Book Reviews, Crime, Dectective, Fiction, Horror, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors

The Stranger Diaries @EllyGriffiths

Elly Griffiths has woven together a tale of gothic suspense, psychological terror and marvelous detective work and thrown in a full measure of classical literature, all of which create a beautiful tapestry called The Stranger Diaries. Whew.

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If you think that opening line was a lot to absorb, just wait until you read the book. I’m still trying to untangle my mind from the who’s and who’s nots and what’s real and what’s not! For someone who had an imaginary playmate until she was 10 years old and still has a crush on Harry Bosch, whom I’ve been told is not a real person, trying to decipher a book within a book within a book written by fictional character written by an author with a nom de plume was a lot to comprehend. But, hand on heart, this book – The Stranger Diaries – was worth every single moment spent reading it. It is fantastic!

The book opens with a line from “The Stranger,” a gothic short story written by RM Hammond, whom our main character, Clare, is studying in hopes of writing a book about his life and works.

“If you’ll permit me,” said the Stranger, “I’d like to tell you a story.”

Clare is an English teacher at a school that is nestled in the old home where Hammond once lived. Her fellow teacher and best friend, Ella, is found stabbed to death with a note lying next to her body which reads, “Hell is Empty,” also a line from Hammond’s book. As The Stranger Diaries continues, the body count rises as does the spooky, creepy factor of the entire tale. Folded within the story itself is the re-telling of The Stranger and the more we as readers learn, the more similarity there is between current events and the haunting, gothic tale of the past. <shivers>

The Stranger Diaries reads, at once, both as a ghost story and a gothic suspense. The writing is marvelous, intelligent and might possibly have you scrambling to look up classical literature references along the way. (Note: Hammond is a fictional writer, much to my dismay.) I loved all of the characters, except the ex-husband and even he was the perfect ex. In all, this is a terrific mystery, ghost story, gothic tale that crosses multiple genres and can enjoyed by many. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #HoughtonMiflinHarcout and #EllyGriffiths for my copy of The Stranger Diaries. 

 

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Domestic Noir/Thriller, Murderous Mondays, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors

The Au Pair #emmarous @BerkleyPub

The Au Pair by Emma Rous is part gothic suspense with a full measure of domestic noir!

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It’s Murder and Mayhem Monday here at Macsbooks and, if I were asked to choose the perfect MMM book, it would The Au Pair! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than dark, domestic tales of suspense and murder. The Au Pair has it all.

Seraphine and Danny are twins who, along with their older brother, Edwin, have been raised in an old Victorian estate in Norfolk (UK.)  Their lives would appear charmed to the outside world, but there is a darkness within the family that pervades their existence. On the day that the twins were born, their mother threw herself off of a cliff. Now the siblings are attempting to cope with their father’s tragic, accidental death. While going through their father’s belongings, Seraphine discovers a photograph of their parents with one of the twins taken on the day they were born. Their mother looks blissfully happy. What possibly could have happened to make her kill herself and why is there only one twin? With stories of changelings, faeries and sprites haunting them all of their lives, Seraphine is determined to find answers. But will those answers be the ones she is hoping to find or will it lead to more heartbreak for this cursed family.

Told from two points of view, Seraphine’s and that of Laura, the au pair at the time of their birth, Rous weaves together a story of a wealthy family with mental instability, far too many secrets and characters who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden. The complex plot twists and turns in very unexpected ways and takes the reader on a journey from the present to the past and back again. Although I am one who does not like surprises in my noir novels, this ending will absolutely blow your mind! The resolution, however, is perfection!

For those who love domestic drama, suspense and fast paced fiction, this is definitely a book you will want to read! Mark it now, order early, it will be published January 8th.

Many thanks to @BerkleyPub and #EmmaRous for my copy of this amazing tale.

Horror, TBR Tuesdays

The Witch of Willow Hall @HesterBFox

I am mortified that my post containing my original review for this terrific gothic tale somehow went into the etherlands!  As it draws closer to Halloween and since it TBR Thursdays, I’m actually re-posting the post that never was. Yeah, it’s already one of those types of days. <sigh>

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The Witch of Willow Hall is a perfectly written gothic tale of witches, dark secrets and history.

This is the debut novel written by Hester Fox and all I can is, “Wow!” Every first book should be this amazing! I was completely blown away by the history, the suspense and the storyline itself. It was, without a doubt, a great book!

Lydia Montrose is the middle child and a loving sister. Her family was run out of town after horrible rumors began to swirl around the family. It’s 1821, and these types of “rumors” can be a death warrant even 200 years after the Salem Witch Trials. Her family moves to Old Newbury where her father sets up a mill. But things at the house itself are more than a strange. Lydia hears noises and sees ghostly type apparitions. What exactly is going on in their house and with Lydia’s family? This slow simmering tale will answer those questions – and more.

One of the first “big girl” books I ever read was “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” It set the stage for my intense love affair with gothic tales, horror and spooky reads. Although, when I re-read Blackbird Pond I chuckle at how tame it is in comparison. The Witch of Willow Hall is not so tame – it has everything a reader could ask for in a great witch story. The characters are very well drawn; the love that Lydia and her sisters have for one another shines throughout the book. There is a touch of romance and a plot full of  well placed twists to keep you on your proverbial toes. The Witch of Willow Hall is the perfect Halloween read – but be sure to leave your light on when you do!

Thank you #Netgalley, @HesterBFox, and #Harlequin-GraydonHouse for my copy of this perfect gothic tale!

Horror, Thriller

Dracul by Drace Stoker and J.D.Barker

1537468779-1537468779_goodreads_miscIt is Horror Week at Goodreads and what better way to start it off than by reading a seriously chilling tale? Dracul will have you hiding under the covers and wishing for morning light!

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I practically learned to read by devouring horror books and there simply was no better horror story than Dracula. For decades writers have attempted to recreate the image of Dracula or to write “sequels” about the Count. All fell miserably short of success – until now. Dracul, written in tandem by Drace Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and J.D. Barker, a master storyteller, is based on Stoker’s original papers kept within the family until now. When Dracula was first published, the first 100 or so pages were cut from the printing. The foundation of Dracul lies within those pages and in the notes made by Stoker. For those of us who are huge fans of Bram Stoker, this work is a dream come true!

The story is set in Ireland and features a young Bram Stoker as the primary character. As a child he was sickly and often bedridden. The family had a beloved Nanny, Ellen Crone, who was able to care for young Stoker and bring him back, literally, from the brink of death. Suspicious deaths in the village, however, are eerily linked to Nanny Crone and suddenly she vanishes without a word or a trace. Years later, Bram and his siblings, rediscover their nanny but she brings with her a horror they never imagined. It turns out that Nanny Crone is a Dearg-Due, a bloodsucking being of Irish folklore. Be still my Celtic heart! As if tower crawling snakes was not enough, we have Celtic tales of fright as well!

To say that I adore Barker and his writing is understatement. He can captivate the reader like no other and Dracul, clearly, is no exception. The gothic feel of the prose resonates throughout the book and the suspense builds to the point of sheer terror that will have you shivering with trepidation and dread! And no, don’t even reach for that light, because Dearg-Dues can walk in the sun! Oh yeah! It is a superbly told tale of fright! I truly did not believe it was possible for any book to come close the brilliance of Dracula but these two men have proven me wrong. Dracul is a classic in the making and one that you will not want to miss reading – not on your life.

There was no other book that I wanted to review more in 2018 than Dracul and I am forever grateful to Drace Stoker, J.D. Barker, @Edelweiss and G.P Putnam’s Sons for making it possible.

 

 

Horror, Noir, Crime and Dark Endeavors

Fab Fiction Friday – The Clockmaker

All the stars and a few full moons, too, for this amazing gothic thriller!

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First, take a look at that gorgeous cover art! Rarely are we treated to such beautiful cover art. Of course, that is just the beginning. The real treat is inside the cover where there awaits an amazing cross-genre tale that will have you hooked from beginning to end.

The Clockmaker is the story of Annette and her son, Duncan, who are moving to an ancestral home in the highlands of Scotland. It is a tale set during the post-war era and has all of the atmospheric prose of that time period. The house is old, full of creaks and sounds that lend to the overall aura of the book. Of course the house comes with secrets, a some-what supernatural element and an old man that is full of surprises. As murders begin to happen, Annette starts to wonder how this man is tied in with the murders and the other strange events that the small family is experiencing.

This tale is fabulously written. There are times that it could have veered off into the “campy” side of horror or supernatural but it never once did that. Instead, it is  captivating and will have you mesmerized until the very last page – and then you will want more because this is the first book in a trilogy! While this story ends well, there obviously are questions that will be answered in subsequent books – and I cannot wait for those books to be written and printed!! The Clockmaker offers something for everyone’s tastes: history, horror, supernatural, thrills and suspense. I highly recommend it for all.

Tons of thanks to #Netgalley, #Troubadour Publishing Limited, #CeriWilliams and #DrewNeary for my copy of this outstanding book!