Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch #fantasy #crime #murder #mystery #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. This is the first book in the Rivers of London series and I am so glad there are lots more to read since this one was first published in 2011.

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Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

MY REVIEW

I have had this book on my kindle for far too long. (3rd August 2012 to be exact!) When I first saw this book I knew it was one I wanted to read but over time it has slipped down the list and now I have discovered it!

This is a police procedural of sorts, it does have police officers, and detectives and there is a chain of command and all that gumpf. But in with this, there are also ghosts, ghouls, auras, vampires and other things that lurk in the shadows.

Peter Grant is a probationary police officer, he has been given his first assignment. It isn’t to the detective department as his fellow officer is going to go, but to work alongside DCI Thomas Nightingale. He is a one-man department within the MET and he has decided to take on an apprentice. Yes, an apprentice!

Nightingale is the officer that is called when bizarre and other world events happen. River of London is a wonderful introduction to the Gods Goddesses and other creatures of the Thames and tributaries. Peter will have to tiptoe the shores and the politics of the river rulers as well as keep on the right side of other detectives who are reluctant to accept that Nightingale does in fact have his uses.

This was a brilliant story to sit down with and it soon became one that I knew I would not put down until I had finished it. A one-sitting read that has many twists, and unexpected occur5ance, with danger lurking around and within the walls.

At times this is quite funny and I love the writing style of the author. A mix of fantasy and mystery that have been warped or wrapped around a crime and police procedural genre. I can see now how this book has garnered so many great reviews and why it has become a popular series. I will definitely be reading the next book very soon and I would definitely recommend this to readers who like crime with a fantasy twist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Aaronovitch’s career started with a bang writing for Doctor Who, subsided in the middle and then, as is traditional, a third act resurgence with the bestselling Rivers of London series.

Born and raised in London he says that he’ll leave his home when they prise his city out of his cold dead fingers.

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A Gathering of Gargoyles My Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin #mystery #youngreaders #adventure #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for A Gathering of Gargoyles by Misha Herwin. This is the 5th book in The Adventures of Letty Parker series. It is aimed towards around 8 to12-year-olds, but I adore this series and would have loved to have been able to read when I was a lot younger than I am now! A brilliant way of introducing a younger audience to the mystery genre, full action and daring deeds.

I would like to send a big thank you to Misha for my advanced copy of the book, my review is my own and unbiased. I would also like to wish her a very wonderful Publication Day for 11th November2022 xx

The city’s air has turned foul; fights break out among the closest of friends; rats attack in broad daylight, and the very bricks and stones of the city are crumbling to dust. When the gargoyles and dragons – guardians of the rooftops – begin tumbling to the ground and shattering into pieces, the Night Creatures turn to Letty Parker and Associates to discover its cause. The only problem is that neither Letty, nor her friends, have the slightest idea where to start.

Is a cure to be found in magic or will science save the day? And do Newton and Copernica Clifford, newly arrived in Belvedere Terrace, hold the key to it all?

MY REVIEW

This is the 5th book in the series and yes you should read them in order as you get to understand who the characters are and also what they are. There are humans, but then there are slightly non-human, Bear, vicious rats, and hungry eels that haven’t been seen around the Bristol area for a while now. When the author then decides to write a story around dragons and gargoyles I am already loving it.

Letty is a young girl who with her friends, Jeb, Mango and Hepzibah solve mysteries in the port city of Bristol. This is their day job, and it is the gargoyles and dragons that need Letty’s help. There is a smell to the city, the air is not as clear and clear as it used to be and even the witches are fearful that the magic is starting to disappear. The one change is that there is a new business, their aim is to bring gas lights to the city. Progress may be one thing, but there is something more sinister here than people realise.

Every time I join up again with Letty and the gang I am thrilled to follow in this Victorian and Gothic-style mystery that the author conjures up. Yes, it is aimed at a younger reader than I am, but I really don’t care as I thoroughly enjoy reading about their escapades and adventures, and it would have been a perfect read for me when I was younger.

The author does such a brilliant job with the characters, they are cheeky, at times boisterous and stubborn and also loyal and strong-willed. As a group they are close and they all have their own specialities. This latest case is one that has them investigating the crumbling gargoyles and also the disappearance of a man.

This is full of mystery and red herrings that kept the story moving and evolving. This book is aimed at 8 to 12 year old and there is some cheekiness and terms that would appeal. The author does actually have a message behind it and this is how chemicals can pollute the atmosphere and alter the surrounding environment. It is done in such a way that it blends nicely into the story. Even though this is a story set in a Victorian-style era it also draws in a modern problem that many younger people will be aware of.

This is a brilliant book and I adored it. Yet again I think I have just read my favourite Letty Parker book and this is one that I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Misha Herwin is a writer of books for adults and children.
They vary from time-slip to contemporary women’s fiction, family saga and children’s fantasy adventures.
All her books are set in Bristol, whether real, imaginary or remembered from her childhood.

Follow Misha on – Twitter Website Amazon Author PageGoodreads Author Page

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Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland by Lisa Schneidau #audiobook #fantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Botanical Folk Tales of Britain & Ireland by Lisa Schneidau and narrated by Joan Walker. This was a title that caught my eye while I was scanning through Audible and I do love Folk Tales.

This collection of folk tales takes you on a green and leafy journey around the British Isles. Here are locally sourced and traditional folk tales of wild trees and plants throughout the seasons: from the magical mistletoe to the bad-tempered stinging nettle. Plants shape the British landscape, and they provide food, medicine and inspiration—yet in the middle of our hectic lives, we often take them for granted. Traditional stories, passed down the generations, tell of the complex relationship between people and plants in Britain, in lowlands and uplands, coasts, bogs, forests, and towns.

MY REVIEW

I grew up reading fairy tales and folk tales so when I saw this as an audiobook I knew it would be a good one for me.

The collection of Folk Tales has been collated by Lisa Schneidau and the narrator, Joan Walker is fabulous. Joan has a very listenable voice, she adds good local accents to the various stories depending on which part of the country the tale is from.

As someone who loves her garden and also loves reading, I immediately knew that this would be great to listen to while outside in my own garden.

There are some tales that I knew, and some that I thought I knew from other stories I had read as a child, but actually turned out to be slightly different. As an adult listening to these tales I soo0n realised how dark some of them can be, death of characters is something that occurs quite often in tales, but I never really saw this as a child.

Some of the tales have a modern introduction to them, mentioning things such as phones. This means it will appeal to the younger reader today but lead them nicely into the tale and its past origins.

Each of the stories has a plant at its centre, beanstalk, mossy coat, rosemary, holly and so many others that are well known and some a little more obscure. Each tale has a relevance to a person, people or village, they are a mix of good and bad and lots of warnings. Tales of woodlands, forests, bogs and marshes, mountains and dales. The tales are laid out by season.

This is an audio that I will listen to again as I really enjoyed it. It has a calming feel to it with the gentle voice of the narrator. This is one for those who like to relive childhood tales and to a certain extent you can see how some old wives’ tales, legends and warnings have their origins, it is one I would definitely recommend it.

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Equinox by David Towsey #NetGalley @HoZ_Books #fantasy #20booksofsummer #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Equinox by David Towsey. This was a title that caught my eye while I was on NetGalley. My huge thanks to Head of Zeus for approving my request to read and review this fantasy story.

Everyone is not as they seem in this fantasy novel, replete with war, witchcraft and secrets.

Christophor Morden lives in a world where everybody changes with the rising and setting of the sun. For every person contains two distinct identities – a day brother and a night brother. One never sees the light, the other nothing of night.

One evening Christophor, one of the king’s special unit of witch hunters, is woken early by a call to the city prison. A young woman has torn her own eyes out, and the police suspect supernatural causes. The investigation takes Christophor far from home, to a village on the edge of the kingdom.

There he will find his witch – and his night brother will find himself desperate to save her. And as this battle of the self rages, the witch’s ancient and apocalyptic ritual comes ever closer to completion… 

MY REVIEW

It was the cover that first caught my eye for this book, now I can see how well it works after reading it.

This is a story of night and day. Alexsander and Christorpher share a body, one is the night brother the other the day brother. One an investigator for the King, the other likes a drink, plays music and is not as studious.

I like this idea of one body with two identities that change over at the rising and setting of the sun. It makes for an interesting read and one that gives two distinct personalities. The author has very cleverly given the perspective of both and done it well so as not to get confusing.

Christopher works hard and has built a good reputation for himself, so he is personally asked, well ordered to go to the edge of the kingdom to work out why a young girl is missing her eyes. This is something that Christopher can deal with, he has experienced, but when the day comes his brother doesn’t have the skills, but in his way is able to help, well most of the time.

This was an interesting story of good versus evil, but for the investigation, it is about trying to find the truth. It is also a chance for the brothers to experience a little of each other’s life as memories, reminders, and prompts are left for the following change.

An interesting concept that I really enjoyed, is a good fantasy novel that does have some magic and evil shenanigans and well paced. Not so much war but skirmish, but overall an enjoyable and quite addictive read. It is one I would happily recommend. 

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Gallant by V.E. Schwab #fantasy #gothic #YA #20booksofsummer #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Gallant by V.E. Schwab. This is the first book I have read by this author and I decided to give it a go after seeing other reviewers enjoying it.

This is book 5/20 in the #20booksofsummer reading challenge.

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with.

She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge.

Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…

MY REVIEW

This is my first time reading one of this author’s books and I think I chose very well when I decided to buy a copy of Gallant. This was a fabulous gothic-style mystery that did have similarities to another wonderful book, The Secret Garden, but Schwab does go darker.

The story is of an orphan, abandoned and unwanted. Olivia doesn’t speak, this means she doesn’t have friends but what she does do is watch. When she is coming to the end of her time at the Merilance School for Girls a strange message arrives saying that Olivia does indeed have family and they have been searching for her.

When she arrives at her home she discovers a place that has very few people there. It seems that the family and quite possibly the house is cursed. There is a wonderful eerie presence throughout this story and the author increases this as it goes on.

Rather than having the warm welcome she expected, she is received with some shock and surprise. Why on earth would anyone want to come to this house. Why would they want to stay?

I love the mystery in this story and it just oozes that eerie-ness and wonderful gothic thriller/ horror feel. There are many strange things that happen in this story, yes it is a fantasy but one that I adored, but then I do also like fantasy.

This story may be about Olivia, but it is also about the family and what originally brought them there, and why they remain. It provides some interesting and unexpected twists.

Fabulous reading, wonderful characters, and a great storyline. I really enjoyed this and I look forward to reading more. I would definitely recommend this one. 

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The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings @Magicknegro @orbitbooks #compulsivereaders @Tr4cyF3nt0n #mysterious #urbanfantasy #magick #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings. This is a brilliant read set in New Orleans with a wonderfully magical, musical and dangerous vibe.

I also want to add that the author did include a playlist for Spotify, this was so good to listen to. A mix of Jazz and Blues, some remixes and some that were new to me, and some rather modern ones!

My huge thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my PB copy of the book from the Publisher – Orbit Books

In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut.

Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters.

Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that I adored. A mix of urban fantasy, music, family friends and enemies. They are wrapped around songs and music. New Orleans is an area that has a mix of races, nationalities and ethnicities. Each brings its own traditions, religions, faiths, legends and myths. In this book, the author has mixed all of these together to create a slightly weird, oddball, wacky and wonderful story.

Music is magic and magic is music. In this story, it is what makes Nola a special place to live. It keeps the city thriving, in check and safe, that is until a vengeful spirit decides to cause chaos. It will be down to a group of children and some of their relatives to try to work out what is happening to the magic and the songs.

This is a story that I occasionally wondered ‘what on earth is going on!’ as it flitted from one person to another, and from one group to another. Even though I had trouble following where the author was going I found myself sticking with the book. I didn’t once think of putting it down because I wanted to know the outcomes. I am really glad I did because things gradually started to merge, make sense and become more clear. Did I fully understand everything about the story? No, probably not, but that doesn’t take away the entertainment value of the story. I also really enjoyed the music references such as Stagger Lee, Buddy Bolden and songs from the old Jazz and Blues eras. There are also mentions of spirits, haints, dead cabs, and so many different other things.

Essentially this is a story that starts out as a mystery. Jaylon and Daddy Deke have gone missing. Their respective families or friends are trying to find them and discover that not everything is as they think it is. There is another side that is separated by a thin layer. There is a storm coming, one that could be catastrophic unless the main characters can work out exactly what, how and when to do what they need to do.

I do think this is one of those books that may well divide the readers. It is quirky but I do love quirky, and when it is mixed in with urban fantasy, a rich setting and has some good music vibes running through it then it makes it a book that will catch my eye. In fact, it was the cover that did it for me, it made me think of voodoo, magic and death!

This is a fabulous read, I have been wavering between giving it a 4 or a 5 star. Five for the fact that I really enjoyed the style of the story but a four because I did feel a little lost at times.

This is one for those who like adventure, to take a risk and maybe for those looking for something a little bit different. I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it. 

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When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill @bonnierbooks_uk #fantasy #feminism #histfic #NetGalley #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. This was a fabulous book to read and while it is a fantasy story, the Dragons in this book could be seen as a metaphor for the feminism that lies behind it. As a fantasy read I thoroughly enjoyed it, as a metaphorical read, I can see the points that the author is making. (I hope this makes sense!!!) However you read this or take the message, it is a brilliant story. And… I love the cover 😍

My huge thanks to Bonnier Books UK for granting my request to read this e-book via NetGalley.

Learn about the Mass Dragoning of 1955 in which 300,000 women spontaneously transform into dragons…and change the world.

Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950’s America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Seemingly for good. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of, even more so than her crush on Sonja, her schoolmate.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of dragons: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and a new “sister” obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. Through loss, rage, and self-discovery, this story follows Alex’s journey as she deals with the events leading up to and beyond the Mass Dragoning, and her connection with the phenomenon itself. 

MY REVIEW

Ok, so I will admit the title of this book really called to me when I saw it. When Women Were Dragons is a reimagining with a definite fantasy thread, the dragons kind of give it away really!

Set in the 1950s this is a brilliant book that mixes historical with fantasy. Women through the years have transformed into dragons, they are never seen, mentioned or talked about ever again. In 1955 when 1,000s of women worldwide changed were still covered up. No one is allowed to mention the word dragon or anything to do with this event.

The thing is, the women have very little control over this change, some could hold it back and others just went with it.

This is a brilliant story that is about women empowering themselves and making the choice as to how they live their own lives. This is a time when women stay home, cook meals, look after the house, raise the children and have a meal ready on the table for when their husband walks in the door. It is very much a patriarchal society and while this story is set in a small area in the US, it was something that was a worldwide thing.

The focus is on Alex, a young girl who is confused by events that are happening, not just to family and neighbours who have changed, but also the changes in her own body. As a young girl, there are expectations of her and what she is to do with her future. Alex however has other ideas, she wants to go on with her education and go to university. Others think that a piece of paper to say you are clever isn’t much use when you are a mother and wife.

This story is very much about discrimination and there are times I got so angry with the attitudes of some of the characters, this is all credit to the author. I do love a story that makes me go through various emotions and this one definitely did that. Anger, euphoria, happiness, sadness and a sense of justice are just some of them. The way the author portrayed Alex and other women was just so good, the way they carried themselves with eyes down at the ground while all the time wanting to look up and to the future made it quite a powerful read.

This was a brilliant book to read, at times I admit it did get a bit far-fetched, but it still kept up the flow and feel of the story. I think at times I actually forgot some of the characters were dragons!

I adored this book and I did like the mix of fantasy with historical fiction. The concept is such a good one and it really appealed to me. This is a story about empowerment as well as a coming of age story. It does carry a powerful message and it is one I would definitely recommend.

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The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield @kateheartfield @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam @HarperVoyagerUK #histfic #histfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield. This is an amazing read and is definitely one for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my gorgeous paperback of this book from the publisher Harper Voyager UK.

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman,
it is a little more difficult, that’s all

1768 – Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has
never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they
rename her Marie Antoinette.


The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered
a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.


In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take
control of their lives.


But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send
Europe spiralling into revolution.

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a historical fiction based on fact but with a fantasy reimagining to it then look no further than The Embroidered Book. This is based in Europe and concentrated on one generation of the Hapsburg family.

How does a little insignificant-looking book that has an unfinished embroidered cover lead to the rise and fall of some of the most famous monarchs of Europe? Well, this book is one that has something rather special in it and it opens up a fantastical world of magic. Where there is magic there is greed, there is the hunt for more power and not everyone has access to it, in fact, most people don’t even know that there is magic in Europe.

This story is set in the late 1700s when a young woman leaves her family and home in Austria to marry the king of France. She will have her name changed to help her fit in, she will have to change her style and her whole way of presenting herself. She will be known as Marie Antoinette. Her sister, Charlotte is her closest sibling and they have always been close. The Hapsburgs have been arranging marriages to bolster their own heritage, remain in power and always look to improve or stabilise countries through marriage. They are the power family of the time.

The author has picked such an interesting time in history, it is turbulent and there are revolutions and uprisings to come. Using this period makes the weaving of the fantasy element work so well. There is already a sense of distrust and of poverty. While the Kings and Queens of Europe are living lavish and opulent lifestyles, the common people are starving. So adding this twist into the story is just a great way of not only showing Europe at the time but of giving the reader an exciting alternative.

As this is a historical-based novel there is a lot of historical and political references to events. This has been done in a great way and is very much part of the story rather than a dry narrative. The author really brought the characters to life, rather than being figures from history she gave them thoughts, personalities and opinions. Even though this is an age of mistrust from regular people, it was also interesting to read the authors take on how the thoughts of the monarchs could have also been.

This is an absolutely fascinating read, the magical aspects are such a good inclusion and for me worked really well. The balance of it felt right within the contest so even if you are not a reader of fantasy I think you will get on well with this.

I adored this book and it ticked many, many boxes. It is riveting, exciting, mysterious, politically charged, has loads of research, a touch of magic, mistrust, infighting, double-crossing, treachery and treason, I could go on! It shows the wranglings and machinations of the powerful leading historical figures and thought it was done brilliantly. This is a book I would absolutely recommend. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022.

Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have
been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former
journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

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This Charming Man by C. K. McDonnell @Caimh @Thomassshill @TransworldBooks #crime #mystery #magic #fantasy #bookreview

Vampires do not exist. Everyone knows this. So it’s particularly annoying when they start popping up around Manchester . . .

I am delighted to share my review today for This Charming Man by Caimh McDonnell. This is the second book in The Stranger Times series, I adored the first book and this one is just as good. Great for fans of crime/mystery and Magic/fantasy novels.

My huge thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld Books for sending me a copy of this book and also the first one.

Vampires do not exist. Everyone knows this. So it’s particularly annoying when they start popping up around Manchester . . .

Nobody is pleased about it. Not the Founders, the secret organisation for whom vampires were invented as an allegory, nor the Folk, the magical people hidden in plain sight who only want a quiet life. And definitely not the people of Manchester, because there is nothing more irksome than being murdered by an allegory run amok. Somebody needs to sort this out fast before all Hell really breaks loose – step forward the staff of The Stranger Times.

It’s not like they don’t have enough to be dealing with. Assistant Editor Hannah has come back from getting messily divorced to discover that someone is trying to kidnap a member of their staff and while editor Vincent Banecroft would be delighted to see the back of any of his team, he doesn’t like people touching his stuff – it’s the principle of the thing.

Throw in a precarious plumbing situation, gambling debts, an entirely new way of swearing, and a certain detective inspector with what could be kindly referred to as ‘a lot of baggage’ and it all adds up to another hectic week in the life of the newspaper committed to reporting the truth that nobody else will touch.

This Charming Man is the second book in the critically acclaimed The Stranger Times series.

MY REVIEW

The Stranger Times is the first book in this series that I read and thoroughly enjoyed last year. It is also the name of the newspaper that caters for those with a slightly obscure/different/unique view of the world. This is the sort of paper that will report on alien sightings, mysterious noises in the basement and weird and wonderful goings-on that regularly appear.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise when a Vampire suddenly turns up, but then everyone knows such things don’t exist! I love how the author uses this vampiric occurrence and it is almost tongue in cheek that his reporters don’t quite know what to call a pale, pointy-toothed anomaly. It struck me as funny that the reporters are fine with demons, aliens etc, but not calling a vampire a vampire. Anyhow, I do digress.

The main characters are the same that appeared in the first book, so we have Banecroft the editor, along with Grace, Stella, Ox, Stanley, DI Sturgess, Hannah who gallantly report the news while Banecroft is breathing down their necks, wanting answers and a story to print in his paper.

The bodies are a unique find and they are shrugged off as such, some things are not that easy to hide and it doesn’t take long for things to start to heat up. Tensions are brittle as lack of sleep and deadlines are approaching as well as some interest from someone higher up!

This is a humorous and quirky read that I really adored, it is a great mystery novel and the one-liners, little snide comments and the unrelenting thick-skinned Banecroft just add to the humour. Magic and special powers work alongside many other phenomena in this story and as I immersed myself in this story I found bizarre things as quite normal.

This is one that those of lighter fantasy and humorous fantasy readers will enjoy. It is witty and fun to read. There is mystery and magic, the odd body because even though Vampires do not exist, you need a corpse, don’t you? I would suggest reading the first book as it does bring you in and introduce you to the characters that you will also find in this second book, and it is also a really good read. This Charming Man is a fabulous read and one I would definitely recommend.

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The Book of Sand by Theo Clare #NetGalley @CENTURYBOOKSUK #fantasy #dystopian #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Book of Sand by Theo Clare. This is a good-sized fantasy book that has a dystopian and mystery/ thriller feel to it. It is due for Publication tomorrow and I wish to thank Century Books UK for my e-copy that I received via NetGalley.

The Book of Sand: the first novel in an epic series created by the late Mo Hayder, one
of the UK’s finest and most inventive storytellers.

SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.

Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

In the distance a group of people – a family – walk towards us.

Ahead lies shelter: a ‘shuck’ the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.

To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.

It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life – except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she’s beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is …

Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that completely caught me by surprise, I was aware that there were two stories involved here but how they connected was a complete curve ball!

One timeline is a group, or as they refer to themselves, a family who are surviving in an inhospitable desert. Each member has a different background and they have random memories from their previous life.

The second is of a young girl, fascinated by wind and sand. She lives in the US and is looked at as a bit of an oddity, her family don’t understand her and her obsessions.

I really don’t know how to start this review so it may be a little disjointed and most likely very vague! The two storylines don’t seem to have any connectors in them, two completely different worlds and people. One is a world we would recognise, as it has a present-day “normal world” setting. The other is definitely not, think of something like Dune but with scarier creatures that emerge at night and that has a time limit to it.

The two stories are very good in their own right, and it took me a while to realise how unconnected they both are. It is not until a lot later in the book that there is that sudden OMG moment when the author literally drops the bombshell. And it was a massive one that suddenly changed the story.

Given the slower and slightly disjointed storyline at the start of the story, I found something about this that kept me reading. I have seen very different reviews of this and some feel that it does go on a bit long. Others and I am one, think it is perfect. I thought it was a way of the author making sure we really get to know the characters. I also found that it very subtly ramped up the mystery and intrigue and I didn’t realise that until the bombshell moment.

This is a book that I really enjoyed, it is a mix of dystopian, fantasy, contemporary and mystery. It is from the pen of Mo Hayder who sadly passed away this year (July 2021) at the age of 59. This book is the first time I had read anything by her and I will be going through the back catalogue.

The Book of Sand is a story that I do think will divide readers, it is one that I found was really intriguing and it was the two separate timelines and the different worlds that really drew me in. The end section does change things a lot and it becomes darker and more dangerous.

I really enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something engaging, mysterious, dystopian and a little bit different.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mo Hayder

THEO CLARE left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a
Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She had an
MA in film from The American University in Washington, DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath
Spa University, UK. She wrote crime novels under the name Mo Hayder, and her fifth novel Ritual was
nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers
Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nominated
for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. Theo Clare was
diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2020 and passed away in July 2021.

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