Book Reviews

Book Reviews


Blog Tour – The Watchers by A.M. Shine

When I first heard about this novel it sounded like the perfect, creepy read for the spooky season. I was especially drawn to the fact that it seemed to have roots in the more traditional, gothic, style of horror which is a particular favourite of mine and Shine certainly did not disappoint!… Continue reading →

Odin’s Child by Siri Pettersen

I adore Norse mythology and anything related to it, so I was particularly intrigued by how mythology would influence this story – particularly because of how ‘the children of Odin’ are viewed as ‘the rot’, which isn’t something I’ve come across before.… Continue reading →

Blog Tour – The Winter Garden by Alexandra Bell

This was every bit as magical as I was hoping for with gothic elements intertwined, which starts as a glimpse of a shadow in the corner of your eye and grows into a suffocating darkness. Yet, the magic still manages to shine through.

We begin the novel when Beatrice is a child and after experiencing the trauma of losing her mother she receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. As much as it hurt to read, I did like the reaction Beatrice had to her dying mother as it felt so believable for a child character which I really appreciated and felt that it set up her character well. We see her as she grows into a young woman struggling to find her space in society because of her sex as well as her stammer. I thought it was great to see how she would try to be strong and have her independence as a woman but Bell shows how it isn’t as easy or simple as travelling alone.

As well as Beatrice we also have a second protagonist in Rosa, her closest friend who moved from America who has very different goals and dreams to Beatrice but they are still very similar in a lot of ways. Although Rosa is introduced as the second protagonist, she didn’t feel like a secondary protagonist in any way. I loved the contrast that she presented to Beatrice. Rosa was so sure of how she wanted to live her life however, it soon becomes apparent that she has prioritised status for happiness when she always thought that the two would be synonymous. It was through our time with Rosa that we got to see how truly dark this world can be, that for Victorian women the danger was not their ambitions or their independence (which we see through Beatrice) but their own husbands and expectations as a wife. 

This sudden change in tone when Rosa confronts Eustace for the first time was incredibly jarring and brings the reader back to the stark reality of the Victorian times and out of the magical pursuit of the Winter Garden. I loved how the two were combined and balanced throughout the novel. There was a lot of casual magic and fantasy scattered throughout the novel with Beatrice travelling far and wide to auction houses to get a glimpse of the Winter Garden she visited as a child as well as Rosa’s fantastical clockwork creatures who could take on life of their own. Yet, none of this felt out of place in the dark and oppressive Victorian England setting, especially because some of the magic itself isn’t as harmless as what you first expect. This recurring theme of duality throughout the novel was fascinating to me and handled wonderfully by Bell and I know the phrase “life needs dark leaves in the wreath” will follow me for a long time to come.

Overall, I adored this novel with all it’s magic, mysteries and shocking twists that left me immensely satisfied and in awe by the end (which is also possibly one of my favourite endings I’ve read this year). Although it was the initial fantasy and wonder that drew me into this novel, at its heart it is a story of the struggle faced by Victorian women in society and the complex relationships between mother and daughter which was enchanting to read.… Continue reading →

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Last year I read He’s debut Descendant of the Crane and was in awe of the way she is able to carefully craft the characters in her story and write so beautifully, even if the plot could be dark and heavy at times. Whilst The Ones We’re Meant To Find is very different from her debut, I was still eager to read it and be immersed in He’s writing once again, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.… Continue reading →

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

So, we all know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but when I saw this pop up on Twitter I knew I just had to have it. I was unsettled yet intrigued by the disturbing cover, even more so when I read the blurb… and even more so when I read the book.… Continue reading →

The Listeners by Jordan Tanahill

A few months ago I was drawn by this novel after seeing a poster all over Twitter asking ‘CAN YOU HEAR THE HUM?’ with a number to call. Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me and I called the number, after a slightly disturbing phone call with a voice that I can still hear to this day, a copy of this book landed on my doorstep and I have been itching to read it ever since.… Continue reading →

Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami

The entire novel focuses on Noriko as she struggles with learning her place in her secretive family. By keeping the novel limited to Noriko’s perspective this effectively heightened the tense atmosphere in the novel. I especially loved how we witness Noriko develop over the course of the novel.… Continue reading →

A Strange and Brilliant Light by Eli Lee

I was really excited to get started on this novel, as the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) is something I’m very interested in, especially when it comes to the philosophical debates surrounding it. Lee tackles the ethics of the subject brilliantly, however as a whole the novel didn’t quite grab me. … Continue reading →

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

After reading Earthlings and loving it, I immediately bought Convenience Store Woman as I just wanted to experience more of Murata’s writing. This book has left me feeling the same way and I’m quite disappointed that not more of her work has been translated into English!… Continue reading →

Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar

I had seen this novel pop up a few times on Twitter and I was very intrigued by the premise! I was a little daunted at first by the length of the novel, especially with how heavy the plot sounded, however I was very surprised at how easily I became absorbed into this novel and how the tone of the novel was balanced. … Continue reading →

Blog Tour – The Traitor by A.D. Lombardo

Although the novel began slightly slower than Rayna’s Sacrifice, this was quickly ramped up and before you know it you barely have time to pause for breath whilst reading. Personally, I loved that and felt that the pacing complemented the action and atmosphere of the novel brilliantly. It also meant that I flew through the book because so much was happening that I couldn’t stop reading!… Continue reading →

Come With Me by Ronald Malfi

I loved the way that this entire novel was written in the second person; our protagonist, Aaron, is telling the story to his now deceased wife Allison. It just made the entire novel feel much more personal and engaging, even the more gruesome elements of the novel or the ‘action’ has an almost lyrical touch to it which I love.… Continue reading →

Out by Natsuo Kirino

Typically, I don’t tend to reach for a crime or thriller novel. Whilst I have read many good books in the genre, it isn’t one that I find myself eager to pick up. I treated myself to the Penguin Vintage Classics Japanese Series (which I thoroughly recommend in itself), which is how I came across Out, which I may have missed otherwise!… Continue reading →

Godspeed by Nickolas Butler

What struck me the most about this novel was the sense of timelessness surrounding it, which worked wonderfully for this novel as it tackles the brutal reality of the ‘American Dream’ and how it can gradually, and devastatingly, deteriorate into a nightmare.… Continue reading →

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

After reading Breasts and Eggs earlier in the year I was thrilled to see that more of Kawakami’s work was being translated into English. As soon as my copy of Heaven arrived I was itching to get started. So when I had a quiet afternoon to myself I settled down and got stuck in.… Continue reading →

Blog Tour – One August Night by Victoria Hislop

I read Hislop’s The Island back in 2012 when I was seventeen and I completely fell in love with the story and the characters (I even reviewed it way back then, too!). When I discovered that Hislop was returning to these characters after all this time I was so excited to jump straight back into the story. Although I was a little worried that it had been so long since I first read The Island, and that I would find it difficult to follow, I quickly realised these fears were unfounded as I was welcomed back to Crete.… Continue reading →

Blog Tour – The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley

Staveley is an author who I have heard a lot about since coming back into the world of fantasy, so when the invitation for this blog tour landed in my inbox I knew I had to accept! I was immediately gripped by the first chapter of The Empire’s Ruin and it is easy to see why Staveley is a favourite amongst fans of the genre.… Continue reading →

Blog Tour – Rayna’s Sacrifice by A.D. Lombardo

After finishing the last book, I was very excited to get started on this one as I have been itching to go to the Katori mountains since the first book in the series, The Half-Light and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Although we are introduced to other settings in the previous two books, I loved the fact that from the beginning we are in an entirely new place and beginning to learn more about the mysterious and secretive Katori people. … Continue reading →

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