Book Review: 'Coming Home For Christmas' by Helen Pryke

Although the subtitle is ‘A Haunting Christmas Tale’, this is far from being scary or spooky. Instead, is it a positive and inspirational story full of Christmas Eve spirit. 

Without being overly sentimental, this story is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The reader is invited to witness a very special moment through the thoughts and memories of the central character, and is encouraged to reflect on what makes a particular date or a relationship unique and memorable. 

The story is beautifully told, wistful rather than morbid, and imbued with love and devotion. It is a short story, read in less than 15 minutes, but one that lingers in the thoughts of the reader long beyond that. 

Book Review: ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ by J.A. Clement

A delightful fantasy tale that follows on from ‘A Sprig Of Holly’. The characters are warm and engaging, their interactions reflecting quite realistically both the tenderness of a close-knit family and the tensions that quickly develop when a child starts to misbehave. 

The story is very enjoyable, and even though it is part of a series, it stands alone very well and makes complete sense without having read the first book. 

This short book is a great read for individuals or families in the lead-up to the December solstice and Christmas. 

Book Review: 'The Christmas Angel: A Tale of Redemption' by S. Tilghman Hawthorne

This is a beautiful short story that reminds us all that Christmas can be really challenging for those who have lost loved ones and miss them terribly. By sharing Julie’s thoughts and feelings, the author positions the reader to empathise with her and forces them to consider the power that grief and loss can have at Christmas, especially when other people are so cheerful. 

Even stronger, though, are the power and the warmth of the love and the words that bring healing to Julie’s heart. 

Full of love and Christmas spirit, this is a story that would suit both individuals and families at any time of year, but especially during December. 

Book Review: ‘The Herbalist’s Daughter’ by Jeanette O’Hagan

Find your copy here.

This charming and delightful story focuses on Anna, nurserymaid at the palace and daughter of the local herbalist. The misery of feeling less attractive than others and of being not quite fulfilled in life imakes Anna a character that many readers will easily relate to. Despite her own perceptions of her shortcomings, Anna is a good-hearted and honourable young woman who does her job well. 

While there are moments of doubt and events that threaten Anna’s safety, the overall tone of the story is warm and lighthearted. It is a quick read that very effectively delivers an important message: others often see more value or beauty in us than we perceive in ourselves. 

’The Herbalist’s Daughter’ will appeal to readers of young adult fantasy, fairytale and romance.

Book Review: ‘Nowhere: A Shore Haven Short Story’ by Jennifer Reynolds

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A zombie apocalypse story with some graphic macabre moments, ‘Nowhere’ is an emotionally involving story that pits the reader alongside the protagonist in a desperate bid to outrun the zombie epidemic. 

The tone of the story is urgent, drawing the reader into the panic and fear that Tera experiences as the story plays out. The author very effectively uses suspense and foreboding to create additional tension, while the macabre and often gruesome imagery repulses the reader’s senses. 

The story is quite well-developed and the writing is good, so this was an enjoyable short read. 

Book Review: ‘Creep’ by William Cook

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This is an intensely suspenseful story that strikes dread into the heart of the reader right from the first moment of foreboding. As the tension and desperation of the story builds, so does the reader’s sense of hopelessness for the protagonist, whose innocence reinforces the positioning of readers against The Creep. 

The story is well-written and developed. The characterisation is effective and the detailed descriptions add depth and power to the the chilling effect of the story. 

While the story certainly has its macabre moments, the story is centred more on the psychology of fear and revulsion. The Creep is a very real and twisted monster in his own right, and the author subtly plays on the reader’s sensibilities to unsettle and repulse them. 

Book Review: ‘Shypoke’ by Dona Fox

This is a very good story that grows increasingly eerie and discomfiting as the narrative develops. The writing is evocative and rich in imagery, luring the reader into the quite sentimental and old-timey feel of the story before delivering the twists that dramatically change the tone and intent of the narrative. 

The characters are nicely developed, using the familiarity between them to engage the reader in their conversation and interactions and develop some affection for them. This, in turn, enhances the effect of the darkness that creeps into the story and takes control of it. 

‘Shypoke’ delivers a satisfyingly chilling ending to a well-crafted creepy tale.