Book Review: ‘Miss Mabel’s School For Girls’ by Katie Cross

It is a rare thing to find a series of books for Young Adult readers  that ticks all your favourite boxes: mystery and magic underscored with macabre and gothic elements, strong female characters, quirky twists, and themes and ideas that are universally compelling and interesting for teen and adult readers alike.

Just as it exists in the world-famous Harry Potter series, it exists in The Network Series by Katie Cross. This first book in The Network Series delivers a well-paced, expertly constructed story that ticks all of those boxes and more. 

Make no mistake, though: This is no mere imitation. ‘Miss Mabel’s School For Girls’ is original and unique, and the story is thoroughly engaging. The book ends with sufficient resolution to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion while dangling enough magical carrots to leave the reader wanting to just keep reading. 

The writing is excellent, creating an environment and atmosphere that is vivid and almost tangible, and propelling the reader into a story full of mystery, suspense and foreboding. 

Readers of all ages will find this book hard to put down, and should expect to be left wanting more. Thankfully, there is an entire nine book series, and another fantasy series featuring dragons by the same author, to look forward to. 

Book Review: ‘Dead Lake’ by Darcy Coates

Suspenseful, dark, mysterious and occasionally macabre, ‘Dead Lake’ is a supernatural thriller set in and around a remote lake cabin. 

The anticipation with which the story starts soon turns to foreboding which grows steadily more profound as the tale progresses.

Coates’ writing is enriched with vivid imagery that stimulates the reader’s senses and imagination, immersing them in the curiosity, and then the terror, experienced by Sam, the protagonist of the story. By the two-thirds point of the story, the fear and adrenaline is palpable and the suspense creates a strong sense of dread that is both compelling and distinctly uncomfortable. 

Because of its suspense and brooding darkness, this is an excellent read that will appeal to readers of mystery, thrillers, and horror alike. 

Book Review: ‘A Dark Covenant’ by F.B.Hogan

‘A Dark Covenant’ is a Gothic horror short story filled with foreboding and dramatic tension, embellished with macabre scenes that cause the reader to hold their breath and open their eyes just that little bit wider as they read. 

The writing is evocative, subtly appealing to the reader’s senses while appearing to tell the story in a quite straightforward fashion. The terror of the climax is heightened by the profound contrast with the main character’s indifference toward his situation, and with the pathos of his childhood experiences. 

This outstanding short read demonstrates not only the author’s versatility, but also her ability to draw extraordinary horror stories out of the most ordinary of circumstances. 

Book Review: 'Dead by Morning' by Kayla Krantz

Teen peer pressure reaches terrifying new levels in this YA paranormal thriller, in which the protagonist Luna Ketz appears to be a most unlikely heroine: she’s not popular, she’s Muslim in a predominantly white community, and she hates Chance, the boy who is determined to get her attention. 

The tension between Luna and Chance continues to escalate as the story progresses and Luna finds herself caught in a web of conspiracy, secrecy and deceit. In a highly original blend of YA paranormal, mystery and horror, the gripping storyline is evidence of author’s ability to blend reality and fantasy in an intriguing way that engages the reader and causes them to invest emotionally in Luna’s fate.  

‘Dead By Morning’ is easy to read and hard to put down once started. 

Book Review: ‘Red Ink: A Darkworld Tale’ by T.D. McIntosh and Nancy Uliano

Macabre and unsettling, this psychological thriller seems disjointed and strangely sequenced until the strands of the story start to pull together.

That which at first appears to be gratuitous splatter for spaltter’s sake turns out to be far more complex psychological horror brought about by a deadly combination of individual volition and a dark power that cannot be explained. 

The reader is shocked and disoriented by the twists and turns, just as the characters are, feeling as though the story lurches from one disturbing and not-quite-fully developed scene to the next without sufficient resolution. As the story begins to gel, and the seemingly unrelated events all start to lead to the climax of the story, the reader begins to realise that this was an entirely deliberate and quite complex strategy, designed to emotionally immerse the reader in the confusion and fear evoked by both the actions of the antagonists and the experiences of the victims. 

Gory and unpredictable, this is a dark and disturbing read. 

‘The Darkest Veil’ by Catherine Cavendish

Find your copy here.

Dark, sinister and brooding, this is a horror story that unfolds powerfully, despite the resistance of both the reader and the characters. Foreboding and suspense combine to intensify the darkness of the imagery and the anticipation of the next twist.

The story is skilfully crafted, using characters who are relatable in their absolute normality, which heightens the tension by emphasising the understanding that the events of the story could happen to anyone.

This is an outstanding horror mystery story. Read it if you dare. 

Book Review: ‘Dark Little Wonders and Other Stories’ by Amy Cross

A collection of well-crafted and varied short stories, ‘Dark Little Wonders’ definitely lives up to its title.

The stories are all quite different, invariably dark, and full of twists and surprises. Taken one by one, each story challenges the reader to see life – and death – from a different perspective. In combination, this collection of dark fiction reminds the reader that one can be haunted by many more things than just ghosts. 

The writing is very good and the characters are realistic, each having burdens, flaws, and motivations to which the reader can easily relate. This adds punch to every twist sand makes the message of each story more powerful. 

‘Dark Little Wonders and Other Stories’ is an excellent read. 

Two Exciting New Release Anthologies

There are two great new anthologies that readers should definitely check out.

Mischief Night is a brand new Halloween anthology.

All Hallow’s Eve, a frightening night
When ghouls and witches promise a horrific fright
As the lights go out and you’re home all alone.
You reach for the phone but your heart stops at the sound of the dial tone.
You jump in bed, grab a flashlight, and pull the covers over your head, Trying not to scream as visions of the undead
Cloud your brain and make you question the reality in sight
Just open the book and turn the pages of Mischief Night

In this thrilling Halloween collection by some of today’s hottest authors, you’ll find stories that will make you shiver and shake.

So grab a cup of hot cocoa and cuddle up in front of the fireplace while you read this brand new set just for Halloween!

Mischief Night is available on Amazon and in other digital/online stores.

Featured Authors: Alyssa Drake | Amy Cecil | Angie Martin | Ashlee Shades | Bella Emy | C.A. King, | Carol Cassada | Erin Lee | Jade Royal | Jeremy Simons | Leah Negron | Lorah Jaiyn | Natalia Schellhaas | Niki Livingston | Olivia Marie| Riley Bryant| Roux Cantrell | Virginia Johnson

***

Unknown Realms is a new fantasy/science fiction anthology.

Discover new and uncharted worlds as the authors of Unknown Realms weave tales of time travel, mystic portals, alternate dimensions, and undiscovered landscapes. 


Available on Amazon and other digital/online stores.

Book Review: ‘Haunted: The Sparkly Badgers Anthology’

Some of the stories and poems in this collection are creepy, others are darker and more sinister, and still others embrace a fascination with the macabre.

There is a good variety of concepts, genres and writing styles among the different authors’ contributions, making this an interesting and very enjoyable collection, ideal for reading at Halloween or on any other long, dark night. 

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.