Welcome to my review of this superbly sinister novel. Thank you to Sandstone Press for the copy of the book, which is the Squadpod Book Club September pick.
The public think Ava’s a monster. Ava thinks she’s blameless.
In prison, they called her Butcher Bird – but Ava’s not in prison any more. Released after 25 years to a new identity and a new home, Ava finally has the quiet life she’s always wanted.
But someone knows who she is. The lies she’s told are about to unravel.
“He thinks he knows me, that he’s got it all figured out. But really he’s only seeing the tip of what lies above the surface. The rest is hidden, and it will always stay that way.”
Ava is trying to adjust to life again after spending twenty-five years in prison. But that isn’t all that’s new, she also has a new identity to protect her from the public who see her as a monster. Ava thinks they’ve got her wrong and what happens wasn’t her fault. But there’s someone who’s sure it was and they want to see her pay. Is her new life about to fall apart?
Dark, harrowing and haunting, this twisted tale is an intimate look inside a fractured mind. There is an immediate sense of unease and an eerie atmosphere that lingers over the pages. Ava’s long sentence and ominous nickname – Butcher Bird – hint at a terrible crime but she believes herself to be blameless. A mere victim of happenstance and other people’s actions. But her subconscious seems to know what she can’t admit to herself and she is haunted by the spectre of those she’s accused of harming. It is exquisitely written, each word infused with heartache, grief and trauma that pulls at your heartstrings even when you doubt that you should be feeling any kind of empathy for Ava. The author drops small breadcrumbs that help the reader piece the puzzle together, slowly revealing the full, awful truth of Ava and her crime. It sent chills down my spine as things built to a shocking and unexpected climax.
Ava is one of the most chilling and unsettling characters I’ve read. Spectacularly written, she is unlikeable and unreliable yet utterly compelling, and there is something about her that makes it impossible not to feel some sympathy for her. She also seems pretty harmless and pathetic, if not a bit arrogant, and I found myself wondering if she wasn’t as bad as everyone seems to think, yet there was that little voice just stopping me from believing what she said. As time goes on we begin to see Ava come apart; she is increasingly paranoid and her inner monologue reveals the true darkness harbouring within her that she tries to hide.
Superbly sinister and tantalisingly twisty, Caged Little Birds is an unnerving thriller that you won’t be able to put down.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Originally from Hertfordshire, Lucy Banks moved to Devon, where she promptly fell in love with the landscape and lifestyle. Author of the Dr Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural series, and winner of several literary awards and competitions, she lives with her husband, two children, and extremely boisterous cat.
I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this spectacular novel. A huge thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Doubleday books for the gifted ARC.
1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.
The notorious queen of this glittering world is Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.
With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems.
“There was a reckoning coming for Nellie. Could she outrun it?”
Shrines of Gaiety is a fictional insight into the seedy underbelly hiding beneath the glittering nightlife of 1920s London. It follows Nellie Coker, the scene’s undisputed queen, who has built an empire for herself and her children. At her clubs aristocrats, royals, stars and foreighn dignitaries mingle with gangsters and pay a shilling at a time to dance with girls. But success comes at a price and Nellie’s enemies are now plotting her downfall and she must fight to keep what she built. Can Nellie triumph once again or will her enemies finally succeed?
What. A. Book. Mesmerising and exuberant, it is not only a work of art on the outside but between its pages too. But this is a book where the beauty lives alongside the darkness. For behind the dancing, drinking, respectability, sparkle and splendour is a cesspit of morality; an intricate and tangled web of deception, lies, debauchery, drugs, murder and sex trafficing. A gritty and menacing underworld that is actually behind the glittering nightlife patrons enjoy.
“The delinquent Coker empire was a house of cards that Frobisher aimed to topple. The filthy, glittering underbelly of London was converged in its nightclubs, and particularly the Amethyst, the gaudy jewel at the heart of Soho’s nightlife.”
An example of historical fiction at its finest, Kate Atkinson has once again shown why she is a must-read for any fan of the genre. A masterclass in storytelling, this exquisitely crafted novel had me transfixed as the roaring twenties, glamorous nightlife and seedy underworld were brought to life in vivid technicolour. It was impossible to put down and I devoured in just two sittings as Nellie’s world consumed me and the real world surrounding me fell away.
Nellie Coker is an ambitious, strong, powerful, ruthless and notorious character who demands loyalty and is fiercely protective of her family and what she’s built. She is someone you can’t help having a soft spot for despite the fact that she is actually quite unlikeable. She has that spark that draws you to her and makes you want to be in her orbit even if you know she’s someone you should stay away from. It was easy to see why she was so successful.
“Girls like Freda are meant for the Nellie Coker’s of this world. She devours them.”
But Nellie is not our only narrator and this is a saga told by an ensemble cast of richly drawn and charismatic characters such as Nellie’s six children, spiky Chief Inspector John Frobisher, former librarian Gwendolen Kelling and young Freda Murgatroyd. Gwendolen was my favourite character while Freda brought out my maternal side as I worried about the vulnerable young runaway falling victim to the nefarious people waiting to pounce on naive young girls. There was also an array of compelling background characters that were equally as well written.
Dazzling, evocative and consuming, this glorious romp is one of my favourite books this year. If you enjoy historical fiction then this is an absolute must-read. Highly recommended.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Kate Atkinson is an international bestselling novelist, as well as playwright and short story writer. She is the author of Life After Life; Transcription; Behind the Scenes at the Museum, a Whitbread Book of the Year winner; the story collection Not the End of the World; and five novels in the Jackson Brodie crime series, which was adapted into the BBC TV show Case Histories.
October means spooky and thrilling reads and the books being released this year don’t disappoint. There’s some truly eerie and suspenseful books that I can’t wait to get my hands on, as well as lots of other exciting reads.
Here are the twenty-eight books out next month that made my list:
SYNOPSIS: From the author of the acclaimed In My Dreams I Hold a Knife comes a pitch-black thriller about a woman determined to destroy a powerful cult and avenge the deaths of the women taken in by it, no matter the cost.
While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay’s built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel’s death-delivered, of all ways, by her favorite true-crime podcast crusader-she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive, and the predators more dangerous than ever.
Recruiting the help of the podcast host, Shay goes back to the place she vowed never to return to in search of answers. As she follows the threads of her friend’s life, she’s pulled into a dark, seductive world, where wealth and privilege shield brutal philosophies that feel all too familiar. When Shay’s obsession with uncovering the truth becomes so consuming she can no longer separate her desire for justice from darker desires newly reawakened, she must confront the depths of her own complicity and conditioning. But in a world built for men to rule it-both inside the cult and outside of it-is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?
Published: October 4th Publisher: Abacus Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From the #1 bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere, a deeply heart-wrenching novel about the unbreakable love between a mother and child in a society consumed by fear.
Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in Harvard’s library. He knows not to ask too many questions, stand out too much, stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve ‘American culture’ in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic – including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.
Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is drawn into a quest to find her. His journey will take him through the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.
Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can turn a blind eye to the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power – and limitations – of art to create change in the world, the lessons and legacies we pass onto our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.
SYNOPSIS: The spine-tingling ghost story everyone is raving about.
The past isn’t always dead and buried.
A house with history. That’s how the estate agent described the old toll house on the edge of the town. For Kelda it’s the perfect rural home for her young son Dylan after a difficult few years.
But when Kelda finds a death mask concealed behind one of the walls, everything changes. Inexplicable things happen in the house, Kelda cannot shake the feeling of being watched and Dylan is plagued by nightmares, convinced he can see figures in his room. As Dylan’s behaviour becomes increasingly challenging, Kelda seeks answers in the house’s mysterious past. But she’s running out of time.
Published: October 6th Publisher: Viking Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga
SYNOPSIS: From the Pulitzer prize-winning author of MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON – available for pre-order now
‘It is a gift in this life that we do not know what awaits us’
In March 2020 Lucy’s ex-husband William pleads with her to leave New York and escape to a coastal house he has rented in Maine. Lucy reluctantly agrees, leaving the washing-up in the sink, expecting to be back in a week or two. Weeks turn into months, and it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the sea.
Rich with empathy and a searing clarity, Lucy by the Sea evokes the fragility and uncertainty of the recent past, as well as the possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this miraculous novel are the deep human connections that sustain us, even as the world seems to be falling apart.
The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Patterson Joseph
Published: October 6th Published: Dialogue Books Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Meet Charles Ignatius Sancho: his extraordinary story, hidden for three hundred years, is about to be told.
I had little right to live, born on a slave ship where my parents both died. But I survived, and indeed, you might say I did more…
It’s 1746 and Georgian London is not a safe place for a young Black man, especially one who has escaped slavery. After the twinkling lights in the Fleet Street coffee shops are blown out and the great houses have closed their doors for the night, Sancho must dodge slave catchers and worse. The man he hoped would help – a kindly duke who taught him to write – is dying. Sancho is desperate and utterly alone.
So how does Charles Ignatius Sancho meet the King, write and play highly acclaimed music, become the first Black person to vote in Britain and lead the fight to end slavery?
It’s time for him to tell his story, one that begins on a tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, and ends at the very centre of London life. And through it all, he must ask: born amongst death, how much can you achieve in one short life?
From one of Britain’s best-loved actors, Paterson Joseph, comes an utterly captivating and haunting historical novel, telling the true story of a Great Black Briton. Fans of Bridgerton, Hamilton, Jessie Burton and The Confessions of Frannie Langton will adore being led into the heart of Black Georgian London.
SYNOPSIS: A captivating imagined tale of the woman who inspired Hester Prynne, the tragic heroine of The Scarlet Letter, mining the legacy of the Salem witch trials
Edinburgh, early 1800s: Isobel, a seamstress, and her husband Edward set sail for New England, in flight from his opium addiction and mounting debts. But, arriving in Salem, Isobel soon finds herself penniless and alone.
When she meets the young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows – while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. Nathaniel and Isobel grow closer and closer. Together, they are dark storyteller and muse; enchanter and enchanted. But which is which?
Published: October 6th Publisher: Bantam Press Genre: Gothic Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Ghost Story, Horror Fiction, Paranormal Fantasy, LGBT Literature
SYNOPSIS: WANTED: A bloodmaid of exceptional taste. Must have a keen proclivity for life’s finer pleasures. Girls of weak will need not apply.
A young woman is drawn into the upper echelons of a society where blood is power, in this dark and enthralling Gothic novel from the author of The Year of the Witching.
Marion Shaw has been raised in the slums, where want and deprivation are all she knows. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a strange advertisement in the newspaper, seeking a ‘bloodmaid’.
Though she knows little about the far north – where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service – Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery – and there, at the centre of it all is her.
Her name is Countess Lisavet. Loved and feared in equal measure, she presides over this hedonistic court. And she takes a special interest in Marion. Lisavet is magnetic, charismatic, seductive – and Marion is eager to please her new mistress. But when her fellow bloodmaids begin to go missing in the night, Marion is thrust into a vicious game of cat and mouse. She’ll need to learn the rules of her new home – and fast – or its halls will soon become her grave.
Published: October 6th Publisher: Magpie Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A Most Anticipated Book according to The Millions, Ms. Magazine and Good Housekeeping
Ruth, Esther and Chloe have been singing in harmony since before they could speak. Together they are The Salvations. Driven to success by their formidably ambitious mother, Vivian, they’re soon the hottest jazz band in San Francisco.
When the girls receive a once-in-a-lifetime offer from a renowned talent manager, Vivian knows this is the big break she has been praying for. She can see a different future for her girls, one that is a far cry from her childhood in racially segregated Louisiana.
But somewhere between the grind of endless rehearsals on the rooftop and the glamour of weekly gigs at the Champagne Supper Club, the girls grow up and start to imagine a life beyond their mother’s reach. As Vivian’s hold on her family begins to weaken, she must confront changes in The Salvations, in the San Francisco neighbourhood she has made her home, and even in her own family.
SYNOPSIS: Abby Lamb has done it. She’s found the Great Good in her husband, Ralph, and together they will start a family and put all the darkness in her childhood to rest. But then the Lambs move in with Ralph’s mother, Laura, whose depression has made it impossible for her to live on her own. She’s venomous and cruel, especially to Abby, who has a complicated understanding of motherhood given the way her own, now-estranged, mother raised her.
When Laura takes her own life, her ghost starts to haunt Abby and Ralph in very different ways. Ralph is plunged into depression, and Abby is being terrorized by a force intent on taking everything she loves away from her. With everything on the line, Abby must make the ultimate sacrifice in order to prove her adoration to Ralph and break Laura’s hold on the family for good.
Published: October 11th Publisher: Swift Press Genre: Historical Romance, Biographical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: The Empress is a dazzling reimagining of the courtship between one of history’s most iconic and beloved couples: Sisi and Franz of Austria.
The year is 1853, and sixteen-year-old Elisabeth “Sisi” of Bavaria has been very clear: she will wait for the sweeping, head-over-heels kind of love the poets speak of, or she will have no love at all. It is not her fault Mother refuses to listen. After all, just because her older sister Helene has chosen the line of duty, and is preparing to marry Emperor Franz of Austria, does not mean Sisi also needs to subject herself to such a passionless, regimented existence. Sisi knows there is more to life than corsets, luncheons, and woefully unfashionable dukes … if only someone would give her the chance to experience it firsthand.
Meanwhile, in Austria, the Emperor is recovering from an assassination attempt that left him wounded and scared. In a bid to keep the peace, Franz has recommitted himself to his imperial duties-and promised to romance the pliant Bavarian princess, Helene, at his upcoming birthday celebration. How better to unite the country than with the announcement of a new Empress?
But when Sisi and Franz meet unexpectedly in the palace gardens, away from the prying eyes and relentless critique of their families, their connection cannot be denied. And as their illicit conversations turn into something more, they must soon choose between the expectations of the court, and the burning desires of their hearts…
Epic, captivating, and deliciously steamy, The Empress is a remarkably contemporary tale of falling in love and finding one’s voice.
Published: October 13th Publisher: Lume Books Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Annabelle seems to have it all. The perfect house, a successful husband, a darling son. But Annabelle is troubled.
Trapped in an unhappy marriage, failing at motherhood, and at odds with her new privileged lifestyle, Annabelle begins to self-harm, a habit resurrected from her traumatic past.
When she meets the alluring and charismatic hypnotherapist Cassandra Rose, she is offered a way out.
Through hypnosis, Annabelle is encouraged to unearth her painful repressed memories and face her childhood demons. But as the boundaries between her hypnotic trance and reality begin to dissolve, Annabelle becomes increasingly vulnerable to much darker forces.
Filled with twists and suspense, The Call of Cassandra Rose is a chilling thriller that examines how trauma shapes our lives and asks whether we can ever really escape our pasts.
A Londoner of proud Italian and Greek heritage, Sophia Spiers grew up on the Lisson Green Council Estate, which informed the depiction of her protagonist’s childhood. She studied Film at university, and in her twenties and early thirties worked in TV and post-production before turning her attention to her true passion: writing. Sophia was one of the six outstanding mentees chosen from over 1500 entrants to be part of the inaugural Madeleine Milburn mentorship scheme, and has been honing her craft ever since.
Published: October 13th Publisher: Orenda Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Scandi Noir, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Áróra becomes involved in the search for an Icelandic woman who disappeared from her home while making dinner, as she continues to hunt for her missing sister. The second breathtaking instalment in the chilling, addictive An Áróra Investigation series…
When entrepreneur Flosi arrives home for dinner one night, he discovers that his house has been ransacked, and his wife Gudrun missing. A letter on the kitchen table confirms that she has been kidnapped. If Flosi doesn’t agree to pay an enormous ransom, Gudrun will be killed.
Forbidden from contacting the police, he gets in touch with Áróra, who specialises in finding hidden assets, and she, alongside her detective friend Daniel, try to get to the bottom of the case without anyone catching on.
Meanwhile, Áróra and Daniel continue the puzzling, devastating search for Áróra’s sister Ísafold, who disappeared without trace. As fog descends, in a cold and rainy Icelandic autumn, the investigation becomes increasingly dangerous, and confusing.
Chilling, twisty and unbearably tense, Red as Blood is the second instalment in the riveting, addictive An Áróra Investigation series, and everything is at stake…
SYNOPSIS: From cult sensation Mariana Enriquez, author of the International Booker Prize-shortlisted The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
His father could find what was lost. His father knew when someone was going to die. His father had talked to him about the dead who rode in on the wind. The dead travel fast.
Gaspar is six years old when the Order first come for him.
For years, they have exploited his father’s ability to commune with the dead and the demonic, presiding over macabre rituals where the unwanted and the disappeared are tortured and executed, sacrificed to the Darkness. Now they want a successor.
Nothing will stop the Order, nothing is beyond them. Surrounded by horrors, can Gaspar break free?
Spanning the brutal decades of Argentina’s military dictatorship and its aftermath, Our Share of Night is a haunting, thrilling novel of broken families, cursed inheritances, and the sacrifices a father will make to help his son escape his destiny.
Published: October 13th Publisher: Scribe UK Genre: Biography, History
SYNOPSIS: From the internationally bestselling author of Four Sisters comes the story of the Russian aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals who sought refuge in Belle Époque Paris.
From the time of Peter the Great, Paris was the playground of the tsarist aristocracy. But the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917 forced Russians of all types to flee their homeland. Leaving with only the clothes on their backs, many came to France’s glittering capital. Paris was no longer an amusement, but a refuge.
There, former princes could be seen driving taxicabs, while their wives found work in the fashion houses, where their unique Russian style inspired designers such as Coco Chanel. Talented intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, and writers eked out a living at menial jobs, while others found great success. Nijinsky, Diaghilev, Bunin, Chagall, and Stravinsky joined Picasso, Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein in the creative crucible of the Années folles.
Politics as much as art absorbed the emigrés. Activists sought to overthrow the Bolshevik regime from afar, while double agents plotted espionage and assassination from both sides. Others became trapped in a cycle of poverty and their all-consuming homesickness for Russia, the land they had been forced to abandon.
Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries: How Women (Also) Built the World by Kate Mosse
Published: October 13th Publisher: Mantle Genre: History
SYNOPSIS: “My hope is that this book will inspire as I have been inspired. It’s a love letter to the importance of history and about how, without knowing where we come from – truthfully and entirely – we cannot know who we are.”
Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries is a celebration of unheard and under-heard women’s history. Within these pages you’ll meet nearly 1000 women whose names deserve to be better known: from the Mothers of Invention and the trailblazing women at the Bar; warrior queens and pirate commanders; the women who dedicated their lives to the natural world or to medicine; those women of courage who resisted and fought for what they believed in to defend their families, their culture and their countries; to the unsung heroes of stage, screen and stadium. It travels the world – from the UK to the United States of America, Romania and Chile to Pakistan, Uganda to Germany, South Africa and India to New Zealand – and spans all periods of time. But it is also an intensely moving detective story of the author’s own family history as Kate Mosse pieces together the forgotten life of her great-grandmother, Lily Watson, a famous and highly-successful novelist in her day who has all but disappeared from the record . . .
Warrior Queens & Quiet Revolutionaries is accessible, ambitious in its scope and fascinating in its detail. A beautifully illustrated book, it features a diverse and global cast of names and is both an alternative and eclectic women’s history of the world, a love letter to family history and a personal memoir about the nature of women’s struggles to be heard and their achievements acknowledged. Joyous, celebratory and engaging, it is a book for everyone who has ever wondered how history is made.
SYNOPSIS: In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets―and not all of them are confined to the past.
Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.
In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.
Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family―but is it already too late?
Published: October 18th Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller
SYNOPSIS: Sunday Times No 1 bestseller John Grisham returns to Mississippi in his most gripping thriller yet.
For most of the last hundred years, Biloxi was known for its beaches, resorts, and seafood industry. But it had a darker side. It was also notorious for corruption and vice, everything from gambling, prostitution, bootleg liquor, drugs . . . even contract killings. The vice was controlled by a small cabal of mobsters, many of them rumoured to be members of the Dixie Mafia.
Keith Rudy and Hugh Malco grew up in Biloxi in the sixties and were childhood friends. But as teenagers, their lives took them in different directions. Keith’s father became a legendary prosecutor, determined to ‘clean up the Coast.’ Hugh’s father became the ‘Boss’ of Biloxi’s criminal underground. Keith went to law school and followed in his father’s footsteps. Hugh preferred the nightlife and worked in his father’s clubs. The two families were headed for a showdown, one that would happen in a courtroom.
Rich with history and with a large cast of unforgettable characters, The Boys from Biloxi is a sweeping saga of two sons of immigrant families who grow up as friends, but ultimately find themselves in a knife-edge legal confrontation in which life itself hangs in the balance.
In this novel, Grisham takes his powerful storytelling to the next level, his trademark twists and turns will keep you tearing through the pages until the stunning conclusion.
The Atlas Paradox (Atlas Series 2) by Olivie Blake
Published: October 25th Publisher: Tor Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Series
SYNOPSIS: Discover The Atlas Paradox, the electric dark academia sequel to viral sensation The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller. Inside the Alexandrian Society alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken and all must pick a side.
Six magicians were offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Five are now members of the Society. And two paths lie before them.
In this thrilling next instalment, the secret society of Alexandrians is unmasked. Its newest recruits realize the institute is capable of raw, world-changing power. It’s also headed by a man with plans to change life as we know it – and these are already under way. But the cost of this knowledge is as high as the price of power, and each initiate must choose which faction to follow. Yet as events gather momentum and dangers multiply, which of their alliances will hold? Can friendships hold true and are enemies quite what they seem?
Published: October 25th Publisher: Sphere Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Murder and mayhem. Scarpetta is back, and she’s racing against the clock . . .
Chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta is the reluctant star witness in a sensational murder trial when she receives shocking news. The judge’s sister has been found dead. At first glance, it appears to be a home invasion, but then why was nothing stolen, and why is the garden strewn with dead plants and insects?
Although there is no apparent cause of death, Scarpetta recognizes tell-tale signs of the unthinkable, and she knows the worst is yet to come. The forensic pathologist finds herself pitted against a powerful force that returns her to the past, and her time to catch the killer is running out . . .
CAT LADY [n.] Single, independent, crazy, aloof, on-the-shelf, lives alone . . .
It’s safer for Mia to play the part that people expect. She’s a good wife to her husband Tristan, a doting stepmother, she slips on her suit for work each morning like a new skin.
But beneath the surface, there’s another woman just clawing to get out . . .
When a shocking event shatters the conventional life she’s been so careful to build, Mia is faced with a choice. Does she live for a society that’s all too quick to judge, or does she live for herself?
And if that’s as an independent woman with a cat, t
hen the world better get ready . . .
Fresh, funny and for anyone who’s ever felt astray, CAT LADY will help you belong – because a woman always lands on her feet.
Published: October 27th Publisher: Orenda Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Hardboiled, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Insurance mathematician Henri has his life under control, when a man from the past appears and a shady trio take over the adventure park’s equipment supply company … Things are messier than ever in the absurdly funny, heart-stoppingly tense second instalment in Antti Tuomainen’s bestselling series…
**Soon to be a major motion picture starring Steve Carell**
Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen has finally restored order both to his life and to YouMeFun, the adventure park he now owns, when a man from the past appears – and turns everything upside down again. More problems arise when the park’s equipment supplier is taken over by a shady trio, with confusing demands. Why won’t Toy of Finland Ltd sell the new Moose Chute to Henri when he needs it as the park’s main attraction?
Meanwhile, Henri’s relationship with artist Laura has reached breaking point, and, in order to survive this new chaotic world, he must push every calculation to its limits, before it’s too late…
Absurdly funny, heart-stoppingly poignant and full of nail-biting suspense, The Moose Paradox is the second instalment in the critically acclaimed, pitch-perfect Rabbit Factor Trilogy and things are messier than ever…
Published: October 27th Published: HQ Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel, Historical Romance, Tudor Romance, Saga, Alternative History
SYNOPSIS: Remember, remember, the fifth of November…
1605: Anne Catesby fears for her family. Her son, the darkly charismatic Robert, is secretly plotting to kill the King, placing his wife and child in grave danger. Anne must make a terrible choice: betray her only child, or risk her family’s future.
Present day: When her dreams of becoming a musician are shattered, Lucy takes refuge in her family’s ancestral home in Oxfordshire. Everyone knows it was originally home to Robert Catesby, the gunpowder plotter. As Lucy spends more time in the beautiful winter garden that Robert had made, she starts to have strange visions of a woman in Tudor dress, terrified and facing a heartbreaking dilemma.
As Lucy and Anne’s stories converge, a shared secret that has echoed through the centuries separating them, will change Lucy’s life forever…
Sweeping generations from the 1600s to the present day, with the enthralling Gunpowder Plot at its heart, Nicola Cornick’s utterly enchanting new timeslip novel will sweep you off your feet. Perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton.
Published: October 27th Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Humorous Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Meet Conrad. You’ve never met a detective like him before.
Neither has Lulu Lewis when he walks into her life one summer’s day. Mourning the recent death of her husband, the former police detective had expected a gentle retirement, quietly enjoying life on her new canal boat, The Lark, and visiting her mother-in-law Emily in a nearby care home.
But when Emily dies suddenly in suspicious circumstances, Lulu senses foul play and resolves to find out what really happened. And a remarkable cat named Conrad will be with her every step of the way . . .
‘A captivating, charming and gentle tale, perfect for all those who love their crime cozy’ Peter James
The Cat Who Caught a Killer by L T Shearer is a charming cosy crime read for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and S. J. Bennett’s The Windsor Knot.
Published: October 2022 Publisher: Mark Edwards Books Genre: Horror Fiction, Thriller
SYNOPSIS: Sweetmeat is as old as Wales. As old as the valleys and the mountains. He was here long before humans. He was around when dragons ruled this land. Then the people came and Sweetmeat was forced to hide in the river, until he discovered that humans offered nourishment. They tasted good. They tasted sweet.
When four-year-old Nicky goes missing from a housing estate in north Wales, the local kids are sure they know what happened to him. He was taken by Sweetmeat, a creature who loves nothing more than the taste of a naughty child. But when best friends Philip and Sam set off across the valley to Sweetmeat’s lair, they have no idea that the journey will change the course of their lives forever.
Sweetmeat is a novella based on the book-within-a-book from The Retreat. A creepy story that’s perfect for Halloween, available only in this very limited hardcover edition which is both a beautiful collector’s item and a perfect gift for fans of Mark and scary stories in general.
Published: September 15th, 2022 Publisher: HQ Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
They claim they saw nothing. She knows they’re lying. 1996 – Cabramatta, Sydney
‘Just let him go.’
Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny – optimistic, guileless Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, and an indifferent police force.
Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case. Even though several people were present at Denny’s murder, each bystander claims to have seen nothing, and they are all staying silent.
Determined to uncover the truth, Ky tracks down and questions the witnesses herself. But what she learns goes beyond what happened that fateful night. The silence has always been there, threaded through the generations, and Ky begins to expose the complex traumas weighing on those present the night Denny died. As she peels back the layers of the place that shaped her, she must confront more than the reasons her brother is dead. And once those truths have finally been spoken, how can any of them move on?
Cabramatta, Sydney. 1996. Seventeen-year-old Denny Tran is brutally murdered while celebrating his high school graduation with his friends. Everyone in the busy restaurant claims to have seen nothing, their fear of retribution holding the truth hostage. Denny’s older sister Ky refuses to accept their denials or the police force’s indifference and embarks on her own quest to find out what happened to her brother. But is she ready for what she will learn?
This is a truly remarkable debut. Harrowing, moving and powerful, this is the story of the aftermath of a tragedy. A tragedy shrouded in such secrecy that the truth is almost impossible to find. This isn’t a book you simply read but one where you live every grief-laden word, the loss and heartbreak so raw that it almost makes you weep. Though marketed as crime and mystery fiction, the novel has more of a literary vibe as while Denny’s murder and the mystery surrounding it are part of the essence of the book, the other topics felt more prominent in the narrative than the crime itself. I personally loved this but am aware that some hard-core thriller lovers might struggle with a more literary novel.
Exploring themes such as grief, family dynamics and cultural and societal divides alongside darker topics such as racism and prejudice, author Tracey Lien examines the Vietnamese community and how immigration to Australia affected the generations.I knew nothing about many of the topics covered in this book before reading and enjoyed being educated while I read as I think it is important to read books that expand our knowledge of the world and other cultures.
As Denny’s family try to come to terms with his death, they also struggle to fathom how this all-round good kid ended up the victim of such a vicious crime. His older sister, Ky, is our main character. Ky is feeling overwhelming guilt as she is the one who convinced her strict mother to allow Denny to attend the celebration the night he was killed and her heartache and torment is palpable. We also see how she struggles with the different way in which her Vietnamese parents grieve his loss, a cultural divide that leaves her feeling even more alone. It is just one example of thedivide between immigrants and their children, who are more immersed in Australian society than their elders, and how it affects their understanding of each other. The other characters are equally as compelling and I especially liked that the author ensured that Denny felt as real as any other character thanks to the flashbacks that are peppered throughout the narrative. His life is one that was extinguished far too soon and I mourned him, the tragedy, horror and devastating impact of his murder lingering over every page.
Complex, memorable and heart-shattering, All That’s Left Unsaid is a book I’d highly recommend. An emotional journey that I couldn’t put down, this outstanding debut highlights Tracey Lien as an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Lien was born and raised in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She earned her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. All That’s Left Unsaid is her first novel.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly original whodunit. Thank you to Tracy at Campulsive Reader Tours for the invitation to take part and Ultimo Press for the eBook ARC.
‘And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room Rules no longer apply.’
Hannah Tigone, bestselling Australian crime author, is crafting a new novel that begins in the Boston Public Library: four strangers; Winifred, Cain, Marigold and Whit are sitting at the same table when a bloodcurdling scream breaks the silence. A woman has been murdered. They are all suspects, and, as it turns out, each character has their own secrets and motivations – and one of them is a murderer.
While crafting this new thriller, Hannah shares each chapter with her biggest fan and aspirational novelist, Leo. But Leo seems to know a lot about violence, motive, and how exactly to kill someone. Perhaps he is not all that he seems…
The Woman in the Library is an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship – and shows that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.
“And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room rules no longer apply.”
Bestselling Australian crime writer Hannah Tigone is creating a new story set in the Boston Public Library. It opens with four strangers sitting at a table when a bloodcurdling scream pierces the silence. A woman has been murdered. Finding themselves under suspicion, the four new friends embark on a quest to find out who killed the woman in the library. But could one of them be the killer?
As she writes, Hannah shares each new chapter with fan and aspiring author Leo Johnson. But there are clues that Leo may not be all he seems…
Entertaining, addictive and suspenseful, The Woman in the Library was a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride. Action-packed, shrewdly choreographed and twist-filled, I flew through it in under a day. Author Sunil Gentill tells the story in a truly unique way. This is a story within a story and the chapters alternate between the murder mystery novel and letters critiquing her work. It is a great concept and she executed it perfectly, the dual narratives working well in tandem and keeping the reader on tenterhooks as she builds things to a shocking crescendo.
Though she is elusive and never features in her own voice, Hannah lingers over every page of the book and I found myself quickly drawn into her fictional storyland with its fascinating characters, exhilarating tensionand the compelling mystery that Freddie and her friends were trying to solve. In the letters I got a creepy vibe from Leo early on and was intrigued by his character more than any other. He’s quite the enigma as we know almost nothing about him as all he seems to discuss with Hannah is her work. I loved how Gentill used this to heighten the tension in the novel and created a second mystery for the reader to unravel.
Writing is a theme that is intrinsically woven into the heart of this book. The cast of characters has many authors, aspiring authors and journalists and in addition to Hannah’s novel, we have Leo discussing his ‘opus’ and Freddie writing her novel and using her new friends for inspiration. It was an interesting glimpse into not only the writing process but the kinds of challenges and dilemmas faced before a book makes it into our hands.
A clever multiple whodunit that had my nerves on edge, The Woman in the Library is a riveting read that has the vibe of an old-fashioned murder mystery. Highly recommended.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sulari Gentill is an Australian author, also known under the pen name of S.D. Gentill. She initially studied astrophysics before becoming a corporate lawyer, but has since become a writer. She is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of historical crime fiction novels set in the 1930s about Rowland Sinclair, the gentleman artist-cum-amateur-detective.
Published: August 18th, 2022 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Today I’m sharing my review for the atmospheric and consuming Daisy Darker. Thank you to BookBreak UK and Pan Macmillan for the gifted ARC and for organising the readalong.
Daisy Darker is an all-consuming tale of psychological suspense with a spectacular twist from the internationally bestselling author Alice Feeney.
Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .
Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .
“Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as can be. When one of them died, all of them lied and pretended not to see…”
Daisy Darker arrives at Seaglass, her grandmother’s house on a private island on the Cornish coast, to celebrate her eightieth birthday. They are soon joined by the rest of the Darker family and Daisy is feeling apprehensive about seeing her whole family for the first time in a decade. As the tide comes in and isolates them on the island for eight hours, one of them is found dead. With a killer in their midst and no means of escape, how many of them will survive the night…
What. A. Book! Sinister, spooky and utterly brilliant, this was not only one of my favourite reads of last month, but one of my favourite of all time. I love a claustrophobic and creepy novel and there is nothing better for those vibes than a dysfunctional family full of dark secrets that are trapped in an old house with no means of escape or contacting the outside world. It adds an air of mystery and foreboding that hovers over the story from the first pages and sets the scene for what is to come. As the bodies pile up the terror rises and you could cut the tension with a knife. A cloud of suspicion hangs over everyone, including Daisy, and you have no idea who to trust.
The Darker family are a cast of complex, unlikeable and unreliable characters. They are a minefield of toxicity and dysfunction, the extent of which is unravelled slowly through flashbacks. I could understand why Daisy hadn’t seen them in so long and was dreading spending time with them. But Nana was different; an ebullient and caring character who totally stole the show and was my favourite family member. I could understand why Daisy loved her and cherished their relationship. Narrator Daisy seems to be a quite timid character who doesn’t give us any obvious reasons not to trust her yet there was just something that felt off about her from the start. This gave the book a magnetic quality I couldn’t resist as I love when you have an unreliable narrator or a character who you have no idea if they are friend or foe.
Alice Feeney can always be relied upon to deliver a first-class psychological thriller. But this time she really outdid herself, expertly messing with our minds as she delivered twist after twist. A ticking time bomb of lies, misdirection and sheer dread, I was on the edge of my seat and it wreaked havoc on my blood pressure. But there was also an old-fashioned murder mystery feel to the story that I loved and made it easy to imagine this being adapted for the screen.
Atmospheric, unnerving and consuming, Daisy Darker is a jaw-dropping masterpiece of a thriller that will linger long after reading. Just make sure you have a block of free time available before picking it up, because once you start you won’t be putting it down until you’ve read the last page.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller and has been translated into over twenty languages. His & Hers is being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is also being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown.
Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this astonishing and unsettling thriller. Thank you to Olivia at Avon for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.
Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.
The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?
All the stars for this truly astonishing and mesmerising novel! Merging mythology, folklore and superstition with suspicion, mystery and murder in an isolated, claustrophobic and forbidding setting, The Last Girl To Die is a tantalising and unforgettable read.
Set on the Isle of Mull, the story follows Sadie Levesque, a Canadian private investigator and teenage tracking specialist, who has been hired to find missing 17-year-old Adriana Clark. After days of searching she finds poor Adriana’s body inside a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head in a macabre twist. Faced with an island of people who distrust outsiders and closely guard their secrets, finding the killer is not going to be easy. Or without danger. And the more she uncovers, the more those with secrets will do anything to keep them hidden…
I have been a fan of Helen Fields ever since reading her debut novel and I don’t even read the blurb before adding her books to my TBR anymore. She always delivers a well written, suspenseful, gritty and visceral thriller filled with compelling characters, but with this book she took things to another level. Sadie is my favourite of her standalone protagonists and I enjoyed the decision to move away from traditional crime fiction by including supernatural and mythological elements as I love a witchy read. I didn’t want to put this book down and found myself thinking about it every minute I wasn’t reading.
From the start there is a sense that there is more to this island than they want to tell, a sense of chilling foreboding that you can’t shake. As the ancient folklore and rituals are slowly introduced we understand this place and its people a little more but I found my sense of horror grew with each new shocking twist and surprising revelation. Fields captured the atmosphere of a secluded island perfectly and I felt like I was walking on Mull alongside Sadie, and the animosity, distrust and menace radiating from the pages and cast of characters bringing it to life in vivid technicolour.
Gripping, unpredictable and breathtakingly brilliant, this is Fields’ best book yet. If you like nerve-shredding thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat and the unsettling aura of the supernatural, then this is for you.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Helen Fields is the author of best-selling crime, thriller and historical fiction books Perfect Remains, Perfect Prey, Perfect Death, Perfect Silence, Perfect Crime, Perfect Kill, These Lost and Broken Things & Degrees of Guilt written as HS Chandler. A former barrister and film producer, her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Published: August 18th, 2022 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my review of this dark and disturbing debut. Thank you to Harper Collins UK for the gifted copy.
This was the Squadpod Book Club August pick. Tune into our Twitter account at 7.30pm on August 30th for a live chat with the author.
LILY IS A GOOD DAUGHTER
Every evening she pours Mama a glass of perfectly spoilt orange juice. She arranges the teddy bears on Mama’s quilt, she puts on her matching pink clothes. Anything to help put out the fire of Mama’s rage.
MAMA IS A GOOD LIAR
But Mama is becoming unpredictable, dangerous. And as she starts to unravel, so do the memories that Lily has kept locked away for so long. She only wanted to be good, to help piece Mama back together. But as home truths creep out of the shadows, Lily must recast everything: what if her house isn’t a home – but a prison? What if Mama isn’t a protector – but a monster . . .
Gripping and devastating, from a voice that cuts as sharp as a knife, this is an unforgettable story about a family gone bad.
“Her power falls over the small space. Everyone is thrown into confusion, no one knows whether to look at her or not, to stop talking or continue. They are all in her thrall.”
Eighteen-year-old Lily does everything to please her mother; she carries out her every whim, makes her spoiled juice every night and even dyes her hair and paints her face to look more like the good Chinese daughter she wants. But it is never enough. Mama still finds fault with what she does and leaves Lily feeling bereft. All she wants is to feel loved. As long-hidden truths begin to emerge and Lily slowly unlocks the mysteries surrounding Mama, she thinks she’s finally found the way to be the perfect daughter and win Mama’s approval. But as things become clearer, Lily wonders if Mama is not actually her protector, but a monster….
Wow! What a crazy ride! Disturbing, dark and twisted, Bad Fruit is a hard-hitting portrayal of a dysfunctional family that also explores themes of identity and self-discovery. Author Ella King has crafted a multi-layered story filled with richly drawn and nuanced characters that explores difficult topics and asks hard questions. King had me hooked, but there were also times I had to put the book down and breathe before picking it up again.
At the heart of this book is the mother/daughter relationship. King strips bare the complexities of both this relationship and toxic families with such realism that it could be hard to read.. My heart ached for Lily. Subservient to her mother and forced to act as a go-between for her mother and her siblings, her life is pretty bleak. She tries to escape by locking herself away in her attic bedroom or riding her bike, but she can never escape what’s inside her head. Her pain and desperation for love and acceptance bled from every page and I wanted to reach into the book and hug her.
Then there is Mama. Cruel, callous, cold, scathing and vengeful, she holds her whole family hostage with her emotions. The author captured the essence of a toxic person so vividly in her that I would shiver every time she came onto the page and felt every bit of Lily’s apprehension and fear.
Harrowing, unflinching and deeply human, Bad Fruit is a powerful debut from an author to watch.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ella King is a British-Singaporean novelist living in Greenwich, UK. She read Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, is a graduate of Faber Academy’s novel-writing program, and is an award-winning writer, coming 3rd in the Aurora Prize for Short Fiction 2019 and winning the Blue Pencil Pitch Prize 2019. She’s worked as a corporate lawyer in London and for anti-human trafficking and domestic violence charities. Bad Fruit is her debut novel.
Published: August 5th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Biographical Fiction Format: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook
Today I’m sharing my review for this brutal and brilliant novel. Thank you Michael Joseph for the gifted copy and Ceri for asking me to buddy read this one with her.
You’ve never met a woman as dangerous as Bella Sorensen . . .
THE FASCINATING REIMAGINING OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HISTORY’S ORIGINAL FEMALE SERIAL KILLER ________
Bella Sorenson knows that the world is made for men.
They control everything: jobs, property, money. Marriage makes women like her their slaves. But now Bella is fighting back.
Because she’s angry. She’s bloodthirsty. She’s willing to kill to get what she wants – starting with her husband.
And then her next husband. And the next one . . .
“They thought that was it, then-that I was safe and would not bite. That I would take my lesson and learn from it, be humble and meek and know my place… They never expected me to hold a grudge…”
Bella Sorenson was the original female serial killer. As a big true crime junkie I had heard her name but knew little about her or her crimes and knew this was a book for me. It had been languishing on my shelves ever since I received an ARC last year so I was delighted to finally get around to reading it as part of a buddy read with my lovely blogger friend Ceri.
Brutal, bold and brilliant, author Camilla Bruce seamlessly blends fact with fiction to reimagine Bella’s story. It is a dark character study of the life and psyche of the woman behind the sensational headlines while never making excuses for her crimes or shying away from the grim facts. In the must-read author’s note at the end Bruce explains that the aim of this book was to try to understand what drove Bella to commit her crimes and I think she has achieved that, helping us see the nuances of her character, bond with her and even feel some sympathy for her. She claimed my attention instantly and kept me hooked until the final page, taking me on a journey that spans multiple decades and two continents. And while it is well researched and mindful of attention to detail, the author never allows it to become bogged down by them, instead being driven by the story and characters.
“She had been swallowed up by something else, something dark with terrible jaws – like a wolf.”
Bella is a terrifying character. She is a woman fuelled by spite, anger and contempt with an unquenchable thirst for revenge. I both loved and loathed this ruthless and remorseless killer who fails to understand why she shouldn’t hurt those she feels have wronged her. And knowing she was a real person, that she existed and committed these crimes rather than being simply a creation of an author’s twisted imagination, made her all the more fearsome. But despite all of this, Bruce manages to humanise her by exploring the pivotal moments of trauma in her life she can’t escape; the things that haunt her and helped shape her into a merciless killer. And while I never condoned her actions, I did have a lot of sympathy for some of the things she had endured.
But Bella isn’t our only narrator. Her older sister, Nellie, also shares her perspective. She is the voice of empathy and a morally complex character whose dilemmas raise both tension and emotion. I really enjoyed how Nellie provided another side to everything that happened, moved the story forward, and helped to create nuance in the story that would have otherwise been missing. There was also a cast of compelling and richly drawn background characters who leapt from the pages and helped bring the whole tragic tale to life in vivid technicolour.
“I would rise, if only to spite.”
Captivating, suspenseful, devilishly dark and dripping with malice, Triflers Need Not Apply is a phenomenal story that thriller lovers and crime junkies will love.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Camilla Bruce is a Norwegian writer of speculative and historical fiction. She has a master’s degree in comparative literature and has co-run a small press that published dark fairy tales. Camilla currently lives in Trondheim with her son and cat.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary debut. Thank you to Headline for the invitation to take part in the tour and my gifted copies of the book.
This is the story of Isaac and the Egg, the most talked-about book of the year.
Isaac stands alone on a bridge and screams.
Something screams back.
And that, like everything which follows, is unforgettable.
This is a book about a lot of things – grief, hope, friendship, love. It’s also about what you’d do if you stumbled into the woods at dawn, found something extraordinary there, and decided to take it home.
It’s a tale that might seem familiar. But how it speaks to you will depend on how you’ve lived until now.
Sometimes, to get out of the woods, you have to go into them. Isaac and the Egg is one of the most hopeful, honest and wildly imaginative novels you will ever read.
“Reality is fragile. All it takes is a gentle tap to break its shell.”
Oh, my heart.
I finished this book last night and I’m still at a loss for words. This is a story that needs to be experienced. You will laugh, cry, your heart will break and then it will mend. There are times you will wonder what on earth you are reading. But I urge you to keep going because the reward is truly spectacular. A balm for the soul that will fill your heart with hope.
This extraordinary debut takes you on an emotional journey alongside Isaac Addy, a grieving man who feels he has nothing left to live for. The story opens with him standing alone on a bridge. He screams out into the void and, to his shock, something screams back. What follows is a truly original story that will linger long after reading.
Author Bobby Palmer paints a picture with prose that is achingly real and raw. It is meticulously written, each word carefully chosen to convey the devastating chasm of grief so evocatively that I felt my own heart break and cried real tears, yet Palmer manages to turn the ashes of grief into a beautiful and hopeful story that everyone will be talking about.
Atmospheric, luminous, hypnotic and dreamlike, Isaac and the Egg is without a doubt one of my top reads of the year. This accomplished debut needs to be on every reader’s TBR. And as for Bobby Palmer? Watch out world, a new literary star has arrived!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Bobby Palmer is a freelance journalist who writes for publications including GQ, Men’s Health, Time Out and Cosmopolitan. Isaac and the Egg is his first novel.