Reviews

House of Ashes {Review}

3 out of 5 stars (remember: 3 stars is a positive review)

Goodreads has this to say (I edited it heavily, though):

Painter Cassandra Mitchell is the fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home.


Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property ―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent ―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

I thought this was going to be…spookier. There’s just not a ton of haunting for a story with ghosts in it. The romance aspect was weird and somehow there was an out-of-left-field love triangle for like…20 pages, then disappeared. There was the weirdness of her sister refusing to visit because….smells? She can’t just stay somewhere else in town?  I couldn’t completely buy into one plot line because there were so many. Not all of them got resolved satisfactorily – at least for me. 

Cassie comes off (to me) as really naive, sheltered, and a bit spacey. I just didn’t really connect with her, but she grew on me over the course of the novel. The plot was full of strange disconnected threads that didn’t really have much to do with each other and it almost seemed like I should be reading two different books – one about the missing couple and one about her family shenanigans. 

However, it was an easy read and nothing made me angry. You know how sometimes you just get mad at a book for whatever deficiencies it has? That didn’t happen here. I was interested in the novel for the entire time and bought the resolution to a couple of the plot threads. I liked the Police Chief, and sympathized with the FBI agent. Everyone gets mad at the people who are trained to find out what’s happening, and poor guy is just doing his best. 

I definitely don’t regret reading this over a weekend, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more books in this series. She hasn’t written any more yet, but I have the feeling it’s a series. 

Big thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the eARC in exchange for a review. 

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Horror Novels I Can’t Wait to Read

I don’t really go for very horrific horror novels, if you haven’t been able to tell from my review choices this October. I love creepy books, though. When the suspense and eerie feelings ratchet up to a crescendo, that’s when I’m most intrigued. There’s a list on Goodreads called Space Horror that I keep meaning to go though and add to my TBR mountain, because I love two kinds of horror more than any others – gothic creepiness in Victorian mansions and terror in space where there can be no escape. That said, I don’t read as much horror as I’d like, so for my Halloween Top Ten Tuesday topic, here are some horror(ish) books I’d like to check out.

On to the list!

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon ~ It’s got so much I adore in a novel! Complicated family relationships, generational curses (even if not actually cursed), abandoned motels, missing people, etc. I picked this up a library book sale and I’m pretty sure it’s a quarter well spent. 

The Desolation of Solitude by Sean-Paul Thomas (also called Alone, apparently) ~ Here’s that space horror I enjoy, but in a novella (150 pages is a novella, right?). It’s got similarities with the movie Passengers from what I can tell, but has the creepiness raised a ton. No memories, waking up alone in space, lady companion also awakes, dark thoughts, ghostly visions. You can download it for free, so why wouldn’t I?

This House is Haunted by John Boyne ~ This has a governess in the mid 1800s who rolls up to her new employment but there are only children and no adults. Oh, and ghosts. It also has awesome cover art, and I won’t deny that helps.

Snowblind by Christopher Golden ~ Ghostly happenings in a blizzard? Yes please! This is definitely a book I’m looking forward to – snow is something I see *maybe* once a year or so and the thought of a full-on blizzard is kind of terrifying. Add ghosts/demons/the supernatural and it’s a definite fear inducer. 

No Doors. No Windows. by Joe Schreiber ~ I enjoy novels that play tricks on with your mind – is he insane or haunted? This seems to meet that criteria, and seems generally spooky, so I’m looking forward to it!

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay ~ This is a home invasion story that’s not really my style but the description on Goodreads hooked me. I have to know more about what the men are up to. 

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey ~ I love Carey’s previous novels and I’m so excited to read another one! The reviews look excellent & I’m not surprised.

The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish ~ I honestly don’t know anything about this book beyond the Goodreads blurb, but that was enough to add it to the list. I’m intrigued!

The Waiting Room by F. G. Cottam ~ An abandoned war-time train station waiting room with ghosts sounds like an amazing rainy day read. I also love the ‘ghost hunter isn’t really a ghost hunter, but is now a believer’ trope, so I’m in.

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring ~ I love the time period between the world wars, especially in the UK, so that in addition to the aforementioned trope in a creepy old rectory makes this book a must-read.

~S~

Blogoween

The Gray Man *Needs* A Book

The Blogoween prompt for October 10th was ‘Local Supernaturals Who Demand A Book’. Camilla over at The Reader In The Attic came up with the prompt and I think it’s an excellent one! While I’m a bit late, I really believe that South Carolina’s favorite ghost deserves a book.

The Gray Man is a phantom that shows up before devastating hurricanes/storms to warn residents to leave town. If you see him, your home will be spared from the storm even if all the other houses nearby are destroyed. I’m not sure if you have to leave town in order to have your home saved, though.

The Story {as I remember it}

In the early 1700s a young gentleman rode his horse up the South Carolina coast from Charleston in order to pay a visit to his fiancee. Somehow his horse became stuck in the pluff mud (it’s almost like quicksand) on Pawley’s Island and then so did he. Both died, so he never made it to see his ladylove. Since then, when a major storm approaches from the Atlantic some very special people will see a man (with or without legs) wearing a long gray coat, possibly dressed as a pirate. Yes, he was seen before Hurricane Florence.

Who Is He?

  1. Blackbeard. Seriously, he hung out in Charleston and died in the early 1700s. Of course, he died in a battle not galloping along the coast.
  2. One of his pirate crew. See: Blackbeard hung out in Charleston.
  3. Some other pirate from some other crew.
  4. Percival Pawley. Eeeehhhh, he was in his 50s when he died and the story clearly states a young gentleman. Here’s his ancestry.com record.
  5. Some rando.

A Book, Though?

How cool would a novel about a young pirate racing to see his forbidden love (has to be forbidden) before a horrific hurricane hits be? There could be the story of his lady who sits at her window pining for her pirate who will never come home. But since it’s a forbidden love, no one knows about their engagement and she’s never told. Tragedy, y’all.

I think I might write that book.

~Sarah~

Blogoween · Reading · Reviews

The Darkling Bride {Review}

darkling.jpg A solid 4 stars.

This book refuses you to miss the connections with Jane Eyre. It’s a quality book, though. Eerie vibes throughout the novel help set the stage and unexplained references to a main character’s shady past help to set the mood for most of the novel.

There’s a lot going on in here, by the way. There’s the thread of the Darkling Bride going through everything as well as a ton of story lines. There’s a mystery in the 1800s involving an author and his ‘mad’ wife, a 1990s murder/suicide mystery which involve several people from the current day shenanigans. Current day, the Lord of the Manor Castle is trying to sell his family’s home to the Heritage Trust which brings everyone back to the Castle. Oh, that’s right, there’s a creepy 700 (800?) year old castle in rural Ireland  with a monastic city’s ruins nearby. And a super creepy tower. Carragh is an American hired to catalog the family’s library and has A Very Dark Past that she references a bit until It All Comes Out later on. There’s also a brand new Detective Inspector from Dublin down to investigate the unsolved murder of Aidan’s parents. She has her own story line as well. The other characters have stories, obviously, but they aren’t given their own chapters/portions of chapters.

Overall, I really liked this book. My only issues were that the lurve story (of course there’s a love story) goes from 0 to 100 suddenly, Aidan’s kind of a dick & his redemption isn’t super redemption-like, and there wasn’t enough ghost stuff. There’s some ghost stuff, but not enough. I wanted haunting. I think I’d have added a part of a star if the author had included the ‘real’ story of the Darkling Bride instead of leaving us with bits and pieces.

-S-