Book Review: ‘Warm Shelter: A Ghost Story’ by Rich Hawkins

A powerful, dark short story.

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Rich Hawkins Warm ShelterThis is a powerful story of one man’s descent into darkness. The author has drawn the reader into that journey by positioning them to look over Alex’s shoulder to see what he sees, but also by expressing the character’s thoughts and feelings in a really natural and familiar way. It’s a very good story, combining elements of horror, macabre, and suspense to keep the reader in the grip of the rising tension as the story progresses.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the story is the writing itself. It’s lean and precise but, at the same time, incredibly sensory and poetic. Hawkins skilfully causes imagery to flash into the mind of the reader and linger for a moment in such a way that the reader can not only see but also smell and taste those images, until the next scene and the next image takes its place. Hawkins makes great use of suggestion and foreboding to gradually darken the story, allowing the reader time to hypothesise and question before reaching the conclusion of the story. These elements combine to imbue the story with a nightmarish quality that evolves subtly at first and grows stronger as the tension of the story builds.

It’s a short read, but one that has a significant impact on the reader.  Acorn Award I Golden

‘Warm Shelter’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Alterations’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another great novel in Stanhope’s ‘Elemental Witch Trials’ series.

Lucretia Stanhope EWT 5‘Alterations’ is the fifth novel in the Elemental Witch Trials series by Lucretia Stanhope. It resumes Gwen’s story some time after the events of ‘Familiar Betrayal’, as she finds herself pursuing new and dangerous directions. There seems to be so much at stake for Gwen in this book – but perhaps that is an issue of scale, for every mother perceives that there are threats to her children that she must overcome in order to protect them, and all individuals understand that there are many people who would be willing to take us down and few who would truly defend us if it meant putting themselves in danger.

One of the qualities I really admire about Gwen is her refusal to be passive and just let things happen around her. She is not only a strong woman, she is confident in using her strengths to achieve her aims. She may not have everything in control, but she definitely strives to do what she can and to respond to situations with positive outcomes in mind.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m also really glad to see that the author is determined to make this series varied and complex. This instalment is full of tension and twists, and I’m definitely keen to read more of this series.

Acorn Award II Silver

‘Alterations’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find ‘Alterations’ here.

If this series is new to you, click here to read my review of the first book in the series, Blessedly Bound.

 

 

Book Review: ‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ by Catherine Cavendish

A beautifully dark novella.

Catherine Cavendish Miss Abigails Room‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ is a Victorian Gothic mystery suspense story embellished with some gloriously macabre moments. The author builds the suspense steadily, creating tension that is almost palpable by the end of the book. The reader’s suspicions grow alongside those of Becky, the main character, but the ending of the book still comes with a surprising twist that, in keeping with the conventions of gothic horror, leaves the reader both shocked and satisfied.

I really enjoyed the way in which the author depicted life both “upstairs” and “downstairs” in the house, and the ways in which the different threads of the story were woven together to create one complex, elegantly constructed story.

To craft a story that is reminiscent of Poe, Dickens and Downton Abbey at the same time is quite an achievement.Acorn Award I Golden

Well worth reading, this beautifully dark novella has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘When Shadows Dance’

A really well crafted short story.

2018-08-09 18.32.03.pngThis is a beautifully written, well balanced story full of contrasts: light and shadow, age and youth, mishap and design. It has some almost Gothic elements and a finely tuned sense of foreboding that builds as the story unfolds, with a few neat little twists along the way, that are nicely balanced by its poignant and wistful moments.

It’s quite a short read at 18 pages, but one that proved to be a delightful diversion in a busy day.Acorn Award I Golden

‘When Shadows Dance’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Summer Of My Enlightenment’ by Kristy Dark

A well-written and complex psychological thriller.

51pGX1V5G5L‘The Summer of My Enlightenment’ is , on one level, the story of Angela and her search for meaning and fulfilment after a tragic event, but it’s also an interesting study of the nature of obsession, infatuation and narcissism and the danger that exists when they interact.

There is so much I could say about my anger toward particular characters, and my desire to see them suffer some consequences for their actions, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Be prepared, though, for some strong emotional responses as the story unfolds. And if mind games and manipulation are trigger points for you, it’s probably best to choose a different book.

A well-written and complex psychological thriller, this book certainly kept me guessing. There was suspense and frustration aplenty, and there were numerous surprises and twists along the way. Both of the central characters are flawed and conflicted, which often makes a reader sympathetic to one or both of them, which others very well may be; however, I found it hard to warm to either of them. This certainly added an extra layer of “chiller to the thriller” for me, but also added to my frustration because there was a large degree of dramatic irony involved in my reading of the story.Acorn Award II Silver

I have awarded this book a Silver Acorn because it ticked all the “dark fiction” and “suspense” boxes, but left this reader somewhat dissatisfied at the end.

Find your copy here.

New Release: A Poet’s Curse

A new collection of dark poetry that delivers justice in its most poetic form.

A Poets Curse eBook 6x9People often say, “Never annoy a writer. She will put you in a book and kill you.”
These poems don’t kill anyone, but they leave the reader in no doubt whatsoever of  the poet’s feelings.

Uncomfortable truths, observations about life, and unashamedly honest responses to hateful people make this collection of poems highly relatable and deeply, darkly satisfying.

They say there is a special place in hell reserved for those who prey on others.
Until then, there is A Poet’s Curse.

Book Review: ‘Lineage: The Memory Of The Sphinx’ by C H Clepitt

If you enjoy subversive dark humour, don’t overlook this series of short reads.

CH Clepitt Lineage The Memory of the SphinxThe third of C.H. Clepitt’s paranormal short stories in the Lineage series, this is another entertaining short read.

Clepitt continues to develop the quirky characters introduced in the first two stories, and adds another level of complexity by both providing a new development in the story and intertwining it with both John’s and Charlotte’s separate backstories.

This story is told with the author’s trademark cynical humour, which adds a delightful layer of snark to an otherwise dark story.

If you enjoy subversive dark humour, don’t overlook this series of short reads.Acorn Award II Silver

I did want it to be longer, and I wanted more resolution to the minor parts of this story, so I have awarded ‘Lineage: The Memory Of The Sphinx’ a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.