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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Keep It In The Family by John Marrs

Published: October 25th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Thank you to John Marrs for sending me this early copy of the book to review.

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?

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MY REVIEW:

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God.”

Ted Bundy

When a book opens with a quote from a notorious, sadistic serial killer you know it’s going to be a wild ride.  From the first page I had shivers down my spine and was on the edge of my seat, full of anticipation at the promise of such a chilling tale.  

Mia and Finn’s new house is a dilapidated two-storey detached Victorian house on an ordinary street.  It’s a house you’d never really notice but for the young couple this house is a promise of a better future.  But what they don’t yet know is that it is also a place harbouring dark secrets.  Secrets that the person who is quietly watching them knows.  The truth finally begins to emerge after the couple make a gruesome attic in the attic that haunts Mia and leaves her desperate to uncover the truth of what happened in the house.  But someone else will do anything to keep it from being uncovered.  The only question is, which of them will succeed?

“He isn’t the first to be caught in their web and he won’t be the last. Most of them beg for mercy but they are all wasting their time. There will be no change of heart because there never is. No one under this roof believes in compassion. Empathy is an alien emotion here. “

OMG!  What the f#@% did I just read?!  Deliciously dark, marvellously menacing and totally twisted, I am slightly terrified of John Marrs after reading this; though I would love to peek inside his mind to know how he came up with what is his darkest book yet.  I’ve been a big fan of Marrs’ books since I first read The One upon its release in 2017, and with every book he just gets better.  He truly is the king of the twisted psychological thriller.  Everything about his books makes my thriller-loving heart sing as he holds me hostage, my heart pounding as I read with baited breath as he drops clues like breadcrumbs to build the suspense.  Every time you think all the twists have been revealed and you have it all figured out he will pull the rug from under you and turn the world upside down.  It’s a never-ending maze of secrets, lies and murder.  Twist after twist that makes your jaw drop and your head spin.  And I can’t get enough of it. 

This story makes even the most messed-up and crazy family you know seem sane. By giving each of them a voice we are able to really get inside their minds and discover who they are. I felt most drawn to Mia, my heart going out to her in particular after the events at the end of part one.  I also really enjoyed the play on the traditional awful mother-in-law trope. Debbie is detestable for so many reasons and I admit I was team Mia from the start. 
But it is the mystery narrator who I felt was most powerfully written.  Though they are clearly a killer with a warped moral code, they are utterly fascinating. Through flashbacks to their childhood we learn that they are a creation of their horrific experiences, my heart breaking for what they endured and witnessed.  Writing a one-dimensional villain is easy, but it takes true talent such as that possessed by Marrs to craft such a mesmerising yet chilling portrayal of a disturbed individual who is both repulsive yet sympathetic. 

“To some, I’m a saviour, but to others, I’m a monster. I know what my work has been about, all the souls I’ve saved from torment. It’s part of the bargain that I can never share my role with the world. There’d be no hope of them understanding. Blinkered as they are, I could only be a monster. “

But who was our mysterious villain?  I enjoyed trying to piece the clues together to work out the answer but the clever red herrings left by the author led me to also suspect the innocent at times.  Even when I’d guessed correctly I discovered there were yet more crazy antics to come as this person toyed with their victims further and prolonged their torment with glee.  When and how would it end?  I had no idea.  But I don’t think I could have guessed what was in store even with infinite opportunities.  

Keep It In The Family is my new favourite John Marrs book.  And I think it will be yours too after you read this dark, sinister and mind-blowing tale.  Just buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Apollo
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Historical Romance, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and haunting tale. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Part ghost story, part novel of suspense The Marsh House is the haunting second novel from the author of The Night of the Flood where two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by one, mysterious house on the North Norfolk coast.

December, 1962. Desperate to create a happy Christmas for her young daughter, Franny, after a disastrous year, Malorie rents a remote house on the Norfolk coast. But once there, the strained silence between them feels louder than ever. As Malorie digs for decorations in the attic, she comes across the notebooks of the teenaged Rosemary, who lived in the house thirty years before. Trapped inside by a blizzard, and with long days and nights ahead of her, Malorie begins to read. Though she knows she needs to focus on the present, she finds herself inexorably drawn into the past…

July, 1931. Rosemary lives in the Marsh House with her austere father, surrounded by unspoken truths and rumours. So when the glamorous Lafferty family moves to the village, she succumbs easily to their charm. Dazzled by the beautiful Hilda and her dashing brother, Franklin, Rosemary fails to see the danger that lurks beneath their bright façades…

As Malorie reads Rosemary’s diary, past and present begin to merge in this moving story of mothers and daughters, family obligation and deeply buried secrets.

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MY REVIEW:

“No-one had lived in the house for years afore they arrived last winter. Not since all that fuss in thirty-four… I weren’t surprised to see her though.  Oh, no, it was her all right. We’d been waiting for her.”

OMG. This book! I expected it to be good after hearing so much praise for Zoe Somerville’s debut novel, but I was unprepared for the chilling gothic masterpiece that lurked between these pages.  I inhaled this book in one sitting, staying up until 3am in a desperate need for answers.  It was totally worth it and I have no doubt that this will make it into my top books of the year when December rolls around.

December 1962.  Malorie has rented a remote house on the Norfolk coast hoping to create a magical and memorable Christmas for her daughter Franny after a difficult year.  Known as The Marsh House, its eerie atmosphere looms over them from the moment they cross the threshold.  While looking for Christmas decorations in the attic they come across an old suitcase filled with papers and notebooks.  Upon closer inspection, Malorie discovers that the notebooks are the diaries of Rosemary Wright, a teenage girl who lived at the house thirty years earlier.  Curiosity taking over, Malorie begins to read and becomes fixated on the mysterious past of this young girl.  But what secrets are waiting to be uncovered inside Rosemary’s diaries?

“I knew she’d found something and what she’d be looking for.  She wanted evidence.  Proof.  Facts.  As if it would all be there for her and she could lay it all out and it would make sense.  But it’s never as simple as that.  The graves are elsewhere.  The bones are dust.  It’s not graves that tell you a history, a story of a life. That’s much harder to find, but if you know where to look, you can find it.  It will reveal itself.”

The Marsh House is literary gothic fiction at its best.  The perfect combination of lyrical prose, page turning plot, chilling atmosphere and gripping tension, this haunting tale had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  Creepily claustrophobic and almost dreamlike in places, there is a sense of the otherworldly about it.  The snow storm adds to the sense of isolation and increases the fear when strange and inexplicable occurrences begin to make Marlorie question her own sanity.  
Zoe Somerivlle is a gifted storyteller and the style of this book was spot on for me.  I loved the short, cryptic chapters from an unknown narrator who is watching Malorie and Franny and Rosemary’s diary was an inspired choice that brought Rosemary alive and allowed us to connect with her.  Just like Malorie I was enthralled and desperate to know what happened next in her story.   The story moves between the two timelines smoothly, punctuated by the short chapters from the mysterious narrator that sent shivers down my spine each time they appeared.  There was no chance of me putting this book down until I had all the answers. 

Malorie and Rosemary are great narrators who capture the imagination and hold you in the palm of their hand as the story unfolds.  They are fascinating, flawed and real, a whole world of heartbreak, fear, regret and guilt to be found in these women.  And their internal conflict and pain is told so vividly that I could feel it in my own soul.  From the start we know Malorie believes there to be a connection between her father and Marsh House so I spent the book looking for clues and trying to guess how he might be connected.  I had my theories, one of which was correct, but what I loved is how the author creates just enough doubt to make you second guess and not feel sure until the moment just before the big reveal, adding to the mystery and suspense.  

“There was something rotten that had been hiding in front of her and it was revealing itself.”

Mesmerising, chilling and immersive, this is a clear your schedule and read it in one sitting kind of book.  An easy five stars from me, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I will be reading Zoe’s first book as soon as possible and am excited to watch this talented author’s star undoubtedly rise. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Zoë Somerville is originally from Norfolk, but has settled with her husband and children in the West Country. She works as an English teacher. Zoë began her debut novel, The Night of the Flood on the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA in 2016. It was published in September 2020. Her second novel, The Marsh House, a ghost story and mystery is published in March 2022. She is currently writing her third novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Adventure Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this phenomenal and unflinching debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Mantle for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Picked as one of Stylist magazine’s ‘Fiction Books You Can’t Miss in 2022’


Fortune favours the brave in Lizzie Pook’s mesmerising debut novel, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter

1886, BANNIN BAY, AUSTRALIA.

The Brightwell family has sailed from England to make their new home in Western Australia. Ten-year-old Eliza knows little of what awaits them on these shores beyond shining pearls and shells like soup plates – the things her father has promised will make their fortune.

~~~

Ten years later and Charles Brightwell, now the bay’s most prolific pearler, goes missing from his ship while out at sea. Whispers from the townsfolk suggest mutiny and murder, but headstrong Eliza, convinced there is more to the story, refuses to believe her father is dead, and it falls to her to ask the questions no one else dares consider.

But in a town teeming with corruption, prejudice and blackmail, Eliza soon learns that the truth can cost more than pearls, and she must decide just how much she is willing to pay – and how far she is willing to go – to find it . . .

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MY REVIEW:

Fortune waits at the bottom of the ocean for reckless souls who push themselves, and others, to the limits to seek it. 

Let me start by addressing the obvious: this is a GORGEOUS book.  Possibly the most beautiful proof I’ve ever had.  And I was delighted to discover that the book inside is every bit as spectacular as its shiny, iridescent cover. An exquisite treasure that is much the eponymous pearl; something silky, beautiful and rare crafted from grit, salt, meat and hard labour.  

It opens in 1886 as 10-year-old Eliza Brightwell steps off the ship with her family to begin a new life in Bannin Bay, Western Australia. They have crossed the ocean to pursue her father Charles’ dreams of making his fortune in pearling.  The story then jumps forward ten years.  The Brightwells now own a fleet of pearl luggers and 20-year-old Eliza is awaiting the return of her father and brother from their latest journey at sea.  But when the lugger returns, only her brother, Thomas, comes with it.  Their father has disappeared at sea and is feared dead.  But Eliza refuses to give up hope, embarking on her own search for truth and asking the questions no one else dares.

“It is quieter now, the guilt. But it is there, always, the ghost of something forever in the throat.”

Lizzie Pook has crafted a magnificent debut novel that is simply unforgettable.  I was completely immersed in this book thanks to her smooth, velvety prose, captivating storytelling and evocative imagery.  I felt like I could feel the hot sun beating down on me and held my own breath in anticipation alongside Eliza as she conducted her tireless search.  I loved that I had no idea where the story was headed, the tension overflowing as the mystery deepened.  Told in dual timelines the story moves smoothly between 1886 and 1896, giving us glimpses into the family’s history that could help solve the puzzle of Charles’ disappearance.  The author has based this story on real Australian history and some of the characters are inspired by real historical figures, something I think shines through to make this a truly honest and bold piece of historical fiction.

Eliza is a memorable and compelling protagonist.  A fierce, strong, tenacious, independent and adventurous new heroine, she is also an early feminist who doesn’t see why she shouldn’t be afforded the same rights as men.  She rallies against the cultural roles she is expected to fulfil, determined to carve her own path whatever others might think.  It was clear she is very close to her father and you feel her heartache and desperation on every page.  I was rooting for her to find the answers she needed, even if I often worried that she wouldn’t get the positive outcome she believed in. 

“A European is not often punished for his transgressions in Bannin Bay, particularly if those transgressions result in the spilling of native blood.” 

Life in Bannin Bay is much harder than the Brightwells anticipated.  It is a dirty, unforgiving environment filled with deadly flora and fauna.  The sun is scorching, the sea treacherous, and the air ripe with the scent of salt, sweat and decay.  And as we meet the townspeople we soon discover that it is also a place of rivalry, corruption and danger.  There are an abundance of shady and criminal characters and Eliza must be careful at every turn. The author captures the time perfectly, shining a light on the horrific racist treatment of the aboriginals who were enslaved, brutalised, abducted, sold and even murdered.  The pearl industry was rife with their abuse as they were forced to become divers.  Even pregnant women weren’t safe as they were seen as preferential divers due to their apparent increased lung capacity.  Death was sadly common and families were torn apart by the many injustices white settlers subjected them to.  

Atmospheric, poignant, vibrant and unflinching, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is a phenomenal debut that I know will stay with me.  Lizzy Pook is an outstanding new talent and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.  It will certainly be an auto-buy for me.  

Go read this book!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lizzie is an award-winning writer and journalist. She began her career in women’s magazines, covering everything from cognitive enhancing drugs to conspiracy theorists. In 2015 she moved into travel journalism, reporting for publications such as Condé Nast Traveller, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet and The Sunday Times.

Her assignments have taken her to some of the most remote parts of the world, from the uninhabited east coast of Greenland in search of roaming polar bears, to the haunting mountains of the trans-Himalayas to track endangered snow leopards. She was inspired to write Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, her debut novel, after spending time in north-western Australia researching the dangerous and fascinating pearl-diving industry. The book will be published in February 2022 by Penguin Random House (Australia and New Zealand), March 2022 by Mantle/Pan Macmillan (UK), and in June 2022 by Simon & Schuster (US and Canada).

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

The brand new crime thriller from the bestselling author of the Perfect series – Helen Fields is back with her first stand-alone novel!

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

Helen Fields is back with a heart-pounding new book, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Stuart MacBride.

MY REVIEW:

“She wished he were just a monster. There were rules for those… But there were no rules that would keep you safe from him.”

All the stars for this spine-tingling thriller! 

What a thrill ride this was! Deliciously dark, sinister and addictive, this was like a twisty rollercoaster I didn’t want to end. From the start there’s a chill in the air and a lingering sense of dread, leaving you in no doubt what kind of read you’re in for. And with all the elements of a thriller that make my dark heart sing, I couldn’t get enough. I devoured this book; staying up until ridiculous o’clock, unable to resist the lure of breathless anticipation; reading until the author delivered her spectacular coupe de grace. 

“He pressed the handkerchief to her lips. A cotton kiss in the dark.”

Helen Fields is a crime fiction powerhouse. She was already on my must-read list thanks to her spectacular DI Callanach series, but with this standalone she has become a crime writer to shout about and recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre. She gives you everything you could want in a dark and gritty thriller: visceral, chilling prose, shocking twists and turns, plenty of heart-stopping moments, and fantastic characters, including a villain that makes your blood run cold. 

I really liked Connie. She’s intelligent, fierce and straight-talking, with a dash of quirkiness that spoke to my inner weirdo. She is so fabulously written, with such a rich backstory that I really felt like I knew her. Her achromatopsia was a fascinating aspect of her character that I loved reading. I liked how it changed her perception of people and the world around her. In fact, I think my only complaint about this entire book is that it isn’t the start of a series and I won’t get to join Connie as she solves another case. 

As much as I liked Connie I think my favourite character was young Meggy. She is a little firecracker and I loved her strength, bravery and ferocity. It gave me hope that just maybe she might survive her abduction. I loved the contrast between her and Elspeth and the way it showed it isn’t always the people you expect who take charge and fight when in those kinds of situations. 

“Death had arrived. He might be wearing jeans and a denim jacket, but there was no mistaking the lack of humanity in that gaze.” 

Fergus, aka the Shadow Man, is suitably vile and chilling, The descriptions of him are so vivid I felt like I could see him in front of me. Ghoulish and predatory, he silently stalks his prey from the shadows; waiting for the right time to strike. He is masterfully written, with the author capturing every shade of his character; from  darkest, despicable evil, to charming and feeble, that evoked some sympathy alongside the abhorrence.  Calculated, organised, methodical and manipulative, he doesn’t follow the normal rules of a kidnapper which makes him harder to predict and apprehend and Connie must think outside of the box to capture him. 

Scalpel-sharp, eerie, captivating, and dripping with suspense and heart-stopping tension, this is a page-turner full of red herrings, shocking reveals and so many twists you’ll get book whiplash. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK! And, to Helen: PLEASE consider writing a follow up. I need more Connie!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Thank you to Avon Books for my gifted copy of the book.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former criminal and family law barrister, Helen Fields has the expertise and experience to make the characters and plots scorch with authenticity.

With a background as both a prosecutor and defence counsel, Helen Fields has a depth of knowledge about crime that lends a fierceness to her writing. From Courts Martials to care proceedings, the Coroner Courts to the Crown Court, Fields draws on her professional years for the extraordinary colour and texture that makes her writing jump off the page. Twice long-listed for the McIllvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and a multi-bestselling author whose books have been translated across the globe, Fields consistently produces high impact, compelling novels that readers love. The ‘Perfect’ series, set in Edinburgh, introduced the world to DI Luc Callanach. This year saw the release of Degrees of Guilt, her first psychological thriller in the name HS Chandler, a book as shockingly realistic as it is darkly entertaining.

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Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Published: December 31st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.


A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

MY REVIEW:

OMG! What a book! Spectacularly written, masterfully plotted, surprising and sizzling with suspense, this complex and layered thriller had me hooked from start to finish. I devoured this story, only reluctantly putting it down when my eyelids became too heavy to keep reading. I was addicted and completely unprepared for the rollercoaster ride this story took me on. 

Dear Child begins at the point where most novels would end; when Lena and her daughter Hannah escape after years of imprisonment in a cabin in the woods. The police think that they’ve finally found Lena Beck, a woman missing for thirteen years, but when her father Matthias arrives he is adamant the woman lying in the hospital bed is not his daughter. But when he lays eyes on Hannah he sees a clone of his daughter as a child. With Lena injured by a car in the escape she is unable to answer any question and Hannah is reluctant to talk. As snippets of information are slowly revealed, the police begin to piece together the puzzle. But they soon find that things aren’t quite what they first appear to be.

The author filled the pages with dark, nuanced and compelling characters and unreliable narrators. Of the three narrators Hannah was the one I felt most drawn to. It was heartbreaking to read how normal she thought her world was, especially how she would berate her mother when she was beaten by her father for doing something to deserve it rather than thinking it was him in the wrong.  But while I felt a lot of empathy for her, I also felt there was something not quite right about her. She is a peculiar child and while at first I put that down to her secluded upbringing, after a while I started to wonder if she was all that she seemed. 

The abductor, known only as ‘Papa’, is another character who stood out to me. Papa is an enigma, his identity shrouded in mystery. Even Lena doesn’t ever say his name. He is a loathsome, sadistic, controlling and violent man who strikes fear into Lena and the children. Most of the abuse is inferred but enough detail is included to give the reader an understanding of the complete terror they felt and understand why Lena would acquiesce to his will.

Tense, chilling, twisty and unpredictable, Dear Child is a riveting and spectacular debut that you won’t want to put down. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

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Blog Tours book reviews

He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Thank you to Sryia at Michael Joseph Books for the invitation to take part and the & gifted copy of the novel .

SYNOPSIS:

This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

MY REVIEW:

Dark, twisty and smouldering with tension, nothing is as it seems in this spectacular thriller.

Lured by the promise of inheriting life-changing wealth, siblings Beth, Eddie and Portia are reluctantly recreating the road trip they took with their Grandpa twenty years ago. Things happened on that first trip that they have never discussed again, not even amongst themselves, the memories tormenting them as they retrace their journey. And when they realise they are being followed, the siblings begin to wonder if this trip will end just like the first, or if this time they will manage to emerge unscathed…

Wow! Samantha Downing has done it again. Her debut, My Lovely Wife, was one of my favourite books of 2019 so I was eagerly anticipating this follow up and hoping that lightning would strike the same place twice. Thankfully it did. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from start to finish. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from the first pages. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. 

The Morgan family are a family held together by gossamer threads and haunted by the ghosts of twenty years ago. They are fractured, troubled, well-written characters who are each full of secrets and their own hidden agendas for agreeing to this road trip, besides the money of course. The narrator, Beth, tells the reader from the start she’s no heroine, giving us a small hint of the turbulence to come as the layers of her character are slowly peeled away. 

He Started It left me reeling, I did not see that ending coming at all and was left with my jaw on the floor. An absolute tour de force, this is a thriller you don’t want to miss. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated novel My Lovely Wife. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel.

Her next book is called He Started It and will be released in 2020. She currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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He Started It blog tour graphic