Book Reviews

Book Reviews


All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes

When this book landed on my doorstep, with a letter from the esteemed James Randall himself inviting me on the expedition, I knew that this would be the novel to break me out of my reading slump. Having been fascinated with the story of Captain Scott as a child, this novel was just shouting at me to pick it up and when I did I found myself falling in love with exploration all over again.… Continue reading →

The Book of Baku by R.L. Boyle

As we’re in the height of the spooky season, I wanted to share my review of The Book of Baku which I read a few weeks ago. I had come across the Japanese myth of the ‘Baku’ a few times and I was curious to see how it would be presented in this novel; I quickly found out that this was a chilling take that still haunts me weeks later.… Continue reading →

Horseman by Christina Henry

After yesterday’s review (as well as other Henry reviews of mine…) it will not be a surprise at all that I absolutely loved this novel and devoured it in one sitting. Somehow, each time I read one of Henry’s books they just get better and better which I didn’t know was even still possible.… Continue reading →

Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Just a heads up before we get into the review, this is going to be fairly brief (in my terms, at least) as there are a lot of points to this novel which I would consider spoilers and part of why I enjoyed this novel so much was because I had no idea of the complexities of the plot going into the novel.… Continue reading →

The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to The Nesting, however after seeing it sitting on my shelf for a while I thought that now would be the perfect time to start it with the nights getting longer.… Continue reading →

Blog Tour – The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones

Ghost stories have been told throughout the centuries, and whilst many may not have quite the same impact on a modern audience than on its contemporary one, there are some that can still evoke fear and unease even all this time later. The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings, retold by Dan Jones, is one that still stands the test of time with some gruesome imagery that I’m still thinking about even now (I’m not sure I’ll be able to look at goats in the same way ever again).… Continue reading →

The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

This novel first caught my attention a few months ago when Skies shared the aesthetics of the world and accompanying quotes of The Thirteenth Hour on Twitter. I was immediately invested in these characters and couldn’t wait for the novel to come out to meet them. Now that I have finished the book, I can safely say that the characters lived up to my expectations and more!… Continue reading →

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 →

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