Book Review: Trace by Letitia L. Moffitt

Trace-01Title: Trace

Author: Letitia L. Moffitt

Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

She knows what happens when you die.
Nola Lantry is a tracist: she can sense the particles of energy that are released when the human body expires. It’s a somewhat gruesome ability, but Nola uses it to bring some meaning to her otherwise drab life in upstate New York by assisting the Redfort Police Department on missing person cases. When the richest man in town, Culver Bryant, disappears, Nola finds herself in the middle of a case that is both baffling and increasingly dangerous, the danger appearing in the form of death threats as well as the missing man’s brother, Grayson. Does Grayson Bryant pursue Nola to seduce her or to stop her—and why does Nola feel a connection with him despite her mistrust?

Trace is an enjoyable, entertaining novel about Nola Lantry, a tracist. Tracists sense particles of energy released when a person dies – a rather gruesome ability, but it does come in handy for the police force. Nola often assists the Redfort Police Department on missing person cases by helping locate the body. The disappearance of Culver Bryant, one of the richest men in town, is Nola’s first high profile case.

Culver Bryant’s disappearance comes with a list of plausible suspects: his mysterious half-brother who shows more than a little interest in Nola, his girlfriend, his wife, his business partner, … One of them is involved in Culver’s disappearance, and may now be targeting Nola too.

I love a good crime novel, and when the paranormal is mixed in, then I’m all game. Tracists are great – it’s an unique ability, and original as I had never read about it before. It adds an interesting perspective to the crime element. The pacing is fast, the characters are three-dimensional, and feel realistic, in particular Nola.

A compelling paranormal myster, fast-paced and with a few unexpected twists.

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

8685644Title: Haunting Violet

Author: Alyxandra Harvey

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal, Historical Fiction

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.
Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

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.

Book Review: The Silent Twin by Caroline MItchell

29073922Title: The Silent Twin

Author: Caroline Mitchell

Genre: Thriller, Paranormal

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …
Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.
Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.
A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?
A darkly gripping, page-turning thriller that will enthrall fans of Rachel Abbott, Alex Marwood’s The Wicked Girls and Mark Edwards.

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.

Mini-Review: Swerve, Winterwood and The Silenced

minireview

Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Swerve

Tite: Swerve

Author: Vicki Pettersson

Genre: Thriller, Horror

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

It’s high summer in the Mojave Desert, and Kristine Rush and her fiancé, Daniel, are en route from Las Vegas to Lake Arrowhead, California, for the July Fourth holiday weekend. But when Daniel is abducted from a desolate rest stop, Kristine is forced to choose: return home unharmed, but never to see her fiancé again, or plunge forward into the searing desert to find him…where a killer lies in wait.

Review: I didn’t suspect a slasher book could be this good. I always thought the slasher genre would be something best kept to TV and cinemas, but I was wrong. The book is spine-chilling, and it’s so fast-paced, poor Kristine keeps on stumbling from one dreary situation into another. Loved it.

Winterwood

Title: Winterwood

Author: J.G. Faherty

Genre: Horror

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

You’d better watch out!

No one in Anders Bach’s family believed his old tales of Winterwood, a place where Krampus and his Wild Hunt rule a frozen land and where bad children don’t get coal for Christmas, they get baked into pies or forced into slavery. But now the Yule Lads have kidnapped Anders’s grandsons, and he has to rescue them before they’re lost forever. Anders and his daughter must cross the divide between worlds and enter Winterwood, where evil holds sway and even the reindeer have a taste for human flesh. By the time the sun rises, they’ll learn the awful truth about Winterwood: there is no escape without sacrifice.

Review: The good: the use of Icelandic folklore, in particular since I wasn’t familiar with it. The writing was good too. The bad: characters weren’t very realistic, and one character basically went from non-believer to believer in milliseconds. Entertaining, though, and since it’s a novella, I finished it in no time.

The Silenced

Title: The Silenced

Author: Heather Graham

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Where is Lara Mayhew?

Lara, a congressman’s media assistant, suddenly quits her job—and disappears on the way to her Washington, DC, apartment.

Novice FBI agent Meg Murray, a childhood friend of Lara’s, gets a message from her that same night, a message that says she’s disillusioned and “going home.” To Richmond, Virginia. Meg discovers that she never got there. And bodies fitting Lara’s description are showing up in nearby rivers… Could she be the victim of a serial killer?

Meg is assigned to work with special agent Matt Bosworth, a hard-nosed pro in the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators—the Krewe of Hunters. They trace the route Meg and Lara took more than once in the past, visiting battlefields and graveyards from Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg. Places where the dead share their secrets with those who can hear… As Meg and Matt pursue the possibility of a serial killer, they find themselves in the middle of a political conspiracy. Is there a connection? And who—besides each other—can they trust?

Review: I used to love Heather Graham’s books when I first picked one up, but now I find myself liking them less and less. The plots are just so predictable. In this one, it was obvious what was going to happen next, and it almost seemed like a recap of a previous book. The characters were flat too, and difficult to connect with.

Mini-Review: Escape from Witchwood Hollow, The Sisters’ Grimoire, Mothman’s Curse

minireview

Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Tite: Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

Review: I knew this would be a hit from the moment I started reading. Witchwood Hollow is such an amazing, imaginative seting, and the story is so unique and original. Honoria is an amazing character, and I admired her bravery. Loved the focus on witches, and how it all wrapped up in the end. Definitely one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

The Sister’s Grimoire

Title: The Sister’s Grimoire

Author: Suza Kates

Genre: Paranormal, Witches

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Tate Whiteburn has come home to Bar Harbor, Maine, but what should have been a short trip takes an unexpected turn. The Victorian house near the cliffs holds much more than painful memories, and when lightning strikes midnight, family secrets unfold.

She and her sisters have no choice but to work together, as they find strength they never knew they had . . . and face danger from a place they never knew existed.

Review: The good: the book focuses on three sisters and their bond. The bad: it kind of reads like Charmed. There’s a Victorian house, a grimoire, witchy magic being passed from mother to daughter, and so on. While entertaining, the plot sometimes jumps from place to another, which made it difficult to follow. Characters were flat too, and hard to relate to.

Mothman’s Curse

Title: Mothman’s Curse

Author: Christine Hayes, James K. Hindle (illustrator)

Genre: Children’s Book, Middle Grade, Paranormal Mystery

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

When Josie and her brothers uncover a haunted camera, the Mothman legend becomes a terrifying reality that threatens their entire town in this spooky and action-filled novel. Josie may live in the most haunted town in America, but the only strange thing she ever sees is the parade of oddball customers that comes through her family’s auction house each week. But when she and her brothers discover a Polaroid camera that prints pictures of the ghost of local recluse John Goodrich, they are drawn into a mystery dating back over a hundred years. A desperate spirit, cursed jewelry, natural disasters, and the horrible specter of Mothman all weave in and out of the puzzle that Josie must solve to break the curse and save her own life.
Review: What an entertaining read! For an adult, the characters are a little flat, and some of the plot parts aren’t all that original (a haunted camera has been used just about a million times already) but I’m sure kids will love it. The story flows well, it’s fast-paced, the characters do have little quirks that kids enjoy reading about, the book uses local legends which makes it seem more realistic, and whenever it gets too creepy, the cartoon-like illustrations will help dissolve that fear.

Book Tours: Starter Day Party for Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory

wilhelminabanner

I’m hosting the starter day party today for the book tour for children’s book / middle grade “Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory.” The tour runs from October 1 to November 1.

Tour Schedule

October 1st: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

October 1st: Book Excerpt @ Stormy Night Reviewing

October 3rd: Book Excerpt @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

October 5th: Author Interview @ Editor Charlene’s Blog

October 8th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

October 10th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

October 12th: Book Excerpt @ 365 Days of Reading

October 15th: Book Review @ Books, Books & More Books

October 17th: Book Excerpt @ Teatime and Books

October 20th: Book Excerpt @ Hollow Readers

October 23rd: Author Interview @ Bedazzled Reading

October 25th: Book Excerpt @ The Single Librarian

October 27th: Book Review @ Natural Bri

October 29th: Book Excerpt @ Books on Fire

October 31st: Book Excerpt @ Book Blogorama

About the Book

Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory ebook (1)Title: Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory

Author: Whitney Dineen

Genre: Middle Grade / Paranormal Mystery

Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory is Book 1 in the Willy and Tommy Adventure Series. Wilhelmina Snodgrass and her family move to the Willamette Valley, Oregon, against her express wishes. Not only is she sure her life is over, but she’s convinced she won’t make any friends. That is until she meets her eccentric blue-haired neighbor, Thomasina Andretti. Willy and Tommy become involved in a s conspiracy to reopen The Willamette Wig Factory, with their unsuspecting friend, Georgianna Carbunkle. The plot, however, is orchestrated by three of Willy’s ancestor’s, from beyond the grave. Scrapes, mishaps and the unforeseen occur; including becoming sworn enemies with Tiffany Peterson, the most popular girl in the seventh- grade, a crush on super-stud, Jamie Armstrong and a mysterious carousel. Willy and Tommy have it all-mystery, revenge and romance. Monteith, Oregon, becomes the stage for adventure beyond their wildest dreams!

Author Bio

authorWhile attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband.

When she wasn’t modeling, she was in the kitchen, baking delights to share with friends. Soon, her friends began asking her to send baskets of her wonderful candies and cookies to business associates, agents and production studios. Word spread like wildfire, and the rest, as they say, is history. Whitney’s sensational creations are still in great demand by her loyal celebrity clientele.

During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor.

In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for middle readers The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory, is now available.

Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have recently relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens and organic vegetables.

 

Links

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

http://whitneydineen.com/

Mini-Review: Ghost Camera, The Betrayed

minireview

Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Ghost Camera

Tite: Ghost Camera

Author: Darcy Coates

Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

A small number of cameras have the ability to capture ghosts on film. This gift comes at a steep price; the ghosts are resentful and hungry, and the cameras offer them a rare chance to reach their favourite prey… humans.

Jenine didn’t know any of this when she found an abandoned Polaroid camera in a lighthouse. At first she assumes the ghostly shapes in the photos are a glitch or a prank – but then the spirits begin to hunt her down, and she’s forced into a deadly race to free herself from the camera’s curse.

Review: Main character Jenine lacks personality – she’s about as interesting as a cardboard figure. Everything happens to her, and she doesn’tset anything in motion herself. Her best friend Bree is far more interesting and should’ve been the main character. The story is all right but a little predictable.

The Betrayed

Title: The Betrayed

Author: Heather Graham

Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Sleepy Hollow isn’t so sleepy anymore…

One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream–an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he’s sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard’s gone missing there.

Maureen–Mo–Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She’s actually the one to find Richard?or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait: the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected, if they live long enough to enjoy it!

Review: 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.

The Way of All Flesh

Title: The Way of All Flesh

Author: Tim Waggoner

Genre: Horror, Zombies

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

In a world where zombies battle the living, which is more terrifying?

David is trapped in a nightmarish version of his hometown, pursued by crimson-eyed demons and insane cannibals, with no idea how he got there. At every turn he’s taunted by a mysterious youth named Simon who knows far more than he lets on.

David’s sister, Kate, fights for survival in a word decimated by flesh-eating zombies – and her brother’s one of them. She’s determined to put a bullet in David’s brain to set him free.

Nicholas Kemp is a human monster, a born killer. But in a world ruled by the living dead, he’s no longer the most feared predator, and he’ll do whatever it takes to become that again. He plans to start by killing Kate.

Review: A cool concept with a vivid, refreshing take on zombies. David is a zombie, and most of the book is told from his POV. Then there’s also Kate, his sister, who is still a human. I liked the zombie perspective, which was original and interesting at the same time. The book ranges from hilarious to gross to all-out horrifying.

Book Review: Eye of the Storm: Eilida’s Tragedy by Elle Klass

ETS LatestTitle: Eye of the Storm: Eilida’s Tragedy (Book 1 in the Ruthless Storm Trilogy)
Author: Elle Klass
Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

A disturbance at her neighbor’s house piques Eilida’s curiosity. What she discovers is so shocking it sends her running through the mountainous woods during a thunderstorm. She slips on the wet ground, plummets down Mount Wilde, and slams into a large boulder beside River Freedom. Eilida is transported to Lyden, where Sunshine, a receptionist at the local paper becomes engrossed in her story. The further Sunshine delves into Eilida’s life the more entangled their lives become. Paranormal events, frightening dreams, and terror filled memories draw the women together into an unthinkable web of horror.

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.

 

Book Review: Little Girls by Ronald Malfi

22891406Title: Little Girls

Author: Ronald Malfi

Genre: Horror, Suspense, Ghosts

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…
At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

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.

Book Review: House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

22716451Title: House of Echoes

Author: Brendan Duffy

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 2,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.
Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.
When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.
House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.

House of Echoes reads like your classic gothic horror novel: a gigantic mansion, a family moving in who already suffered through depression and trauma. I expected the mansion to be haunted but that’s not really the case – apart from some animal carcasses left on the new owner’s front porch, nothing really spooky is going on in relation to the mansion itself. Ben and Caroline and their two young boys move to a small, close-knit community to try and start over, running away from their dark and depressing past. But not all is as it seems in town, and their fresh start might turn into a nightmare.

Ben is an author struggling to come up with a concept for his new book. Caroline lost her banking job and wants to renovate the mansion into a proper B&B. Charlie, their oldest son, is barely eight years old and struggled at his last school, since he was being bullied. They all want to make a fresh start, and at first, it seems to work. But then Caroline’s paranoia sets in, Ben is too focused on his book rather than on his family, and Charlie starts spending hours and hours in the woods. At the same time, the reader senses something is going on, and that something bad will happen soon, but the suspense keeps on lingering for several chapters until the big mystery is finally revealed.

The book also has some letters dating from 1777 and detailing the horrors the ancestors of the town’s families went through. It’s a nice touch to combine past and present since the two are overwhelmingly interlinked throughout the book.

It’s more of a paranormal mystery than a horror book though, and even after the big reveal, the book isn’t really scary. There are some build-ups throughout but most of them end up going nowhere. I’d expected the house to turn against them, but that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, while the story isn’t bad, it isn’t very original either. The writing is okay, but tends to take a while to get its point across, dragging out the narrative. And the characters, with the exception of Ben, are hard to relate to. The whole family lives seperate lives almost, and that would be all right if it didn’t cause the reader not to relate to any of them except Ben.

Overall, it has an interesting premise but because it takes too long for anything spooky to happen, the reader feels more like they’re stuck reading Caroline’s diary of how she renovates this part of the house, decides to try out this recipe, and then repeats everything the next day. The pacing is simply too slow and the suspense isn’t high enough to warrant that. Most suspense build-ups end up going nowhere, and the end is a little anti-climatic at that point. Not bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it either.