The Spinning Heart | Donal Ryan

SpinningHearth RyanThe Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan is a literary novel with the story told by several different characters.

“My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down.”

 In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

 The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.

 Donal Ryan’s brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in literary fiction.

This was lovely, but somewhat thin.

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Scrap | Ermory Sharplin

Scrap by Ermory Sharplin

On the brutal streets of Hellip, a village in the vast empire of the cruel King Ibis, you either become good at running from the king’s Blackcoats or you die. This is the lesson that twelve-year-old Tucker Scrap, abandoned as an infant among the orphans of Hellip, learned early. Along with her friends Ash and Kally, Tucker spends her time keeping one step ahead of the unjust laws, stealing what she needs to survive, and pondering her own unknown origins—and those of the enchanted bracelet with which she was found.

Now, both Ash and Kally have vanished from the orphanage, perhaps headed for the faraway city where Ibis still rules. When a mysterious girl named Vivian arrives in Hellip with a strange invitation to Tucker, the leader of the orphans decides that this may be her opportunity to find her missing friends. But more than this: it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom.

The introduction to a fantasy world rich with ancient magic, enigmatic gypsies, palace labyrinths, and deep woods haunted by strange and forbidding creatures, Emory Sharplin’s debut novel tells the story of Tucker Scrap: a bold, memorable heroine at the center of a centuries-old mystery, stepping into her destiny at last.

How can I review a book that is so… average?

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Shifting Selves | Mia Marshall

Shifting Selves by Mia Marshall is book 2 of the Elements series.

Aidan Brook’s world was shattered when the actions of a brutal murderer revealed long-buried secrets about her past. A powerful elemental, Aidan discovered she possesses the wrong kind of magic. It’s a secret that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

What she needs is some peace and quiet. What she gets is a phone call from a division of the FBI so secret it doesn’t even have a name, asking for her help with a series of shifter disappearances.

Before Aidan can settle into a new routine of pancakes and evenings by the fire, the case develops claws. She quickly finds herself caught between uptight bears, deadly mountain lions, overprotective parents, and unhappy federal agents. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter and the slow dissolution of her chosen family, and it’s hard to say which will drive her mad first: her magic, or her chaotic life.

These are not great literature, but I’m still a fan of the series.

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The Alchemy of Murder | Carol McCleary

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary

Paris, the capital of Europe and center of world culture. People have gathered to celebrate the 1889 World’s Fair, a spectacular extravaganza dedicated to new industries, scientific discoveries, and global exploration. Its gateway is the soaring Eiffel Tower. But an enigmatic killer stalks the streets, and a virulent plague is striking down Parisians by the thousands.

The world’s most famous reporter – the intrepid Nellie Bly – is convinced that the killings are connected to the epidemic. Hot off another sensational expose, she travels to Paris to hunt down the mysterious man she calls “the Alchemist.” Along the way she enlists the help of a band of colorful characters: science fiction genius Jules Verne, notorious wit and outrageous rogue Oscar Wilde, and the greatest microbe-hunter in history, Louis Pasteur.

This dazzling historical adventure pits Nellie and her friends against one of the most notorious murderers in history. Together they must solve the crime of the century.

Ooof. This is gonna be… tricky.

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London Falling | Paul Cornell

London Falling by Paul Cornell is an interesting urban fantasy set in a recession-hot London.

Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster’s mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.

Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.

I really enjoyed this once I got past the first 100 pages.

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Sepulchre | Kate Mosse

Sepulchre book cover.

Sepulchre book cover. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sepulchre by Kate Mosse is an, erm, mishmash. Historical, Romance, Tragedy, and Supernatural, with a healthy dollop of Music.

From the author of the New York Times— bestselling novel Labyrinth comes another haunting tale of secrets, murder, and the occult set in both nineteenth-century and twenty-first-century France.

In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother Anatole arrive in the beautiful town of Rennes-les-Bains, in southwest France. They’ve come at the invitation of their widowed aunt, whose mountain estate, Domain de la Cade, is famous in the region. But it soon becomes clear that their aunt Isolde—and the Domain—are not what Léonie had imagined. The villagers claim that Isolde’s late husband died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre high on the mountainside. A book from the Domain’s cavernous library describes the strange tarot pack that mysteriously disappeared following the uncle’s death. But while Léonie delves deeper into the ancient mysteries of the Domain, a different evil stalks her family—one which may explain why Léonie and Anatole were invited to the sinister Domain in the first place.

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in France to study the life of Claude Debussy, the nineteenth century French composer. In Rennes-les-Bains, Meredith checks into a grand old hotel—the Domain de la Cade. Something about the hotel feels eerily familiar, and strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Meredith’s waking hours. A chance encounter leads her to a pack of tarot cards painted by Léonie Vernier, which may hold the key to this twenty-first century American’s fate . . . just as they did to the fate of Léonie Vernier more than a century earlier

I picked up loads of books in my chairty shop run, so it’s probably going to be older books for a bit. Sepulchre is Kate Mosse’s second book and is loosely connected to her first, Labyrinth.

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Echoes in the Graveyard | S.J. Calhoun

 

graveyard

graveyard (Photo credit: ravensong75)

Echoes in the Graveyard by S.J. Calhoun is… weird.

Echoes in the Graveyard is a suspenseful tale of death and rebirth in a small New England college town during homecoming.

My review copy was provided for free through Netgalley

Just so you know, this is short. 98 pages on my ereader. Which is fine, if you just want a quickish read.

Secondly that description isn’t really… descriptive. The description on Calhoun’s own webpage is better, in that it gives me more details, but also spoils most of the events of the book whilst not giving me any idea of what its about (I am not an expert on book descriptions, but I would still advise a rewrite of the one on the website). I am going into this book… refreshingly unprepared. Is it an urban fantasy with werewolves? A horror novel? Literary fiction? I just don’t know! Shall we find out?

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Broken Elements | Mia Marshall

Broken Elements by Mia Marshall is an Urban Fantasy with Murder Mystery elements.

“It’s happening again, Aidan. We didn’t stop it, after all.”

Aidan Brook has spent ten years hiding from everyone she once loved, plagued by memories of a single horrible night. When her former best friend appears on her front porch, her exile is brought to an abrupt end. An elemental killer is murdering her friends, forcing her to return to the scene of her own crimes.
 
Lake Tahoe proves more than she bargained for. Between a sadistic killer, some clever FBI agents, an annoyingly attractive landlord, and way too many new roommates, she has a pretty full plate. Add in a past she’s desperate to escape and her own uncontrollable powers, and Aidan Brook is having a very, very bad month.

My review copy was a free eARC provided by Red Queen Press through Netgalley.

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Last Days | Adam Neville

Last days by Adam Neville is a horror story centred around the activities of a cult.

Indie filmmaker Kyle Freeman is hired to create a documentary about The Temple of the Last Days—a notorious cult that met its chilling end in an Arizona desert back in 1975. As he travels to the cult’s birthplaces in London and France, and its infamous demise in the United States, a series of uncanny events plague all his shoots: out-of-body experiences, visits in the night, ghastly artifacts appearing in their rooms each evening, and the deaths of their interviewees.

What exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in Kyle Freeman?

My review copy was an eARC provided for free by St Martins Press through NetGalley

Sorry for the dark horror two in one, readers! I tend to read in phases (even with review copies from publishers) so I review in phases too. But I’ll try to make the next review something different.

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Cold Earth | Sarah Moss

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss is a dark little novel about a group of archaeologists unearthing a Viking settlement as a pandemic rages in the world beyond.

A team of six archaeologists from the United States, England, and Scotland assembles at the beginning of the Arctic summer to unearth traces of the lost Viking settlements in Greenland. But as they sink into uneasy domesticity, there is news of an epidemic back home, and their communications with the outside world fall away. Facing a Greenland winter for which they are hopelessly ill-equipped, Nina, Ruth, Catriona, Jim, Ben, and Yianni write final letters home, knowing that their missives may never reach their loved ones.

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