An Other Place By Darren Dash: Book Review

An Other PlaceAn Other Place is a brilliant twisted trip down Alice’s rabbit hole for adults. A trip like none other I’ve experienced!

Darren O’Shaughnessy is an idol of mine, under the name Darren Shan he’s one of the leading horror writers  for young people. I first came across his Demonata series when my brother was reading the books in his early teens, I would steal the books as he finished them. lordlossukfullThe Demonata character Lord Loss is still a favourite of my brother’s and I was delighted to get a copy of it signed for him at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry in July. It was at the festival that I first heard of Darren’s books for adults under the name Darren Dash. He read an excerpt from his work in progress and it intrigued me. When I was offered the chance to review An Other Place, I was ecstatic and desperately hoping that it was the WIP he’d read so passionately from in Bantry. It was!!

About the Book

There is An Other Place… where time and space are fluid… where the moon changes colour and savage beasts run wild… where love is a perilous proposition and the dead are swiftly forgotten.. where sandmen offer sanctuary and the Alchemist rules over all.

When Newman Riplan’s flight into the unknown turns into a nightmarish slide between worlds, he must explore an unnamed city where unpredictable terrors are the norm. By the end of his first day adrift, his life has spun completely out of his control, but the most mind-twisting and soul-crushing revelations are only beginning. As he desperately searches for a way out, he starts to realise that the city isn’t in the habit of releasing its captives. And it seems to have a plan for him.

My Thoughts on the Book

An Other Place focuses around an unlikable character called Newman Riplan. He hates his life, his friends, women and even himself. The early scenes were dirty, gritty and realistic. I read some of the book while on an plane making the scenes on Newman’s own flight even more realistic and funny. From one moment to the next I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, which I loved. There is nothing worse for me than a book where I can predict every coming scene! Newman is stuck in another world, similar in ways to ours, but very strange and different in others. In this world people are unquestioning and accept everything. Humans in this “other place” enjoy and worry about only the present, surely that’s a lesson for us all?

I’m hesitant to go into too much detail as one of the main joys of this book was the constant surprises. Newman undergoes many quests and adventures, both physical and personal. Despite Newman not being the most likable character, I was invested in him throughout. His character reached his full potential by the spectacular and shocking ending. I had to sit there and digest it for quite a while after finishing. Various parts of the book seemed like a warning tale of what could happen to humans in the future. There were many brilliant and scarily accurate observations on mankind near the end of the book. One statement that stuck with me  “ambition and inquisition are the whip-cracking, back-riding scourge of humanity.”

Weird and wonderful, this book was like nothing I could ever dream up in my head! An Other Place has cemented Darren for me as an accomplished writer for both adults and younger people.

I’d recommend this to anybody looking for something gritty, wacky and different to anything you’ve ever read. Fantastic and original, An Other Place gets a big thumbs-up from this Corpse Bride.

To purchase An Other Place on Amazon click here

About the Author

http://eldarro.wixsite.com/darrendashbooks/bio

 

Darren Dash was born in England in 1972, but has spent most of his life in Ireland, where he lives with his wife and son. In his day job, under a different name, he has sold over 25 million books worldwide, mainly in the YA market. But he feels much more at home in the nights of his adult worlds…

To find out more about Darren click here

Book Review: Hannah by Shaun Horton

Hannah

I was so excited when I received an email from the author asking if I’d like to review Hannah! I’d come across Shaun on online media and his horror books really appealed to me. I have two of his books Class 5 and Path’s waiting for me on my Kindle.

As soon as I downloaded the book and noticed the cover, I felt a bit uneasy. As you can see from the awesome cover art this book is based around man’s best friend, the loyal dog. Dogs are my second biggest fear after birds! But I pushed my unease aside and persevered, and I’m glad I did.

Eli and his family return from camping to a house that’s not the same as they left it, appliances malfunction, doors with no locks refuse to open, and strange whispers float through the halls and rooms. The family dog, Hannah, is acting strange as well, chasing the wild rabbits with more ferocity than usual. The only question is whether her watchful eye, strange barks, and quiet growls are a warning… or a threat…

The book opens giving the reader an insight into the family’s life, of which family poodle Hannah plays a huge part. She is loved by the parents, Eli and Naomi and even more so by their two children, Abigail and Peter. I love the idea of something benign and normal turning into something to be feared.

Early in the book, the reader is made aware that Eli and Naomi’s relationship is by no means without its’ troubles. The problems in Eli and Naomi’s relationship starts tension building in the story.

As the dog’s strange and predatory behaviour increases, weird incidents also begin in the house, experienced differently by each character. I loved the creepy occurrences in the book. The paranormal scenes made me feel the fear of all the members of the family.

Towards the middle and end of the book there are some vicious and grisly scenes. One particular scene in the middle of the book really made me uncomfortable. I think the scene might have been a step too far to scare and shock the reader. In saying that, it’s the one scene I can’t get out of my head, so it was definitely effective.

Another tense and horrific scene was so realistic that I was wincing while reading it. The author had me hearing and seeing every bloody detail in my head. I already have a fear of dogs and bites in particular, so this book probably affected me more than it would other readers.

Hannah was a scary and gore-filled read. There were some really grisly scenes in the book that kept popping back into my head while trying to sleep. I really enjoyed the creepy haunted house type scenes in the book and I’d recommend this to other lovers of horror. I look forward to reading more of Shaun’s work (preferably without any canine characters!)

 

To purchase Hannah on Amazon US click here

To purchase Hannah on Amazon UK click here

Hannah, Shaun Horton

Shaun Horton writes from home in the pacific northwest in the company of two cats, one that ignores him and another that constantly pesters him. In addition to Amazon, he can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. He has a blog that he posts on generally once a week – (see Shaun’s blog here).

 

Book Review: The Dead House and The Creeper Man

Today’s post is a book review of two amazingly horrific books by Dawn Kurtagich.

Dawn Kurtagich
Dawn Kurtagich http://www.dawnkurtagich.com/

I came across Dawn’s books on a horror #YATAKEOVER chat hosted by Emma of  Howling Reviews on Twitter (along with books by Alex Bell and Danny Weston – which I’m dying to read!). I left the chat and went straight to Amazon to purchase books by all three fabulous YA horror authors!

Book Review: The Creeper Man/ The Trees Crept In

Creeper man

There’s a man in the trees, a man with no eyes, but still he watches, that’s the surprise. Stay away from the woods, it couldn’t be clearer, but the trees are creeping nearer and nearer… 

Beware the creeper man.

The second I saw the cover art for The Creeper Man, I knew it had to be mine! I was intrigued! They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but in this case do. The book itself is as beautiful, creepy and strange as the cover. I went into this book blind and that heightened my enjoyment of the scary tale of Silla and her sister Nori, who have escaped to their aunt Cath’s blood red manor. There is a sense of unease and claustrophobia that grows throughout the book. Sitting down on a stormy day I read this in one sitting and it was absolute heaven. This is a scary, strange and heartbreaking read with vivid, original characters. The author uses clever text formatting to increase our awareness of Silla’s feelings throughout the book.

As an avid horror film and book fan I sometimes feel desensitized to it but this book chilled me and gave me that feeling of unfolding and unease that thrilled me to my core. I think this book is suitable for teens upwards who want a good scare.

You can watch the book trailer here.

Book Review: The Dead HouseDead House

I CURSE ANYONE WHO READS THIS BOOK.

SCREW YOU. HAPPY READING.

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO.

Elmbridge High School burned down. Three students were killed in the blaze, twenty were injured and one, Carly Johnson, disappeared.

For two decades, little was uncovered about what became known as the ‘Johnson Incident’.

The Dead House is a mystery and psychological horror. The author pieces together the  Johnson incident for the reader like a found footage film through diary extracts from Kaitlyn and Carly, videos, police interviews and counselling sessions.

The horrific mystery that unfolds grabs the reader by the heart and the throat. It’s gory, terrifying and mysterious.  The author again uses text formatting to convey different emotions in Kaitlyn. The scenes in the Dead House are skin-crawling, unsettling and creepy, a foray into the darkness of Kaitlyn’s mind.  The story will leave the reader wanting more and missing the feisty Kaitlyn and the quieter Carly.

You can watch the seriously freaky book trailer here!

I adored both of these beautiful, dark and twisted books and I eagerly await the next book (which I hope is soon)!

Dawn is a writer of creepy, spooky, and psychologically sinister YA, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide. For more information on Dawn click here or check out her Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Youtube.

Book Review: Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray

Caramel Hearts

 

Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.
Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

caramel-thunderclap

 

This is the wonderful E.R. Murray’s second book and this is aimed at young adults (and older adults like me). Her first book The Book of Learning, Nine Lives Trilogy Part 1 is a fantasy novel for middle grade readers – to read my review of The Book of Learning  click here. I’m hooked on her writing since reading it and I eagerly awaited the publication of her next book! From twitter chats with the author herself I found out that Caramel hearts was based around the effects of addiction on Liv Bloom and her family.  The  book intro on Twitter gave me more insight into the soon-to-be-released book and I was intrigued, to watch it click here).  I myself come from a family affected by addiction and I was even more excited to get my hands on a copy of the book, but I also felt slightly nervous. What if it dragged up old painful memories? What if it was too real?

I needn’t have worried about that at all. The heart of the story is not about addiction, it’s about the relationship between two sisters coping with life’s struggles. While Liv’s mother is in the alcoholic recovery centre seeking help, her older sister Harriet/ Hatty must return from college and assume the mother-role. Both sisters are struggling in their own ways and while Liv struggles outwardly getting into various scrapes, Hatty has her own struggles trying to cope with her college work while being away from all her college friends. Being the eldest in the family, I identified more strongly with Hatty than the main character Liv. The arguments between the two sisters were very similar to fights and disagreements I’ve had with my younger siblings. I’m well-known for not crying very easily but I shed a few tears at several points while reading this. There were moments when I felt like the scenes in the book had come from my own head, which felt strange but nice. I wish I had been able to read this book when I was younger; I may not have felt as alone or had half as many fights with my own sister!

I loved every minute of this book and it holds a very special place in my (Caramel) heart. I settled down to read it one Saturday afternoon and only put it down to eat, I finished it the same night! I was desperate to see what became of Liv and her family and friends. I won’t spoil the ending but suffice to say I think it ended just right – on a hopeful and realistic note. The darker parts of the book are lightened by the gorgeous book cover and the recipes that Liv begins to make. The delicious goodies bring her and the other characters closer at various points. The recipes give an insight into her mother’s character – reminding us (and Liv) that there is more to her than just her addiction. The recipes sprinkled among the pages inspired even a non-baker like me to get into the kitchen and attempt to make something! I made the Rocky Road yesterday and it looks a bit rough and ready, but trust me it’s delicious! The ingredients for the fudge are in the cupboard for next weekend! 😉 I’d encourage anyone to read E.R. Murray’s books, they are full of heart and lively characters! Caramel Hearts will make you laugh , cry and want to eat lots of sweet things!

My attempt at Rocky Road!
My attempt at Rocky Road!

Book Review: Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe

Naomi's Room
I love the thrill of being scared and feeling the tiny hairs at the top of my neck sticking out but this is the only book I’ve ever read that I’ve actually had to put down for a full week before returning to finish it!
I discovered Jonathan Aycliffe in my favourite place in the world, my local library! Jonathan’s novel A Silence of Ghosts was the first gem of his that I discovered. I practically skipped out of the library with the find. Set during the blitz in London an injured soldier and his deaf ten year old sister are sent to the lake district to a family house for safety. This is essentially a haunted house story with a romance and mystery at the heart of the story. The most unsettling feature for that story was the dead children in the house communicating with the profoundly deaf Octavia, leaving an unsettling feeling with the reader long after the book is finished. Ghosts of children have always left me with this feeling and are the only theme which can truly scare me in any media, be it film or book.
When I finished a Silence of Ghosts I felt lost and was hungry for more of his material. I managed to grab a copy of Naomi’s Room the very next day at the library. I can’t believe I’d never heard of his books before up to a couple of months ago. Naomi’s Room is considered among one of the finest English ghost stories, in the realms of Susan Hill and The Woman in Black (which is another excellent ghost story).
The novel starts with Charles Hillebrand reflecting back on his life, marriage to Laura and the birth of their daughter Naomi. The book quickly reveals that Naomi is no longer alive and was murdered at four years of age on Christmas Eve on a trip to London with Charles in 1970. This in itself is the stuff of nightmares and sets the tone for more terror to come. It is at this point of the story that that it becomes apparent that Charles is not only grief stricken but is also a terrified prisoner in his own home. It was at this point that the supernatural and psychological terror of the book took over and that I had to stop reading the book for a while. I couldn’t get the unsettling image of his visits from the ghosts of his past out of my head. Again it was the aspect of a vulnerable child featured in a horrific ghostly tale that scared the crap out of me. With the tiny hairs raised on the back of my neck I put down my book and quickly turned to some light-hearted television to distract myself. That didn’t stop the images running through my brain – books are so much more effective than film at delivering gruesome imagery to our brains.
After a week I felt I was ready to pick up the book again and continue with the story. The book gripped me until the very end and the twist at the end of the tale shocked me. This is one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read and the prose is excellent. I can’t wait to read more of Aycliffe’s books and highly recommend both of them.