Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The Night Crawler by P.A.Sheppard


The problem with the end of the world is that it's a gradual process. It keeps getting worse. It tests you until you break, just to see if you can put yourself back together.

Caz and her father do what they must to survive the fall of humanity. Hunting when they can, and scavenging supplies from the derelict shells of a deserted city they rely on each other to make it to the end of each day.

The end of each day. A time when darkness falls and the monsters responsible for the collapse of society emerge to hunt.

Wow I was not prepared for this book! Aphotic Realm are launching a series of novellas and this is the first one I have read so far and it really blew me away. I cannot wait to see what else they will be publishing.

Nightcrawler is a really intense read. Survival hangs in the balance each day and the odds are really stacked against Caz and her father. This is horror but it's also a frantic action packed story which creates a thrilling ride. 

Considering the covid pandemic this story somehow feels all the more real. We are living in strange times that no one is able to control. 

After a catastrophic event we are told very little about Caz and her father are forging a meagre survival in their ruined city. No place is safe as they cling to life. All that matters is finding food and staying safe at night from the nightcrawlers.

The plot moves so quickly through this tale, every situation is fraught with complications. Every chapter ends with a monumental cliffhanger so once you start you have to carry on. I like how we as the reader are never really sure on what has happened to plunge the entire world in this darkness. 

 All Caz wants to do is survive the monsters that have overtaken the world. Every decision she makes leads to danger.

However monsters take many forms, Caz must act quickly to danger, must learn to trust the right people and fight for those who matter. 

The ending is brutal and fitting with this story as it is not over for the survivors, each day for the rest of their lives will be a battle in a world no longer their own. Nature has reclaimed the towns and cities and forest closes in from all sides.

A Press of Feathers by T.C.Parker



Bea has it - more than ever, since her husband left her.

Lou has it - has it in spades, since she lost her job and her flat and had to move back in with her parents.

And whoever’s been murdering and mutilating the men whose bodies keep mounting up in Bea and Lou’s city - they’ve got it, too.

But when Bea moves to The Gates, an exclusive new estate with a strange and troubled history, and Lou’s interest in the murders leads her right to Bea’s door, the two women find the lines between nightmare and reality, history and myth and sanity and madness blurring around them - and a primeval entity born from the chaos of creation with her own appetite for rage rising up to meet them from the ground below.

She sees them. And she’s hungry.

A Press of Feathers was a joy to read. Think murder mystery complete with a determined sleuth battling not just a serial killer but also evil crows, ancient deities and rich people!

Told through the tale of two women Bea and Lou who have both recently moved to Leicester to rebuild their lives. Bea isn't going to let heartbreak and divorce stop her and is determined to carry on with her life. She moves into a new housing development called The Gates, it's a strange place but she can't afford to live anywhere else. The rent is unusually low, there must be a catch somewhere...

Meanwhile Lou has been forced to move back from London after losing her job. Employment opportunities are sparse but when she hears about all the recent killings she has an idea....

Using her detective skills Lou finds a overlooked connection between the killings which soon leads her to The Gates.

Eventually Lou and Bea cross paths, from this killer no one is safe. Can they find out what is happening before it is too late?

I had so much fun reading this book, it works really well as a murder mystery but with the addition of supernatural elements and ancient folklore it really takes off. When the book switches between the two characters you are eager to find out what the other one is up to. 

What makes this book so enjoyable other than the suspenseful atmosphere and intrigue are the characters, Lou and Bea. They are so likeable and relatable. Both have been through tough times but instead of wallowing in their own misery they just get on with things and emerge all the more stronger for it. 

Monday, 15 February 2021

The Making of Gabriel Davenport by Beverley Lee


Something is waiting for its time to rise.

Beth and Stu Davenport moved to the sleepy English village of Meadowford Bridge to give their young son, Gabriel, an idyllic childhood. But one night a hidden, ancient darkness shatters their dream and changes their lives forever.

Years later, Gabriel searches for answers about his mysterious past. His life unravels as he discovers that the people he loves and trusts harbour sinister secrets of their own. As the line blurs between shadow and light; and he becomes the prize in a deadly nocturnal game, Gabriel must confront the unrelenting, malevolent force that destroyed his family all those years ago.
His choice: place his trust in a master vampire, or give himself to the malignant darkness.
Is there a lesser of two evils—and how do you choose?

I really loved this book! I'd recently read a short story by Beverley Lee from the Diabolica Britannica anthology released last year and was eager to read more of her work.

The story delves straight into horror, you can feel the foreboding building up in what first appears to be a very domestic and idyllic situation. The story then fast forwards 15 years to focus on Gabriel Davenport who is living at "The Manor" under the care of a wealthy gentleman who has devoted his life to the study of the occult. 

He has many questions about his past, but can find no one willing to answer them, until trouble starts once more..

This story moves at a such a fast pace and is a perfect blend of fantasy and horror. I really raced through this novel and can't wait to get started with book 2. Clove, when he appears has such a big impact. I really felt like I could picture him in my head. 

What makes this story stand out is the characterisation. Every character is unique and compelling each dealing with their own demons. Each character is forced to make difficult decisions if they are to survive the darkest night of their lives. 

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Saltblood by T.C.Parker


A remote island. A group of prisoners. And an evil as old as time.

Robin didn’t mean to break the law. Didn’t know at first what law she’d broken. And now she’s on her way to Salt Rock — a new-model prison for a new kind of criminal, way out in the remote Northern Isles of Scotland.

On Salt Rock, she'll meet other prisoners like her — men and women from all over the world, spirited away from the lives they knew for crimes they didn’t know they were committing.

She'll uncover the complex web of conspiracy that connects them all, confronting some of the darkness of her own past in the process.

And she'll come face to face, finally, with an evil as old as the land itself.

It’s hell in those waters.

I'm not sure how to start with this review, other than I loved reading this book. There is a lot  of different genres packed in along with suspense and intrigue, which took my breath away. This is horror but nothing like I have ever read before. 

There's some real 1984 Orwellian vibes in here but with a 21century take. The concept behind Saltblood is terrifying to me. That anyone can be judge and condemned by the media without a trial. Techno witch hunts for the 21st century.

Modern media is something that also really scares me, how much it controls us. Its in a constant state of  evolving too rapidly for us to really understand how it all works. Who really controls it, our fellow social media users or some shadowy figure behind the screen? Most people don't realise that we are the product being sold but who is buying our information, and for what purpose?

The setting of Salt Island was really cool, I immediately felt the tension of being marooned on an inhospitable  tiny island surrounded by rough seas. Covering the island is a huge cage which keeps out the outside world further by blocking all electromagnetic fields, no phone calls or internet. Eek!

I really felt for the characters in this book,  the injustices they have faced. This book examines what happens to people who cause outrage online after the world has moved on to the next source. There is also the terror of isolation too, social media scares me but also equally terrifying is not having access to the outside world via internet and phones. This book does a really good job of highlighting that conundrum.

It also argues who are we to judge people, especially online where we don't have access to all the facts just maybe a screen shot or an unfortunate photo? 

The tale follows Robin, a young woman sent to the island for three months. It's a time for self reflection but she never really gets the chance when trouble starts. On the surface the other islanders seem ok, but nothing is really what it seems. Robin soon learns there is no one she can trust, yet is desperate for a real human connection.

Danger comes from every corner and shadow, even though Robin only has to spend a few months on Salt Island, her chances of survival diminish with each day.  There is another danger surrounding the island, even the modern age with all its technologies and intelligence can never control. 

Thursday, 4 February 2021

White Pines by Gemma Amor

 A woman, returning to her roots. A town, built on sacred land. A secret, cloaked in tradition and lore.

Welcome to White Pines.

Don't get too comfortable.

When Megan is brutally dumped by her husband she decides to pack her van and drive up to Scotland, the home of her ancestors where she moves into her late Gran's seaside cottage. But dreams of an idyllic rural life are shattered when she meets the locals.

Her heartbreak and broken marriage will soon be the least of her problems...

I really loved this book and devoured it in two days, I probably could have read it in one day if it weren't for having to homeschool my kids during lockdown ;)  

I don't want to say too much about the plot so as not to spoil it but it moves in unexpected ways which kept me as the reader guessing. I loved how there were so many different literary elements, it had crime, mystery, adventure, heartbreak, folklore and of course horror. There's a lot of horror, a lot of moments that made me squeal and flinch, lots of different horror to scare the hell out of everyone! I really felt like I was transported to this tiny village.

As someone born and raised in the country I truly understand the horror of living in a small secluded community and Gemma has captured this perfectly. The claustrophobic feeling of living in a goldfish bowl where everyone, and I mean everyone, knows everything about you. Although thankfully where I grew up, the land was free of cults and monsters, as far as I know!

The ending was really magnificent and blew my mind. I never saw that coming. I really felt like I went on a journey with Megan, the main character who really transforms the tale into something epic.

What makes the story for me was Megan, she felt like a real woman with flaws which made her so easy to relate to. I like that she is a woman of action and gets things done herself. I see all too often female protagonists portrayed to reflect what society perceive as the ideal woman, but Megan likes to walk her own path as every woman should.