Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Horror Fiction, Paranormal

Daylight’s Deadly Kiss Jay Raven 4* #Review @JayRavenAuthor #BloodRiders @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #Paranormal #Horror #histfic #Vampires #BookReview #BlogTour

In 19th century Europe the most deadly vampire-killing weapon ever devised is up for grabs – and both the Undead and the living will stop at nothing to possess it…   

It’s a legend, a fairy story parents tell frightened children to make them sleep. Basium Lucis – Daylight’s Kiss – the fabled compound that recreates sunlight in a bottle, and incinerates bloodsucking monsters on contact.

Vampire hunter Anton Yoska doesn’t believe in its existence or the whispered rumours of its creation by Leonardo Da Vinci 250 years before.

But when a mysterious Hungarian arts dealer claims to have uncovered the long-lost formula, Anton’s cynicism is shaken to the core as he is tasked to procure the pyrotechnic marvel for the Vatican’s centuries-old battle with the vampire sect known as the Brethren.

In a desperate race to beat nosferatu forces intent on destroying the wonder weapon, and cold-blooded gangsters who desire the Alchemist’s most prized invention for their own aggrandisement and riches, Anton is caught in a maelstrom of double dealing and lies..

Traps loom at every turn, and nothing is what it appears, but acquiring the Basium Lucis is tMyhe least of the his problems  – for the ferocious Modjeski vampire family want retribution for his slaughter of their clan chief a year before. And old flame and rival slayer, Nadia, has her own devious plans to thwart Anton’s quest.

As time runs out and predators circle, the beleaguered hunter realises he’s been tricked into a suicide mission. But Anton Yoska won’t go down without a fight – and he doesn’t care who he takes to Hell with him.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

It’s a while since I’ve stepped into the world of vampires and the paranormal. This story has rekindled my interest. Set in the nineteenth-century, it follows a quirky team of vampire hunters as they search for the Daylight Kiss. Pursued by the undead, and held to ransom by the Vatican, the hunters face danger and treachery, in a strange paranormal historical fantasy world.

This is the second in the Blood Riders series and is enjoyable as a standalone read. There is enough backstory to introduce the main characters, in the initial prologue. An engaging, exciting story, with intricate and vivid world-building, and vibrant and easy to visualise characters. Humour lightens the tension. There are some gory scenes, which are in keeping with the genre.

Paranormal adventure, an atmospheric historical setting, and memorable characters.

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website at http://www.jayraven.com

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Giveaway, Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance

On A Falling Tide Georgia Hill 5* #Review @georgiawrites @BLKDOGBooks @rararesources #timeslip #Victorian #women #romance #Friendship #FamilyDrama #Ancestry #LymeRegis #Dorset #BlogTour #BookReview #jurassiccoast

Two women. Connected by heartbreak, separated in time. Can Charity save the man she loves, or will Lydia’s vengeful spirit prove too strong?

Two haunting love stories and a hundred and fifty-year-old curse …

When the beloved grandfather who brought her up dies, Charity is left struggling to cope. Alone and rootless, she’s drawn to the sleepy fishing village of Beaumouth near Lyme Regis and begins to research her family tree. A chance encounter with attractive boat-builder Matt sparks a chain of mysterious and unsettling events and leads Charity to uncover the story of a young girl who lived in the village over a hundred years before.

In 1863 all Lydia Pavey wants to do is follow in Mary Anning’s footsteps and become a ‘fossilist.’ Instead, she is being forced into marriage to a man she barely knows.

Charity’s obsession with Lydia becomes all-consuming and she risks losing everything. With a longed-for family tantalisingly in reach, will Charity find the happy ever after she’s yearned for and, most importantly, can she save the man she loves?

Amazon UK Amazon Black Dog Publishing

I received a copy of this book from Black Dog Publishing and the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

If you are torn between reading contemporary romance and historical fiction this lovely, gothic-inspired story gives you both. Charity bereaved, after losing her final family member, the grandfather who raised her, is struggling with her mental health, and her feelings of self -worth.

Needing to escape her old life to aid her healing, she visits the Jurassic coast. Somewhere her grandfather said they had family connections, although he would never visit the area. Drawn by the cliffs she has a serendipitous meeting with Dolly, the Springer Spaniel and Matt, the attraction is instant, even though he is rescuing her from a muddy situation.

The story follows Charity’s life in Lyme and Beaumont and is filled with authentic, complex characters, who draw her into their community and make her feel part of something. There are conflicts with Saskia, and indecision and fear over her growing feeling for Matt.

Interwoven, with this contemporary tale, is a strange, sad and sinister encounter with a woman on the beach. Charity’s research into her ancestry, reveals information about the mysterious woman. Charity is drawn into another world. Her mental health makes her questions, whether this is a delusion. It threatens her growing attachment with Matt, but she is hypnotised by its power and cannot stop it even with it puts her in danger.

The timeslip into Victorian times is realistic, given the fragility of Charity’s mental health, and her crippling grief. The folklore about a ghost near the cliffs gives credence to her experiences. The stories are woven together so well, one informs the other, and introduces powerful conflict.

Atmospheric, poignant and menacing, it builds to the climax. This story’s haunting, gothic quality, fuses perfectly with an engaging conflict-ridden contemporary romance. The ending is a lovely conclusion to a very enjoyable story.

Georgia Hill

Georgia Hill writes best-selling romcoms and historical fiction with romance at the heart. Although she writes in two genres, they have more in common than you might think; she puts serious issues into her romcoms and lots of humour into her historical novels. She lives by the sea in the south west of England with her two beloved dogs – a spaniel and a delinquent cockapoo puppy, her husband (also beloved and not at all delinquent) and a ghost called Zoe. She loves Jane Austen, elephants, Belgian chocolate (all donations gratefully received) and Strictly Come Dancing. Her stories come from everywhere and anything, so be careful what you tell her as you may end up in a book. She also finds inspiration in the folklore and history of the many places in which she’s lived. To put it politely, she’s had a portfolio career having worked in the theatre, for a charity and as a teacher and educational consultant before giving in and finally acknowledging that making up things was what she really wanted to do. She has a nasty addiction to moving house but is trying to overcome this. After one house move too many, she lost all her notebooks and decided to stop talking about writing and actually do some. She’s been happily creating believably flawed heroines, intriguing men and page-turning stories ever since.

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Giveaway to Win PBs of On a Falling Tide and While I was Waiting. (Open to UK & Ireland)

Click on Giveaway Link To Enter

*Terms and Conditions –UK & Ireland entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway Link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Noir, Paranormal, Suspense, Travel

Death In The Sound Rhen Garland 5*#Review #TheVersipellisMysterySeries @RhenWitch #VictorianCrime #BlogTour #Book Review #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #Detective @rararesources #DeathInTheSound #RachelsRandomResources

The year is 1900, responding to a desperate plea from an old friend, Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne, accompanied by Veronique the Labrador, travel from England to New Zealand to unravel a new and complex mystery.

For his daughter’s twenty first birthday, Millionaire philanthropist Octavius Damant orchestrates a weekend party aboard the Taniwha, a luxurious paddle steamer moored in the primordial and isolated landscape of Milford Sound.

Several high society guests are invited to their remote home for the celebrations; Sir Wesley Eade, society lawyer and his beautiful but icy mistress Lady Leonora Carlton-Cayce, Dona Carla Riva, a flamboyant Brazilian dancer, and Carolyn Nolloth, O.D’s estranged sister-in-law who has a great love of other people’s money.

But O.D is the subject of persecution; a series of anonymous letters accuse him of past crimes and threaten the life of his daughter unless he gives in to their creator’s poisonous demands.

Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne discover the odds stacked against them when an unforeseen murder is committed, and they find themselves trapped aboard the Taniwha with a killer who will seemingly stop at nothing to achieve their ends.

As the body count rises, they must unravel the clues and piece together a devilish jigsaw that includes blackmail, extortion, desire, and the reappearance of the fabulous Larkspur Diamond, a gemstone with a past as murky and blood soaked as that of the relentless killer on board.

Set in the late Victorian era, with a touch of the odd, and a twist of the macabre, “Death in the Sound” continues the crime solving, paranormal escapades of Elliott Caine, Giselle Du’Lac, and Abernathy Thorne.

Book One, “A Portrait of Death” was released in 2018.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Book two, of the Versipellis Mysteries series, set predominantly in New Zealand is a late-Victorian murder mystery, with a supernatural twist. There are two prologues, one detailing a gruesome murder, the second, introducing a dark, evil supernatural element.

With a plan of the boat, at the beginning of the book, it reminds me of a Cluedo board. This murder mystery is a dark interpretation of the popular game with a paranormal twist.

The diverse investigating team, is well described, so it can be read as a standalone, but it’s so good, you’ll want to read them both.

Engaging action and lots of characters produce an absorbing, addictive story, with lots of false clues and plot twists. The writing is clear, using vivid imagery to describe the characters and setting.

Vibrant characters and dark deeds combine to produce a creepy, cleverly plotted murder mystery with exciting originality.

Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.

She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.

“I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy.”

“A Portrait of Death” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series. “A Portrait of Death” was released in 2018.

“Death in the Sound” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the second book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.

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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 Blog Tour, Book Review, Domestic Thriller, New Books, Noir, Paranormal, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Last Cuckoo Maria Frankland 4*#Review @writermaria_f #TheLastCuckoo #Ghost #Suspense #Parenting #Noir #PsychologicalSuspense #DomesticThriller #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour #BookReview @annecater

Do you listen to your mother? Even after she’s dead?
Anna Hardaker is following you …
This seemingly innocent Tweet fills Jamie Hardaker with confusion and fear. After all, his mother Anna has been dead for nearly three weeks.
What follows is an orchestrated Twitter campaign to lead those Anna loved, and didn’t love so much, to the truth behind her “accidental” death.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of the book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Claustrophobic and toxic, a dark story about a fractured family. The story focuses on events after Anna’s accidental death. Sinister tweets cast doubt, on the circumstances surrounding Anna’s accident. There are also historical flashbacks of incidents within the family, before Anna’s demise.
The story is written from Jamie’s point of view, in the first person. This narrows the story’s perspective but gives it the depth of emotion and immediacy.

A fusion of family drama and psychological suspense, where Jamie is an unreliable protagonist. He feels isolated by his mother’s death, full of anger and grief. The cast of realistically flawed characters, all have their agendas. Jamie’s father is particularly objectionable.

The plot twists, the sinister twitter campaign escalates and Jamie’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. He talks to his mother, even thinks he sees her. A symptom of grief? Or something more disturbing?

Being inside Jamie’s mind is exhausting. The final twists, I guessed, but they are believable. They give the story a dark and tragic end.

An immersive domestic thriller that has disturbing realism.

Maria Frankland

Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshire woman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Extract, Fantasy, Friendship, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance

Cloth of Grace Rachel J Bonner #BookSpotlight #Extract Choices and Consequences #Book 4 @racheljbonner1 @rararesources #choiceandconsequences #romance #faith #paranormal #fantasy #mystery #bookpromo #bookbloggers #Giveaway

When the fate of the world rests on your shoulders, how do you choose between what you ought to do and the only thing you really want?

Leonie finally knows who she is. But now she needs to decide who she is going to be. Her choice will affect not just her family, not just those she knows, but tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of people that she doesn’t. And every path that’s open to her will put Perry under the pressures that caused his breakdown before. How can she do what she must and still protect Perry?

Perry desperately wants to make things easier for Leonie. Somehow he has to find the strength to face the things that all but destroyed him in the past. But every way he turns, some aspect of his past lies waiting to pounce – even during his happiest moments. And he can never forget that Leonie’s life is in danger from someone, somewhere.

Gabriel has managed to negotiate peace, at least in theory. Now he must put that into practice and reunite Leonie with the family she never knew she had. Then disaster strikes right in the middle of his own sanctuary. Can he still protect those he loves, or has he been harbouring a villain the whole time?

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Extract: Taken from the second chapter, Leonie and Perry are staying at Castle Tennant. This is the morning after Leonie has had a nightmare and destroyed the Shield protecting the Castle.

Perry grinned at me while we were eating. “I made you a promise yesterday,” he said. “Fancy going swimming after breakfast?”

I nodded eagerly. Swimming always made me feel better no matter what was going on. As soon as I’d finished eating, I grabbed my costume – and Perry – and hurried down to the pool. I was ready first so I slid into the empty, still waters, closing my eyes and revelling in the waves lapping against my skin. I took a deep breath, ducked under the surface and swam as far as I could underwater, enjoying the sensation of being totally encompassed by it. When I came up for air, Perry was in the water too, leaning back against one side of the pool.

He smiled at me. “Are you sure you’re not really a fish?” he asked.

I splashed him and he came after me, in a whirlwind of water, splashes and laughter until he caught me.

We were still in the pool, swimming laps, when Lilyrose and Brin came to find us.

Brin squatted down by the edge of the pool and I looked up at him.

“I am sorry about last night,” I told him.

He smiled. “I told you, don’t worry about it. I’ve managed to persuade Uncle Neville to fork out for a full set of new Shields and a few other goodies, so I’m very happy about it all.”

“Typical Brin,” Perry called. “Always manages to come out on top.”

Brin swivelled on his toes to look at Perry. “Thought you might like to come over to the practice ground again,” he said. “Best not to be caught off guard.”

But Brin was off guard, balanced there on his toes. I reached for just a little power and pushed. He toppled into the pool, arms and legs flailing frantically. He came up spluttering, launching himself at me. “You little…”

I giggled and dived straight under him, beneath his legs, before surfacing next to Perry, who was shaking with laughter. “Best not to be caught off guard, Brin,” he called.

Brin turned, a big smile spread across his face. “Very good,” he conceded. “Now did you want to come over to the practice ground or not?”

Perry looked back and forth between me and Brin, and I could feel he was uncertain. Knowing we could be in danger had made him eager to brush up on his defensive skills but at the same time, he didn’t really want to leave me.

“You go,” I told him. “I just want to swim for a bit longer and then I’ll come and find you.”

He smiled in relief at the decision being made for him, kissed me, and then he and Brin got out of the pool to dry and dress. I swam up and down the pool for a while, revelling in the rhythm of my strokes and the lap of the water against my body. It helped me get my thoughts in order.

Catch up with the rest of the series….

Weave of Love

Choices and Consequences Book 3

Amazon UK Other Retailers Price: £2.99

What if the ethical choice has devastating consequences for others?

How can anyone know the right thing to do?

Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.

Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?

The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember? If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.

Thread of Hope

Choices and Consequences Book 2

Amazon UK     Other retailers    Price £2.99

What if your secrets are so dangerous they could destroy the one you love? Is honesty always the best policy?

Leonie may have run away but Prospero will find her. He loves her and he wants a future with her by his side whatever the consequences. Only when he does find her, he ought to tell her who he really is, outside the monastery. That’ll make her run again. Dare he risk it? But if he doesn’t tell her, someone else may…

Marriage to Prospero is what Leonie wants most and the one thing she knows she can’t have. If he found out what she was really like, what she’d been, what she’d done, he’d despise her and she couldn’t bear that. Better to leave now than live a lie – but it’s harder than she expected. If only…

Gabriel is starting to discover the secrets inherent in Leonie, secrets that not even she knows, secrets that will tear the world apart. And the secrets he is keeping are tearing him apart. How can sacrificing those he loves possibly achieve peace when everything he discovers risks the death of millions?

Strand of Faith

Choices and Consequences Book 1

Amazon  UK   Other Retailers       Price: £2.99,

A girl. A monk. An unthinkable sacrifice. When the choice is between love and life, how can anyone decide?

In a post-apocalyptic future, a girl and a monk, both with extraordinary mental powers, have compelling reasons not to fall in love. But their choices will have consequences for the rest of the world.

After the troubles of his youth, Brother Prospero has found comfort and fulfilment in the monastery. Then he discovers something that forces him to reconsider his whole vocation. How can it possibly be right to leave a life of worship and service for human desire? And if he does leave, will the pressures from his past destroy him?

Orphaned and mistreated, Leonie has found sanctuary and safety at the Abbey. When she comes into contact with Prospero everything spirals out of her control. Everyone she’s ever loved has died. She can’t do that to him. But how can she walk away from the first place she’s truly belonged?

Abbot Gabriel is faced with an impossible choice. He can do nothing and watch the world descend into war. Or he can manipulate events and ensure peace – at the cost of two lives that he is responsible for. Is he strong enough to sacrifice those he loves?

 Giveaway to Win a complete signed Choices and Consequences series and matching bookmarks (Open INT)

Prize includes signed copies of Strand of Faith, Thread of Hope, Weave of Love and Cloth of Grace.

To enter click this giveaway link

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Rachel J Bonner

Rachel J Bonner is the author of the compelling and enthralling four book Choices and Consequences series.  The first book in the series, Strand of Faith, was published in November 2018. Book 2, Thread of Hope, released on 2nd May 2019, followed by Weave of Love on 24th October, and Cloth of Grace at the end of February 2020.

Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in paranormal romance.  Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun.  When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books or shooting things with her local archery club.  Shooting targets only, honest.  Nothing to worry about.

She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary.  It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.

You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters on her website.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Humour, Paranormal

Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace 4* #Review @OlgaWojtas @SarabandBooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #Humour #HistFic #cozymystery #BlogTour #BookReview

The intrepid librarian Shona McMonagle, erstwhile Marcia Blaine Academy prefect and an accomplished linguist and martial artist, finds herself in an isolated French mountain village, Sans-Soleil, which has no sunlight because of its topography. It’s reeling from a spate of unexplained deaths, and Shona has once again travelled back in time to help out.

Forging an uneasy alliance with newly widowed Madeleine, Shona is soon drawn into a full-blown vampire hunt, involving several notable villagers, the world-renowned soprano Mary Garden – and even Count Dracula himself. Will Shona solve the mystery, secure justice for the murder victims and make it through a deathly denouement in the hall of mirrors to return to present-day Morningside Library?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Shona McMonagle is an enigmatic and decidedly quirky character, which is just as well, because ‘Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace’, is a strange tale. It takes a little getting into, especially if this is your first encounter with the talented librarian, a former prefect of Miss Blaine’s academy, and now intrepid time traveller. The adventure is standalone but would be more immersive if you were familiar with the character, and the reasons for time travel. Read the first book if you can. before embarking on this.

Set in the ominous-sounding French village Sans-Soleil, Shona has to extricate herself from a coffin and a room full of mirrors before finding out, where she is. The first people she meets are frankly strange, and she soon finds typical of the village. The story is a complex blend of history, historical characters and mind-blowing fiction, and it works. To enjoy this you have to accept the intricate world-building and immerse yourself in the adventure, and acerbic very witty humour, both verbal and visual.

The plot is absorbing, full of historical facts and historical characters, who are cleverly blended with the fictional ones. Shona is certain of her capabilities, and she is undoubtedly intelligent and well-educated, the perfect advertisement for Miss Blaine’s academy, However, she is not the most intuitive of amateur sleuth’s and there are many examples of dramatic irony in this story. The reader knows more than the protagonist, or at least understands, what they are reading. This makes for many humorous moments.

Shona’s thought processes and dialogue with her fellow characters are witty and enjoyable. The distinctly Scottish humour can be appreciated wherever you hail from.

The story is well-paced and written with visual imagery, that lets the reader enjoy the period and setting, as well as the relentless adventure.

If you enjoy an original, unique reading experience, this is something you should read.

Olga Woitas

Olga Wojtas is an unconventional – and very witty – writer of postmodern crime fiction whose surrealist humour has been compared to the likes of PG Wodehouse, Jasper Fforde and the Marx Brothers. Her debut novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, has been published in the UK and US to great critical acclaim – being longlisted for the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019, shortlisted for a CrimeFest Award, and named as one of the best mysteries and thrillers of the year by Kirkus. A journalist for more than 30 years, Olga was Scottish editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement before she began adding creative writing to her portfolio. She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015 and has had numerous short stories and several novellas published. Olga lives in Edinburgh, where she once attended James Gillespie’s High School – the model for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, which appears in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the novel that inspired the Miss Blaine’s Prefect series.