This is a short but darkly creepy and suspenseful story. The premise is relatable, and the characters and their responses are realistic and engaging.
The macabre and horror story elements were well crafted, aided by the setting and context of the story.
If you are looking for an enjoyable story that will both fill and darken your lunch break, this is it.
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.
Part of Stanhope’s ‘Elemental Witch Trials’ series, this novella tells the back story of Yardley, a minor but mysterious character in the other books.
It is interesting to gain insight into the nature and qualities of a character who has hovered on the periphery of the story so far, and to see how the connection between Yardley and Sebastian was first established. I was surprised by the appearance of one of the other minor characters from the series in this book, as it was a connection I had not expected.
Testament to the author’s creativity and talent is the fact that even after reading multiple novels in this series, I can still be completely surprised by a cleverly crafted connection or plot twist.
This was an enjoyable read, easily finished in under two hours.
‘Yardley’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.
Find your copy here.
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.
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.
A fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and beliefs.
##tradition #beliefs #paranormal #nonfiction
This is a fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and collected information about the spirits and supernatural beings of Eastern European and especially Slavic cultures. There is a wealth of detail, including etymologies of the names and instructions for how to appease or banish each type of spirit. Some are similar to creatures found in fairytales and fantasy stories, while others may be completely new to the reader.
The entries on each different spirit are thorough and richly detailed. The writing is clear and expressive while retaining the straightforward style that is conventional for an informative text. The inclusion of traditional stories, poems and ‘fun facts’ adds depth and texture to each chapter.
This book would definitely appeal to those interested in the supernatural world or in cultural superstitions, and could also serve as a very useful reference work for writers and artists. There is an extensive bibliography and links to other sources that demonstrate the author’s diligence in research and historiography, which gives the reader confidence in the information provided.
This most interesting and engaging book has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.
‘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.