Audiobook Review: ‘Escaping from Houdini’ by Kerri Maniscalco

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

New Release: ‘What The Gods Allow’ by J.S. Frankel

Jesse Frankel and his books are no strangers on this blog. Ether and The Incredible Aunty Awesomesauce both won Golden Squirrel awards last year, and a variety of Jesse’s books have received Gold Acorn reviews.

In fact, I’ve never read a J.S. Frankel book that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.

That’s why I am so excited about this new release. Written for a Young Adult audience, it’s a blend of paranormal, urban fantasy and horror.

This promises to be another fantastic read from this outstanding author.

Medusa, the Gorgon, is free—temporarily. Penned up in Tartarus, the gods—Zeus and Hera—show her mercy. Medusa is given two weeks in which to track down their wayward daughter, Eris. Transformed into a beautiful young woman, Medusa is given only one warning: not to use her powers of transforming those to stone. 

She agrees and adopts the name Meddy Gorgonne. In a stroke of chance, she finds lodgings with the Goldstein’s, Sam and Trudy, and tries to figure out how modern Portland works. Cars, showers, television—all are mysteries to her at first, although she adapts.

Meddy is somewhat naïve about life and especially about love, as she slowly falls for Sam, a teen who is suffering from Usher’s Syndrome, a disease that will blind and deafen him in time. What is more troubling to Meddy is that her powers of turning people to stone have returned, and she is at a loss as to why. 

With the police slowly closing in and time running out on how to get Eris to return to Olympus, Meddy discovers that sometimes old is new, and that time-worn traditions can surmount modernity.

But will they be enough for her to stay with Sam, or will she be forced to return to Tartarus for eternity?

***

Find your copy of ‘What The Gods Allow’ at Amazon or Devine Destinies.

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!