Book Review: ‘Or What You Will: A Reimagining Of Twelfth Night’ by CH Clepitt

Just like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this is a fun romp full of coincidence, disguise, trickery, and mistaken identity, albeit set on a tropical island in the 21st century. 

Clepitt’s trademark humour infuses the narrative with warmth and a lighthearted tone that make the story very entertaining. The characters are, in keeping with Shakespeare’s play, delightful and a bit daft at the same time, which is how the story is actually made to work. 

Given that the play already bent the gender roles and expectations back in the 1600s, it is a  plot that easily lends itself to the incorporation of gay and lesbian characters and themes, achieved with the intelligence and wit that are characteristic of Clepitt’s writing.

There is sufficient homage to Shakespeare’s tale to make it recognizable, and sufficient originality and development of setting, plot and characters to make the work distinct as Clepitt’s own. 

A most enjoyable read, ‘Or What You Will’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Interspecies Poker Tournament’ by Claire Buss

’The Interspecies Poker Tournament’ is a prequel to The Rose Thief’, Claire Buss’ first novel to feature Ned, Jenni, and the rest of the Thief Catcher gang.

It is a wonderfully quirky fantasy story, full of rich and diverse characters that all have their own priorities and vested interests in catching the murderer.

It’s written with humour and warmth that infuse the story with a genuine feel-good tone, despite the multiple deaths, general trickery and deliberate obfuscation by some, and the presence of some rather sinister characters. 

This novella-length book can easily be read in a couple of hours, and would best suit a YA-and-older audience. I found it to be a great diversion on a quiet afternoon, and thoroughly enjoyed the story. 

’The Interspecies Poker Tournament’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Blood’ by Wilkie Martin

The first book in Wilkie Martin’s ‘Inspector Hobbes’ mystery series, this is a highly original contribution to the genre. It is at different times suspenseful, macabre, darkly humorous, and quirky, while maintaining a well-developed and interesting mystery storyline. 

The cast of characters is delightful, made up of mismatched and very different personalities that one might not expect to get along with one another at all, and yet they are oddly complementary. In that sense, there is much in this book that challenges the ways in which people often perceive others based on looks, occupation or social status.  Inspector Hobbes is an enigma: beneath the intimidating exterior and generally gruff presentation lies a good heart and a very literal sense of humour. Still, he is clearly not your everyday local police inspector, and the questions about his past and his otherworldly nature are both puzzling and captivating. That many of these questions remain unanswered is a point of continued intrigue that holds strong appeal for the natural curiosity that is common among readers of mystery novels. 

Similarly, Mrs Goodfellow is both kind and terrifying at the same time, providing yet another contrast to Andy, whose trademark quality is his mediocrity: he wants to be ‘more’ than he is but never quite manages it. It is his profound sense of disappointment in his unrealised dreams and his helplessness when the events of life conspire against him that make him relatable to readers and have them silently hoping for better things for him. When he falls in with Hobbes and discovers life beyond his less-than-stellar career in journalism, the unlikely friendship between the two provides a frequent source of both amusement and fascination.

The oddities of the characters and the macabre elements of the story add further layers of mystery and curiosity to the story, which is well-developed and proceeds at a good pace. Unlike some other mysteries, there is nothing predictable or formulaic about this book. 

A most enjoyable dark urban fantasy mystery story, Inspector Hobbes and the Blood has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Lady Of The Mist’ by WC Quick

If you have ever suspected that the ‘happy ever after’ of fairy tales wasn’t actually true? 

This is a dark fantasy sequel to Cinderella that brings with it a very different set of premises than those suggested by the ending of the popular children’s fairy tale. 

Written with dark humour and a strong sense of irony, this is a fairy tale for the cynical and subversive. 

An entertaining short read, ‘Lady Of The Mist’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.  

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ by Claire Buss

‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ is a delightful short story from Roshaven, the setting of the author’s’ fantasy novel, The Rose Thief.

Central characters Ned Spinks and Jenni the Sprite return with their quirky brand of investigation when a mysterious shop appears in Roshaven. Of course, nothing is straightforward and their endeavours to solve the mystery being about more mayhem than they anticipated.

This is a fun story for all ages that can be enjoyed in less than half an hour. It does work.as a standalone story: prior knowledge of Roshaven and its residents is not essential to understanding and enjoyment of ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’, but readers who have not yet read The Rose Thief will very likely want to after this brief taste of Buss’s enchanting storytelling.

This excellent short story has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Audiobook Review: ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’

Absolutely brilliant entertainment.

A rollicking saga full of pirates, rogues, strumpets, sassy parrots and adventure, this story carried me back in time to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the 17th century. The narration brought the story to life very effectively, and I was hooked in no time flat. 

The characters are richly drawn, complex and conflicted, each with secrets and passions that drive them and direct the choices and alliances they make. The central characters each have a mission that they seek to achieve, and the reader is kept in eager suspense about how those things may, or indeed may not, come to pass as the story unfolds. Each of them experiences significant moments of revelation and others of relief but, as often happens in life, even these tend to lead to further complications. 

The settings, too, are brought to life in vivid color and textures that enrich the story and add another level of depth and engagement in the story. For someone who has never been to Jamaica, the places depicted in the story all seemed very real and clear in my mind. 

There is some very amusing innuendo, adult content and violence throughout the book, so it’s not for younger audiences, but it is a story that can be enjoyed by a very broad adult audience because it blends elements of adventure, action, tragedy, romance and mystery with historical fiction, so that the story lines of individual characters are interwoven and tangled in most interesting and diverting ways.  

A most enjoyable and entertaining audiobook, ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy hereh.



.

Book Review: ‘Curtain Call’ by CH Clepitt

Whether you choose the novella or the audiobook, ‘Curtain Call’ is an excellent choice of book.

‘Curtain Call’ is a touching and poignant story of a young woman named Jen finding her way in her first real theatre job, in the drama that unfolds backstage between theatre staff and performers. It is quite uniquely styled and very engaging in its humour, but also provides well-constructed moments of pathos that really move the reader and involve them more deeply in the story. 

Any keen reader of Clepitt’s work knows that it is wise to expect the unexpected. The plot of ‘Curtain Call’ is original and the cast of characters are all remarkably quirky and incredibly normal at the same time, yet the story is highly relatable to anyone who has experienced the crushing anxiety of not knowing what to do in a new job or wishing they knew exactly where they stood in their relationships. The overall effect is one of the reader feeling as though they have made a new group of friends that they might easily bump into tomorrow while picking up a coffee in town.

The audiobook runs for 3 hours and 15 minutes. The narration is clear and enjoyable, with good use of voice and characterisation to bring the characters and the story alive. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and easy to listen to, so the whole listening experience was a pleasure.

The ‘Curtain Call’ audiobook and novella have both been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find yours here