Book Review: ‘Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Collection of Spine Jingling Tales’

‘Christmas Australis’ is not your usual Christmas reading fare. Instead of fairy lights and tinsel, you’ll find shadows and dark corners, disreputable people, food that is not to be trusted and family secrets that are even darker than most. 

Introducing each story by means of a letter from The Epica adds another layer of mystery and darkness to the collection, while the distinctly Australian flavour of the stories adds a unique quality to the anthology that sets it apart from other Christmas collections.

This excellent anthology will certainly add a delicious dash of darkness to your Christmas reading.

Audiobook Review: ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Dark, witty and ironic, ‘Good Omens’ is a brilliant read. This should come as no surprise, given that its  authors are both creative geniuses. 

This audiobook recording is brilliant. The casting is fabulous and the performances are outstanding, making this an excellent listening experience which is entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. 

’Good Omens’ ticks all the boxes for the perfect dark comic fantasy. 

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 Servants’ by Janine Pestel

‘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

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: ‘Through the Lichgate’ by Kyle Adams

A highly original and entertaining YA read.

Kyle Adams Through the LichgateFar more interesting than an attack of mindless zombies, far more complicated than teen angst of not fitting in, and highly unique in its storyline and character development, ‘Through the Lichgate’ is an absolutely ripping read.

Adams has developed a really interesting premise and storyline in this first ‘Drama Club’ book. The reader is quickly drawn in by Thana’s singular perspective on life, and is absolutely hooked by the complication with which she is presented. She is complex and conflicted, which makes her highly relatable for teen readers, and older readers too, since we rarely actually lose our complexities or resolve all our conflicts as we age – we just get better at either disguising or dealing with them.

Thana is a strong female lead who will fight her own battles and stand up for what she believes is right in a world which doesn’t always agree with her standards or her choices. When she is faced with not just one almost impossible dilemma, but a whole series of them, the reader cannot help but hold their breath and cheer her on as the action unfolds.

I’m definitely keen to read more books in this series.
Acorn Award I Golden

I’ve awarded ‘Through the Lichgate’ a Gold Acorn for excellence and originality.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Waiting Room’ by Jonathan Kent

A suspenseful and thought-provoking short story.

Jonathan Kent The Waiting Room‘The Waiting Room’ is a suspenseful short story that builds up slowly to a surprise ending. The author effectively establishes a strong sense of curiosity and anticipation that grows to a profound crescendo as the truth of Gary Simpson’s situtation is revealed.

There were some nice twists in the story development, aided by subtle details that suddenly became relevant as the story progressed. I enjoyed the story and the deep sense of ironic humour with which it is loaded.

This thought-provoking story is easily read and enjoyed in under an hour, which makes it an ideal read for busy readers or a great filler for a lunchtime break.
Acorn Award II Silver

‘The Waiting Room’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.