This is an enjoyable collection of seven mixed genre short stories.
Some of these stories are more complex than others, offering some intrigue and good plot development before delivering a twist. One or two of the others were less involved and, while they certainly delivered a twist, it was more of a surprise ending than the fulfilment of a sense of mystery.
The retro narrative style of the three ‘Private Eyes’ stories which comprise a detective noir style series gave them a nice mystery aesthetic that worked quite well. A profound contrast is provided by the dark humour and bleak irony of ‘Halloween in Windsor.
These stories are most likely to appeal to readers with varied and eclectic tastes and an appreciation for clever and unpredictable storytelling.
This is a short but darkly creepy and suspenseful story. The premise is relatable, and the characters and their responses are realistic and engaging.
The macabre and horror story elements were well crafted, aided by the setting and context of the story.
If you are looking for an enjoyable story that will both fill and darken your lunch break, this is it.
The saying goes that “there is no honour among thieves”, but the protagonist of this story is certainly an exception to that rule.
This is a fun fantasy short story full of action and varied, interesting characters. Elona, the central character is clever and talented, and it is most engaging to see her adapt to the changes that happen in her life without losing her individuality or sacrificing her loyalty.
The world building is quite unique, providing settings that reveal the two extremes of life in the kingdom of Tore— the wealth of the mage’s citadel and the grunge of the thieves’ den. The kingdom has a very old-world feel, yet the characters have access to modern technology, which creates an intriguing juxtaposition
The story can be read under an hour, which makes it ideal for a lunch break or fitting into a busy lifestyle.
‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance’ is the second instalment in The Dragon’s Heir trilogy, a fascinating and original blend of fantasy, paranormal romance and fairy tale that makes for a most diverting and intriguing read.
This sequel to ‘The Curse of the Dragon Stone‘ continues the story of Kirin, the dragon’s heir, and his family’s quest to overcome the curse that has befallen them.
Themes of loyalty and enmity are explored as Kirin, Tyriel and the Fabiosa sisters are set against a darker, angrier power that seeks to undo them. The inner conflict that plagues Kirin reminds the reader that each of us has choices to make about which side of our own nature we allow to control us, while the plight of his family serves as a sobering cautionary tale about the unintended consequences that one’s actions and decisions can have in the lives of others.
The events of the story create a balance of anticipation and tension that is both tantalising and compelling, keeping the reader fully engaged throughout the book. Even as this part of the story closes, the remainder of the tale beckons, leaving the reader longing for more.
Comfortably read in a little over two hours, this novella is an ideal fantasy escape for a quiet afternoon or evening.
The third in Kerri Maniscalco’s Victorian macabre mystery series, ‘Escaping from Houdini’ is set on the Etruria, a cruise ship travelling from London to New York in 1899 with Audrey Rose Wadsworth, her beau Thomas Cresswell, and Uncle Jonathan Wadsworth aboard.
A series of gruesome murders present this Victorian forensic science team with a series of challenges and mysteries that must be solved before arriving at their destination.
The story is intricate and complex, dark and dangerous, and completely captivating. Themes of distraction, illusion and deception interweave like a macabre carnival dance. The personal consequences and implications for Audrey Rose, Thomas, and other passengers on the ship are compelling, keeping the audience engaged both mentally and emotionally in the drama as it unfolds.
Nicola Barber’s narration is expressive, fluent and most enjoyable. Barber has a definite gift for characterisation and drama that makes her storytelling lively and most enjoyable.
An excellent audiobook experience, ‘Escapting From Houdini’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Available as a novel or audiobook.
As humans, we tend to think of ourselves as being at the pinnacle of creation, the most developed and intelligent species. Yet history attests to the selfishness, the prejudice and the cruelty to which humanity is, above all other species, susceptible.
‘Tails Always Wins’ is a paranormal romance suspense story that highlights just how hateful people can be to those who are different in some way, and the long-lasting effects their cruelty can have on the victims.
There is a lot at stake for the characters, but the story also reminds the reader that we too must resist complacency and never turn a blind eye to the schemes of evil people.
When Brodie finds himself at the mercy of a scheme designed designed to bring about the eradication of his kind, the reader realises that such a plan is a quite believable proposition because, sadly, we have seen humans do that kind of thing to others in the not-so-very-distant past.
This highlights the wisdom of both Brodie and Tails concealing their true nature from the rest of society, even though their stories and their reasons for doing so are quite different.
While each of them is morally opposed to the evil that confronts them, it is their true nature that unites them against the common enemy. In this, it is also a story of the power of acceptance and alliance in the lives of those who have fought for too long on their own.
The story is well crafted with highly individual, likeable lead characters with whom it is easy to sympathise, and some characters that the readers will readily dislike. The author makes very effective use of suspense and subtle suggestion to engage the reader and keep them hooked on the story right to the end.
‘Tails Always Wins’ is a most enjoyable read, and has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.
The Cracksman Code is a terrific read.
On more than one occasion, this story will warm your heart right before lurching it into your throat and leave you holding your breath.
Part thriller, part heartwarming portrait of a family bound by loyalty and their own way of doing things, the strands of this story blend seamlessly into one immensely enjoyable story that leaves the reader feeling like a member of the family. It’s a story that immerses the reader in both the professional and the personal sides of operations that, while they are in pursuit of justice, are nevertheless just outside of legal boundaries.
The Cracksman family are entirely realistic and believable, each with strengths and flaws that play off the other characters’ qualities in a very familiar way. At the same time, they do have some remarkable talents and involvements that make them anything but your standard family-next-door. Similarly, their friends Anna Marshall and Sam Henderson are very normal people who do extraordinary things out of their commitment to the same kind of loyalty and values embraced by the Cracksmans.
Clever and witty writing highlights the warmth of the friendships and family relationships and contrasts powerfully with the acute tension created in the action and suspense sequences of the story, making this a book that is hard to put down.
There is some adult content, so this book is not suitable for young readers.
’The Cracksman Code’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.