‘The Elemental Coven’ The Witch’s Ambitions Trilogy Book 2 by Kayla Krantz

The second book of this great paranormal series continues the story of the ongoing war between the Elementals and the Council from Lilith’s perspective. The narrative delivers some completely unexpected twists and heart-in-your-throat moments of suspense and anticipation. Because the reader can never be sure of what will happen, it is highly involving and interesting. 

The writing is good and the story moves at a good pace. The story is easy to read and very engaging, particularly in the way it immerses the reader in Lilith’s personal life and keeps them invested in her wellbeing and her future.  

Just like Book 1 in the series, this is an excellent paranormal mystery read.

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: ‘She Hunts In The Woods: A Horror Story’ by Rich Hawkins

This is a good short story for October and Halloween reading. What starts as a sinister and tense story develops into a tale of fear and flight before growing darker and more horrific. 

The tension and sense of dread grow steadily, making both the main character and the reader increasingly uncomfortable before the true horror of the forest is revealed. The author combines elements of foreboding, macabre, revulsion and fear to influence the reader’s feelings and reactions. 

Even though the title gives away the fact that there’s something lurking in the woods, this story is quite original and well written.

There is some adult content, so it’s not recommended for kids.

Book Review: ‘The Artist’ by P.J. Blakey-Novis

What would you do if you held power that nobody else knew about? Most people would like to think they would use it for good, but this story explored just how easy it would be to manipulate things to suit our own interests.
The main character is likeable enough at the outset, and seems to have good intentions. The other characters in the story are a realistic cross-section of society: his family, classmates and teachers. 

The narrative is interesting and quite relatable, albeit less easy to identify with as it gets darker. The twist before the ending is both confronting and horrific, but the conclusion escalates that even further. 

This is a well-crafted story that lures the reader in and then ambushes them with darkness.

Given that it is easily read in less than half an hour, it makes perfect reading for busy people looking for excellent dark fiction short reads.

Book Review: ‘Roger’s Revelation: : An Emma: Ancestor’s Tales Vignette ‘ by Paula Shablo

This is a quite a wistful and quirky read on one hand, yet quite dark and confronting on the other.

A deep sense of irony pervades the story and  highlights the tragedy of the backstory which Roger reveals to Emma when she meets him at their old school. It is certainly thought-provoking about what comes after death and the likelihood that the spirit world could exist right alongside, or even intersect with, our own.

The raw reality of suicide and the jolting power of grief and survivor’s guilt are treated with sensitivity and empathy, and the story cleverly positions the reader to understand the perspectives of both Roger and Emma, and other people known to them both, as they share their experiences. 

This story may be personally challenging to those who have lost friends or loved ones to suicide, but it may also offer some reassurance and objectivity through the different perspectives of the characters.

It is a testament to the skill of the author that the story is very well balanced and poignant, given its serious and sombre themes. 

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.

Book Review: ‘Fight Like A Woman’ by J.S. Frankel

A story of resistance, resilience and loyalty, this is a book for the persecuted, the exploited and the downtrodden. It is a story in which brains overcome brawn and integrity is valued more than power.

Kyle Sorton is a classic underdog character, highly relatable for anyone who has struggled with mediocrity or a lack of opportunities to discover their potential. The tenacity and self-assurance of Rinarra and Merat make them powerful contrasts for Kyle, yet he surprises himself by proving to be their equal in resourcefulness and instinct. That the three of them overcome their challenges by working together and sharing their knowledge and abilities is a powerful reminder that we are stronger together than alone, and that a loyal team can achieve far more in cooperation than they could if the members were to work independently of one another..

The plot is intriguing and highly engaging, and the world building is excellent. There is enough that is familiar to the reader for them to feel sufficiently oriented and grounded, but enough that is different for them to be fascinated by the qualities of the world and culture in which they are immersed.

The unique circumstances in which Kyle finds himself are treated with sensitivity and a sense of natural curiosity, making him a central character who will endear himself to those readers who have questioned and explored their own questions of self, gender and identity, even though Kyle’s situation and the reasons for his questioning are bound to be somewhat different than their own.

This is a most excellent read.