Book Review: ‘Newcomer’ Elmwick Academy Book 1 by Emilia Zeeland

This first book in the Elmwick Academy series delivers a refreshing change to the “you’re a witch, here’s a wand, there’s a school of magic” trope that has become so popular. It’s an excellent  and highly original YA paranormal story that is engaging and interesting for YA and older readers alike.

‘Newcomer’ introduces Cami O’Brien, a 16 year old who faces a unique challenge: she already knows what her legacy and powers are, but she must learn to control and use them before they destroy her and everyone she cares about.

This is not just a story of challenge and magic, but also one of friendship and loyalty among unlikely allies.

Elmwick seems to be a town like any other, yet it is populated by a unique mix of people who reflect both their individual qualities and their family histories in their actions and motivations.

The writing is excellent and the story moves at a good pace. The story is unpredictable and exciting, delivering some most intriguing twists. The book finishes with sufficient resolution to be satisfying while leaving some questions to be answered in the next book in the series.

Book Review: ‘Lonely Hearts Complex: A Tombora Springs Novella’ by S.K. Wee

Part murder mystery, part personal journey, ‘Lonely Hearts Complex’ is an interesting and authentic read that immerses the reader in the lives of the Ruth, Riley and Marshall, residents of Tombora Springs.

The characters are diverse, likeable and engaging. Their personal stories keep the reader intrigued and maintain a good level of excitement and suspense as the narrative continues.

This book is comfortably read in a couple of hours and delivers a most enjoyable contemporary light mystery read. 

Book Review: ‘The Ghost of Grym: A Short Story’ by Michelle Connor

This is a short Gothic story full of darkness and foreboding, portraying the worst of human nature as the twists reveal themselves. 

Read in less than half an hour, this well-written story provides an intriguing escape that fits into any busy day.

Book Review: ‘Ghost Swifts, Blue Poppies and the Red Star’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Rather than a ‘whodunnit’ kind of mystery, this is a story about particular events of World War I and the consequences of those events for one English family.

Harriet McDougall is not a detective as such, but when she feels the need to find answers about her sons’ experiences in the war, she uses her intelligence, instincts and resourcefulness to investigate until she finds the resolution she seeks. Harriet is a sincere and kind woman whom readers will both like and admire.

The cast of characters is varied and interesting, adding colour, texture and some surprising twists and turns to the story.

This story is very interesting but also quite emotive and challenging, creating a profound effect on the reader. The narrative progresses at a good pace, drawing the reader deeper into Harriet’s quest and into her family as the story unfolds.

This is an excellent story for lovers of both historical fiction and mystery, but also for readers who value remembrance of the fallen.

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

The third novel in Wilkie Martin’s Unhuman urban fantasy mystery series is just as entertaining and intriguing as the first and second.

‘Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers’ delivers another riotous mystery story while at the same time taking a more personal turn for both Inspector Hobbes and his sidekick, Andy. 

As always, Martin’s witty writing is highly entertaining and as engaging as the story itself.

This quirky and fun read provides yet another great escape from reality. 

Audiobook Review: ‘Ice and Embers’ by Melanie Karsak

What a magnificent tale! Subtitled ‘Steampunk Snow Queen’ this was far, far more than a fairy tale retelling. It is a complex blend of Gaslamp fantasy, mystery, historical romance, and Shakespearean theatre that enchants and encompasses the audience, drawing them into the story and behind the scenes until there is no desire to escape. 

The cast of characters is a varied and colourful as in any piece of theatre, their features, costumes and voices full of colour, texture and depth. Individually, they are lifelike and realistic; together, they generate a level of energy and drama that  makes the audience feel as though they are right there in the scenes and events of the story. 

A magical blend of beautiful writing and flawless narration, Ice and Embers is a masterpiece of storytelling. 

Book Review: ‘Footprints In The Sand’ by Pam Lecky

The second in the Lucy Lawrence mystery series, this is a most intriguing story, full of twists and turns, and set in a most exotic location. From Nice to Cairo to Sakkara, the reader is taken on a journey of many discoveries — not all of them archaeological.

The characters are colourful and lively, each with personal motivations and interests that they tend to keep to themselves, adding layers of intrigue to the secrets and mysteries that Lucy finds awaiting her in Egypt.

It is clearly evident and most pleasing that the author has taken care to keep the characters and their actions consistent with the time and places in which the story is set.

The story is well-crafted and written in a style that is very easy to read. The narrative unfolds at a good pace, with enough suspects and red herrings to keep both Lucy and the authorities guessing and to ensure very little predictability. 

Audiobook Review: ‘The Blue Moon Caper. A Damien Dickens Mystery’ by Phyllis Entis

‘The Blue Moon Caper’ is a the fifth of the Damien Dickens mystery  novel/audiobook series. 

Like the earlier instalments in the series, the book does stand alone, but will deliver spoilers for the previous books. There is definite continuity, but also some new characters and settings, and some great twists, that help to keep the ongoing story interesting and engaging.

Tom Lennon’s narration is well paced and entertaining, making excellent use of voice and accent to differentiate between characters and animate and narrative. 

Book Review: ‘The Haunting of Rookward House’ by Darcy Coates

This is a suspenseful tale full of foreboding and intense dread, skilfully crafted to build slowly and relentlessly. It is a story of reality vs perception, causing the reader to continually question their own assumptions. 

The story is really well written. Conversations and thoughts allow the reader into the main character’s mind, while his reactions allow them to share his genuine fear and doubt. The imagery is highly sensory, often macabre, with some great Gothic elements combined with the contemporary. Coates’ writing is powerful enough to prompt genuine physical responses in the reader, yet subtle enough to achieve the slow creep of fear that characterises the book. 

This is an excellent psychological horror story, perfect for Halloween or any other day of the year.

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

The sequel to Inspector Hobbes and the Blood, this is the second book in Wilkie Martin’s Unhuman urban fantasy mystery series.

‘Inspector Hobbes and the Curse’ delivers an intriguing and unpredictable mystery story featuring the hapless Andy and the unflappable Inspector Hobbes as they investigate the circumstances of a wild animal killing a local farmer’s sheep. 

Of course, nothing is as straightforward as it might otherwise be, so the story develops into a much more complicated and unexpectedly bizarre case than either Hobbes or Andy are expecting. 

Martin’s writing is witty and easy to read, characterised by a lighthearted tone that is enriched by word play and “dad-joke humour”, and balanced by macabre scenes and some really lovely poignant moments. The story is very engaging, and carries the reader along at a very comfortable pace.

This quirky and fun read provides a great escape for the duration of the book, and the series is proving to be most enjoyable.