Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Cuckoo

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper
Published by Avon
November 2018



There’s a stranger in your house…
When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.
But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.
As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

I'll be honest here, I actually only started reading this book on Monday ready for the blog tour today but do you know what, I flew through this and really enjoyed it.  I will say, and this is not meant negatively at all, but how many books just lately are about women on their own in creepy houses?  Or is just that I keep reading about them because that's my favoured genre?!

Anyway, our central character Caro (never Caroline) learns that her evil stepmother Elizabeth has died tragically - an accidental falling over a banister (as if!) and she and her estranged sister Steph have inherited everything, including the old farmhouse that was once their family home in Derbyshire.  Caro is currently living in a friend's flat in London but with the tenancy up soon this seems to have come at the perfect time.  The house needs sorting out and as she is an artist she can work from Derbyshire as easily as she can from London so she travels up instantly.  Her sister lives in New York so Caro is on her own to deal with Elizabeth's belongings and it isn't long before living in the house once again starts to trigger some peculiar memories.  

The villagers aren't particularly warming towards her, and Caro can't figure out why, but the young and handsome neighbour Craig seems to have taken a shine to her and takes her under his wing.  After recently ending a relationship though, Caro is more than a little wary but as things in the house continue to go bump in the night, and stuff is moved around seemingly on its own, she soon realises she needs someone on her side.

Some of the book reminded me a little of Angela Carter's  The Bloody Chamber as Caro is illustrating a  fairy tale book called The Pear Drum and other dark tales from the Nursery, which the reader may not be surprised to learn her stepmother also had a pear drum with which she used to taunt Caro when she was younger.  There are some snippets of the stories within the book and they are equally as dark as the ones Carter writes about.

Is some of Cuckoo predictable?  Yes, probably.  However it kept me turning the pages throughout and actually I thought it had a pretty good twist of an ending which if you know me, I love.  I can't stand a poor conclusion to a book.  Cuckoo is also only 99p on Amazon Kindle in the UK so surely that makes it worth a read?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x 

Monday, 10 December 2018

A House of Ghosts

A House of Ghosts by W.C.Ryan
Published by Bonnier Zaffre
October 2018



Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .

A House of Ghosts is one of those stories that is perfect for curling up in front of the fire with. Set on an island in the midst of winter in 1917, it is atmospheric and creepy (but not too scary).  We first meet Kate Cartwright and Captain Robert Donovan when they are both summoned by the Head of the Secret Intelligence Service (by a man known as C) to undertake a mission in espionage at Blackwood Abbey off of the coast of Devon.  Kate is known to the family as her parents are friends of the owner Lord Highmount, and with her (ex)-fiance Rolleson Miller-White, parents and Donovan (who is in role as a valet to Miller-White) head off for the island for a seance session in which Lord Highmount hopes to be able to contact his two sons who have been killed in France.  Kate's parents hope too to have some contact with their son Arthur, who is missing in action.

The weather, as you can imagine, is frightful and soon the islanders are cut off from the mainland.  Alongside those mentioned above, other members of the party include Madame Feda and Count Dimitri Orlov who both claim to be able to see and speak to the dead.  Little do they know that Kate also possesses the ability to see ghosts, and she is soon astounded by how many spirits are still gathered at Blackwater Abbey.  However, are the famed spiritualists all they claim to be?  The party also consists of Doctor Reid and his patient Private Albert Simms who is suffering from the effects of trench warfare.

Some plans have been stolen from the Highmounts who are responsible for manufacturing armaments to send to the front line, and it would appear that there is a person in the house who is prepared to kill to get their revenge, but who is it and can Kate and Donovan find out before their lives too are in danger? I thought this was a nice ghosts story and that it worked well.  It's been billed as a modern day Agatha Christie, and if you love her novels as I do, you won't be too disappointed by reading this I'm sure!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 26 November 2018

A Gathering of Ghosts

A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland
Published by Headline
September 2018


1316. On the wilds of Dartmoor stands the isolated Priory of St Mary, home to the Sisters of the Knights of St John. People journey from afar in search of healing at the holy well that lies beneath its chapel.
But the locals believe Dartmoor was theirs long before Christianity came to the land. And not all who visit seek miracles. When three strangers reach the moor, fear begins to stir as the well's waters run with blood.
What witchcraft have the young woman, the Knight of St John and the blind child brought with them?
The Sisters will need to fight for everything they hold dear as the ghosts of the Old World gather in their midst.


This is the latest of Karen Maitland's novels and possibly the darkest that I've certainly read.  Set on Dartmoor in the 14th Century, the plot centres around the Priory of St Mary and those who work there.  The Sisters of the Knights of St John are threatened by the arrival of two Knights who are determined that Prioress Johanne and the Sisters will bow down to them, and that their sacred well will come under their protection, as well as the taxes that they collect.  The Sisters have worries more pressing of their own to deal with though after the discovery of a dumb and blind boy by the well.  Who is this child and why has he been left at the Priory?  The death of Father Guthlac who predicts that nothing good will happen at the Priory should the child remain there worries some of the Sisters, and as unexplained phenomena begin to occur at the well, the child's life is indeed at risk, for there are those who seek to protect him, and those that think he brings with him a curse.

Outside of the Priory live the mining community, a band of men, women and children who are fighting to survive during the famine that is engulfing the country; some of them will stop at nothing to feed themselves and their families and it really is every man for himself across Darmoor.  When two strangers who meet on the moor come across the tinners their lives are changed forever - Todde who is on the run from him previous master, and Sorrel, a woman with a disfigured arm, who has been called by a woman's voice to travel to Dertemora where she meets a local family of witches.  

The setting is perfect for this story - wild, barren and desolate; the moors are captured brilliantly throughout the book and you can certainly try to imagine what it must have been like to have been there so many centuries ago.  There are fewer characters than in previous Maitland novels and actually I liked this as it meant I wasn't flipping back and forth trying to remember who was who, and it gives each character more of an opportunity to have more of a story-line and to be built up in more detail.  I think this is probably my favourite of her novels so far and a perfect read for an autumnal evening in front of the fire!

Happy Reading


Miss Chapters x  

Monday, 19 November 2018

The Death of Mrs Westaway

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware
Published by Harvill Secker
June 2018


When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.
There's just one problem - Hal's real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger's funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.
Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

I've read all of Ruth Ware's others books so of course when NetGalley offered up a copy of her latest novel I wasn't going to say no!  The Death of Mrs Westaway features an old country estate, a feuding family, dark secrets, and my favourite bit - tarot cards!  Harriet Westaway makes her living reading tarot cards for people on the pier in Brighton.  She is totally self-sufficient following the death of her mother in a hit-and-run accident some years earlier, and her father has never been made known to her.  One day she receives a letter from a solicitor to say that she has been named in her grandmother's will and must travel to Cornwall to find out what the bequest is.  

Hal (as she likes to be called) is somewhat sceptical, her grandparents are both dead, so surely the solicitor has made some sort of error.  However, with very little income, and a fierce loan shark on her back Hal thinks that she can probably scam the family into believing she really is the granddaughter they believe her to be.  After all she makes a living out of telling people their fortunes based on their appearances alone, so surely she can use this skill to her advantage?

Arriving at Trepassen House is nothing like Hal expected, and for the first time in ages, she is suddenly part of a family; albeit not an especially cosy one, but it feels right.  The housekeeper, however, seems to have taken an instant dislike to her and Hal isn't sure if she has already seen through her plan.  With trip wires, bulbs that are removed in the dark, and things that go bump in the night, Ruth Ware has conjured up a gothic style mystery for the modern day.  Families are never quite what they seem, are they?!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Daughter of Light and Shadows

Daughter of Light and Shadows by Anna McKerrow
Published by Bookouture
October 2018



The stranger stood in the doorway, smiling as if he knew her. His blue-green eyes were transfixing: strange, luminous – like the sea on a cloudy day. Faye felt a sense of shifting, like standing on wet sand as the tide washed in, burying her deeper and deeper…
Faye Morgan – beautiful, independent and lonely – runs her family’s small shop of magical curiosities like her mother and grandmother before her. She longs for an escape, unaware of the dark power that flows through her veins…
When Faye casts a spell into the sea one cold morning, her call brings her to the attention of the wild and impulsive faerie king Finn Beatha. Finn pulls Faye into an intoxicating new world, both magical and treacherous… and as bewitching as Finn himself, who seems to command every part of her when he’s near.
As Faye’s passion for Finn grows, so does her fear that she might be there for some darker reason... and that she could be trapped in Faerie forever. Is there something in Faye’s past connecting her to this place, to Finn? And dare she find out more when every moment draws her further away from her old world?

This is Anna McKerrow's first outing as an adult author following on from her fabulous Greenworld trilogy of books for YA readers (and those of us that love that genre too).  Daughter of Light and Shadows is set in Scotland, and centres around Faye, a local witch who can trace her heritage back to the witch trial days of King James.  She runs a local magic shop and is helped out by her friends Annie and Aisha (notice that there are three of them).  One day they decide to do a love spell as none of them are having any luck in finding romance and as magic should have it, two men walk into Faye's life.  The first is Rav, a local property owner who is setting up Abercolme's first big music festival (much to the chagrin of the locals) and the second is Finn Beatha, lead singer of  one of the band's headlining the festival.

Rav seems drawn to Faye, like he is under some kind of spell, and asks her to look at his house as he is convinced that it is haunted in some way.  Faye discovers that it has been built on a faerie road and the faeries are not happy with this.  The faerie king, Finn Beatha, pulls Faye into his world as his lover and she is torn between the passion of both men.  However the world of faerie must not be entered into lightly and Faye must decide whether her life remains in the mortal world or the other world with Finn.

To begin with I didn't know this book was part of a series but with only a handful of chapters left to read I soon realised that it wasn't going to reach any satisfying conclusion for it to be a stand-alone novel.  I'm intrigued to find out what role Finn is going to play in the next book because he is certainly going to return in some shape or form to the world in which Faye inhabits, and can she ever truly stay away from him or retract the promises she made to the faerie queen Glitonea.  It was interesting to see the author take a different direction from her witchcraft routes and enter into the world of the faeries.  Some have compared this to the Sarah J Maas novels but I would argue that you cannot compare as this is less fantasy based.  Also, do not think that this is a YA novel - even I gasped at some of the sex scenes!!!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 5 November 2018

Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Published by Penguin
July 2107


'This is a story which begins with a barbecue in the suburbs. . .'
By the end of it a lifelong friendship will be in tatters, a marriage on the rocks and an innocent bystander dead.
In just one evening six lives will change for ever . . .

Following on from Big Little Lies was always going to be a challenge, for me as a reader anyway, as I fell in love with that book from the very beginning and was hooked to the final word, so when I finally picked up my copy of Truly Madly Guilty I guess I always thought it was never going to be quite as good.

Truly Madly Guilty follows three families whose lives are entwined by one fateful summer afternoon when they share a barbeque together.  They are Tiffany and Vid (the hosts) with their teenage daughter Dakota, neighbours Erika and Oliver and their friends Clementine and Sam plus their little girls.  Lets also not forget Harry, the old cantankerous neighbour who has a habit of ruining everyone's fun and the scene is set for an afternoon that will change the lives of everyone mentioned.

Two months later and Australia is hit by the worst rainfall in it's entire history and its making everyone on edge.  Clementine is a bundle of nerves facing her forthcoming cello audition, her children are behaving badly and Sam seems to have hit a mid-life crisis.  Despite being best friends for decades, her and Erika seem to be no longer talking to each other, and Tiffany is holding back a secret from her past that she hasn't even shared with Vid.

Liane Moriarty weaves back and forth from the present rainy day, to that summer's afternoon with ease.  Telling part of the tale and then snatching it back from you so that you are longing to find out what exactly happened on that day.  I'd worked out most of the plot by the end of the book but there was one moment that I hadn't expected and it left me gasping out loud when I read it.  This is an author who knows how to tell a tale and by the end I wasn't let down.  Okay, so it wasn't as good as Big Little Lies for me, but then I didn't think it ever would be. However it tried very hard to get there.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Perfect Silence

Perfect Silence by Helen Fields
Published by Avon 
August 2018


Helen Fields is back with her fourth novel featuring Detective Inspector Callanach.  Here's the blurb to give you a clue as to what it's all about...

When silence falls, who will hear their cries?
The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.
After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?


And if that wasn't enough, here's an exclusive extract from the book....


Detective Inspector Luc Callanach brought his car to a halt on
the verge of Torduff Road. A pair of curious horses watched
passively over a six-bar gate as blue fl ashing lights destroyed
the early morning peace. Pulling a hoodie over his t-shirt, he
checked the time. Five thirty in the morning. The crime scene
investigators were in the process of erecting floodlights
around the scene to make up for the lack of sunlight. The
weak October rays wouldn’t touch the ground until six thirty
at the earliest. DCI Ava Turner pulled her car up behind his
and climbed out in sports gear that had already seen a work
out that morning.
‘Do you never sleep?’ he asked, as they fell into step together.
‘Is it a French thing, using a question as a greeting? Because
in Scotland we tend to say hello first. Surely you’ve been here
long enough to know that by now. What do we know about
the victim?’ she replied, rubbing her hands together furiously.
‘I haven’t seen her yet,’ he said, peeling off his gloves and
handing them to Ava. ‘Put those on, it’s freezing out here. It’s
quite a long way up the lane. The route’s long and narrow,
heading south towards the reservoir, so the squad have sealed
off a full mile section. Scenes of Crime are already getting started.
I gather it’s a single victim, young adult female.’
Ava showed a uniformed officer her identification as they
ducked under yellow tape. ‘The usual pathologist, Ailsa Lambert,
is on leave at the moment, so who’s looking after the body?’
she asked.

Perfect Silence is out right now in paperback and kindle editions.  Sleep well and don't have nightmares!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x