The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton [eARC review]

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to read this book, with its magick and witches. I’m always on the lookout for stories about the supernatural and the occult. Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it.


Review: This book had a lot of ups and downs for me. I’m still unsure about if I liked this book or not, but hopefully I can work through my feelings in this book! TW: There are many instances of self-harm that are mentioned in this book so please be aware!

The novel starts off narrating the story of Rona Blackburn in a textbook-sorta way. And I loved it. It was so quirky and set the tone for the serious nature of this story. It made me really excited for the way the story would unfold.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book didn’t hold as much promise.

The story is told entirely from Nor’s perspective. But Nor is really not that interesting. She has no real personality and the way things are narrated from her perspective is a little … boring. I wasn’t necessarily hoping for a quirky character but I wanted Nor to be unique. Instead, she easily morphs into the stereotypical quiet girl who likes a guy but doesn’t think she’s good for him for various reasons. It was a bit disappointing.

I also found the story to be quite confusing at times. There are a lot of characters and names thrown in and it isn’t always explained right away who they are and what their role is, which made it really difficult to keep things straight. When you eventually do find out how everyone is related, it makes a lot of sense but getting to that point is challenging.

There were also way too many areas where the plot wasn’t developed enough for my liking. Half of the problems occurred because Nor didn’t say anything to anyone. While this is a common trope to see in many novels, not just YA fiction, in the case of this story, I felt that Nor telling people what was happening to her would have actually upped the ante and led to more action-packed events. Instead, the book just moves slowly until the final climactic scene at the end.

The ending was actually my favourite part. There was the action and the strength that I wanted to see. However, the slow burn to get to this point just wasn’t worth it for me. I also didn’t like how the author tried to do a love triangle thing; it is one of my pet peeves and it really wasn’t necessary here. I did like the epilogue that was put in, as it gives the story future directions.

In the end, this wasn’t my favourite read of the month. It had a really dragging plot and a character that lacked personality. However, the ending was quite strong and the epilogue piqued my interest. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3!

Happy reading ~

 

Advertisements

The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

Books that involve witchcraft or covens are my thing. I will literally devour any book that mentions the word “witch” in it because I am THAT obsessed! I’m so glad I got to read an ARC of this book because it was such a fantastic read and fulfilled my need for dark stories!

34913737


Summary (Goodreads): Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.


Review: I never realized how much I love urban fantasy until recently, but it is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres to read. And this book is such a fantastic addition to the genre.

One of the things I loved about the story was the pacing. This was not a very fast-paced story, but the slower pace worked very well because it allowed for the development of the darker elements. And the dark aspects of the story were worth waiting for! I knew this story wasn’t going to be a lighthearted read but even I was taken aback by the sheer evil mentioned in this book – and I loved it! The writing style that the author used was also perfect for building up tension in the plot and between the different characters. There was also no fakeness to any of the character interactions or situations; every remark, every scene was carefully crafted and served a higher purpose of solidifying the themes of the story.

There were quite a few characters to keep track of, and I will admit that I struggled here a bit. The author definitely did a great job of making each of them unique, but I would find myself forgetting how everyone was related or how old the characters were. The author does provide a helpful list of characters at the end of the book, but I wouldn’t recommend readers look at it while they are still reading the story because some of the descriptions of the characters can be spoilers.

But the plot was to die for: it was gripping, dark, and scary. It was everything I could ask for in an urban story centered around powerful witch families and covens.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this dark urban fantasy set in New Orleans. The characters, writing style, and eerie plot were absolutely amazing and I am definitely going to be reading more books by this author in the near future! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave

Synopsis (Goodreads): Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken away his biological parents, robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason his father Logan, the detective who raised him, is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. The suspect, Simon Bowers, is killed by Logan’s partner Ben, whose intentions are murkier than expected.

After this tragedy Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: a new pair of eyes. But a mishap during the surgery leads to Joshua unknowingly getting one eye from his father, and the other from Simon. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what his eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. Memories, truths, and lies Joshua discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from. What else has he failed to see?

Meanwhile, Simon’s accomplice Vincent is bent on revenge, going after the loved ones of those involved in Simon’s death and Vincent is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.


Review: This was a novel that I was very excited to read because its premise was just so intriguing. I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was!

What really made this novel for me was that there were a lot of themes that made up this story. It wasn’t just about cellular memory (which was a big component of the story) but it also deals with problems within the justice system, and the positives and negatives of vigilante behaviour. All of these themes gave the story a lot more complexity and depth, making it a more enjoyable read. There are also multiple POV’s used in this novel and that also helped make this novel fully fleshed out. The great thing about the different characters was that the author created strong, well developed connections between them; the different relationships were believable and ensured that important details were presented to the reader.

The story also had really great pacing and so many twists! There is something constantly happening, but it is all very well thought out and not random in the slightest; the author does a fantastic job of connecting all of the different events. Every time I thought I had discovered the plot twist of the story, the author would throw in another one! It just made it such a compelling read, and it increased the depth – and scope – of the story.

The only thing I did not like was the conversation style between Joshua and his new friend, Ollilia. It was hard to imagine them as teenagers because their style of talking was a little awkward, and I couldn’t sense the connection that the author was trying to create. This was the only connection that I felt wasn’t concrete in the whole story.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It lived up to its classification as a thriller and I cannot wait to read more by this author. I’m giving this a 4.5/5 stars, rounded to 5!

Happy reading ~

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake – Three Dark Crowns #2

When I had read the first book in the series, I had not liked it. It had been too slow and I did not feel a connection with the characters. I wasn’t planning on reading the sequel … but I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review:

The Quickening was an unforgettable time that revealed many hidden secrets and plots revolving the three queens. Now that the Ascension Year is underway, all bets are off. Katherine, once the weakest sister and the least likely champion for the throne, is proving herself to be stronger than ever. Arsinoe, who has finally discovered the truth about her powers, must figure out how she can use this to her advantage while keeping it a secret. And Mirabella, once thought to be the certain Queen Crowned, is facing attacks that she cannot seem to fight against. Only one thing is guaranteed: this year will be the bloodiest yet.

When compared to Three Dark Crowns, I thought this novel was a LOT better. The story starts up right where it ended, and the scheming begins almost immediately. The author was kind enough to include a list of characters and their connections to each other at the beginning of the novel, which came in handy for me when I forgot someone’s name. If it’s been a while since you read Three Dark Crowns, I strongly urge you to read it before beginning this one or else you will find yourself confused for a good bit of the story. I felt like this time around the author made it easier to understand and identify with the sisters. At least, that’s how I felt! I liked reading about Arsinoe and Katharine the most. Arsinoe has a really great personality and I like how she is connected to Jules. However, I still feel that the naturalist aspects of the story were more about Jules than Arsinoe, and I would have preferred if that had been more balanced. Katharine’s character went through the greatest change (as was hinted through the description) and I really liked that because she got a whole lot more interesting! However, I wish the author had dug deeper into these changes, instead of just having it explained at the end of the novel; there was definitely room for some horror aspects in Katharine’s story but they were muted because they weren’t explored as much as I would have liked. Mirabella didn’t really spark my interest in this story but at least the terrible love triangle from before wasn’t taking front-and-center stage like last time! The romance elements that were included in the story were not too bad this time. Overall, I had a much more enjoyable experience with this novel than its predecessor. Does it still have room for improvement? Yes. Is it the best YA fantasy series I have read? No. But it has potential and it has me intrigued so I will probably keep myself aware of the release of the next book in the series and give it a shot.

Happy reading ~

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you follow my blog, then you know I love dark, messed up stories. It’s not just about it being a murder mystery or a psychological thriller; I am in love with stories that freak you out and make you cringe in horror because they are just that insane and diabolical. That was what I hoped to get from this book. And I did. Here is my review:

Marion Zetland is a timid spinster in her fifties who lives with her domineering older brother, John, in an old and decaying townhouse. Her only friends are her teddy bears and the imaginary relationships she makes up at night. These are the only things that help her shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar. As long as she never has to go down to the cellar, Marion can live with the slight twinge of unease that comes from knowing about John’s secret. But when John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down there, she has no choice but to face the gruesome truth. And as questions are asked and secrets begin to reveal themselves, maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side …

This novel was advertised as a cross between Room and Grey Gardens. While I’ve never read Grey Gardens, I can definitely say that this is not at all like Room and making that comparison is a misnomer. In fact, it led me astray in terms of my expectations. However, that does not in any way mean that I didn’t like this novel. In fact, I loved it! This was a slow burning, tension-building story that seriously creeped me out by the end. If anything, I would describe this novel as more of a character study of Marion and John, told from Marion’s perspective. She talks about her life and how people view her as timid and plain. She talks about how much she depends on her brother, John, and how she never feels like she is good enough. She wishes for a great deal and in the beginning, she seems to have a simplistic mindset … but it becomes clear near the middle/end that she is much smarter than one might have thought. While there is never any doubt in the reader’s mind that John is the main villain, this story makes the reader question the responsibility and culpability of a “bystander” like Marion. The premise of the story reveals most of what this book about, but for once, that doesn’t bother me because the plot isn’t the real interesting aspect about this book; it is watching how Marion evolves and changes that is of real interest to the reader. To be quite honest, I think this is a really fantastic and dark read that looks at a horrendous situation in a very different light. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a slow but creepy book, and who is not wary of gruesome content.

Happy reading ~

Hekla’s Children by James Brogden

I actually began this novel a while back but had to stop because of my workload. The novel stayed in the back of my mind and I’m glad that I finally got the chance to read this book now. So here is my review:

10 years ago, teacher Nathan Brookes was supervising 4 students on a walk … when they all vanished. Only one returned, Olivia, and she was starving, terrified, and unable to recollect where she had been. And Nathan has been haunted by this event ever since. When a body is found in the same ancient woodland where the kids disappeared, it is immediately assumed that it is the body of one of the missing children. However, it is soon identified as a Bronze Age warrior. While others may be able to move on from this archaeological curiosity, Nathan finds himself having horrific visions of his students being trapped. Then Olivia reappears, desperate to put the warrior’s body back into the Earth. For he is the only thing keeping a terrible evil at bay.

This novel was both a hit AND a miss for me. The beginning was intriguing and it really grabbed my attention; that’s why I kept thinking about it even when I stopped reading the novel! The author did a great job setting the scene, and I got really invested in Nathan’s character. I suspected that the author would lean towards the fantasy-horror genre combination, and I was pleased to see that my prediction was true. I liked the introduction of the Bronze Age warrior and really wanted to see where the author was going to go with that. Very quickly, the author switched from having Nathan as a main character, to someone else …. and then it switched again to Nathan … and then went back to someone else. That part was a little baffling because it made me feel like I wasn’t reading a continuous story but rather two different stories happening within the same timeline. It worked in the sense that it added more intrigue to the story but it also failed by making things more confusing and muddled. The story itself grew more complex but it had its flaws. A lot of details were skimmed over and could have used some more buildup, and it lost some of its horror feel near the end. The way certain characters were connected didn’t really work for me, and some of the conclusions that were drawn were a bit too unbelievable for my taste. By the end of the novel, I felt like I had read a really complicated and intriguing novel … but one that lacked a consistent flow. Since there were elements that I still enjoyed about this novel, I’m giving it a 3/5.

Happy reading ~

The Child Thief by Brom

After reading and adoring Lost Gods, I was eager to get my hands on more of Brom’s work. This novel is one that I’ve heard a ton about and I was interested to see how Brom would take the story of Peter Pan and twist it into something sinister. So here is my review:

Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and he loves to play games. When he smiles at you, he makes you his friend for life … but his promised land is not Neverland. 14-year-old Nick almost died at the hands of drug dealers but Peter saved his life. Now, Peter offers Nick a chance to escape to a secret place full of magic. Even though Nick doesn’t believe in faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, he has nothing left to lose, right?

There is always more to lose.

As Nick follows Peter, Nick finds that the beautiful paradise he was promised is everything but that. And Nick has unwittingly been recruited for a war that has raged for centuries – one where he must learn to fight among the “Devils”, Peter’s savage tribe of stolen children. And it soon becomes clear that Peter will go to any length to save the last wild magic in this dying land.

This is definitely a dark retelling of a childhood story, and Brom does not hold anything back. The author definitely transformed the Neverland of my childhood into something far wilder and I absolutely loved it! Faeries, monsters, references to Avalon…. it was definitely awesome to have this all melded together into one story. As usual, the illustrations were fantastic and really helped me imagine all of the different characters.

This novel was not nearly as dark as Lost Gods but what made it scary was how easily something that I had associated as innocent and fun could be twisted into something sinister. Peter was always just this fun guy but Brom managed to make me fear him … and fear Neverland, too.

This book was a lengthy read for me, and while engrossing, I don’t think I liked it as much as I adored Lost Gods. However, this is still a superb story with that classic artwork style Brom is known for and a dark story that will haunt you afterwards!

Happy reading ~

A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m just going to say that I love this novel. A lot. It was an absolutely amazing read and I could not put it down for a second. Here is my review:

The village of Saint-Ferdinand might look like a peaceful place with its farmhouses stretching all the way down one street, its small police precinct, and its quaint coffee shops and diners. But it also has something unusual: a large over-used cemetery, lined with the victims of the Saint-Ferdinand killer, who has eluded the police for nearly 2 decades. When Inspector Stephen Crowley finally manages to capture the killer, it seems as if the nightmare is about to end. However, this is when the REAL nightmare begins.
When a dark spirit reveals itself to Venus McKenzie, one of Saint-Ferdinand’s teenage residents, she learns that this creature’s power has a long history with her town—and that the serial murders merely scratch the surface of a past burdened by evil secrets.

This is by far one of the best horror novels I have ever read. It hit the mark on all counts and kept the suspense, magic, and gore coming throughout the story.

First of all, the story itself is ridiculously good. There is so much depth, so many different elements that come together to give an intricate backstory that makes the reader want more. The author does a great job of keeping you in the dark until the right moment while also delivering a story that you can follow along. Every so often, you get clues that make you question what you previously knew…. and the author also provides the perfect opportunities for you to remember those clues and link the story together. It almost made me feel like a detective, and it was just so much fun to read this book! I loved the gore and the horror and the magical elements incorporated into this story; it was truly dark and I was definitely creeped out! The author had multiple POVs going, but he did such a fantastic job of keeping each one unique and fresh and interesting for the reader! The author also managed to show internal (and external) changes in character personalities and roles, which is not an easy feat by any means! There was so much going on in this novel and yet, it never felt overwhelming. Everything made sense, everything had depth, and everything made me want to flip the page and read on. The writing style was also amazing and easy to follow. I don’t want to keep on praising and praising so just do yourself a favor and give this book a shot, because it will definitely be worth your time!

Happy reading ~

Lost Gods by Brom

The first thing that caught my attention with this book was the cover. I’m serious, it’s an honest work of art. I couldn’t stop thinking about that cover so I knew that I had to go and get myself that book no matter what.

Chet Moran just got out of jail and he is eager to start his life on a fresh note with his pregnant wife, Trish. They leave town to begin again in the hopes that they can forget all of their troubles. But their safe haven isn’t what they imagined, as an ancient evil pursues them. Trapped and murdered by a vile horror, Chet soon learns that pain and death are shared by the dead as well as the living. In order to protect the souls of his wife and unborn child, Chet must journey into the depths of purgatory to find a key that promises to restore everything to its natural order. Alone, confused, and damned, Chet must face unimaginable horrors in the underworld.

In the beginning, I was unsure about whether I would like this story or not. Things moved a bit too quickly with not enough expectations. But after just a few chapters, I couldn’t tear myself away. This story is action-packed and full of interesting twists and turns. There are a lot of different mythological elements in this novel and I found that they were incorporated quite well! The horror aspects were also honestly freaky so I definitely got my money and time’s worth! Every question about the different elements are answered by Brom and that just made it such a satisfying story to read. My favorite part of this novel were the illustrations by the author; they were creepy and beautiful and just amazing! All in all, this was a really cool book with lots of great horror elements. I’m definitely going to check out more by Brom!

Happy reading ~

Darkchylde: The Ariel Chylde Saga by R. Queen

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I first requested this novel, I had no idea that it was based on a comic book series. My experience with comic books and graphic novels is limited to manga that I used to read back when I was in elementary school, and a Graphic Novel english course I took during one of my semesters in undergrad. Recently, I’ve started reading the Wonder Woman original comics, and I must say that they are quite enjoyable (review to come when I have completed all of them)! However, I’ve never heard of comic books being adapted into novels, so I was very interested to see how it would play out. Here is my review:

Ariel Chylde has horrible dreams that plague her constantly. It’s caused her to lose her boyfriend, and become a social pariah at school. Life is no better at home, with her father’s drinking habit. Nowhere is an escape for her, not even sleep. On her 18th birthday, something happens to Ariel, something that causes her nightmares to escape and leads to terrible acts occurring all over town. She is the only person who can save her town from these terrors, but before she can do that, she must save herself.

I tried really really hard to push through this novel. But I only got to the halfway point before I gave up. While the premise of this story was interesting, the writing style and the jumpiness of the plot was too much to bear. One of the first things that struck me as weird was the prose; it was, for lack of a better word, unnatural and unrealistic. I’ve never heard a teenager talk in such a peculiar way, one time using very sophisticated and mature words that literally no one says, and another time using modern lingo. The descriptions of setting and characters didn’t feel complete. It really felt as if the author was trying to describe each frame of the comic but without allowing it all to connect. Or sometimes, the author would not describe the thing properly at all, expecting that the reader could somehow see it without reading anything. The storyline made no sense at all in the beginning and while it began to put itself together at the halfway point, I had gotten so frustrated with the uncoordinated storytelling that I gave up. Overall, this novel had a lot of potential but because of its wording and irregular plot structure, I was unable to continue. I think this story would have been better off staying as a comic than in this novel format.

Happy reading ~