My Kyrosmagica Review of Horns by Joe Hill

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside.

My review:

I began reading Horns after James Fahy Author tagged me on Instagram:  #backofthebook – Horns Joe Hill.

Horns is one of those books that captures your attention right from the  start in a spectacular way. The main protagonist Ig, wakes up after a night of drunken debauchery with more than a mighty hangover. He finds a set of horns attached to his head, and these act like antennae giving him the ability to coerce people to tell him their darkest, most deeply hidden secrets. Time and time again the result is unequivocally shocking, making the reader reel at the depths to which people will have a hidden dark side. It makes us question just how much we really know our dear neighbours, friends, and family, who we love so much. Undoubtedly, we are all flawed human beings even the ones amongst us who we look up to  are  wretched sinners.

Horns is in part a love story, a tragic one, as Ig’s girlfriend, Merrin has been raped and murdered, and Ig is the prime suspect. Through the antennae effect, we get to learn the true reaction of his family, friends and the community to his possible culpability.

Horns isn’t easy reading and at times I definitely flinched. But it’s one of those books that draws you in and keeps you reading even though you want to look away. The villain is well crafted and engagingly horrible.  If you have a phobia of snakes I don’t recommend you read this novel! It will give you nightmares!

The faster pacing of the earlier chapters gives way to a slower mid section that explores Ig’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Merrin, who by all accounts is his soul mate, the love of his life. Given her importance to the narrative, this weightier middle section is understandable but does slow down the pace of the novel somewhat.

There is a reveal with regard to Merrin which ties some of the loose threads together in a very interesting way. But I am still a bit unsure about the ending…. perhaps this is a novel that would benefit from a second reading. I did feel that the ‘happier’ ending didn’t quite fit with the rest of the book, but I wonder if it was added as a device to make it less grim and more marketable – particularly with regard to a potential film contract – the film was released in 2014.

I’d definitely read more from Joe Hill, and it’s not just because he’s Stephen King’s son! This is ‘my first,’ Joe Hill novel. With this introduction, I can see that he weaves a wonderfully enthralling tale that explores the darker side of humanity, which continues to fascinate me.

Would I recommend Horns? Yes, most definitely but only if you like novels that explore the darker, murkier side of life.

My rating: 4.5 stars.

Bye for now,

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Ravens Gathering

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.

“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but their unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences. And no one can explain why the ravens are gathering.

Ravens Gathering twists and turns as the truth is gradually exposed in a gripping thriller with a supernatural edge to it.

My review:

This is a very ambitious first novel, and on the whole Graeme Cumming does a fantastic job, creating a novel which is both highly imaginative, and unusual in many respects. The dialogue is believable, as is the detail in the various innocuous, homely settings: the pub, the farms, and this close knit English village.

Ravens Gathering does a shape shift through several different genres, embracing fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, police procedural, thriller, and horror.

The main character Martin Gates returns to this community, his home after a long time abroad. Martin’s reappearance is not welcomed with open arms by his family, in fact they appear to view his reappearance as something to avoid rather than embrace. To begin with Martin is a difficult character to engage with. His character is somewhat obtuse, but there are reasons for this, which become apparent as we read the book and realise why he is the way he is. We do get a sense of his outrage about being so unloved and uncared for by his family, and yet to begin with we have no idea why this the case. We can only speculate, but there’s no way that our speculations will be correct.

Equally, Tanya, and Ian aren’t particularly appealing either, and neither are Martin’s family. The further we get into the book it seems more and more likely that everyone in Ravens Gathering are flawed in some unique and individual way. The key words that initially come to mind are: selfish, shady, desperate for sexual diversions, or damaged in some way. 

The story unfolds slowly with a considerable amount of detail, making events more real. Shocking and disturbing revelations in the latter part of the novel don’t come as a complete surprise given the underlying sense of a community where something is terribly amiss. Nevertheless I had no idea of what was coming, and the shock factor of what did surprised, and appalled me in equal measure. This is a novel where you can’t help but go WTF!!!!!

The characters for the most part are not particularly lovable which initially distances the reader from them but that’s not meant as a criticism, in fact under the circumstances having read the story one realises why this is the case.

The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked, and debauched a villain as you can get.

This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards. It winds its way stretching the believability of the fantastical elements to the max, edging the story to its conclusion.

My recommendation: Definitely an author to watch out for, a well written, confident debut. Read if you like mysterious thrillers with a fantastical, but deeply shocking element.

DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in in exchange for a review. 

Verified Purchase –  I own a copy. 

Buying Link: 

 

Do connect with Graeme via his link below:

Graeme Cumming’s website

Have you read Ravens Gathering? Do comment below.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

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This Monday I thought I’d do a review of Frozen Charlotte for #MondayBlogs. Why not start the week with a bit of scary bookish fun…..

Goodreads Synopsis:

We’re waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

My review:

This month I joined the Stripes publishing #redeyereadalong and I’m so glad I did! Just finished reading Frozen Charlotte. This novel is very good, definitely one to devour, that’s the right word. A fast paced, exciting, and at times gruesome read.

Warning: if you have a fear of needles, dolls, knives, ghosts, freezing, drowning, burning to death, or falling of cliffs, I wouldn’t pick this up!

I don’t normally read horror, but this month I’m doing a Halloween type theme on my blog, with spooky books, poems, short stories, etc.

Sometimes it’s good to try new things!! I snatched whatever time I could find to read Frozen Charlotte during the day, this wasn’t bedtime reading for me…. That way I kept the nightmares at bay.

What did I like about it?

Lots and lots of things.

The little creepy poems in italics at the beginning of each chapter are awesome.

Such a clever idea to have a Ouija-board app, and to introduce the ghost of Rebecca that way.

The prologue sets the tone for sinister goings on engaging the reader right from the very start.

Then you have the Frozen Charlotte dolls themselves, there is nothing nice about these dolls and it makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would have them in their house! Or wear them as a necklace! That’s asking for trouble! That’s the Scots for you, I’m not slating the Scots, I’m half Scottish, we may be a bit dour at times but we like to live dangerously!!

The characters all so well crafted.

The main protagonist, Sophie, I definitely have a soft spot for her. She’s so brave, it is almost suicidal! With one scary thing happening after another, she turns out to be quite the heroine. Respect! If it was me I’d be out of there lightning quick! But Sophie thinks of others before herself. Sophie feels particularly protective towards her youngest cousin Lilias, who has a horrendous fear of bones, knives have to be hidden, so she doesn’t cut herself, and when I say cut I really mean cut.

Jay sounds such a cute guy, a best friend who could possibly have been a love interest if his young life hadn’t been cut down right at the start.

Piper’s another favourite of mine! She starts off all sweetness, preparing food and seeming to be the perfect hostess welcoming her cousin to Scotland. But is Piper as sweet as she seems or is this all an act? You’ll have to read Frozen Charlotte to find out!

And Cameron appears to be a bit distant, and unwelcoming to Sophie when she arrives, intriguing the reader some more.

In my opinion Frozen Charlotte starts of well but becomes even more and more engaging, spooky and gruesome with each passing page…

The book ends with an epilogue, a final tease. This is one of the main strengths of this novel it teases and plays with the reader’s emotions offering apparent sweetness on one hand, and dire creepiness on the other.

My rating:

4.5 stars

My recommendation: Go read this!!! Highly recommended for readers of Horror, YA, Paranormal, Dark, Thriller, Mystery.

DISCLAIMER: “As of 13th September 2017 we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”  

My opinions are my own and any reviews on this site have not been swayed or altered in any way by monetary compensation, or by the offer of a free book in exchange for a review. 

Buying Links:

Amazon UK – Kindle – http://amzn.to/2jHL50F

Amazon UK – Paperback – http://amzn.to/2w5v2eN

Amazon Uk – Hardback – http://amzn.to/2w4TI7i

Amazon UK – red eye series 5 books collection set (Dark Room, Flesh and Blood, Sleepless, Frozen Charlotte, The Hunting –  http://amzn.to/2w505az

Have you read Frozen Charlotte? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of A Good Girl by Mary Kubica

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Goodreads Synopsis:

I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

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My review:

I was given a kindle copy of A Good Girl by Net Galley in return for an honest review. I had some difficulties with the ARC copy I received as there were no chapter headings or even pauses to suggest where one chapter started and the next finished. Unfortunately this made reading this particular novel very difficult especially as it has been written in multiple points of views, and in shifting time sequences alternating between the present and the past. Having said that I persevered and I’m glad that I did as  I quickly found the story gripping, and I wanted to read on and find out what happened next.

A Good Girl is written through the eyes of Mia, the captive, Mia’s mother, and Gabe the detective running the cause. All three points of view work well and add a depth to the narrative. We feel Mia’s confusion and fear when she is kidnapped. Her mother’s distress at the unknown fate of her daughter,  her sense of failure at being an inadequate mother and Gabe’s determination to set things right and solve the case. We also see a rich girl who has a depth to her that at first glance we may have overlooked. Her captive finds that Mia is much more than a spoilt little rich kid. He finds that she isn’t that different from him. They both share troubles, that have made them the way that they are, in her case, her father’s expectations that she will behave in a certain way and, in his case, his mother’s illness.

I had some problems with the initial propositions of the storyline, and with some of the developments within the novel. Why would someone abduct someone with the intention of handing them over and then change their mind? Why would the detective develop feelings for a member of the family? Was this really necessary, or did  it distract from the storyline?

The ending was a bit of a surprise I just didn’t see it coming.

Overall I thought that Mary Kubica’s portrayal of Mia’s abduction, and the developing attraction between Mia and her captive was skillfully written but I didn’t really buy into the detective investigating the case following down the love route too. It seemed a bit too much! I won’t say any more on that one for fear of spoiling the novel for you but for me it just wasn’t necessary.

Overall I enjoyed The Good Girl.  I thought it was a well crafted debut novel, that I would recommend to readers of mystery, thrillers, suspense, contemporary, and psychological thrillers.

My star rating:

3.75 stars

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www.marykubica.com

Have you read A Good Girl? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Review of The Exiled by William Meikle

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When several young girls are abducted from various locations in Edinburgh, Detective John Granger and his brother Alan, a reporter, investigate the cases from different directions. The abductor is cunning, always one step ahead, and the only clue he leaves behind at each scene are the brutalized corpses of black swans.

When the brothers’ investigations finally converge at a farmhouse in Central Scotland, they catch a glimpse of where the girls have been taken, a place both far away yet close enough to touch. A land known throughout Scottish history with many names: Faerie, Elfheim, and the Astral Plane. It is a place of legend and horror, a myth. But the brothers soon discover it’s real, and, to catch the abductor, they will have to cross over themselves.

To catch a killer, John and Alan Granger will have to battle the Cobbe, a strange and enigmatic creature that guards the realm, a creature of horrific power that demands a heavy price for entry into its world. The fate of both realms hangs in the balance…and time is running out…

My review of The Exiled, by William Meikle. This is an advanced readers copy that the author has kindly supplied to me via NetGalley. Publication date 1 July 2014.

My review:

The Exiles does much to recommend it. It combines a well crafted detective story, a serial killer thriller, and dark supernatural fantasy, in a work that is gripping and about as original as it gets. The story landscape is Edinburgh, what more could I ask for?The majority of my young adult life was spent in Edinburgh, and the way that William Meikle describes the city, and some of its less salubrious inhabitants and aspects, certainly brought the narrative to life. A large proportion of the detective, and investigative journalistic time was spent in watering holes, persuading half drunk Scotsmen to tell all! The two main characters are brothers, John is a detective inspector, and Alan a journalist with an uncanny ability to research leads. To begin with Meikle paints them as brothers who have grown apart, almost like separate entities, on two sides of the divide. The Macabre nature of the crime draws the two brothers together, in a quest to find and bring to justice the abductor of the missing girls. Meikle manages to interweave a tale that is at times, so dark, that a smattering of black humour, and drunken, humorous elements, are needed to lighten the heavy load. The book is most definitely a page-turner. The characters are realistically depicted. The stress and pressure put on detectives investigating terrible crimes such as these, is realistically portrayed. In fact, John can only seem to cope with the situation by resorting to chain-smoking. moreover, Meikle stereotypes the Scots’ drinking habits, by suggesting that a stiff drink is a prerequisite for all and sundry. Somehow, his realistic, colloquial, dialogue and well crafted scenes, allow him the license to get away with this. Very early on, it’s clear that this is not a novel for the faint-hearted. The darkness, and disturbing graphical images that Meikle paints may well haunt the reader. In light of this, I would not recommend this to younger readers. But, having said that, the darkness of the plot is lightened by the desperation of the two main characters to solve the mystery, and stop the advancing progress of evil. I’m impressed by Meikle’s imagination, and his ability to combine Fantasy with detective genre in such a convincing, and readable way. I would be interested in reading more of his work. I found The Exiled difficult to rate but decided on four stars, though for originality I think it would score a high-five!

Very highly recommended for readers of thriller, dark fantasy, horror.

My rating:

4 stars

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ISBN no. 9781940544212 available on Dark Fuse. http://www.darkfuse.com/ and Amazon http://www.amazon.com/

William Meikle’s website: http://www.williammeikle.com/

Information from his website: He is a Scottish genre writer now living in Newfoundland. When he’s not writing Willie drinks beer, plays guitar and dreams of fortune and glory! He has 20 novels and several hundred short stories in genre presses, anthologies and magazines. His current top seller is the sci-fi novel THE INVASION with 20,000 copies sold and counting.

Have you read The Exiled? Do leave a comment below I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx