A haunted house, a haunted husband trying to deal with the death of his wife and raise their two young daughters and the aunt/sister in law who is trying to help but is haunted by her own memories.
This is a classic horror tale complete with a boogyman "Black Mamba" who only the girls can see, a creepy basement where there is a door you don't want to go through and plenty of things that go bump in the night. It is also a haunting of grief and the personal nightmare of dealing with ghosts and memories. British but feels distinctly southern gothic. Readers of Shirley Jackson or Lee Mandela's SUMMER SONS will enjoy this. 3 1/2 stars
Ruth has been brought up in a god fearing small community in Louisiana where her strict minister father rules home, church and town. She and her swamp rat best friend Everett have wanted to escape since high school after they made a horrible person disappear. Now years later the crime comes bubbling back to the surface. Battle lines are drawn , dark secrets are about to come to light and the holier than thou religious leaders are headed for Hell. Myths, religious zealots and small southern towns are all at play here along with a jaw dropping cliff hanger ending. There are definite ties to myths, nature and a good old swamp mystery as seen in WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING and THE GIRLS IN THE STILT HOUSE. 4 stars
Happy book birthday to AFTER THE FOREST by Kell Woods
It has been years since Greta saved her brother Hans and killed the evil witch and she has been hounded for it ever since. Their lives have not been easy with Han's gambling debts mounting and Greta's enchanted gingerbread being the only thing keeping them out of the poor house. Greta meets a mysterious man with secrets of his own and hopes that their feelings for each other is not due to her use of magic. As she learns more of her family history and her own power becomes stronger Greta begins to find her path. This original story takes in all the elements of Grimm fairy tales weaving them together in a spell more appealing than magic gingerbread, more frightening than the shape shifters in the woods and more dangerous than the villager's fears of sorcery and things they don't understand. I found myself fully immersed and enchanted by the book and the audiobook. This is for all of us grownups who still believe in fairy tales and Kell Woods is an exciting new voice in fantasy. 4 stars
Happy book birthday to THE HURRICANE WARS by Thea Guanzon
Enemies sworn to destroy the other , Alaric and Talasyn seem like unlikely allies let alone candidates for a political marriage. That is exactly how this starts and they do their best to fight the attraction they have for each other pretty well. This is the first in a new Asian inspired fantasy series which takes all the elements needed for a new world - political alliances, royalty vs. rebels, magical powers, a fierce orphan who ends up being much more and of course, the enemy to lover sexual tension and sets it in a world of horrific storms and a kingdom under siege. A promising start for debut author Thea Guanzon. 4 stars
Chuck Wendig has a wonderful way of quietly freaking you out. What begins as a tale of lost apple hybrids and overextended apple orchard farmers just trying to eke out a living morphs into a dark nightmare and you are fully committed. Dan Paton and his teen daughter Calla run an apple orchard. It is a hard life and one Calla really doesn't want to inherit. When Dan comes across what might be an extinct apple it seems to offer hope. Just like the Garden of Eden, one bite from this apple and you are addicted but it comes at a big price. You feel invincible and will do anything for more. As Dan begins to bring more people into his secret cult and shares the apple Calla and others sense something is very wrong. Soon a small band of unsung heroes are the only ones who can stop the legacy of this curse and the ultimate showdown begins. The stuff of nightmares that will keep me from apples or watching Snow White for a bit. 4 stars
(pub date Sept 26)
Yet another brilliant installment of a fantasy world made up of alternative Londons where various types of magic rule. V.E. Schwab has created characters we care about and cheer on. This incorporates the main characters from A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC to start a spinoff adventure. Our favorite Antari magicians, worthy or not so worthy royals and one new voice who hopefully can bring them together to save the day encompass this new start to a series. Lush world building , witty banter between characters and plenty of magic await. 4 1/2 stars
(pub date Sept 26)
The world is in freefall. Smog clogs the skies, drought creates barren wastelands killing plants and livestock leaving the world to find food where they can. For a select uber wealthy few a land exists hidden in Italy where animals have been saved and plants are grown. A chef has auditioned for the creator of this place and his grown daughter but with this job comes an obsessive list of requirements. She must act the part of his missing wife (in name only) and create fantastic food for their dinner parties. She learns to adapt and begins falling in love with the daughter. It is a surreal landscape - a love/hate relationship with the power of food and the wealth that now control it and her. A bit like a chef's journey to STATION ELEVEN. 3 1/2 stars
(pub date: Sept. 26)
Welcome to the world of Gods and the unlikely companion group of three mortals and a little god who share the road. They are on this quest for different reasons but all have been hurt over time and are distrustful.
The kingdoms are at a crossroad of chaos and it will take a fierce Godkiller, an ousted knight trying to help a friend and a young girl alone in the world except for the little god of white lies who is bound to her. The world building is top notch, the characters are well developed in that we care about them and feel their loyalty, bravery and hope even when the future looks bleak. I hope this will be the first of many Godkiller stories. Fans of Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss and THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE will not be able to put down this fantasy with touches of medieval and norse mythology down. 4 1/2 stars
The perfect couple move into their perfect house and begin a family a bit quicker than planned.
Essie's pregnancy is anything but easy and she is plagued by nausea and nightmares. Her husband starts out at her side but soon is spending more and more time in the attic. Essie's mom and grandmother fear the worst - that the family curse is once again coming true. Essie will fight the darkness and the two women who began the curse for her husband. Creepy curses and a haunted house theme that also touches on the fears and paranoia that can come with pregnancy. 3 stars
The author set out to write not just another haunted house story and she succeeded. There aren't that many horror tales that made me laugh at the same time I was being scared silly but this gets a big ole checkmark in both boxes. Margaret is a very patient woman who loves her home even though every September the walls drip blood, wailing and screams go on all night, there is a monster in the basement and lots of limbless children underfoot not to mention the little boy who bites unless he is reunited with his mom's bones. She has most of it under control and as long as she follows the rules she can get past the unpleasantness. Her one neighbor is understanding, the ghost housekeeper always has a cup of tea and dinner at the ready and she really doesn't understand why her husband couldn't hack it and left. It is about to get more intense now that their daughter is coming for a visit during September on a mission to find her father. As expected things get out of control and all the juggling is taking a toll on Margaret's sanity. You will fall for this tough no nonsense homeowner who just wants to live blissfully in the house she loves even with its quirks. 4 fun scary stars
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