I absolutely adore the Graveyard Queen series, so I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw the fourth installment on Netgalley, and I knew I had to read this. The author did an amazing job of describing Charleston, in particular the cemeteries Amelia worked on restoring. I also really enjoyed the riddles, and the romance between Amelia and John Devlin in this book. ...more
I previously reviewed TRACE, the first book in the series, and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to get started on VIBE/SYNC. The sequel brought back all the elements I loved in the first book, and then some. Nola is back, and this time she’s involved in more than one mystery. In book one, Vibe, she deals with Eric Lafferty. He has the ability to read the vibrational changes in brain waves. The paranormal elements were once again a great addition, and this was a particularly supsenseful read, as Eric and Nola are put in a very dangerous situation.
The second part, Sync, focuses mostly on Emjay, who has the ability to “sync”, which can help people heal, but can also be very hurtful. Emjay is mostly focused on getting revenge for what happened in the past, but Nola has some questions about Emjay’s past that might change her life.
I enjoyed the first story the most. Although Eric and Emjay were both engaging characters, I found it easiest to connect to Eric, and I also thought his story was the most interesting of both of them....more
Haunting Violet is the first historical YA paranormal I’ve read in a while, and I must say, I’ve missed the genre. Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts, and with good reason. Her mother is a famous medium in London, except that…it’s all fake. And her mother has enlisted Violet’s help, and the help of Colin, an orphan she took into her home, to keep up the pretense.
As Violet’s mother gets invited to the estate of Lord Jasper to do a seance, Violet is sucked into a murder mystery of paranormal proportions. A year ago, Rowena, an earl’s daughter, drowned, and now her ghost has chosen to visit Violet, and wants Violet to solve her murder. Along with Colin and her best friend Elizabeth, Violet has to find out who killed the persistent ghost, before the murderer sets eyes on her.
The book has a lot of strong points. Violet is an amazing character. She’s strong, intelligent, and sarcastic when need be, but she also fits perfectly in the time era, and she doesn’t overstep (some books set unrealistic heroines that sound way too contemporary despite the historical setting, but not so here). Colin is a cute and charming love interest. He was always there for Violet, and he really loved her, that was obvious from the start. The romance was another strong part – it wasn’t really sizzling, but it was heartwarming.
The murder mystery was all right. I had my suspicions about the culprit, but I wasn’t entirely sure until I finished the book. The historical setting is well crafted, and Harvey has created a lush, intriguing world. The writing flowed well, and I was entranced by the plot. I also liked Violet’s relationship with her mother – although in a way, I hated how Violet’s mother treated her, it was good to see the author spend a lot of time building this relationship and showing it to the reader. Often, YA characters have barely present parents, so this was a welcome change, even if I didn’t like Violet’s mother at all.
Now, for the downside. The characters didn’t have much personality, and the middle part dragged a little. Violet, Colin, Violet’s mother, and Elizabeth had personality enough, but all the other characters lacked personality traits, and didn’t really stand out.
Despite that, if you’re looking for a good YA historical murder mystery with paranormal elements, I wholeheartedly recommend this book....more
All right, so first, everyone on Goodreads seems to love The Silent Twin. It has five and four stars reviews, and at the time of my review, not a single three star or lower. Ehm, well, I struggled to rate it. Basically, I’m the exception, and since everyone else seems to like it, don’t write it off just because I didn’t.
Jennifer, DCI Knight, is the family liaison for a distraught family whose daughter, Abigail, has gone missing. Abigail has a twin sister, Olivia, and the family lives on a farm that is supposedly haunted. The investigation starts, family secrets are uncovered, and some ghosts come into play.
Basically, I should love this book. This kind of plot, a missing child / possible murder mixed with ghosts? That’s heaven for me. That is my absolutely favorite kind of book.
Except… I didn’t like this one.
Now maybe it’s because I didn’t read parts one and two, but I struggled to connect with Jennifer. She seemed a bit too logical, too cold and distant for me. Even worse were the other characters – the only one really relatable would have been Joanna. At least once could understand the struggle she went through. Maybe Nick too.
But the main problem I had was not the inability to connect with the characters. It was the plot. Which was basically one over-the-top thing on top of the other. First she’s there, then she’s not, then this secret is revealed, then this other secret… How much bad luck can a family have? The plot was basically waaaaaaay over the top for me. I don’t want to hand out any spoilers, but especially the Nick secret mixed with the Joanna secret and then the meditation thing? Yeah, I couldn’t buy all that, not when put in one single book.
Also, I knew who the culprit was from the first time that character was introduced. It was obvious. A lot of people didn’t think so, but I certainly thought so. I even figured out how everything was related before the book even reached the mid-point, which completely ruined the experience.
On top of that, the ghosts. Now I love love LOVE ghosts. But they’re not used here. The farm is supposedly haunted but we don’t get more than a few “bad feelings” and objects moving on their own. Why throw in the history of a haunted farm if you’re not going to utilize it properly? I at least expected the ghosts to play some role in the story but instead it focused more on the telepathic connection between the twins – slightly dissapointing too.
The writing was all right, but not great. I did read the book to the end, but I took frequent breaks and it didn’t really engage me. Paranormal mystery is usually my favorite genre, so I had high hopes for this one. Alas, it didn’t deliver....more
Three unlikely allies advertise their services for paranormal investigations, and their first case is Melmerby Manor. The book is a bit of a mixed bag of genres. You have the ghost story, which was without a doubt the most interesting part of the book, but there’s also a detective story, and even some romance going on. It seems like the book itself doesn’t really know where it’s going. The humor was fun at first, but becomes tedious after a while. The mystery wasn’t that complicated either; I had expected more....more
After reading and reviewing The Lonely by Ainslie Hogarth, which I thought was an amazing read, I just had to read her second book. The books aren’t related, nor are they part of the same series, but they do have some of the same qualities. Both books have a magical surrealism theme going on, making the reader question what is real and what is just in the character’s minds. I love those types of books, so naturally, I loved this one too.
The book starts out rather cryptic. Noelle and her best friend Alf take on summer nightshift jobs at the infamous Boy Meets Girl Inn – a place where several decades ago, some grisly murders happened. Murders that included the perp eating people. Yep, they’re that horrific. So Noelle and Alf go to the inn hoping to find signs of a haunting, and of course, to invite all their friends (and the kids from school they just want to impress) to the Anniversary – of the murder, of course. Or of the last murder to be precise. But while some strange things happen, like the bathroom light turning on all by itself, Noelle doesn’t really get scared. She has al ot more to worry about – for instance, the diary she started, and that now seems to have a life of its own. Then there’s her Dad’s illness, which makes it almost impossible for him to go out or take care of himself, and leaves her in the tough position of having to be his personal nurse twenty-four/seven. Then there’s also the sore spot on the back of her head. She’s been touching it for years, sometimes even scratching it, but the last few weeks, the pain has been getting worse, and going into patterned space (which usually helps) doesn’t do the trick anymore….
The book has an unique format. We start out with an introduction to the case – apparently the bodies of Noelle and some of her friends were found after a massacre at the inn, and Noelle’s diary is the only piece of evidence that might explain what happened. A film maker bought the diary from a retired detective, in an effort to turn it into a movie. Then we get Noelle’s diary, and from then on, apart from some annotations (like the title suggests), it’s Noelle doing the talking.
I loved the unique format, and I think that, along with the author’s unique writing style, is what worked for me the most. The story isn’t all that original – a haunted inn, a murder/massacre – but the author adds so many cool and fun elements that it reads unlike anything I’ve read before, making it unique. We get the sore spot on Noelle’s head, and wonder what the connection is. Is Noelle seeing ghosts, or is she going crazy? Then in her diary, Noelle says some pretty intense stuff, and again, the reader is left to wonder. The book has a high level of gore though, but for me, I didn’t really mind, if anything, it made Noelle appear more realistic that she talked about gory stuff too.
If you don’t mind books that’ll have you scratching your head (hopefully not on a sore spot, like Noelle) and leave you baffled at the end, and have a high creep factor and some gore, then you should absolutely, definitely, no doubt in my mind, read The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated). It’s amazing. ...more
Aiden and Mo make an interesting pair, but unfortunately it takes a long time for the two of them to connect. Aiden struggles with his abilities, and as thus he makes an intriguing character. The murder mysteries are good too, and as usual, Graham crafts an engaging paranormal mystery. Unfortunately I found it difficult to connect with Aiden and Mo – although interesting, they were also somewhat obnoxious and I doubt I’d like them if they were real people....more
I’ve read so many paranormal books already that it takes a lot to surprise me. Eye of the Storm: Eilida’s Tragedy managed to do just that. With an original plot, a character relationship that kept me guessing and dropping hints along the way without ever giving away the big reveal, this book is a little gem, the kind of read you just have to love.
Eilida’s curiosity gets piqued when she hears a disturbance at her neighbor’s house. Instead of minding her own business, she decides to investigate. But the scene at the house is so shocking she runs into the mountains, while a thunderstorm breaks out overhead. After slipping on the wet floor, she plummets down and slams into a large boulder. Then she’s transported to Lyden, where a woman named Sunshine becomes engrossed in her story, and their lives become more entangled than either of them thought possible.
The book left me guessing until the end. Both Eilida and Sunshine are engaging characters, but it was the plot, and the questions piling up that was most interesting to me. If the author can come up with any more of these gems, I’ll gladly read them....more
In Little Girls, Laurie moves back to her parental home after her father commits suicide. The old man suffered from dementia for years, and as his estranged daughter, Laurie barely has any emotions toward him passing away. But when she goes back to the place she used to call home, before she and her mom moved out, memories of her childhood start to resurface. She starts questioning her father’s suicide – did he really jump through the window at the top floor of the house, in the belvedere? Was his paranoia during the last few months of his life real? Was something trying to get into the house, as he suspected?
The more time Laurie spends in her old childhood home, the more secrets she uncovers. She starts hearing noises form the belvedere too, like something trying to crawl its way in. On top of that, her daughter Susan’s new playmate, Abigail, bears a striking resemblance to Sadie, a girl Laurie used to be friends with before she changed and became wicked and started scaring Laurie.
While Laurie’s husband Ted isn’t convinced something sinister is going on, it’s up to Laurie to put the pieces of her past back together. Why is Sadie here? To get vengeance? And if so, how can she escape? Are the noises from the belvedere real, or are they all in her mind? Is she going insane, or being haunted by things from the past?
At first glance, this might not sound like the most original horrorr story out there – a man committing suicide, a dead girl from the past, noises in the middle of the night – but trust me, it is. It takes these well-known tropes and completely turns them around, mixing them with a few surprises I never saw coming, and which results in a story that is highly entertaining and scary at the same time. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but if you expect you’re usual ghost story, you might be in for a surprise.
The book focuses on family secrets, on the dark things of our past we’re sometimes too afraid to face. Laurie is a believable character, a woman suffering from the secrets she was forced to hide, who is hurt by her husband’s affair and afraid her daughter might change into a person she barely recognizes. She’s easy to relate to because her fears sound genuine. She’s flawed, questions her sanity, and doesn’t always do the right thing for her family, but she tries. God, she tries so hard. You have to give her credit for that. Rather than just telling a ghost story, a lot of the creepiness of the book comes from Laurie’s past, from the dark side of human nature, and as such it works remarkably well.
The ending…God, the ending. It’s magnificent in its simplicity. I had to reread it because the punch was given so swift my mind couldn’t wrap around it. A fitting ending for this book, delightful and creepy.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys haunted-house books, who likes a slow build up and who doesn’t mind getting scared. Because this book genuinely scared me, and that’s not an easy feat....more
The Hawley Book of the Dead has an original, surprising premise, and delivers with great writing and outstanding characters. The book starts off with a bang, introducing us to Revelation, “Reve” Dyer, who accidentally kills her husband. They’re a duo of magicians and illusionists, but one night, one of their tricks goes wrong and she kills her husband on stage. Reve is broken up about it, and along with her three daughters, she struggles to pick up the pieces of her life. Afraid the person who murdered her husband (the intruder who switched her trick pistol) is after them, she gathers her girls and moves to Hawley Five Corners, a small town founded by her ancestors.
But living in a secluded farmhouse in the middle of a town she grew up hearing so much about, Reve discovers things about her history that she never thought possible. She finds the Hawley Book of the Dead, an ancient journal with strange power that might save her or destroy her. Reve tries to uncover the journal’s secrets, and hopes it might help protect herself and her daughters, for it seems the person who murdered her husband has chased them to Hawley…
The book has an amazing amount of lore behind it, and I enjoyed uncovering the secret of the Hawley Book of the Dead. It also has a good amount of mystery and even some thriller-aspects. The middle part lagged a bit, but I found that this helped build up the supsense. I began to really care for Reve and her daughters, and I didn’t want anything to happen to them. The characters were well-rounded and interesting. Reve’s sorrow and grief is so realistic you instantly feel bad fo her.
While the plot was interesting, it was the magic that brought this book to the next level for me. I liked the history behind it, the introduction of the book, and in general, the whole magic system. The writing was great too, with vivid descriptions and an unique setting....more
In Portraits of Celina, Bayley and her family move into the old O’Malley estate on the countryside after her father dies, to try and make a fresh start. But a fresh start might be the last thing they’ll ever get. Bayley moves into a room who used to belong to Celina O’Malley, a girl who disappeared when she was sixteen years old. It’s now forty years later, but it seems like the past won’t be put to rest. Bayley looks exactly like Celina – at least so do people tell her – and she starts wearing Celina’s old clothes, and eventually even hearing Celina’s voice. What’s going on? What does Celina’s ghost want from Bayley, and what happened that made her disappear forty years ago?
I’m a sucker for these kind of stories – YA paranormal mystery with ghosts. And Portraits of Celina is a good one at that: the mystery, while not overly-complicated isn’t too easy either (I only figured it out past the halfway mark), the ghost is genuinely chilling at times, and the title is given a whole new meaning throughout the book – which I loved. The quarrels between Bayley and her siblings were awesome too. They sounded like a real family, and although they argued often, they did have each other’s back. This made Bayley seem like a more realistic character. Her emotions seemed real too, especially her pain over losing her Dad.
Then, on to the bad stuff. The romance was too cliché. Oliver and Bayley have literally nothing in common, and Bayley acts like a weirdo for most of the book, which is no surprise considering she’s being haunted by the ghost of her deceased cousin. Yet, Oliver isn’t in the least deterred by all this weird behavior, which doesn’t sound very plausible. Their dialogue seemed childish too, and honestly, I could’ve done without the romance. The story and characters are intriguing enough without.
I enjoyed this YA paranormal mystery, some of the scenes where chilling, but for the most part, it wasn’t too scary. Fans of ghost stories will probably like it too....more
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a fun paranormal read. It’s apparently based on a popular YouTube channel, but I’ve never seen it – although I might be tempted to check it out now – so my review is based on the book alone, and I have nothing to compare it with.
Sunshine and her mom moved halfway across the country to the small town of Ridgemont, Washington. They changed the sun for the clouds, and Sunshine’s mood seems to have plummeted along with the weather. They moved because her mom, Kat, got a new job at a local hospital. All seems to go well, right until they arrive at their new home. Sunshine tries to look on the bright side, but has trouble finding anything bright about her new home, which seems infested with a creepy, eerie feeling.
And the longer they spend in the house, the more Sunshine grows convinced it’s haunted. Her mom doesn’t believe it, being a practical person, so Sunshine starts to gather evidence. While the ghost grows more powerful, slamming doors, sobbing in the bathroom, and even playing games with Sunshine, her mom still won’t believe her. Up until something frightening happens, and afterward, Kat doesn’t even remember.
Sunshine realizes it’s up to her to solve the mystery of the ghost’s identity before her mom gets hurt.
I loved the relationship Sunshine and Kat have. Sunshine is adopted, but they still have a real bond, a real connection. They’re very much like a real mother and daughter. Sometimes they bicker, but they’re there for each other, and they’re best friends. You don’t often see that in YA, and it’s great when it happens. Unfortunately their bond deteriorates when Kat doesn’t believe her daughter, which drives a wedge between them. But even though, it was still interesting to see what this did to their relationship, and how it estranged them.
The second POV that pops in occassionally was confusing at first, and I could’ve done without. I wanted to read the story of Sunshine and Kat, and the second POV didn’t add to the tension, but instead diminished it.
Sunshine was a loveable character, quirky and fun. Unfortunately she doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends, not even at her new school, and I found it a little hard to believe that even after being there for longer than a month, she only ever mentioned one person from school, one friend.
The ghost part worked well, and the suspense is high from start till end. There’s some build up, but from the moment Sunshine first hears the ghost, the suspense just keeps on going. The writing was spot on, with Sunshine sounding like a teenager without jumping to clichés. Some of the descriptions were plain beautiful.
This is a promising start to a new series, with a few exciting twists to the usual ghost story. It left me pleasantly surprised, and I look forward to reading more about Sunshine and her adventures in the sequel. Can’t wait....more
Haunted (The Arnaud Legacy #1) tries to give an original twist to probably the most well-known ghost story plot in the world (protagonist moves into large home that turns out to be haunted) and up to some degree, it succeeds.
Phoebe Irving is sixteen years old when her parents decide to move from San Francisco all the way to rural England. She knows it must be because she did something bad, something she can’t remember. But she tries to adapt to her new surroundings as well as she can. They live in a smaller appartment next door a collossal mansion that is the family house of her stepfather. But soon enough, Phoebe discovers the mansion is haunted by an organ-playing ghost – and not just some ghost. Madame Arnaud, who used to drink blood of children to stay alive forever. And now this evil presence has set her eyes on Tabby, Phoebe’s kid sister. It’s up to Phoebe, and her new friend Miles, to save her.
The descriptions are atmospheric and haunting, and they set a good mood for the book. The book offers gothic horror, with some graphic descriptions of Madame Arnaud, but apart from that, the horror is more of the spine-chilling kind than the gorey type. It’s a solid read in the genre, and our heroine, Phoebe, is a strong and intriguing character. She doesn’t back down from a challenge, but instead faces it head on – a rare quality.
Unfortunately, while the plot had some original elements (which I will not spoil here), it was also fairly predictable. I knew how it would end by the time I hit the halfway mark. Still entertaining, just less intriguing. On top of that, the ending left some things unanswered, and I would’ve preferred everything to wrap up nicely. I don’t mind sequels, but you need to tie up loose ends.
All in all, it’s an enjoyable read, and the author holds a lot of promise – she writes descriptions well, and knows how to create a tense atmosphere....more
Gifted is an intriguing novel about fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson, a forensic sorcerer who would like nothing more than to be left alone, but as one of the most promising pupils of the academy he graduated from, he’s often enrolled in work for the police force. This time around, he gets to help solve the murder of the Bishop of Oxford, who seems to be missing his head. Yet from the moment he arrives, Frank wonders if the body even belongs to the Bishop, and he gets a bad feeling about all of it. Especially about working alongside Marvo, his police colleague, who is about his age and has the keen ability to spot things others can’t. In a world where grown ups slowly go blind or completely lose the ability to see by the time they hit thirty, spotting things others can’t, is high in demand.
Frank is Gifted, which means he has the ability to perform magic. As a forensic sorcerer, he can do things like see it the head matches the body, how long the person has been dead, and all kind of things. Magic also doesn’t happen “just like that” – rituals and spells are needed. It’s all rather elaborate, and that’s what I like about it. It’s so completely unlike magic in other books. This magic needs incantations and spells and complex rituals – it’s not like the Harry Potter books where characters just wave a wand. Also, the book has a much darker undertone, with the mention of necromancers, of raising the dead, and of course, the murder waiting to be solved. “Who killed the Bishop and why” is the number one question throughout the book, but meanwhile we’re introduced to this amazing world of magic and witchcraft.
The world building and setting is the main reason why I gave this book five stars. I loved all of it. Seriously. From the spells, the summoning of demons and how that works, to Frank’s work place, to how the whole magic society works, to how outsiders deal with the gifted, everything about it makes sense. The book reminded me a lot of Lockwood & Co, another favorite of mine, but whereas Lockwood & Co deals with ghosts, and practically turned the whole world ghost lore upside down, Gifted does the same but with magic.
The characters are a mixed bag. Frank is spotless – I mean, he has tons and tons of flaws stacked upon even more flaws, but this makes him perfect. So human. So broken. Then we’ve got Marvo, who is flawed too, and who makes a great sidekick for Frank. I wasn’t too fond of Frank’s apparent infatuation for Kazia, the Bishop’s niece. He saw her once and fell head over heels for her – but then again, Frank is fifteen, and falling randomly in love is common for people that age, so I didn’t mind that much.
If you want an original magic system, and an intriguing setting, I would highly recommend this book. One of the most unique fantasy books I’ve read in years....more
If you check the Goodreads reviews for Of Monsters and Madness, then the reviewers either love or hate it, whereas the majority seems to hate it (giving 1-2 star ratings). If you go in expecting a story that stays true to Edgar Allan Poe, and his legacy, then you’ll be dissapointed. Poe is massacred here, up to some degree, and mashed and blended with Jekyll & Hyde – there’s friendly, charismatic, handsome Allan, and then there’s creepy, repulsive Edgar. So in other words, Poe meets Stevenson.
Even Annabel holds no real resemblance to the Annabel Lee from Poe’s poem, except for her name. If you expected a complicated mystery, then you’ll be dissapointed too. The mystery is quite simple, and some of the characters lack depth. The servants, for instance, are just fillers. Annabel’s Dad is your standard gothic mystery character – ill, and using that illness to explain all his flaws, a recluse who barely leaves the house. The house itself is reminiscent of gothic horror too – a sprawling mansion with dark corridors and secret passages.
But despite all that…I enjoyed it.
Annabel has an interesting perspective. Even though she appeared to have the personality of a doormat at first, it almost seemed to make sense, especially considering her upbringing and how she didn’t feel at home in this new city, and that was perfectly understandable. As the story progressed, so did Annabel’s personality. She began to shine in ways I hadn’t expected, taking charge of things herself. She stopped wanting to please everyone, and she even stood up for herself every now and then. Annabel herself is more of a mystery than the whole Poe-plot.
The writing is gripping and atmospheric, and made this book a fast read. I rushed through the pages, and every break seemed too long. The descriptions of the city were breath-taking, and the book breathes gothic horror.
I was impressed, and enjoyed this one. I hope there will be a sequel, because I think Annabel might have some surprises in store for us. ...more
I feel cheated. When I saw Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story at our local book shop, it was in the “horror” section. When I looked it up, the title mentioned “a ghost story”, so of course I had to ask for a review copy, because I absolutely freaking love ghost stories.
Alas, this is not a ghost story.
What is instead is an atmospheric, but slow, slow, utterly snail-like slow, story that shows little development for the first hundred-or-so pages and even then, barely picks up the pacing.
It all starts with our protagonist, William, who shoots a bird with his catapult when he’s eleven years old. This event haunts him for the rest of his life, and offers disastrous consequences later on. A nice idea, and it might’ve worked well, if this book hadn’t been so…you guessed it, slow.
The characters are paper-thin, and even the protagonist lacks personality. He feels like only half a person, something quickly mixed together for entertainment purposes, but only half-finished. The suspense is lacking, both because I couldn’t care about the characters due to their lack of personality, and because the pacing is too slow to build up any real tension.
There’s no fear, no excitement, no horror. Instead, it’s a bland read from start to finish. I hadn’t read the author’s first book, but although it has rave reviews, I will probably skip it based on how boring “Bellman and Black” proved to be. ...more
This was my first book i nthe “Aunt Dimity” series, and I loved it. Quirky and interesting, Amelia almost seems like a real person. The mystery ties in with seventeenth-century witchcraft (yay!) and is light, charming, and engaging....more
After reading Halo, and not enjoying it all that much, I was hesitant about picking up Ghost House. Ultimately, my love for ghost stories decided for me, and I gave it a shot. I wasn’t dissapointed. The story is engaging, it has some original elements, the writing has improved from the Halo series, and characterization was slightly better as well. It still won’t land on my list of favorite books, but it’s a great improvement from the author’s first series.
That said, the book lacks passion. Anyone could’ve written it. The characters are bland and boring. Life-altering events, like the death of Chloe’s mom, are completely glossed over. Why should she feel pain over what happened to her mom when she has a new guy to swoon about? Yeah, right. The plot is uninspired. A girl loses her mother, moves into a large house with her grandmother, and starts seeing ghosts. She falls ofr a ghost named Alexander, and that brings about the rage of his former lover, Isobel.
Grange Hall is lifeless and dull, which is not what would be expected of a haunted mansion. It seems to be a reflection of the personalities of the characters. Chloe is a cardboard figure without real emotions. Alexander is your standard mysterious hero hiding secrets. The antagonist is as one-dimensional as the other characters, and her motives are never truly explained, or how she became such a powerful spirit.
Chloe is judgemental, dull, and has as much chemistry with Alexander as she has with a bed, a chair, or anything else. Which means: nada.
Also, I fail to grasp why Isobel gets all the blame. Why is it right that Alexander blames her for something that happened to her, and something she has no control over? For those of you who read the book, was this just as mind-blowing to you as it was to me? Isobel is another victim, not some evil tyrant. Makes no sense whatsoever. Why is she supposedly to blame for everything?
The book ended up being a dissapointment. The idea was good, but the plot failed halfway through, and the characters lacked depth....more
This was a light read, and had a few surprising twists and turns. The characters could use some more development, but the plot was intriguing and original enough to hold my interest. The pacing falls apart at the end. The writing is okay, but not more than that. Setting and plot are great, but the rest feels uninspired....more
Title is misleading, leds readers to believe it’s a ghost story when it’s more of a time travel history. Interesting nonetheless, and the book certainly isn’t dated even though it was written in the nineties. Jenna is an intriguing protagonist, and the mystery unfolds slowly, leaving for plenty of suspense....more
Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island is by far my favorite book by author Michael Phillip Cash so far. The story is less straightforward than “The Flip” and “The Hanging Tree”, two other scary stories by aforementioned author. Stillwell is about more than a ghost story. It’s about memories, about letting go, about suffering and pain, and about a love that transcendents time and death. The writing is a touch better than in the previous books I read by said author, and the characters are more developed. Especially main character Paul had a lot of different layers, and by the end, I felt like I really got to know him.
Stillwell is a haunted well near a gothic mansion. I liked how, for once, it was the well that was haunted, not the mansion itself. I enjoyed how the book left it in the middle whether Paul was imagining things, due to mental anguish over losing his wife, or if something paranormal was really happening. The reader was left in the dark about this for the largest part of the novel.
What could be better, was the horror. There is nothing truly scary about the mansion, and all the scares go by too fast. There’s little suspense or build up, and while the mansion seems atmospheric, that atmosphere isn’t portrayed in the writing. The pacing is fast, sometimes too fast to make the book scary.
I enjoyed the story though, and it was a pleasant read. For a true horror fan, it might focus slightly too much on the love story instead of the horror story, but I didn’t mind....more
In The Hexed, a murder takes place that is an almost exact replica of another murder that took place thirteen years ago. Craig Rockwell, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, was the one who discovered the first body, a friend of his. He can hear voices of the deceased, and that’s what brings him to the Krewe of Hunters, and what got him to find his dead friend in the first place.
Devin Lyle has returned to the Salem area just when a woman gets murdered nearby the cabin she inherited from her great-aunt. She’s an author who writes about the witch trials, and witches in general. When Devin is being led to a third body, and there’s some connection to the Salem witch trials and the murders, she can’t help but get involved.
The two “detectives” unravel clues from the past. The friends of Craig’s past are questioned, and old friendships are tested. Add in ghosts, and I’m sold.
At least, I thought I’d be. And the plot is pretty decent, I’ll give you that. I liked the tie-in between the witch trials, the murders and the ghost. I wasn’t too fond of the characters though – both Craig (or Rocky, as he calls himself) and Devin are paper-thin characters, with no real personality. Whatever personality they do have, never develops throughout the book. The writing wasn’t spectacular either, but it was good enough.
All in all, I did enjoy the book, and particularly that it focused less on romance, and more on plot....more
The story was great, but the writing could’ve been better. I was conflicted about Cora Alexander, about whether or not I liked her. Her emotions could’ve been a tad better explained, and we only get a one-sided narrative. The pacing lagged too. World-building was great though. ...more
Julie and her husband Brad are both house flippers. They buy cheap houses, clean out the junk left by the old occupants, renovate the house, and then try to make a profit. However, when they end up being Hemmings House on Bedlam Street, the Victorian mansion is different from any house they’ve worked on before. The house has an eerie atmosphere, and while working there, Brad gets overwhelmed by feelings ranging from anger to fear. Also, ever since they started work on the house, Brad and Julie have been at odds. Brad wants to flip the house as soon as possible, while Julie wants to keep it as a B&B.
Things get worse as the ghosts haunting the mansion starts to follow Brad home. Then, when after some strange incidents, Julie and Brad are foced to move into the mansion, they realize they might have some actual ghosts on their hands.
The Flip was an interesting book. It was nowhere near as scary as I hoped from reading the back cover. It can’t really be identified as horror – it’s more like a paranormal mystery focusing on ghosts. There’s no blood or gore, and it’s not actually scary, even though some things happen that would certainly be scary in real life. The book lacks suspense at times, and the pacing isn’t always spot on either. It starts out slow, and picks up toward the middle, but even then, it seems to slow down at random times.
A good read, not the best, but definitely enjoyable. Recommended to people who enjoy paranormal mysteries....more
Unwept is entirely different form the books I usually read. Ellis wakes up without a memory on the train boarding to a creepy, disturbing town where she meets strangers who she’s supposed to know. The town is filled with mysteries. Time keeps zapping, things disappear and reappear on their own. People who claim to know her don’t always have her best interests at heart. Ellis has no idea if she’s the one going crazy, or if the town is harboring something more sinister than she ever imagined.
I liked the mystery. The build up is slow, and at first I wasn’t sure if it was Ellis imagination, or if everything was real. Page by page, the truth got revealed, but even then I had a feeling we didn’t know the entire story, or parts had been left out.
Ellis was an interesting character. She seemed bland at first, but the more she recalled about her old life, the more she became a real person. The secondary characters fell flat though. They had little to no personality, more like cardboard figures that only server to bring the plot forward.
The writing was great, but the book felt like it was just laying foundations for what was to come next. The ending was a bit of a let-down, because it didn’t give any real resolution to the problems or mystery....more
Dollhouse is unique, thrilling, well-written, and one of the most original novels I’ve read in ages. Not recommended to people who are terrified of dolls or clowns, but to everyone else – this book is amazing! If only the ending wasn’t such a cliffhanger, and if some parts of it weren’t so completely and utterly confusing – seriously, I had to reread some paragraph three or four times – then this would’ve been my favorite book ever. But as it stands now, it’s still pretty good, and highly original, just not as spellbinding as it could’ve been.
Anyway, the story starts out pretty simple. Cassie, and three of her friends, have gone on a trip across the nearby mountain for a school project, when they find a dilipidated mansion, in the middle of nowhere. Aisha goes missing, and the police quickly suspects Ethan, Aisha’s boyfriend and Cassie’s secret crush. When Ethan goes up the mountain to try and find Aisha, Cassie and Lacey follow him, trying to help. But once they venture inside the mansion, they find something so twisted and messed up, they never could’ve imagined it.
This book is scary, even if it doesn’t try to be. Some of the imagery is so well-described, and so twisted, that it scared me to the bone. It’s gothic horror at its finest, never gross, never grotesque, but atmospheric and creepy all the same. The plot is so original – I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t saying anything else, except, well, be prepared for an amazing plot that’ll leave you jealous, and wishing you’d come up with something like that yourself. The writing is great, the characters all seem very real, and I never knew what to expect next.
This is gothic horror the way it’s spposed to be. I can’t wait to read the sequel. As soon as it’s on Netgalley, I’m getting my hands on that book. I need to know what happens next....more
I loved the first book in this series, but the sequel, “Renegade”, did not convince me. Abbie’s dark visions, and her continuous hunt for Max, were the most intriguing things about the book. I wasn’t so fond of the whole Conclave thing, felt too much like a conspiracy theory. But the major downside of this story is how Abbie, previously a strong, independent character, loses her entire personality when William is around, like she turns into a ragdoll. An okay read for people wanting to continue the series....more
I love Heather Graham’s books, so of course I requested a review copy of “The Cursed“. While I did like the book, I felt like it was missing something, some of the originality I found in the other, previous books in the Krewe of Hunters series.
Hannah O’Brien, one of the main characters, owns and runs a Bed and Breakfast in Key West. The B&B is situated in a Victorian mansion she inherited from her great uncle. The mansion is haunted by a variety of ghosts, all of them friendly. Hannah sees the ghosts and communicates with them. But when a man is murdered in the B&B, and his spirit shows up on her doorstep, asking her to help him find out who murdered him, she learns there’s more to seeing spirits than she hoped for. When she finds herself in danger, FBI agent Dallas Samson must come to her rescue. Mix mystery, suspense, a smuggling ring, romance and ghosts in one package, and you’ve got the plot for this book.
It’s interesting, sure, and the combo smuggling ring, FBI, and ghosts, is still intriguing, but I felt like something was missing. Maybe the plot just didn’t sound intriguing enough. What was interesting, however, was the setting for the book, and the rich history of Key West. Heather Graham never ceases to amaze me with how much she knows about history, and how adequately she pours this knowledge into her books.
The writing, as usual, was great, and the characters… I certainly found Dallas entertaining, but Hannah came across as a little bland.
Either way, The Cursed is a solid paranormal mystery read with a large dose of romance. It’s a good book if you’re a fan of Heather Graham’s writing, and you don’t need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this one, as it can be read as a stand-alone....more
What else can be said about The Screaming Staircase besides that it’s one of the most impressive books I’ve read in my entire life? Jonathan Stroud gives us originality – a fresh concept, a dystopian world haunted by spirits, which can be best seen by children, and which are deadly when they touch you. With ghosts out in the open, Londoners stay inside their homes as soon as night falls, trying to escape the specters lurking down the streets. But even their homes often get plagued by ghosts. Murder victims stay behind to haunt the living. Suicides keep on committing the same act night after night.
Lucy Carlyle is a talented young agent who arrives in London hoping for a good career. But instead, she joins the smallest agency in the city, where there are no adults to supervise, and the charismatic Anthony Lockwood, owner of the agency, tends to do things his way. This could go great, or horribly wrong. And like you guessed, it goes horribly wrong.
After setting a house on fire during a job that should’ve been relatively easy, Lockwood & Co. is on the verge of bankruptcy. But when a wealthy man shows up on their door with a proposition, they can’t say no, even if that proposition sounds a little crazy.
I’ve seen this book qualified as middle grade; in my opinion, it’s definitely NOT middle grade. It’s suitable for a young adult audience and older. As an adult, I loved it, because it’s brilliant. It’s original, refreshing, the concept is great, the plot is surprising. A young adult would love it – and the main characters are young adults as well. But for middle graders? First of all, it’s a wopping 404 pages. Secondly, the subject matter is scary, complicated, and not at all suited for middle graders. Even the writing doesn’t find that target age group. So I’d firmly recommend this one to young adults and older audiences, but not to middle graders.
You know by now that I have trouble reviewing books I loved, and I absolutely loved The Screaming Staircase. I can’t stress that enough. Everything about this book was brilliant, from the writing which jumped from fun, light humor to dark, gritty atmospheric the next, to the characters, to the amazing plot.
If you buy one, and only one book, this year – then buy The Screaming Staircase....more