Audiobook Review: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The sequel to ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, this is equally gripping and dramatic historical fiction set in Romania, with the majority of the story taking place at the school of forensic medicine that is housed in the castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 

The book blends history, folklore, horror and forensic mystery genres in a uniquely twisting tale in which Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell once again seek to solve a series of mysterious deaths.

The action is well paced, heightened by plenty of suspense and intrigue. There are plenty of mysterious characters and viable suspects, and the story is so well constructed that the truth almost imperceptible until it is revealed. 

The narration by Nicola Barber is excellent, and gives a great deal of listening pleasure. 

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or novel here

Author Interview: Catherine Cavendish

Welcome to my interview with Catherine Cavendish – author of Gothic, ghostly and historical horror!

Welcome to my interview with Catherine Cavendish – author of Gothic, ghostly and historical horror

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to write?

I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t write. Certainly since I could hold a pencil in my chubby little girl hand. I was a precociously early reader and my love of stories led me to want to create my own. As an only child, I invented characters to inhabit my world.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

CREATURE by Hunter Shea. I love all his books but with this one, he has surpassed himself. It’s a horror novel but it works on so many different levels and over-riding everything is a story of a woman’s struggle with a terrifying auto-immune disease. This one comes from the author’s heart and soul. Incredible work. For me, his best yet.

I’m nuts about horror, and I’ve read and reviewed your book ‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ which I really enjoyed.

Oh thank you! That’s very encouraging to know!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

That’s a hard one to narrow down. I always love what I am working on at the moment because if I didn’t, what would be the point in continuing with it? But I do have a really soft spot for my latest novel – Damned by the Ancients. It’s the third in my Nemesis of the Gods trilogy and is mostly set in my favourite city – Vienna. My villain – Dr Emeryk Quintillus – is particularly evil in it and there is a starring role for a beautiful black cat, although she is far more than what she seems.

What are you working on writing now?

I am at the planning stage for a novella set in a hospital where a woman is recovering from a life-changing operation. There are forces within the hospital though. Things that shouldn’t be there. Things long dead.

Forest, country, beach or city?

That really depends on my mood and on the time of the year but in spring and summer, you can’t beat the countryside – and I would include forests in that, especially on a really hot day when you can shelter among the shady pine trees.

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever had?

Every time I’ve been to Vienna – and I have visited there a lot over the years. It has so much culture and history, the architecture is stunning but it is also a surprising city. Down narrow streets, all manner of curiosities are waiting to be found. It is such an easy place to get around, with excellent, straightforward and remarkably cheap public transport and, of course, the best coffee in the world.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Murder by Death. It’s absolutely hilarious – a spoof on a host of fictional sleuths from Hercule Poirot to the Thin Man and with an all-star cast including Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Elsa Lanchester and Alec Guinness. It was written by Neil Simon so, need I say more? It’s my favourite feel-good movie.

What’s your favourite TV show?

This changes from season to season in many instances but currently, it’s Killing Eve – a tightly woven psychological drama series that has really got into my head. I am also enjoying American Horror Story: Apocalypse – which I think is one of the best in this franchise. Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates are superb.

Name three people you admire and give your reasons.

Barack Obama – in my opinion, a true statesman who remained dignified and collected no matter what was thrown at him while he was President and continues to do so.

Nelson Mandela – his courage and dignity are a constant source of hope and inspiration even though he is no longer with us.

Princess Diana – she broke through taboos and gave a voice to people who had none. She wasn’t afraid to speak out on unpopular issues and embrace – literally – people others would cross the street to avoid. I think her sons bear true testimony to her legacy.

What’s your favourite quote ever?

Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone – Dorothy Parker

Where can readers find your books?

My books are widely available so readers can choose their favourite store.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple | Google | Kobo
Kensington Publishing

Where can we follow you on social media?

Readers can visit my Catherine Cavendish website or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.

Thanks for being here with us today, Catherine!

Thanks again, Book Squirrel!

Audiobook Review: ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The identity of Jack the Ripper remains one of the biggest mysteries in the history of both Victorian England, and of the murky world of serial killers.

Maniscalco takes that mystery, envelopes it in the life and times of a fictional would-be forensic scientist, shrouds it with London fog, and hides it in a dark place where nobody thinks or dares to look.

‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ is a beautifully written blend of mystery, macabre horror and historical fiction that keeps the audience completely rivered as the story unfolds. Suspense builds from the time of the discovery of the first victim right up to the climax and conclusion.

Available on Kobo and Audible.

The cast of characters is varied and complex, each with secrets and personal motivations that intrigue both the reader and one another. The way in which the author drops hints and suggestions is quite tantalising, adding another layer of mystery to the characters and their actions.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The narration was fluent and well paced, and a pleasure to listen to.

I definitely plan to indulge in the sequel very soon.

‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

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: ‘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.

Book Review: ‘The Leshy’ by N.C. Stow

A great story for families to enjoy together.

N.C. Stow The LeshyA short story drawn from Russian folklore, ‘The Leshy’ is a poignant story of a girl who understands and accepts that she is different to others, and must discover her true destiny in order to fulfil it.

Although not quite as evocative as the author’s other Russian-inspired story, ‘The Kupala Night’ which was reviewed on this blog in February 2018, ‘The Leshy’ is an interesting story well told. The imagery used and the retention of Russian names for household items and places give the story a distinctly folky-fairytale feel that is both charming and very effective in helping to draw the reader into the story.

‘The Leshy’ is a short read that would be suitable for families to read together, and for older children to enjoy on their own.

Acorn Award II Silver

This delightful story has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Prince of Sorrows’ by D.K. Marley

A tragic story, very well told.

D.K. Marley Prince of SorrowsWhen one sets out to retell an old, world famous story, it is essential that both the plot and the characters are crafted well enough to keep the reader engaged when they already know what’s going to go wrong and how things are going to work out. This first first title in a ‘Fractured Shakespeare’ series by D.K. Marley does not disappoint in its new delivery of the ages-old story of Hamlet.

‘Prince of Sorrows’ is a novelised retelling of the story of Hamlet with a much less ‘Anglicised’ feeling about it than Shakespeare’s play. In fact, this story feels so authentic and well-developed, it actually seems as though it’s more like the original story from which Shakespeare might have drawn his plot and characters. The characters are complex and intricately drawn, and bear names that are definitely more Scandinavian than those used by Shakespeare, yet many are not entirely dissimilar. The story is just as dramatic as the play itself, capturing the intrigue of politics within the castle of Elsinore and the rollercoaster of Amleth’s thoughts and feelings as the tension increases and the story reaches its climax.

Even as a reader who knows Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ extremely well, I enjoyed this adaptation of the play to prose. It’s a tragic story, very well told.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Prince of Sorrows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.