A twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…
It doesn’t take long for the action to get going in what is a multi genre tale that sits within the fringes of supernatural thriller. ‘Sawyer Shepherd’ takes the lead in this book’s best feature; an ensemble of characters that have depth. He carries the typical mysterious past well even though he just happens to roll into town at the right time – but stories with prophecy and the like justify that to an extent because for me this book worked as an escape.
The setting comes as a strong second and is delivered with a unique style of writing that runs throughout. There is however a lot of cliche moments that some will probably roll their eyes at, but saying that, tropes are there for a reason, because they work and for all the moments that appear to be typical of the genre, most of the time they tick all the right boxes. Saying that I particularity enjoyed the original take on big business developers and how they fit into the threat element of the story and their perception of power.
The dialogue at some points I found to be perhaps a little tongue in cheek along with a romance that felt pushed which then suddenly back tracked. Fans of character driven narratives about ancient evil, secret demon fighting societies and unpredictable action will find plenty to get their ‘claws’ into. There are even some fitting tributes to some of the authors influences which made for a nice touch.
The book breezes by with decent pacing and a few revelations along the way including a double twist in the final stages. Although it was enjoyable, and a wider story is hinted throughout, I’m not sure the ending carried enough weight to interest readers in a potential sequel. Either way new stories about perhaps older tropes deserve to be recognised.
3 Stars – This review premiered via Reedsy Discovery
An engaging and original debut that takes readers down the ‘well’ of crime…
Cells is a story that begins with intrigue and mystery and keeps you reading all the way to the end. There aren’t many books that manage to carry the mystery element throughout and for her efforts Julia Cowan has done quite well. Somewhere between psychological and crime thriller, the story is told though multiple points of view, a perhaps different choice as it switches between various characters in third person and then first person for main character James – this would be my only real critique as many of James’s scenes feel a little repetitive in writing style but in the same breath pages are turned quickly.
While being about many different things, Cells explores the morality of rehabilitating criminal offenders by way of what is a dark experiment of sorts that aligns with vigilante justice. James never really had a chance from a young age and is caught up in some rather unfortunate circumstances by way of coincidence, or perhaps that’s how it was always supposed to be. His father’s influence is a central theme to his character arc.
What follows is a cat and mouse account that switches back and forth in time while overlapping in what I imagine took some real thought and work to put together by the author. From police corruption, blackmail and even a complicated love triangle this story ticks many of the boxes that fans of crime thrillers will enjoy. In some places it’s brutal and doesn’t hold back with the darker edges readers will experience. The question readers will face at the end of it all is whether or not James is any better for the journey he has been on.
4 Stars – an impressive debut, looking forward to reading more from Julia Cowan!
A short and twisting tale of the unexpected that stirs the mind…
‘The Skeleton in Gelatin’ manages to entertain and stir the imagination of readers even if it is quite a short story. For what begins in one place slowly and gradually twists into something completely different and unexpected. This could easily be the premise of a Black Mirror episode with it’s sci-fi edge that uses intrigue as the vessel to carry the story.
For anyone looking to be briefly immersed and distracted from the real world then I highly recommend this book!
5 Stars – A different one for the Hall of information, but different is good even if I was unsure about what to say in a review for such a short book.
A romance story with a unique premise…
At the initial stages of this book it would appear the premise is a little absurd but stories like this are supposed to be and the more you lean into it, the more enjoyable and unique it becomes. What starts out as quite a heavy subject actually turns into something quite the opposite for ‘Sophia Larkson’ who is a typical older teen with attitude and character. It is revealed she has been sold to a billionaire by her father who is in debt. As the main narrator of the story she confides in the reader as everything unfolds which works most of the time even but on occasion it can interrupt the flow.
‘Aiden Livingston’ our billionaire in question spends some of the time taking over narration duty and we see elements of his backstory some of which was cleverly done but other parts felt less detailed. I would have preferred to be shown a little more of his ‘darker elements’ side and origins as opposed to being told. Being a man with so much money and with a history of loss ‘Aiden’ faces great difficulty in finding genuine love – a dilemma which he looks to solve and hence the story unfolds.
Sarah Jayne Harry has combined elements of many different genres into what could be a sophisticated fairy tale of sorts but suited for older teens and above. Depending on how you look at it, this could be Stockholm syndrome or a story that tributes elements of Beauty and the Beast but either way there is never a dull moment. The main characters are believable and the whole experience I enjoyed.
‘While some monsters are born, others are created..’
Upon picking up this book I was instantly immersed into the words and descriptive style E.H Night brings to what is a chilling and mystery shrouded story. By the 8th chapter I’ll admit I couldn’t put it down.
The Four Before Me leans a little towards cliche but it works in an original way that keeps readers guessing throughout. It’s the late 80’s and Alice our main character; moves to small town ‘Wintersburg’ in search of a new start from the big city and to perhaps be closer to her now deceased Grandmother’s roots. Soon after her arrival she learns that four women are currently missing and that’s when the chilling coincidences begin. I say coincidence but that’s only if you believe in such things and for Alice this starts to play on her mind which in turn becomes psychological – the true strength of this story. She cannot help but think of the many similarities she and the missing women have, in particular ‘Sarah’ who was in fact the previous tenant in Alice’s new place.
As the story unfolds we meet a cast of three dimensional characters all of which serve purpose and depth to the story such as likable law enforcement officer ‘Blake Darrow’ and neighbor ‘Tiffany’ which Alice befriends. Of course there are the less savory characters such as ‘Benji’ or the town renowned ‘Wonderbread Will’. Can they be trusted when so many people are missing in this small town?
There were some instances that my mind was blown by the amount of twists and turns this story had. With elements of crime, mystery, suspense and even some chilling horror you could compare this book with the early works of Stephen King although the voice in this story is fresh and new. Whether it’s the sights or smells, emotions or feelings, this book captures everything including a little nostalgia.
Fun gross out comedy…
Dirty Lawyers is the gross out comedy of the ‘Night Audit’ Series. Here we see Zach move into a new place while also finally pursuing his schooling. There’s a hint of 90’s nostalgia in this story and paired with new room mate Jake they host a party in their new apartment which ends with mixing drinks, truth or dare and then an embarrassing attempt in courting the impossibly out of reach Ashley for Zach; all of which is slightly cringe worthy but also fun.
Back at the hotel a group of Lawyers have taken up residency in true ‘animal house’ form making Zach’s hangover ten times worse as these ‘lawyers’ appear to take over. This of course results in more cringe and laugh moments which all ends with an even funnier twist.
A hilarious account of one drunken night out…
We all think we have good ideas and they seem even better when you add alcohol. In this story we see Zach away from the workplace and out on the town with Randy and Jake. That is without letting on to their colleague Wade who appears to be somewhat of a drip so inviting him is out of the question. What ensues is the typical ‘guys night’ that the title suggests, from chugging beers to a friend going missing to even getting thrown out of one place.
Eventually all roads for Zach lead back to the hotel he works at and Wade. What follows is the drunken idea of initiating him with hilarious results which at the very end of the book have dangerous consequences leaving this story finishing on a cliffhanger.
Working nights can mess with one’s head…
Working nights can not only be hell but they can mess with one’s head. Zach is back for the second chapter of his story as he delves into night work at the hotel. Again he seems to fall into various problems of not only the day to day running of a busy hotel but the perils of working during the night. He faces tiredness on a constant basis while also running important reports which seem to go wrong… that is while juggling extra jobs that don’t get finished during the day.
This part of Zach’s journey is greeted with difficulty as he tries to adjust to life of the nocturnal persuasion while trying to prove himself as the night auditor. He tackles this uphill struggle while also pondering whether this job is for him.
Overall an enjoyable and very quick read – I managed to complete it in one sitting. Looking forward to seeing what’s next for Zach in part 3 of this original and fun journey!
A fun and intriguing but very relatable short story…
Zach is having a bad day. His car has run out of gas and the local gas station only takes cash. That’s how this story starts and like the best of us when it rains it pours. His job is no better, it’s physical menial work that could probably be best described as back breaking and with a supervisor like his it was only a matter of time until he did what all of us sometimes dream of doing.
Soon enough Zach’s luck begins to change as his best friend advises him to apply for a new job opening; that being a Night Auditor for a hotel. He begins training and just when everything looks towards even more intrigue I found myself at the end of this book and chapter…
Everything is set in motion for what will become a journey of discovery for both Zach and the reader. Looking forward to reading more from the 5 part Night Audit Series.
Engaging and immersive high end sci-fi that follows multiple characters along with their antics of journeying through space…
In the ChaosNova universe the depths of space can be filled with near enough unlimited scope for mystery, deception, risks and reward as this book focuses on ‘
Elise Rivera; a relative newcomer to the station in search of a new life soon becomes entangled first of all into some trouble before the realisation comes that she can be of great use. After an early conversation with station’s arch commissioner Elise rides her luck in some senses towards becoming an External Investigations Specialist where she finds herself rubbing shoulders with other specialists of ‘
We see these other stories which display the multitude of believable and likable folks such as the eventual romance of specialist Kaska Stone and Specialist Joseph Raffa which added to the many depths this story contains. I enjoyed the realistic approach and even somewhat clunky-ness of Raffa while he tried to do his best to court Stone; even if Ikarus did intervene to begin with.
The reading experience overall feels like a fly on the wall documentary in some places; which is a compliment to the very well constructed and detailed universe this story resides in. In the latter stages of what is a long but immersive read I particularly enjoyed the space battle which carried notes of the space adventures all sci-fi fans will know of along with cutting it’s own unique path. Pockets of action or deceptive investigation for the station specialists will keep any reader immersed in what is an original and highly detailed entry to the science fiction world.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Noë for providing an advanced copy of the book. I shall place my reviews in the usual places – Goodreads and Amazon.
Kau D’varza is out now!