – Ebury Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Reading this story is rather like opening a Pandora’s box, there are surprises, light and dark. love and hate, purity and evil, all intertwined into an epic story that keeps on giving, as you turn the pages.

I love, the clever fusion of genres, family drama, romance, timeslip, historical fact and fiction, paranormal, gothic fiction, are all part of this novel’s embroidery. Whilst, this will not be for everyone, there are many timelines to negotiate, it is compelling and worth the effort, to move out of the ease of contemporary reading into the more elaborate historical details and subterfuge.

This story works for me because of Trudy’s state of mind, she is heartbroken, without hope, and open to any experience that lessens the pain. Her maternal instinct keeps her on track, making sure Will gets the emotional and practical support he needs, but she needs more than this and discovering hidden secrets that the house gives up is part of this. She is a sensitive woman, a loner, her childhood was full of imagination and literature, and it gave her purpose and solace. Now, in her pain, she seeks the familiar and is prepared to accept whatever the house reveals, even if it sometimes defies explanation and is frightening.

This is an escapist novel, something to enthral and capture your imagination, full of emotion and a clever medley of fact and fiction, it makes you want to visit Ponden Hall, and find out if it’s as magical and troubled as it seems.

Posted in Book Review, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Psychological Thriller

4* #Review The Woman in the Lake- Nicola Cornick

‘I see it all again: the silver moon swimming beneath the water and the golden gown billowing out about her…’

1765: Lady Isabella Gerard asks her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it. Its shimmering beauty has been tainted by the actions of her husband the night before.

Three months later: Lord Eustace Gerard stands beside the lake looking down at the woman in the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this is not his intended victim…

1996: Fenella Brightwell steals a stunning gown from a stately home. Twenty years later and reeling from the end of an abusive marriage, she wonders if it has cursed her all this time. Now she’s determined to discover the history behind the beautiful golden dress…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Domestic abuse is the dark theme of this timeslip novel. Another central element is the mystical influence of a golden gown, the reader finds characters linked over time, both victims of abusive partners.

The historical detail and setting for the eighteenth century part of the novel are atmospheric and absorbing. Lady Isabella is perhaps the easiest of the characters to empathise, as she suffers her husband’s mental and physical abuse.

Fenella suffers a similar fate in the present day, and its effects force her into the role of an unreliable protagonist. You are not sure of her true motives and whether she really sees what she says she does.

The characters are complex and well written. The story has a supernatural element, which could be explained away as the psychological impact of the women’s abuse but there is always an element of doubt that keeps the reader guessing.

Well-paced with a layered plot, the book keeps you enthralled until the end.