Book Review: ‘The Perilous In-Between’ by Cortney Pearson

This is an intriguing steampunk mystery novel which immerses the readers in the world of Chuzzlewit and embeds them in the lives of its residents. 

It begins as a story of adventure and danger, and develops into a personal quest for the characters to solve the mystery behind the monster that holds their very existence in its hands. It explores the ways in which different people respond to adversity and conflict, and questions how those in a position of power use and abuse it. 

The story is very well written and very entertaining. The world building is more complex and thought-provoking than it first appears to be, and the nature of the Monster known as the Kreak is fascinating. 

The town of Chuzzlewit is populated with a varied cast of engaging and interesting characters, and the central characters are relatable in their motivations, responses and interactions with one another. Victoria, as the lead character, is an independent thinker, a problem solver, and stands up for what is right over what is easy. Her dilemmas are complex and the difficult choices she has to make remind the reader that it is the right of each individual to choose their path and shape their own reality from the choices offered to them in life, but also that those choices cannot be made in isolation from one’s responsibility to others or the society in which they live.

Book Review: Organic Ink Anthology

If you want to find new poets to read and love, this is one book you don’t want to overlook.

‘Organic Ink’ is an excellent collection of works by fifty different poets. It presents poetry in a variety of styles, from epic fantasy poems to insightful reflections on life today. It is impossible to compare them,  but there are poems in this anthology that will suit the preferences and tastes of all poetry lovers, and some that will hold definite appeal for people who don’t usually read a lot of poetry, too — some because of their compelling narrates and powerful writing that draws the reader into different worlds, and others because they are so relatable and realistic. 

The layout and presentation of the book is really nice, enhanced by a good choice of font and giving the poems enough room on the pages so the book as a whole is visually appealing.

There are some real gems in this anthology. 

Audiobook Review: ‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo

A stunning, tense and dark adventure that carries the reader from the streets of Ketterdam to the splendour of the Ice Court on the most dangerous mission Kaz Brekker and the Dregs had ever taken on. 

The writing is powerful and compelling, conveying the desperation and adrenaline of the story, and the imagery is rich in sensory detail.

Telling the story from the different characters’ perspectives create an intriguing dramatic irony that both informs the reader and helps to build the suspense and anticipation that completely  hooks the audience. 

The narrators – one for each central character – are expressive and very listenable, making the story flow and creating a very effective interweaving of the strands of the story. The characters really come to life with the audio, especially in the recounting of their backstories, the exposition of their thoughts and fears, and the revelation of their perceptions and responses to the other characters and the experiences they share. 

The story remains suspenseful and maintains the innate tension of the story right to the end. 

Book Review: ‘Shypoke’ by Dona Fox

This is a very good story that grows increasingly eerie and discomfiting as the narrative develops. The writing is evocative and rich in imagery, luring the reader into the quite sentimental and old-timey feel of the story before delivering the twists that dramatically change the tone and intent of the narrative. 

The characters are nicely developed, using the familiarity between them to engage the reader in their conversation and interactions and develop some affection for them. This, in turn, enhances the effect of the darkness that creeps into the story and takes control of it. 

‘Shypoke’ delivers a satisfyingly chilling ending to a well-crafted creepy tale. 

Book Review: ‘The King’s Traitor’ by Jeff Wheeler

Third in the KingFountain series, this book continues the story of Owen Kiskaddon and his life as A duke and advisor to King Severn of Ceredigion.  Once again, there is good continuity in the storyline and the central characters, with new complications and personalities entering the narrative as the plot develops. 

The story is beautifully told. The world building and characterisation are rich and complex, bringing the kingdoms and settings to life and populating them with engaging, relatable characters who the reader comes to know intimately.  Even those who belong to the upper echelons of society are shown to have very real concerns and inner conflicts with which they must wrestle. The ways in which different characters resolve those issues reflect the best and the worst of human nature, pitting good and evil against one another in a very personal way. 

As with the previous books in the series, there are connections between this story and the popularised version of the life and personality of Richard III which are clearly discernible, although this story focuses far more on Owen than it does on King Severn. The story maintains an original and unique plot that sets it apart from those events and distinguishes it as as an outstanding work of fantasy rather than historical fiction.  

This book and the series to which it belongs are most excellent, and will please all lovers of epic sword and sorcery fantasy books.    

Book Review: ‘Ghost Camera’ by Darcy Coates

Chilling, suspenseful and macabre, this is everything I look for in a horror story. Building tension bursts into moments of fear, like waves on the ocean carrying the reader on peaks and troughs of anticipation and dread. The reader frequently finds themselves releasing their breath in relief, unaware that they’ve been holding it, only for it to happen again the next time the action of the story escalates. 

The main characters are likeable and relatable, which positions the reader to feel empathy for them when they find themselves in a situation they cannot control, and which promises most unfavourable outcomes. Because they are such normal people, it reminds the reader that this is the kind of thing that could potentially happen to anyone, regardless of their good intentions or innocence in making mistakes. 

The writing is excellent, the imagery is precise and well-crafted, and the storyline is unpredictable. All in all, this is a shudderingly good read.

Book Review: ‘No Stone Unturned ‘ by Pam Lecky

This is a most enjoyable historical mystery, set in Victorian London and Yorkshire during the 1880s.

Lucy Lawrence  is an engaging and likeable character, at times impulsive and quick to speak her mind, but always a woman of honesty and integrity. As the story plays out, she faces some interesting and mysterious opponents and endures more than one reversal of fortune, leaving her questioning who can or cannot be trusted. This gives the reader a strong sense of empathy and loyalty that connects them to Lucy and heightens their interest in her fate.

The story is well-constructed and very well-written. The twists and turns in the story keep the reader — and Lucy — guessing right up to the last page.