Monday, 8 October 2018

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

Welcome to Day 7 of the Blog Tour for John Everson's ' The House by the Cemetery' (Flame Tree Press)

I must say I liked the premise of this. Mike Kostner needs a job (he's a carpenter by trade), his friend needs a house doing up in time for Halloween and the house has a spirit/witch that needs blood, death etc.

Going into this I was hoping for something quite gory and blood soaked and in that respect I wasn't disappointed. I grew up in the age where video was king and horror movies ruled the roost. This reads like it would have been made for those times. The horror/gore when it comes (more on that soon) is the type that can unsettle the reader (in a good way, that is what the genre is  for really). I often found myself slightly nervous about turning the page - kind of like when you watch a movie and want to turn away even though you know you won't. This was what Everson did really well.

Where it fell down for me slightly was the early section of the tale. After the initial set up it seemed to take an age for the story to get going. I just wanted to skip through to the scares (I'm not handy by any sense of the imagination so the DIY and house rebuilding did nothing for me). If it had been a video I would have been hitting the fast forward a lot I guess.

So, in short, a decent haunted house story just in time for Halloween from an author I have not read before but certainly will in the future.

3 1/2 of 5 stars
Many thanks to Anne Cater and Flame Tree Press for providing me with a review copy of this book and for inviting me onto the tour. If you get the time please have a look at the other reviews and blog posts too.
Final word on the publisher themselves. I am fairly new to Flame Tree Press but must say I am really impressed by the quality of both the physical quality of the books and the stories and authors they have on board.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Doll House by Ashley Lister - Blog Tour

 Welcome to Day 2 of the Blog Tour for Ashley Lister's Doll House (Caffeine Nights Publishing)

Well, this one starts as it means to go on. The first chapter features a woman, Tina, taking a break in a house owned by her friend. In the bedroom is a doll, a creepy doll. And when she decides to get rid of it... "Don't kick me mama, please don't kick me"

Yeah, the doll speaks!!

Cut to now and author Ben Haversham stays at his agents house in the village of Sandalwood to try and get over his writer's block. Yup, it's the same house Tina was in. And if you thought the first chapter was creepy, believe me, it really kicks up a gear from here. The house is creepy, the village and it's residents - creepy. You get the idea.

This is what I want from Horror Fiction. I want to be unsettled from the get-go. I want to be wary of turning the page even though I need to know what happens next. And Doll House delivers every time.

If you liked James Herbert then this is for you. A cracking nerve shredder with an ending that is... yeah, you guessed it, creepy as all hell.     

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and supplying me with a copy of the book for review. And please, if you get the chance, try and visit the other spots on the tour

Monday, 10 September 2018

Distortion by Gautam Malkani Blog Tour

 Welcome to Day 6 of the Blog Tour for Gautam Malkani's new novel Distortion.

I must start, I guess, with full disclosure - I haven't quite got to the end of this book yet. But don't think of that as a bad thing, it's more that it is just taking me longer than I expected. It is a very good read so far (with about 60 pages left)

The premise is a good one, and very apt for the modern day. Our protagonist is a young man with 3 different identities - Dillon, Dhilan and Dylan. All 3 cover different aspects of his life, student, carer, business developer and each has a different online persona, different devices to keep them separate and, I gurss, to keep things from other people. It often seems as if 3 three entities are on the verge of unravelling and becoming wrapped up in each other, especially when all the different targeted advertising on his separate online lives (the bane of the online world) leaves him feeling less in control.

Where this book works especially well is when Dhilan and his dying mother (cancer) take centre stage, giving the reader some kind of understanding on just what a hard time it can be for carers (the unsung heroes of our generation imo). It is understandable, I guess, that because of this he developed the other 'selves'.

This is not a book to read quickly (no, I'm not making excuses) as there is a lot to take in and the different voices (as well as the 'modern speak') sometimes need you to concentrate but it is a book worth the effort.
 Thanks to Anne Cater and Unbound for supplying the copy and, as always, if you get the time please look at the other posts on this tour

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell

 Welcome to Day 1 of the Blog Tour for Ramsey Campbell's Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Flame Tree Press).

I guess I'll start with a touch of honesty - I read a lot of Ramsey Campbell's novels when I was younger but of late, not so much. I remember that I enjoyed them so when the chance to review this new one came up I was curious as to whether he was as good as I remembered.

The story revolves around three generations of a family on a summer holiday to a Greek Island that has just opened up to tourism. The elder generation, Ray and Sandra have a secret, Sandra is ill and this may well be the last family holiday, although they don't plan on telling the others.

As soon as they land in the resort it is clear something is 'off'. The buses won't stop at Sunset Beach after dark, there are no mirrors on the walls and some people are bitten in the night and seem to develop an aversion to sunlight.

Yes, what we have here is a version of the Vampire Myth but, more than that it is a story of family, of growing old. As Horror novels go it is very much a slow burner and that really benefits the story. Campbell leads the reader, dropping clues as breadcrumbs along the way, picks up the pace at the 'reveal', then you realise it's all over and you might have just read the nicest horror story ever.

There was plenty of suspense etc but what stood out was the interaction between Ray and Sandra. As I said earlier she is ill and the possibility of impending loss looms large between them, but they are determined to play a brave face to the others.

Ah yes, the rest of the family. All came across as quite likable characters apart from one, their Son-in-Law Julian. For some reason (and it was probably intended) I really disliked him. To the point I was glad he was in a horror novel and hoped he would meet a really grizzly end (Spoiler Alert - it's not a horror novel of that ilk so I was disappointed).

All in all this was a very enjoyable read, highly recommended.

Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blog Tour and for providing the copy for me to read.

As always, please try and visit the other stops on the tour if you get the chance

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Cold Iron by Miles Cameron

I'll admit, I've always been a sucker for old school 'farmboy to hero' style fantasy tales. And this one really hits all the buttons. Right from the early set up scenes where Aranthur (the protagonist in this yarn) is traveling home to his village from the city where he is a scholar stops off at an inn and, due to events, meets up with characters you guess will become part of his story, it already feels like you are with old friends. From this point he, kinda 'levels up' and starts on the path to 'Hero-dom' The world feels more 'Dickensian' era than medieval which I enjoyed a lot, there is plenty of plotting and 'scheming' and a good cast of interesting characters (and it's not all about the men being heroic while the ladies fill the minor roles - all feels fairly equal here. All good points.

What threw me was that, again early on, it became obvious that guns/firearms are starting to make an impact into this world. As a general rule I'm not a fan of guns in FF, give me swords and axes any day of the week. But it soon became clear that Cameron knows what he's talking about and I really bought into it.

And, obviously there is magic (there HAS to be magic!) and this system works well.

 Following Aranthur from student to whatever he will become is a journey I'm looking forward to continuing so this, as book 1 (of 3, I believe) is a cracking read and sets the story up well.


Thanks to Stevie Finegan at Gollancz for inviting me onto this blog tour and for providing me with a copy. Please try and take a moment to look at the other posts on this tour

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

 Welcome to Day 3 of the 'The Mouth of the Dark' Blog Tour.

This is a story of the strange. At times, VERY strange. And, when it comes to Horror Fiction, that is just how I like it.  Emory has gone missing somewhere around the area of town known as The Cannery and her father, Jayce, is desperate to find her. The thing is, The Cannery is the place where 'weird' is the order of the day. Things happen there that are unexplainable, dog-eaters roam the alleyways (and, yeah, does what it says on the tin).

Jayce will do whatever it takes to find his daughter and, maybe, in doing so he will find himself too. He has a lot of memories that he has kept hidden from himself and they may just be the key he needs to unlock The Cannery.

I really enjoyed this book. It's nice to get Horror Fiction that just goes for the same old thing. This is more in the vein of Clive Barker and Paul Kane, horror of the weird where the differences are on the edge of sight as well as in your face.

I have never read Tim Waggoner before but after this I certainly will now.

Really enjoyable Horror Fiction that hooked from the beginning and didn't let up (in fact the weirder it got the more I enjoyed it.

 Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blog Tour and for providing the copy to read.

Please try and catch the other stops on the tour

Sunday, 26 August 2018

The Genes of Isis by Justin Newland

 Firstly, many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour and supplying me with a copy of the book for review.

The Genes of Isis is part Fantasy novel, part Sci-Fi and part Historical Fiction. The setting is recognisable as Ancient Egypt but, at the same time, with its turquoise sky and waters that 'hang in the sky' it also feels rather alien too.

The main protagonist here is Akasha, a young girl who may well be the instigator of the next step in evolution. There is also Horque, a member of the Solarii, a tribe of angels sent to ensure everything goes in the right direction. As I guess you might expect the two meet, romance blossoms... but will they save the day or doom the world?

I must say I enjoyed this book more than I expected to when I started it. Over the first quarter or so I found myself looking back on what I had just read as some of it seemed a bit 'baffling' but once I got into the flow of it the pages just rattled by (so persevere with it, my readerly friends, it's worth it). The central characters carried the story well and the threat of the Biblical flood certainly helped ramp up the tension.

A good effort for a first novel and I shall certainly be on the lookout for more from this author

Again, many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blog Tour, please check out the other review posts on the tour when you get the chance.