#Blogtour #Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden #YAFiction #YAFantasy #TheWinterOfTheWitch @arden_katherine

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Today I have the honour of hosting a spot on the blog tour for the paperback release of The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. This spellbinding conclusion to a magical trilogy will leave you wanting more – more of the bear, more of the winter king, more of the chyerti, and definitely more of Vasya and her impetuous nerve. Beautifully written and richly imaginative I strongly recommend you read The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and The Winter of the Witch in quick succession, because they’re a little like Pringles – you can’t have just one.

Winter of the Witch CoverTitle: 
The Winter of the Witch

Author: Katherine Arden

Publisher: Ebury Publishing

Publication Date: Paperback – October 3, 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy, YA Fiction

Themes: Family, Revenge, Folklore, Love of Country

Features: Glossary

My Rating: 5/ 5


One girl can make a difference…

Moscow is in flames, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to blame. Vasilisa, a girl with extraordinary gifts, must flee for her life, pursued by those who blame their misfortune on her magic.

Then a vengeful demon returns, stronger than ever. Determined to engulf the world in chaos, he finds allies among men and spirits. Mankind and magical creatures alike find their fates resting on Vasya’s shoulders.

But she may not be able to save them all.

My Review

I have a confession, I tried to jump into The Winter of the Witch without having read the first two instalments in the series and immediately regretted that choice. The good news is that I was able to secure The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower from my local library, power through them, and then return to The Winter of the Witch with a much healthier appreciation for Russian naming (and nicknaming) conventions as well as the intricacies of the many story-arcs being wrapped up.  I mean, the whole series is absolutely masterful, but this ending is epic!

In the wake of events that nearly set the whole of Moscow on fire the Grand Prince’s enemies see the turmoil as an opportunity to wage war while the empire is weakened. And to make things worse, Father Konstantin, a priest with the power to turn minds with his words sets the city against Vasya calling for her to burned alive. She manages to escape into the world of Midnight and finds herself juggling the survival of two worlds on her shoulders. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that age-old demon is once again loose in the world and is terrorizing Moscow, Vasya, and magical world of Midnight simultaneously.

And oh my word, is it ever magical. I mean it’s treacherous and deadly and all together beautiful, but magical. I adored our mushroom cheyrti Ded Grib, the beautiful horses that can take flight, and and the hearth spirits that protect homes and countries alike. But more than anything I loved Pohzar, the firebird, with her haughty sass and irascible temper. Every time she stomped, kicked, bit or refused to carry a rider I was sent into fits of giggles at memories of my own ill-tempered (yet magnetically loveable) mare. Like seriously, all I could think of was mare-stare, except that this mare is on fire – double the danger, double the fun!

But enough about the horses, lets focus on the big guns – Medved, Morozko, and Vasya. Medved is the kind of villain that only gets better with age. He gets deeper, bolder, and more relatable as the book progresses, and is the kind of character that you can easily love to hate. I was completely transfixed by his manipulations, his subtle games, and the hatred that he holds for his brother. He was deliciously deviant, cruel in all the rights ways, but never outright repugnant.

His twin on the other hand is a calm, quiet force that I would have loved to see more of. I was floored by the sacrifices that he made and the faith that he had in Vasya. It’s beautiful how his power and presence waxes and wanes with the seasons, and even more beautiful how he pushes the limits of his power to stay by Vasya’s side in her greatest time of need. He offers gentles reminders of the things that matter most – Solovey, family, and Vasya’s humanity when she’s at risk of slipping under the addictive spell of her own magic.

And I loved that Vasya wasn’t your typically beautiful heroine, that instead she was real. It placed the focus on her intellect, power, competence, and sometimes ridiculously impulsive decisions. Her journey of self discovery was wondrous, especially as she discovered more of her family and the source of her abilities, and as she learned to control the fire within. And through it all she remains brave (stubborn?) and determined, and she never once allowed herself to become undone even when romance and desire came into the picture. And whoa man, is that ever a romance! It’s tense, electric, and achingly desperate. I mean, when the first snows of winter fall I won’t be looking for a demon king to whisk me off at midnight…

The book, this series, so beautifully written that it’s almost impossible to put into words how incredible it is. It’s imaginative, poetic, and simultaneously rooted in tradition and folklore without cheapening it. It’s feminist, it’s ballsy, and it’s tender. But more than anything, it’s one of my favourite reads of the year. If you like rich story telling, deep characters and touch of magic then I can’t recommend The Winter of the Witch and the Winter Night trilogy enough.

About the Author

Katherine Arden Author Pic .jpgBorn in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent her junior year of high school in Rennes, France.

Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrolment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature.

After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crêpes to serving as a personal tour guide. After a year on the island, she moved to Briançon, France, and spent nine months teaching. She then returned to Maui, stayed for nearly a year, then left again to wander. Currently she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know.

She is the author of The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. These novels make up the first two parts of The Winternight Trilogy.

Twitter: @arden_katherine

Website: www.katherinearden.com 

Publisher: @EburyPublishing

Many thanks to Anne Carter at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this tour. I received a copy of this text in exchange for an honest review.


#BlogTour #Review: Empire’s Daughter by Marian L. Thorpe #Giveaway @rararesources @Marian_Thorpe

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Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Empire’s Daughter by Marian L. Thorpe. If you like a touch of bucking convention with your fantasy adventures, Empire’s Daughter delivers a healthy of dose of deep questioning alongside the excitement. Get ready to dive into a world divided in more ways than one and get swept away in the process.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Empires Daughter ebook cover.jpgTitle:
Empire’s Daughter

Author: Marion L. Thorpe

Publication Date: July 30th 2016

Publisher: Arboretum Press

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Themes: Societal Norms, Self Discovery, Romance, War

Extras: N/A

My Rating: 4/ 5


For twenty generations, the men and women of The Empire have lived separately, the women farming and fishing, the men fighting wars. But in the spring of Lena’s seventeenth year, an officer rides into her village with an unprecedented request. The Empire is threatened by invasion, and to defend it successfully, women will need to fight.

When the village votes in favour, Lena and her partner Maya are torn apart. Maya chooses exile rather than battle, Lena chooses to fight. As Lena learns the skills of warfare and leadership, she discovers that choices have consequences that cannot be foreseen, and that her role in her country’s future is greater than she could have dreamed.

Purchase Link


My Review

Okay, I will start this review off with a touch of fair warning: Empire’s Daughter sounds like it’s going to be a kick ass adventure with some military training, a touch of warfare, and some serious drama (and it is!) but it’s also a deep look into societal norms and the powers of both conviction and expectation. It’s intense, deeply character driven, and an exceptional foundation on which to build a trilogy.

I loved how extreme the division was between men’s and women’s work in the world of the empire, with the women running the villages and the men off soldiering and visits between the two only taking place twice  year for procreative purposes. I loved too, the idea of the council with three leaders to prevent dictatorships and all women of age casting their votes for every major decision. I appreciated the respect that women had for another and the systems through which their opinions could be expressed and disputes mediated. Early on I had this thought that this was, perhaps, as unrealistic utopia (serious, 80 women living together with no cat-fighting?) and then bam! if you don’t comply with a decision of the council you’re exiled.

In that it became clear that while the partition and the councils are good systems, that they are also flawed systems ad in dire need of change. Even then though, people are prone to resisting change and as a result we’re stuck with an empire torn between the past and the future, tradition and change, conquest and survival. Thankfully though, there is no better went of change than war and the empire has plenty of that on it’s horizon.

I enjoyed a great many of the characters in this book, but some stood out above the rest – quiet and contemplative Tice, the young and overconfident Freya, boisterous and embellishing Turno, sweet and patient Dern, and of course, he ever capable and conflicted Lena. But don’t get too attached to your favourite characters as they are prone to betrayal, death, and ridiculously selfish choices. Take heart though, the deaths are not gratuitous and even the decisions that I hated the most were founded in solid process. It holds true to the reality of war in that not everyone will survive and that some deaths will be neither glorious nor in battle, and that both war and tough decisions leave indelible that might not be visible to the naked eye.

I dare say though, I wanted more action! With all of the time that was spent building the world of Tirvan and the empire, establishing the divisions between the men and women under the rules of the partition, and training for the invasion I really expected for the battle to be epic. I know now that it was just a teaser to get us ready for the real threat introduced in the final pages, but if this baby were to be read as a stand alone the balance might feel a little off. Regardless, I am excited to see how Lena will use her adventurous heart, inquisitive mind and assassins training in the trials to come.

And as a special shout out to how the teaching of history was address in Empire’s Daughter. Thorpe highlights the disparity between reality and official narratives, and how altered/ omitted/ and forgotten facts can shape societies in (un)intended ways. Of all the issues tackled in this book, this one struck the closest to home to my librarian heart. I don’t know how many times I encourage my freshmen to learn histories and challenge capital H ‘History’, and I genuinely felt that I could use Empire’s Daughter as a teaching tool. So good. So real. So relevant – question everything.

Would I recommend his book? Absolutely! I love a book that makes you think as well as entertains and Thorpe delivers on both in abundance. Enter the giveaway book nerds, you won’t be disappointed when you win.

Giveaway: Win all 3 paperbacks of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy (Open INT)

Empires Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter at: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494286/?

About The Author

Empires author photoWriter of historical fantasy and urban fantasy for adults. The Empire’s Legacy series explores gender expectations, the conflicts between personal belief and societal norms, and how, within a society where sexuality is fluid, personal definitions of love and loyalty change with growth and experience.

The world of Empire’s Legacy was inspired by my interest in the history of Britain in the years when it was a province of the Roman Empire called Britannia, and then in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire. In another life, I would have been a landscape archaeologist, and landscape is an important metaphor in the Empire’s Legacy trilogy and in all my writing, fiction and non-fiction.

I live in Canada for most of the year, England for the rest, have one cat, a husband, and when I’m not writing or editing, I’m birding.

 Social Media Links –

Website is marianlthorpe.com

Twitter @Marian Thorpe 

Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/marianlthorpe

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join in this tour, and to Marian Thorpe for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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#BlogTour #Review: Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown #Thriller @IsabelAshdown

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Today I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Isabel Ashdown’s latest psychological thriller, Lake Child. Set in the stunningly beautiful Norwegian fjords, this baby will have you lulled into a false sense of serenity whilst continually pummelling you with an intense family drama full of unexpected twists and heart wrenching moments. If you like a little nail biting while your emotions get played like a dollar store banjo, then this one will certainly be for you!

lake childTitle: Lake Child

Author: Isabel Ashdown

Publisher: Trapeze

Publication Date: September 19, 2019

Genre: Psychological Triller, Mystery

Themes: Amnesia, Family, Trauma, Romance

Features: N/A

My Rating: 5/ 5


You trust your family. They love you. Don’t they?

When 17-year-old Eva Olsen awakes after a horrific accident that has left her bedbound, her parents are right by her side. Caring and kind, they watch over her night and day in the attic room of their family home in the forests of Norway.

But the accident has left Eva without her most recent memories. And someone isn’t telling her the truth. As secrets from the night of the accident begin to surface, Eva realises – she has to escape her parents’ house and discover the truth. But what if someone doesn’t want her to find it?

An edge-of-your-seat, atmospheric psychological thriller for fans of The Sinner and Sharp Objects.

My Review

Eva has been in a terrible accident, and when she wakes up nothing is as it seems. Her memories of the recent past remain tantalizingly out of reach, the driver of the vehicle she was found in can’t be located, her best friends are mysteriously absent from her life, and her parents are keeping some pretty big secrets. And to make things worse, it appears that the police might be in on the deception. Whether it’s to keep her under control or for her own good, Eva is locked away 24/7 in the attic of her parents home and begins to go to extreme measures to gain even a paltry glimpse of freedom, claw back her memories, and uncover the secrets that everyone seems so desperate to keep from her.

I can’t say a whole lot more without dropping some serious spoilers, but hold hell what an amazing rollercoaster ride! I was gripping my seat for 90% of the book and bawling my face off for the other 10%. I mean, I got so wrapped up in Eva’s story that I almost forgot to eat dinner the first night that I picked this baby up. Everything from her parents approach to Eva’s recovery to attempting to solve her own case, and from reconnecting with her friends to Eva’s budding romance, is so emotionally fraught that it hurts.

As a result, I found Eva to be a realistic and rather likeable character, even before her memories start to come back. I mean sure, she’s impulsive, emotional, and a little (okay, a lot) dramatic at times but it all added to her charm. It helps to remember that she was just 17 when she was in a horrific accident, survived a coma, and woke up to some serious amnesia – I rather thought she was handling her situation impeccably well, even if some of her decisions were a little misguided. Investigations are hard enough, let alone when the primary witness can’t remember a thing and no one seems willing to tell the truth. Now add a very sweet romance with a junior officer into the emotional maelstrom that is Eva’s life and you have just enough hope to light the way.

Her parents, Ingrid and Tobias, were also incredibly compelling characters. Their stories are buried a little deeper than Eva’s but no less important. I spent most of the book judging and hating them for their actions against their daughter, but had to check my bias and assumptions when their leg of the plot finally started to come to light. I ended siding with them, locked attic room and all, because of their unwavering dedication to their daughter, the tenderness with which they treated her, and then lengths that they went through to ensure that Eva was safe and thriving.

Really though, this story had it all including some incredibly misdirecting leads in the investigation into Eva’s accident. I mean it has everything! Creepy, inappropriate weirdo who makes inappropriate passes at young girls? Got one. Strangers running around the woods in the dead of the night? Yep, got those too. Skeezy, drug-dealing bartenders who serves minors? Can’t leave him out. Ashdown really likes to keep you guessing and it’s utterly fantastic.

But that’s not all, just as things start to look like they’re on the upswing an incredible secondary plot rears it’s head and steals the show entirely. Double the mystery, double the fun, this tantalizing secondary plot is set in London and subtly brings all of the disparate pieces of Eva’s story together. There is a fabulous interplay between the two tracts and the tension created by them is palpable. And just in case Eva’s accident wasn’t enough of a mystery, this little twist injects endless possibilities and keeps you guessing page after page. Up until the London plot came into play I thought that I had this story all figured out and then bam! everything I thought I knew went straight out the window. The ending was so far from what I expected that I had to take a few days to digest it before I could sit down and write my review – it was fantastic!

Lake Child is equal parts cerebral and engaging, and Ashdown’s delectable prose will leave you craving more. If you like mystery, drama, and some seriously deep character building I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Borrow it from the library, buy it for yourself, buy it for your friends, or maybe even get a start on your Christmas shopping and buy a case load – it’s worth it.

About The Author

isabel-ashdown-2016-2Isabel Ashdown is the author of seven novels, including bestselling thrillers Little Sister and Beautiful Liars.

Isabel’s writing career first took off after she studied as a mature student at the University of Chichester, from where she graduated with a first class degree in English, and a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction. This ‘late bloomer’ return to education confirmed to her what she long suspected: all she really wanted to do was write. While still studying, an extract of her debut novel Glasshopper won a national writing competition judged by Fay Weldon, Michael Ridpath and the late Sir John Mortimer and the published book was twice named among the Best Books of the Year. More recently, her thrillers Little Sister and Beautiful Liars have been Amazon bestsellers, going on to be shortlisted in the Dead Good Reader Awards 2018 and 2019.

Having taught creative writing at various festivals and institutions across the country, Isabel was a recent Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester, where she worked with individual students to help them make their writing the best it could be. Her work with the Royal Literary Fund continues, as she now leads a community ‘Reading Round’, a group aimed at bringing readers together for the sheer pleasure of the written word. Her essay on the subject of voice features in Writing a First Novel by Karen Stevens (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).

Isabel was born in London, grew up on the south coast and now lives in West Sussex with her family. She is a member of the Society of Authors.

Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour, and for providing copy in exchange for an honest review.

Lake Child Blog Tour Part 1


#BlogTour #Review: Simon Says by Jo Wesley #Thriller #DomesticThriller @JoWwriter @rararesources

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If you’re looking for an action packed thriller full of twists and turns, adrenaline seekers be warned, you won’t find that here. Instead, what you will find is a painfully raw narrative that will take you on an emotional journey like no other. Following the dual timeline story of Cindy as both a teen being groomed and abused by her older sister’s pedophiliac boyfriend and also later in life as she returns to her old home and begins to see her abuser around every corner – and finally start fighting back. Get your tissues ready, because this one will rip your heart out.

Simon SaysTitle: Simon Says

Author: Jo Wesley

Publication Date: July 11, 2019

Genre: Domestic Thriller, Thriller

Themes: Family, Trauma, Childhood Abuse

Trigger Warning: Simon Says is a domestic thriller about woman who was groomed as a child and her fight to save herself and her children from the man who destroyed her childhood and who now demands her silence.

Nothing shocking is portrayed, but the reader does realise what has happened and lives Cindy’s emotional journey as she draws the strength to fight back against all odds. And win.

Purchase Links



My Rating: 4.5/ 5


Her life may not be perfect but she’s happy. Until she makes a terrible decision – and learns the hard way that home is not a place of refuge.

Not while Simon lurks in every shadow.

He groomed her as a teen: terrorised her into fleeing, leaving her baby behind. Now the man who destroyed her childhood has become the perfect father to her teenage daughter. And her return threatens his future.

A desperate man is a dangerous one.

Simon says she must leave or suffer the consequences. She refuses.

Now it’s his move. Because it’s not enough to face your demons.

Sometimes, you must destroy them.

My Review

This book is something to be reckoned with. It takes subject matter that is uncomfortable and horrible on every level, and presents it through innocent eyes and makes the narrative approachable. We get to witness no only the story of an undoing, but also one of overcoming trauma and the transition from victim to survivor. The dual timeline approach is perfect for this story, especially since Cindy as an adult has such a different voice from her younger self that it’s almost as if we’re reading two entirely different people – and in a way we are.

The divided selves are a perfect complement to one another, with childhood events providing context to adult motivations in a way that never, ever feels like an info dump. Instead, This background information carries the plot, it has as much action as Cindy’s shady adult life, and it makes her into an incredibly relatable character whereas if we were only ever even the adult version of her story it would be really easy to get judgemental, and fast. Through this we are exposed to a toxic and impoverished childhood household, a mother who is emotionally immature and occasionally physically abusive, and an older sister who’s just moved back in and is determined to make Cindy’s life hell. Her only escapes are the friendship she’s struck up with the new boy next door, Troy, and the time that she spends skiving off school by herself. But things go really sideways when her sister’s boyfriend starts to show her a little too much attention . You can see every act of grooming, and the impact these actions will have later in life, and believe me it’s hard to read. With every new hurt, every new trauma, my heart broke a little more until I was finally shattered.

Cindy starts out sweet and innocent. She is lonely, starved for attention, and already struggling at school but she isn’t a bad kids by any means. The biggest challenge is that her only friend attends another school and ultimately she has no one to confide in. In short, she’s the perfect target, and Simon knows this all too well. He takes advantage of the tennis relationships Cindy has with her family knowing that Mandy would tout any complaint as jealousy and they their mother would be too concerned about appearances and neighbourhood gossip. So he starts with a few kind words, then some more adult(erous) complements, a couple of small gifts, and then the thing that she needs most – a refuge. Oh, how quickly that will turn into the stuff of nightmares.

Flash forward to the day that Cindy wakes in the night to discover that not only is the house that she lives in with her twin children on fire, but that her partner Jez has died in the night from a drug overdose. She barely has time to get herself and the children out of the house before it is completely engulfed, only discover that this particular blaze wasn’t an accident. She flees in Jez’s car and heads back to the only home that she has ever know. Not only do her problems follow her, but the past and present collide as she is reunited not only with Troy, but also her abuser.

While there’s certainly lots of action in Cindy’s adult life, the events that shine through with overpowering brilliance are those moments when Cindy comes face to face with her past and her demons, when she chooses to be brave even when she is petrified, and when she stays and fights even when every fibre in her core screams that she should run. And all of this is balanced out by the tenderness and support that Cindy is shown by Troy and his family, as they too come to grips with Cindy’s past. They are kind and compassionate shoulders on which she is able to lean through these troubling events, and while not perfect, are beautiful examples of how to support someone confronting their traumas.

Simon Says is beautifully written and eloquently crafted giving a completely and compelling picture without ever being unnecessarily graphic. And although it is gut-wrenching and difficult in every possible way, it is ultimately uplifting. If you life deep characters and a gritty, real feel then this one is definitely for you.

About The Author

SIMON SAYS isn’t my first thriller. Several unpublished novels went before it, but there was something about this story that made me come back to it time-and-time again. Although it was written in 2015, recently a few author friends encouraged me to publish it as they remembered reading it years before.

I used to work in an office where the wider team comprised people working with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and general community safety. I wrote SIMON SAYS during this period and my team provided information and advice. Also, the Red Watch team at the local fire station read my first chapter during their tea break and advised on a couple of points to make it more accurate (I thought it would be one person, not the whole team reading it!).

Currently, I am completing a novel in another genre but I really enjoy writing thrillers, so I am planning my next one.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JoWwriter

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join in this tour, and to Jo Wesley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.


#BlogTour #Review: The Bad Place by M. K. Hill @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books #CrimeFiction

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Bad Place by M. K. Hill. This gripping psychological thriller come police procedural is just the right amount of dark and twisty and a whole lot of action-packed. It balances character with plot, fear with action, and while you get completely wrapped up in the investigation there is enough left to the imagination that you can jitter yourself right out of your skin. If you’re looking for a thrilling read that is perfect for lead up to halloween (or any time you like a little twisted in your life) then read it, you won’t be disappointed!

Book coverTitle: The Bad Place

Author: M. K. Hill

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publication Date: September 5, 2019

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Police Procedural

Themes: Murder, Serial Killers, Kidnapping, Trauma, Family Dynamics

Features: N/A

My Rating: 4.5/ 5


The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet upannually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes. Is history repeating itself?

Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GYIgBh

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2H24dzE

iBooks: https://apple.co/2Z0BaTh

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2yUXJhq

My Review

There is something particularly joyful that comes with diving into the first book in a promising new series. And The Bad Place is off to a particularly cracking start! We have a long closed case with a trailing public memory and appears to be repeating itself, a tenacious DI with some tumultuous family issues, and a broad cast of supporting characters that drag you into the deep and refuse to let you go.

Told is both dual timeline and dual perspective between DI Sasha Dawson and survivor Karin McCarthy, you’re constantly drawn between fact and speculation, past and present, character and action. The pacing of this book is break-neck and so incredibly spot on, there is never a dull moment even when exploring Sasha’s family. The investigative team too has a fun dynamic with individual and unique characters. It’s clear that there are so many ways in which this narrative can grow and I can’t wait to see what comes next. The kidnappings too keep those pages turning. The case is full of unexpected twists, intriguing histories, and is complicated by the grip of trauma and the fallacy of memory.

As each new kidnapping takes place it becomes clear that everyone is holding on to secrets, and that those secrets have incredible costs. Whether it’s the five survivors of the original kidnapping, their families, or the original investigating officers there’s so much more to this case than originally meets the eye – which constantly leaves you guessing and you all know how much I love that! I loved how the Sammi arc played out as her presence in the story added yet another layer to the drama, and really heightened the mass dysfunction that surrounded the survivors.

I absolutely adored how Karin’s story was told in dual timeline, with flashbacks to her time at the Bad Place interspersed throughout the present day. Her raw experience in the cellar, the psychological manipulations of both her captor and the other kids in the cellar, and the aftermath of her role in the kids survival created a story that could have stood on it’s own. I ended up completely enraptured by her story for all of it’s good, bad, and ugly. She’s hard to love and hard to hate, but you simply can’t tear your eyes away from her story.

Sasha on the other hand is easy to get behind! She has an infectious passion that draws you in from the get go. Everything from her team management to her hatred of shoes and the love she holds for her family reads as relatable and genuine. And as much as Karin carried the crime story, Sasha’s family carried the weight of the personal narrative.  I had nothing but sympathy as she tried to navigate the issues with her husband and the needs of her two teenaged children. And even more sympathy when her mother decided to move in after ending 50 years of marriage – cue the drama! Sure, we spend a lot of time with Sasha’s family, more than on her investigation of the case, but this wasn’t a bad thing. As the first book in the series I took this as some serious ground work and think that there are great things coming down the line.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but if you’re willing to juggle multiple narratives, then I am happy to assure you that they all come together in the end. Hill will keep you entranced from first page to last. the darkest moments are offset by tenderness and humour, and complicated subject matter is balanced by an accessible vocabulary and an approachable writing style.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s thrilling, fast paced, and emotionally dynamic. It’s perfect for a little scare in the lead up to halloween, and even better for those that like to indulge in thrillers year round. I’m excited to see where DI Sasha Dawson and the team head next, as I’m sure it will be nothing short of fabulous.

About The Author

Hill, M.KIt’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming.

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well, because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!

Follow Mark:

Facebook: @MarkHillAuthor

Twitter: @markhillwriter


Follow Aria

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Facebook: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus

Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to join in on this tour, and for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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