thriller

Book Review: The Girl from Widow Hills

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

When Arden Mayes was six years old she was swept underground in a storm, where she remained for days until she was finally found. After the whirlwind of media coverage and even her mum’s book on the event, Arden decides to leave her home town – Widow Hills – and start over. With a new name, Olivia, she sets off to make a new life.

Before long, Olivia receives news of her mother’s death. She doesn’t grieve, not really. Their relationship was a complicated one.

Everything seems fine until Olivia wakes up outside – next to a dead body. This opens up a lot of questions. To complicate things more, it turns out this body belonged to the man who rescued Arden all those years ago. How did he find her? What was he doing outside her house? And why is he dead?
Things only get more complicated from there. Olivia thought she had left her past behind, but it doesn’t seem to be true. She begins to dig up secrets, huge secrets. It’s about time the world knew the truth about what happened in Widow Hills.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

This was a really gripping book, with so many interesting discoveries and twists. There was a good amount of emotion, too, and definitely a fair bit of loss. Definitely a good read if you’re into thrillers. 4 out of 5 stars!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: Eden

Eden by Tim Lebbon – ebook, Published April 7th 2020 by Titan Books

Something I did not realise from the cover of this book is that it’s actually a thriller/horror. It’s not exactly scary, but there are some creepy elements and emotional moments around the last half of the novel.

The book is set in a not-so-distant future where humans have, to put it frankly, ruined the earth. In order for nature to begin to recover, ‘Virgin Zones’ have been set up – areas where nature is left to thrive, and where it’s illegal for any person to enter. But of course, people still do. Some of these people are a particular type of thrill-seekers, racing across these wild zones. Our protagonist, Jenn, is a member of a group of these travellers. Along with her father, boyfriend, and a few other friends, she sets out to cross Eden, the first Virgin Zone, with little more than a compass and some energy bars.

But Jenn another motive, too. Her mother – who left her and her father years ago, and only contacts Jenn to show her the Zones she’s crossed – has gone missing. And she was last seen crossing into Eden.

It turns out Jenn isn’t the only member of the group with ulterior motives, though. Legends of a mysterious, almost magical orchid have been spreading from various Zones. It’s believed that these ghost orchids have healing powers, possibly even immortality. And one of Jenn’s companions is hoping to find one.

What he doesn’t know is that the orchids are the centre of Eden. The centre of the horror, the fear, everything. And She – the very spirit of nature itself – will do anything to protect them.

The group face numerous hurdles, hunted by beasts working together in unnatural ways. As they find more and more corpses in odd states, their own group begins to dwindle.

I found this really interesting, not least because the whole setting is so plausible. The atmosphere gradually becomes tenser and tenser, as Jenn’s hunt for her mother well and truly comes to an end.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

While I did enjoy this, I felt something was missing. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I didn’t really click with Jenn, or feel her emotions all that much. 3.5 stars!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Little White Lies

Little White Lies by Philippa East – Published February 6th 2020 by HQ

This is another thriller (can you tell I like them?) but I actually found it really quite unique.
Seven years ago, Anne lost her daughter. She went missing at a train station: caught on CCTV climbing the steps out to the street, and then gone without a trace. But now she’s back, and Anne is happy – isn’t she? Her family is finally back together, her twins have their big sister back, and they’re going to find out who did this.
But Anne isn’t happy. Everything isn’t right. There are secrets holding her back from being happy.
As is often the case, everything is not as simple as it first seems. Abigail (the daughter)’s case seems to be solved; the abductor has been found, Abigail is home. But there are still so many questions to be answered, so many holes to be filled. Everyone seems to be hiding something – sometimes without even knowing.
I really liked the approach of this book. Ok, it’s not the first time that the family has been hiding something. But the ‘secrets’ that come to life are… different to usual.
Actually, I kind of thought it was a bit exaggerated, honestly. As in, the secrets weren’t that bad. But I won’t say too much in case I spoil it for any potential readers.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was excited to find out more, to discover the truth of what happened. 4 stars.

Book Review: Moth Girls

Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy – Published January 7th 2016 by Hot Key Books

I finished this book so long ago. I can’t believe I am only just getting round to writing the review… I’m afraid it will only be a quick one again, though.
This is a YA thriller/mystery novel where Mandy is recalling the disappearance of her two best friends five years ago, surfacing now due to the demolition of the house that they disappeared in, never to return. She remembers the things they did together, even that very day when they vanished. And she becomes obsessed with finding answers, determined to figure out what truly happened.
It’s a great book, honestly. It was exciting and intriguing and clever. It covered some unexpected, serious issues, and was resolved in an oddly and tragically nice way.
It’s definitely a good read for younger thriller fans, but can also be enjoyed by older readers, I think. 4 stars!

Book Review: Little Darlings

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding – eBook, 336 pages Published April 30th 2019 by HarperAvenue

I am a huge fan of thriller, detective and suspense novels. I also adore fantasy elements, which this book incorporated fantastically.

Right from the very beginning, this novel creates a sense of unease and suspense. Even when Lauren meets her twin sons, I felt myself waiting for something to happen.

Throughout the novel are excerpts of folk tales, fairy-tales, rhymes and so on relating to changelings. So naturally, you expect something to happen within this area. It made it so much more exciting, like you are always waiting for something bad to happen.

What I especially liked about this novel was that it really blurred the lines between reality and fantasy or even the supernatural. I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who may read it, but the ending is somewhat open. It leaves space for your own interpretation; though certain things are strongly hinted at. All throughout the novel there is an ongoing debate as to whether the ‘case’ of Lauren Tranter is an actual criminal case, or simply a mental health case. I found this super intriguing.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Overall, this was a great book. The ending could be seen as somewhat unfulfilling, but I liked how it left some things to the readers’ own imagination. 4 out of 5 stars!

Book Review: The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – ebook (ARC), Published December 3rd 2018 by HarperCollins

This was an incredibly interesting book. I’ve read several novels which alternate between different characters’ narrations, but this took that to a whole new level. Not only did we switch between characters regularly, we even switched between first and third person narrative. I found this a very unique choice.

At first, I will admit that the sheer number of different perspectives was a bit overwhelming. It was hard to keep up with who was who. But as I got further into the story I was able to make sense of things more, and I could tell what was important to the story and so on.

This is, essentially, a ‘whodunit’ kind of book. There is a large group of people isolated in the middle of nowhere, and a dead body. One of these remaining people must be responsible for the murder.

As well as the switching narratives, the story flips between ‘before’ the murder and ‘after’. Most of the first part of the novel is before, and we begin to learn about the group of guests’ past and relationships with one another. Bit by bit we see that everything is not quite as rosy as it first seemed.

The way the story slowly unravels was fantastic. Thrilling, exciting. And the number of revelations that are revealed one by one… As the reader, we don’t know which of these is important, and which is just a red herring. Everyone seems to have their issues, but does that mean they’re capable of murder?

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Once I got familiar with all the different characters and plots going on, I really enjoyed this. The pace increased dramatically toward the end, making it hard to put the book down. I’m giving this 4 to 4.5 stars.

Book Review: Thy Killer’s Keeper

You’d be forgiven for believing this is an ordinary detective novel. I thought it was throughout most of the book, honestly. But there are some vital and very unique aspects that are definitely science-fiction, even bordering on paranormal.

Detective John Salton is sent to work on a homicide case near Eureka. The case has no clear links to previous cases, but John is certain that it is the work of the same killer of almost a dozen other cases over the past nine years. The only link is the killer’s strange, morbid sense of curiosity – expressed through acts of violence toward the victim after they’re already dead.

At the same time, John is visiting his autistic son at the new care centre in Eureka. He admits to his partner, Ruby, that he believes the death of his wife – perpetrated by his own son – was also somehow caused by this same serial killer. But how is that possible?

This was truly exciting and intriguing throughout, and I was always waiting to see what happened next. Links to the fertility clinic were soon suggested, which added even more intrigue and excitement. It was superbly clever and incredibly unique. I’ve certainly not come across anything like this before.

At the end especially, the sci-fi elements became almost overpowering. It stopped feeling like so much of a deterctive/crime novel and more of a paranormal thriller or something. I personally thought it was a bit too paranormal, too far-fetched almost. But again, it was well thought out and clever. Though some parts were not particularly well explained in my opinion and kind of went over my head, honestly.

There were a fair few typos and spelling mistakes, such as names being spelled differently, which gave the novel a bit of an amateurish feel. I received an ARC though (thanks to Hidden Gems), and so the final publication may not include so many mistakes.

I thoroughly enjoyed the detective side of this novel, but the sci-fi aspects became a bit too overwhelming. 3.5 stars.

 

Book Review: Sophie Last Seen

This was, somehow, more emotional than I originally anticipated. It’s about the mother of a girl who went missing at the age of 10, six years ago. So I knew it was going to quite a hard read. But… wow.
I’m going to be super careful here, as I really don’t want to give anything away for potential readers. There are a few sub-plots that I may reference, but I don’t think that will ruin the main story.
Jesse Albright is the mother of Sophie, or ‘Bird Girl’ as the media dubbed her. Sophie was a difficult child, with some kind of condition that doctors couldn’t quite pinpoint. The only thing that really kept her calm when she reached the ‘red zone’ was birds. She watched them, read about them, wrote about them, drew them… Hence the title ‘Bird Girl’.
The book is set six years after Sophie’s disappearance. Jesse has seoarated from her husband, who has a new family, but she still lives in the old family home. She collects ‘clues’ that she believes Sophie has left her – anything from clothing to road signs to letters. Sophie’s case was never closed; Jesse is determined to find her daughter.
Sophie’s best friend, Star, has a lot of issues of her own. Her grief manifests itself in the form of Sophie’s ‘ghost’, and the only way for Star to keep her away is cutting herself.
Jesse’s relationships with everyone – her ex-husband, her friends, even Star – have been almost completely severed. Her life is a mess. She can’t paint anymore, her house is full of junk, and even being near the now-teenage Star is painful.
That’s all I’m really going to say about the plot. Jesse continues to look for her daughter, with the help of a detective working on another missing girl case.
Jesse’s desperation is palpable; my heart broke for her. Her life was a downward spiral, and everything she did seemed to make it worse. When she started to re-build connections, and even build new ones, I was so happy for her. Slowly, she edged closer to happiness, even if she will never really get closure.
The small details Adelstein used to link Jesse’s later life to her old life with Sophie were fantastic. They were possibly a little romantic, but I think they were sweet. (The crows visiting Jesse and Star right at the end was probably the best.)
Throughout the whole book I shared Jesse’s tentative optimism, despite all the signs against Sophie being alive. I thought this was really fantastic. 5 stars!

Book Review: Two Skies Before Night

A huge thanks to Hidden Gems for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my review.

At first I thought this was a detective novel, but I soon realised that it was far more sci-fi than I anticipated. This combination of science fiction and detective elements was really unique and honestly, I loved it.

Initially, Detective Lang is working on a double murder case. It seemed quite simple at first, if a bit strange what with all the bizarre descriptions of characters. It got a bit confusing when Lang began commenting on the ‘undersky’ and people from ‘Above’ and ‘Below’, but I soon figured it out. All these different elements made a thoroughly intriguing story, and things I didn’t think were important at first turned out to hold quite a deal of significance.

The Powers were really interesting. The few that were described were so strange, and I loved them. The few times these Powers interected with citizens of the City were strange, too, and I was really intrigued to see what the Powers actually did. They were like gods, feared but almost worshipped by everyone. I would have liked to find out a bit more about them – perhaps there will be a sequel that will reveal more.

There are a lot of intertwining details, which I always appreciate. It was definitely a unique story, with a lot of exciting moments and unexpected discoveries.

One issue I had with this book was that there were a few mistakes, misplaced commas and so on. The copy I received was a review copy, so I can’t be sure whether these mistakes are in the final publication, but I thought I should point them out just in case.

Overall, this was a really interesting book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Raven’s Peak

I recently signed up to OnlineBookClub and requested this book as my first to review on the site. It’s a paranormal thriller, focusing on a “hunter” who tracks down demons. It begins with an epilogue following another character, who we later learn more about. The protagonist is a young man called Haatim, completely ordinary and unaware of the paranormal activity in the world. Strange circumstances send him and Abigail – the hunter – off to Raven’s Peak together.

The beginning was rather interesting; Haatim was hired by a complete stranger to track down a suspected stalker. It soon became clear that this was no ordinary stalker, and the situation was definitely unique. However, the following plot felt a little slow to me, taking a while to really develop. It’s possible that the intended peak was earlier than I felt, but I personally felt like the main story only really started when the pair arrived at Raven’s Peak. This did not happen until much nearer the end. This meant that the “main” sotry only lasted for a few short chapters. There was a section between Haatim’s stalker mission and the arrival in Raven’s Peak that felt painfully slow and, quite honestly, boring.

The characters were okay, but I didn’t connect with them emotionally. Haatim was given an emotional backstory – as was Abigail, in fact – but I just did not feel anything for them. Their speech felt a bit disjointed and artificial, and they just didn’t feel particularly real to me. It would’ve been nice to develop the characters’ relationships more, both with each other and their own families.

Many books in the paranormal/supernatural genre feel very similar, and this book is sadly included. There was nothing about it that particularly stood out to me. Some of the ideas in the book are very interesting, though. I am intrigued as to how Haatim’s father is connected to the Ninth Circle, and I also want to know what happens in Abigail’s quest for saving Arthur. But this book didn’t fill me with anticipation or excitement to read on. In fact, it barely mentioned the Ninth Circle, and without that being the series title, I’d never have picked up on it.

I also noticed a few typos and grammatical errors, which would be the result of insufficient editing. While a few errors are often found in books, this felt quite amateurish and unfinished.

Overall, the book wasn’t particularly special or exciting, and didn’t feel as fluid as it should. It wasn’t bad, but it was not outstanding. 2.5 stars.