Book Review: ‘The Servants’ by Janine Pestel

‘The Servants’ is a short story about an obnoxious woman for whom things go horribly wrong when she forgets that good staff are not easily replaced. 

Through her attitudes and actions, the reader is positioned to dislike Madeline from the very moment they meet her.  When things turn on her, the reader is left with a sense of smug satisfaction that takes the edge off the quite macabre conclusion to the story. 

‘The Servants’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘A Perfect Memory’ by Dona Fox

‘A Perfect Memory’ is a psychological horror short story that twists reality, layering distortion upon disorientation, and making the reader question their perceptions just as the characters do.

The setting really is the star of this story: Chandler House reminded me of pictures of abandoned hospitals and institutions,  with grunge and tarnish on the surfaces, and coldness beneath them. The contrast between the intimidation exerted by certain characters and the vulnerability of others was powerful, emphasising the imbalance between them heightening the impact of the sense of unease that grows within the reader until it evolves into discomfort that is almost unbearable.

‘A Perfect Memory’ certainly provides a confronting reading experience that has a profound effect on the reader and delivers exactly what those who enjoy reading psychological thrillers and horror will be looking for. 

A story that can be read in less than an hour, this chilling short read has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Feels’ by Vanessa Ravel

‘The Feels’ is a gripping psychological thriller that explores ideas of guilt, secrecy, and vengeance through the experiences of Ariel, the protagonist of the story, and her interactions with those close to her as the story progresses.

Ariel is a complex and deeply flawed character, yet one for whom the reader develops a strong sense of empathy because the story is told from her perspective, Her thoughts and feelings are communicated powerfully, creating vivid images in the reader’s mind and evoking strong emotional responses.

The story also provides a fascinating study of a mind corrupted by both mental illness and indulgence in evil, through the thoughts and actions of the antagonist. This adds a dimension of psychological horror that leaves the reader aghast at the extent of the destruction caused by a depraved mind.

The story remains unpredictable and suspenseful throughout, keeping the reader guessing right to the end with plenty of complications and heart-in-the throat moments.

‘The Feels’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here

Fast Four: Horror Book Recommendations

If horror is your favourite genre, don’t miss these four fear-inducing reads!

Of Nightmare Realities
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C29MD48

The Silver Feather
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0762QLL9D/

Never Again 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077X4VZ9N/

Lac Du Mort and Other Stories 
https://www.amazon.com/Lac-Du-Mort-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B07G6ZT3NL/

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.

Audiobook Review: ‘Fawkes’ by Nadine Brandes

Audiobook Review: ‘Fawkes’ by Nadine Brandes
#historicalfiction #magical #fantasy #Audiobooks #Audible

Find your copy on Kobo or Audible.

This is my favourite kind of story: history, magic, mystery, suspense, danger and choices that seem impossible to make. Superimposing a magical overlay onto real historical events made this book absolutely fascinating and gave it a very strong sense of originality and intrigue. The drama built slowly and steadily throughout each complication and challenge, drawing the reader deeper and more intricately into both Thomas’ life and challenges and the Gunpowder Plot itself. 

The main characters were well-rounded and likeable, even if it was not always possible to like or condone some of the things they felt compelled to do, and the problems they faced were well-designed and skilfully developed. The way in which the author breathed both life and magic into historical figures, events and places made them seem so real that the audience really does begin to feel as though they are there, looking over Thomas’ shoulder and equally as swept along by the action of the story as it unfolds as he is. 

Of course, part of the magic of this audiobook is the masterful narration by Oliver Hembrough, who excels at voice acting and storytelling. His performance combined with Brandes’ brilliant writing  to create an audiobook that is flawless in its delivery of this deeply intriguing tale. 
This beautifully crafted story completely captivated me. 

‘Fawkes’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.